Saturday, January 7, 2017

What Small Business Owners Should Know About PPC

Author Bio : Ronald Dod is a partner and CEO of Visiture, LLC. After founding Grey Umbrella Marketing, an internet marketing agency which focuses on Search Engine Optimization for eCommerce businesses, he merged with Visiture to create a full service search marketing offering for eCommerce businesses. His passion is helping eCommerce business owners and marketing professionals navigate the search marketing landscape and use data to make more effective decisions to drive new traffic and conversions. He holds a Masters in the Science of Marketing from Florida State University and is certified in Google Adwords & Analytics.

As a small business owner, you probably know that you need to be smart about which digital marketing strategies you invest your money in. Invest in the wrong strategy, and you could quickly find yourself with a depleted budget and nothing to show for it.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can yield some amazing results for small business owners if they set up their campaign properly. However, there are some things that online merchants need to know about PPC before they get started:

Results Can Be Quick if You Plan Accordingly
Small businesses are often attracted to PPC advertisements because they can raise their visibility and give them more search traffic almost instantly. This is valuable for businesses that want to quickly grow their brand and break into the highly competitive world of search advertisement.

That being said, the successes of PPC campaigns are often a result of careful planning months before they are actually implemented. Extensive keyword research, optimizing landing pages, and performing ongoing maintenance of your PPC campaigns can be a daunting task, which is why many business owners choose to hire a digital marketing agency instead. PPC professionals can help business owners achieve a lower cost-per-click and higher conversion rates, giving them more bang for their buck.

The Top Spot Isn’t Always the Best
When it comes to organic search, ranking at the top of search engines is highly desirable because even if the searcher isn’t ready to buy, it is costing you nothing when they click on your site.  With paid search advertisements, things are a bit more complicated.

Make no mistake, having your ad clinch the number one position is a good thing. However, some research suggests that being in the second, third, and—as of this February—fourth position in Google may serve your business as good or better than the number one spot. This is because the number one spot can be costlier than other spots and have higher cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-lead (CPL) rates. To stretch your PPC budget as much as you can, it may be a better strategy to not always aim for the number one position.

Google AdWords Isn’t the Only PPC Platform Out There
As the most popular PPC advertising platform today, Google AdWords is often the go-to choice for many business owners. This is because Google AdWords is highly scalable and has the ability to get traffic in nearly any niche.

Despite these qualities, Google AdWords may not always be the best platform for online merchants. Other big-name PPC platforms, including Bing Ads and Facebook Ads, may serve a business better, depending on factors such as their specific niche, the product or service they are selling, and what their ultimate goals are.

To give you an idea, here is a brief list of pros and cons that each platform has that business owners will need to consider:

Google AdWords 
Pros:  Because the majority of searches are made using Google, Google AdWords is a popular PPC platform that is known for having higher conversion rates. Whatever your specific niche is, you will probably be able to target it effectively on Google AdWords. This platform also has plenty of options when it comes to what format you want your ad to be in (video, image, product listing, etc.).

Cons:  On the downside, Google’s popularity also means that it is relatively expensive. If you have a niche with a lot of competition, you can expect for PPC rates to be higher. Additionally, there can be a bit of a learning curve involved with this platform.

Bing Ads
Pros:  While Bing/Yahoo isn’t as big as Google, it is an attractive PPC advertising platform due to its low CPCs and less competition. It offers many of the same benefits that Google AdWords does—just at a price that small and medium businesses can get behind.

Cons:  According to an infographic from Market Domination Media, CPCs are lower with Bing Ads, but the majority of advertisers experience higher CTRs on AdWords.

Facebook Ads
Pros:  Facebook dominates social media with over 1.59 billion active monthly users. This expansive audience makes it a prime target for advertisers. Facebook operates differently than Bing Ads or Google AdWords, in that you target people based on certain demographics, rather than keywords, making it a potential powerhouse for targeting audiences.

Cons:  Unlike Google AdWords, Facebook Ads have limited ad formats, and advertisers won’t get the satisfaction of immediate sales.

To See Results, Optimize Regularly
Like SEO, a PPC campaign is not something that is set up once and left to its own devices. If you are only logging into your AdWords account once a month, it shouldn’t be a surprise when your PPC campaign fails to generate results. For a PPC campaign to truly pay off, it needs to be optimized regularly. 

There are hundreds of ways for you to optimize your campaign, but focusing on a few key areas is a good start and will help you keep your marketing budget under control.

Keyword Research
Don’t waste time and money on keywords that aren’t performing. For a successful PPC campaign, small business owners need to be continually researching keyword opportunities and staying up-to-date on what their audience is searching for.

Negative Keywords
Failing to add negative keywords to your account can result in a significant waste of your ad spend. By adding negative keywords to your campaign, you can filter out searchers that aren’t relevant to your ads so that you don’t get unwanted traffic. Look through your search term report and continually add negative keywords based on this data to optimize your campaign.

A/B Test Your Landing Page
It doesn’t make sense to have a powerful PPC campaign if your landing pages aren’t set up to convert your visitors. Use A/B testing to check the effectiveness of every page on your website so that you can increase your conversion rates.

Revise Your Ad Copy
Now that expanded text ads are here, you will want to revise any current ads you already have to make them more effective. There is a limited amount of ad text to work with, so make sure that you use the extra characters wisely.

Every dollar counts when you run a small business. While pay-per-click advertising can be a highly effective way to grow a business and gain visibility, it is critical for small business owners to stay on top of their PPC campaigns and use strategies that make the most of their marketing budget.  

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