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Pay per click advertising is an essential element of a comprehensive search engine optimization strategy because it brings in immediate results. You can achieve many different goals with PPC, and some of the most common reasons to use these ads include improving visibility, identifying new leads, bringing more traffic to your site, and increasing your conversions. In the end, however, the one reason that businesses use PPC is to grow. While PPC is easy to execute, it does take some planning and preparation, so today you'll learn everything you need to know about putting together a successful campaign.
Start by Optimizing Your Website
Before you start any PPC campaign, it’s crucial that you first step back and address the landing pages that will work in conjunction with your ads. Here's why it’s so important: when prospects click on a PPC ad, it’s because the content of the ad intrigued them, and they want to know more. But if the link they click takes them to an unrelated or generic page on your website, such as your homepage, then that prospect will likely bounce.
A click on a PPC ad is a desire to find out more about what the ad was about, which is why it’s integral to create customized landing pages that coincide with the content of the ad. For instance, if you were running a PPC ad offering two-for-one pizzas at your restaurant, then the landing page for the ad should be more details about the promotion, a coupon to redeem the free pizza or something else that relates specifically to the ad content.
Another thing that you must do with your landing pages is optimize them for performance because if prospects click your ad and end up on a page that doesn’t load quickly, is difficult to navigate, or has other technical problems; then they will also bounce. Take the time now to maximize your site conversions so that prospects who come later will be more likely to follow through. Here are a few ways you can optimize your site for conversions:
- Use clear and compelling calls to action
- Use a simple design with lots of white space
- Write compelling and attention-grabbing headlines
- Write copy that’s clear and straightforward
- Use video and images strategically to retain attention
- Make information easy to digest by using bullets, stand-out quotations, and visuals
Select a Bidding Strategy
There are several different bidding strategies to choose from, and picking the right one will depend on a variety of factors, including your budget, your experience with PPC, and your goals. One of the first choices you'll have to make is between manual and automated bidding. If you’ve never done PPC before, you might want to start with manual bidding, especially if you're working with a low budget, because manual allows you to set a cap on your cost per click. The trade-off with manual is that you don’t have an opportunity to optimize your bids.
On the other end of the spectrum is automated bidding, which will reduce the amount of time you'll need to put into managing the campaign, but you might end up paying a little more. There are several different bidding strategies when it comes to automated bidding, and you can learn more about different AdWords strategies directly from Google. Essentially, there are various strategies you can choose depending on whether your goal is to increase conversions, visibility, or traffic.
Set a Budget
Budget is an important part of a PPC campaign, but the best part about this type of advertising is that you can still do it on a limited budget, and you can retain close control over how much you spend. In fact, if you're new to PPC, don’t have a lot of money to throw around, and just want to test the waters, you can still get started with an investment as small as $25. You can work out what your budget should be with this simple formula:
The profit portion of the equation involves how much profit you make per conversion. To determine the commission that pays for the AdWords, you have to decide how much of that profit you can afford to sacrifice while still making the campaign worthwhile. For your conversion rate, you'll have to look at past data, or you can use the industry standard, which Search Engine Watch says is 2.7 percent. Then multiply the maximum CPC by the number of clicks you ideally want, multiplied by the number of days (go for at least a month) to get your budget.
Research Your Keywords and Choose Them Wisely
Keyword research is arguably one of the most important aspects of a PPC campaign because it’s the backbone of the entire process. Without keywords, there would be no way for the search engine to know when to display your ads. Just as importantly, choosing the right keywords can virtually guarantee the success of your campaign, and promise you the most views, the most click-throughs, the most traffic, and the most conversions. Here are a few tips for selecting keywords:
- Have a look at what your competition is using
- Think about what you’d search if you were a customer looking for your products or services
- Use Google’s keyword search or some other tool to identify opportunities (both Moz and SEMrush offer great keyword tools)
- Be specific with your keywords rather than generic or vague
- Choose local keywords when possible
The better you are at choosing keywords, the more hits you'll get. Beyond that, however, you'll also be rewarded with a higher quality score and a lower cost per click as a result.
Another important element of keyword selection is negative keywords because these will filter out keywords that you want to exclude. For instance, say you want to advertise ice cream but don’t sell soft serve, then you'd use soft serve as a negative keyword to exclude searches looking for that type of product.
Create a Killer Ad
Once you’ve got your landing page ready, decided on a budget and bidding structure, and carefully chosen your keywords, now it’s finally time to get cracking on your actual ad. One of the keys to remember is to keep it short and to the point, because you don’t have a lot of room or time to catch the attention of prospects.
Another important thing is to have a goal in mind and to write the copy based on that goal. For instance, if you want to increase sales for Father’s Day, your ad copy should reflect that you're having a Father’s Day sale. You don’t have to be overly creative, but you do have to grab their attention, hold their interest, and pique their curiosity.
To help grab that attention, consider coming up with a unique value proposition that makes your offer different from anybody else’s, and describing in one sentence how that will benefit customers. Going back to the Father’s Day example, maybe you have a special tool that dads love and that nobody else stocks that you can mention in the ad.
Don’t Forget the Call to Action
One more thing about creating the ad that’s important enough to command its own section is the call to action. Without a CTA, there's no point running the ad, because the CTA tells interested prospects what they're supposed to do next. The CTA can be short and sweet, but it must be clear, concise, and compelling, such as “buy now.”
Test Your Ads to Ensure Performance
Once your ads are up and running, your work still isn't done, unfortunately. In fact, this is when the real work begins, and that includes tracking your ads, measuring performance, and making changes as necessary to improve results. A great way to do this is with A/B testing because it lets you run two near-identical versions of the same ad at the same time, with one important difference. You can modify just about any element you like, including the copy, CTA, keyword, or even the landing page itself. But once you know which version performs better, make the necessary changes and stop wasting money on the less-effective ad.
PPC isn't overly difficult, but it does require some knowledge of how the process works and a great deal of planning and research if you want to get the best ROI from your efforts. The key things to remember include optimizing your landing page before anything else, and then setting a budget and choosing a bidding strategy. Then comes the onerous—but achievable—task of researching and choosing the right keywords. This is followed by creating your ad. And once the ad launches, you have to track, measure, test, and tweak to make sure that your PPC efforts are producing the traffic, conversions, or leads you were hoping for.