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What is PPC?

When I meet with small business clients, I frequently find that I have to explain more about what pay per click advertising is and dispel a few myths about how it works, more so than many other aspects of digital advertising.  Since many of these questions come up on a recurring basis, it only makes sense to put them in a blog.  So, what is PPC?

Pay per click advertising is a type of internet advertising that is meant to drive traffic to websites in which the advertiser pays for each click; it is most frequently associated with Google’s ad platform Google Ads or Bing’s platform BingAds. Facebook and many of the other social media platforms have similar options, along with some content sites as well. In general, position is based on an auction determined by an advertiser’s bid on certain keyword phrases.  For most people, they are most familiar with PPC by recognizing the advertising shading on the top and right side of the Google search results.

PPC advertising is a good solution for just about any business, except for a few industries in which I feel that the cost per click is cost-prohibitive to be effective.  In general, the changeability, the diversity, the trace-ability, and the tangibility of the advertising makes it a very appealing solution for a wide range of advertisers.

Benefits of PPC Advertising:

  • Instead of paying based on impressions like you would get with TV advertising or print advertising, you only pay when your ad is clicked, meaning when a visitor actually comes to your site. You aren’t paying for people who might be seeing your information, you’re paying for people who are seeing your information.  With TV ads, you ideal customer could be on a bathroom break during your ad. With print, your ad could be lining the cat litter box or the compost bin, instead of being a launch point to come to your site or call or visit.  With PPC, you don’t pay unless the user visits your site, putting your branding directly in front of them.
  • With PPC, as opposed to something like display advertising, your customer is looking for you; they are actively engaged in the search process. If you choose the right keywords, have compelling ad copy, and land the customer on a convincing landing page, you are bringing highly qualified visitors directly to your site and only paying for them.  This is where an experienced account manager comes into play to avoid wasted funds.
  • It is easy to track. With conversion tracking, phone call tracking, and click metrics, you can see exactly where your money is going. Whether you’re tracking forms, landing pages, newsletter signups, sales, or downloads, the PPC interface can keep track of the leads and sales you generate.  When you enable conversion tracking and optimize your campaigns for those conversions, you are able to minimize unnecessary spend and focus on the ad copy and the keywords that convert.  Furthermore, you can see where every dollar is going and immediately take action.  You can see exactly how far your budget is carrying you and measure ROI in an immediate way, without having to guess at effectiveness.
  • It’s easily testable.  You can change ad copy variations, landing page layout, ad group segmentation, all quickly and easily.  While you want to test slowly, (because otherwise, how do you really know what’s working?), PPC is one of the easiest media platforms in which to test advertising.
  • It’s a great way to gauge keyword performance for SEO campaigns. That idea is pretty self-explanatory, but if you find a good keyword and ad variation, you can use that language and focus on that keyword from an organic standpoint after testing its success in PPC.
  • It’s easy to scale up and down. Changing budgets and pacing can be done in seconds.  With conversion tracking, it makes it easy to scale budgets up or down based on performance, as well.  The only cap to your budget is the total amount of traffic on your keywords based on your account settings.
  • It works for both B2B and B2C. Sure, you need to approach them differently, but at the end of the day, both are effective in pay per click.  The way you write ad copy, the information on your landing pages, and the keywords you use might be different between something targeting business decision-makers or consumers, but everyone uses search engines throughout their day, making search engine advertising highly effective.

PPC is a great advertising model for a wide range of advertisers.  Is it better than SEO? No, that’s not what I’m saying – they’re apples and oranges.  It is, however, when done correctly, a highly effective marketing platform to generate leads and help customers discover your business and your brand.