If you want your message to instantly appear in search results, you’ll need to start a Pay-Per-Click campaign to show your advert when a searcher searches for a keyword you choose to target.

What is PPC?

PPC, or Pay Per Click, is a type of internet advertising that directs search traffic to individual websites. Search engine advertising is one of the most popular forms of PPC, as it allows any website to bid for placement within a search engine results page based on keywords and daily budget restrictions. Essentially, PPC advertising is a way of “buying” visitors to your website, and is the opposite of organic search traffic. Google displays PPC adverts in the form of a sponsored link. These look very much like organic listings, making it hard for visitors to spot which results are paid for and which are received based on key word relevance alone.

We’ll be honest with you. Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns will not work for every business. But for most online marketers PPC presents a prime opportunity to attract traffic and increase conversions. Providing your campaign is well executed of course.

One of the biggest challenges marketers face when starting a paid advertising campaign is how to manage costs. Your PPC budget can be wiped out before even coming close to your goals. So it’s important to a) set a goal and b) plan your framework.

PPC campaigns require a strategy, management and consistent testing. Selecting prime keywords, setting your ads and leaving Google to do the rest are failure tactics. And if you are new to PPC, you are more likely to make mistakes.

So in order to make sure your budget goes furthest and works hardest, avoid…

…attracting clicks from browsers, not buyers

Every time somebody clicks in your ad, it costs you money. So you want to attract buyers, not browsers. The keywords you choose and the information you use in your ads should therefore focus on user intent.

If your ad copy does not make it clear what consumers can expect to find at the other side of the link, you are more likely to attract curious customers. And they are not always ready to buy.

You can improve your cost to conversion rate by eliminating worthless traffic. There are several ways to do this.

Google upgraded AdWords with ad extensions that enable PPC managers to give ads more structure. Marketers now have multiple options to enhance the information in ads and target a specific audience.

Using longtail keywords that relate to your product will focus on user intent. Also update the negative keywords field in your AdWords dashboard so that your ads are not matched with keywords that are not specifically relevant to your offer.

…using generic keywords

The competition for generic keywords is high, which means commercial search terms are expensive. Keywords are priced in relation to how popular they are.

To avoid falling into the trap of overspending on the most used commercial keywords, dedicate your PPC ads to a specific audience and select appropriate keywords they are likely to use as a search term.

Choosing the right keywords for your ads is a challenge within itself, but by assessing Google Analytics you can pull a set of keywords your customers are using to find your content.

…fixating on CPL

Although logic suggests cost-per-lead (CPL) is a good indicator of whether your ads are performing well, if you become obsessed with this metric, you may as well feed bank notes to the ducks.

Use CPL to determine which keywords are driving traffic for the lowest cost, which search terms show your ads and which copy is most effective. But beware of becoming fixated on CPL as a measure of success. It is a vanity metric and can be misleading.

PPC managers that are new to AdWords can often think that generating leads is a good sign the ads are working. Whereas this is partly true, if the leads are low quality and customers are not converting the metric means nothing.

The only measure you should fixate on is cost-per-conversion. If your ads are attracting plenty of leads, but customers are not converting, refocus your bids and keywords and amend the copy on your landing page and product pages.

…placing low bids

When you are watching your wallet, it sounds counter-intuitive to bid high, but expensive keywords drive more traffic.

Although the best practice is to find the right balance between costs and keyword popularity, placing bids that are too low mean click-through-rate (CTR) is also low. And you need clicks to improve your ad campaign.

Without clicks, it is harder to work out which keywords, ad copy and landing pages are performing. If you place low bids and receive low CTR, you are will waste money on underperforming ads.

Marketers have to be brave and aggressive in their first PPC campaign. There is no need to be gung-ho, but the best strategy is to start with high bids and gradually reduce them when you have analytical data you can use to fine tune your ad campaign.

Once you establish your ads convert to sales you can place lower bids which are more profitable.

…wimping out on split testing

Always test your copy. Yes, we know this is standard marketing practice, but because of the costs it is more important to A/B test PPC campaigns than any other form of advertising.

But of course, once you know which keywords, ad copy and landing pages do work, PPC becomes much more profitable.

You don’t have to go to additional expense creating several landing pages, but don’t be afraid to change the copy and call-to-action from one week to the next. Once you have a winner you can relax.

Before we leave, a word of advice. Go into your first PPC campaign with an open mind and a realistic attitude. You may be lucky and strike it rich first time, but the maiden voyage is typically to test the waters and discover which ads work and which ads don’t.

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