Pay per click advertising is easier than ever
Platforms like Google and Facebook may be known to most people for their incredibly useful free service,, but they only exist to make money from advertising. Here’s some handy advice if you’re thinking of giving it a go.
Who should do PPC marketing?
Companies of all sizes, from sole traders to global brands, are spending more and more on this type of marketing each year. Spending on PPC ad marketing is expected to overtake spending on TV advertising in 2017. Don’t rush into it just yet though, that doesn’t mean everyone should jump on the bandwagon.
PPC advertising should be drawn on when it’s the best strategy to reach your specific goals, for example this might be to sell a certain product online, or to raise brand awareness. PPC platforms offer different systems to help you achieve these goals, but throwing money at them in the hope that it will grow your business is unlikely to be sustainable in the long run.
PPC is best for businesses that want to sell a very specific product or service in a short time frame to an clearly defined audience.
Three main PPC options:
Don’t do PPC: there are many legitimate reasons for not carrying out a PPC advertising campaign, don’t be afraid of steering clear of it unless you have a solid plan for how to get it to work.
DIY PPC: if you have a small budget, say under £200, and you are pretty computer literate then feel free to have a go for yourself. All platforms make it as easy as possible for you to spend money, so you should be able to get to grips with the basics. Make sure you keep track of your spending and measure the results.
Call a pro: If you aren’t sure if PPC is right for you, or how to get started, it is certainly worth giving us a ring. For larger budgets, when small optimisations can have a big impact on the return that you generate, it may be a better use of your time to let our experienced team handle the complex quagmire that large campaigns can quickly become.
The pros and cons
Pro: You can target your ads
Why pay for advertising that puts your business in front of people who aren’t going to buy what you sell? The reason that PPC platforms have come to prominence is that you have so much more control over who sees your ads. If you’re a plumber in Manchester, you can show your ads to people who live in Manchester and are actively looking to hire a plumber. As platforms like Google and Facebook collect a creepy amount of information about their users, you can pick out demographics who you think will like your product or your service but aren’t even looking for it yet.
Con: More competitive than ever
As more and more people make the move to online advertising it is inevitably getting more competitive. If you’re new to the game, you may have to pay a premium to get your ads to appear above competition which have built up higher quality scores and lower costs per click. General industry trends are the costs of clicks and conversions are going up. As more people bid for visibility and businesses become more dependant on PPC for continued revenue, they become more desperate to get to the top, whatever the cost.
Pro: low entry cost
A key appeal is that it’s possible for people to spend as little or as much as they want on advertising, with close control over how much you spend and when. You can start a campaign for under a tenner, so it’s pretty accessible compared to most other forms of marketing, even printing a few business cards would require more investment. This makes it very easy for people to dip their toe in the water by themselves. You couldn’t do this with TV advertising where the minimum spend is many thousands of pounds and there’s no commitment either, since you can stop at any time.
Con: It quickly ads up (pun intended)
It’s easy to get carried away with how cheap PPC appears to be. Getting a few thousand impressions for a fiver, or spending twenty or thirty quid doesn’t sound like much… but hang on, aren’t you spending that every week, or every day or even every hour? If you work out your monthly ad spend it could quickly come to hundreds or even thousands of pounds for only a few leads. This is fine if you have a high conversion rate for those leads and they all become high value customers, but you may end up spending more than you intended just by nudging the max cost per click up a few pence. A budget of a few hundred or a few thousand pounds per month may be more profitable to invest elsewhere.
Con: tracking effectiveness is tricky
There are a ton of powerful tools available to closely work out what’s most effective. Facebook’s “Pixel” and Google Analytics “Ad Tracking” offer sophisticated ways to measure how many people click on your ads, where they go and what they buy. Without at least an analytics system that tracks these actions you simply have no idea how much business your ad campaign is generating. Some of these tools may not be so easy to set up, with some of them requiring the precise placement of code in your website, carefully linking appropriate accounts and making sure the ads are set up correctly from the start.
It’s easy to throw thousands pounds at an ad campaign, but unless you have the technical expertise to set up a rigorous tracking system you won’t have any evidence to justify your spending. Getting new business is great but should that be at any cost? You should be able to work out what the value of your average customer is so you can make sure that this is larger than the advertising cost of acquiring said customer.
Top tip Work out what you want customers to do, be it making a purchase online or giving you a call, then record when that happens as a result of your ads.
Pro: Quick Results
You can set up and launch an ad campaign in a matter of minutes. Compared to most marketing tactics this is practically instantaneous. Getting ads approved takes very little time in most cases so depending on your budget, you could be bringing in leads by the same day. Alternative strategies, both online and offline, typically take longer to generate a return on investment than this. If you need leads fast, or want to shift a specific product in a certain time frame this is an incredibly powerful tool that can be turned on or off at the flick of a (digital) switch.
Con: Little long term benefit
Once you’ve spent your ad budget, that budget has gone. Either you made a profit with it or you didn’t. While there are arguments to be made for increasing brand awareness by increasing impressions, unless you can measure an increase in sales that is directly from your ads, the main benefit you get is a lot of data on what didn’t work. If you’re just going for a short term boost then this is perfectly acceptable. However, in our experience, long term investment in multi-channel, inbound marketing, based on content marketing and SEO, builds momentum that is more cost effective in the long run.
Pro: All the data
Isn’t all the data awesome? It’s very cool to see where your money is going. Refreshing the dashboard every couple of hours to see hundreds or even thousands of impressions and clicks gives almost tactile feedback of where your money is going. We like data. It shows when things are working. It also shows where things can be improved. From analysing the performance of different keywords, to split testing different ads and refining the targeting of ads, PPC offers the kind of real time feedback you can only beat when talking to a customer face to face. Only with PPC you can do it with hundreds of customers at once!
Con: All the data
Let’s be honest, all that data can be a bit overwhelming. If you don’t know your CPM from your CPC and your CPA then maybe the number crunching part isn’t for you. As soon as you get your campaign of the ground it’s a race against time to optimise it further and further to make sure you get the best possible return on your investment. Different stats are useful for different campaigns and unless you have your campaign set up properly, with the correct tracking systems in place it’s all meaningless as you won’t be looking at the full picture.
Pro: More visibility
Ultimately, with PPC you can pay to put your business in front of more people. This is a good thing as you can control that message and harness that attention to drive sales to your business. As with many things in life, it’s not easy to do this well, but when it works it can be very profitable.
Con: Less trusted
In general, people don’t trust adverts as much as other sources. Most people will skip straight past the ads at the top of Google and are more likely to click on the organic results. For this reason alone, investment in SEO is always a stronger strategy as it increases a website’s position in these, more trusted, organic results.
The Alloy Opinion
PPC can be great, in the hands of an expert it can be used for precise, tactical marketing campaigns that generate a quick and measurable return on investment. Like any precision tool, PPC should only be used when necessary and appropriate. It’s easy to get started but less easy to do well, so be careful not to quickly burn through your budget and have nothing to show for it. If in doubt, consult a pro, or read more about our PPC management services here.