What is PPC?
PPC is a digital marketing advertising model that businesses use to drive traffic and conversions from search engines. PPC can be a great way to market your startup business and reach new customers. However, it can be a little confusing at first for those just getting started.
In this blog, we will define PPC is, establish how it works, show you how you can use it to drive success for your startup and explain the differences between PPC vs SEO.
How do we Define PPC?
PPC, which stands for pay-per-click, lets advertisers place ads on an advertisement platform and pay the host of the platform when their ad is clicked. Paid advertising is big business, and it is reported that Alphabet (Google) alone earns more than $162 billion per year through their ad platforms.
The goal of an ad is to lead the user who clicks to the advertiser’s website or app, where the user can complete a valuable action such as purchasing a product. Common PPC platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Ads, allow an outstanding depth of targeting, meaning that you can serve ads in front of those only who you deem fit for your customer demographic.
Search engines are popular host platforms as they allow advertisers to display ads relevant to what users are searching for. Search engines are the number one way that people look for suppliers of both products and services and when there is an active audience looking for what your startup business offers – there is an opportunity to make a sale.
Advertising services like Google Ads and Microsoft Ads operate with real-time bidding (RTB), where advertising inventory is sold in a private automated auction using real-time data. Run almost any search on Google (or Bing), and you will see ads displayed at the top of the results page.
Is PPC Right for My Startup Business?
If you are considering PPC as a marketing channel for your startup, you will want to know the benefits and why you should invest your budget here and not elsewhere. If your main measure of success is brand awareness, PPC is particularly advantageous.
Regardless of what actions users take once they see your ad, they will still be made aware of your brand – here are a few beneficial features available when thinking about using PPC:
Need to temporarily pause advertising during a busy period? Want to only run ads when you need to generate fresh leads?
PPC is the perfect way to do this, as you are in full control of when your ads run (including the time of day and day of the week) and you can easily turn ads on and off as you wish; although a strong-performing campaign is always recommended to be used to drive wider business growth and not be used as a stop-start tactic.
You have also got full control over how much you spend each day (or month) and how much you pay per click, in comparison to other channels that don’t give you this same level of ability to manage a channel cost and budget so fluidly.
2. Tracking & Insights
One of PPC’s main benefits over traditional advertising channels is the ability to easily measure and track the returns from the platform.
All popular platforms, like Google Ads and Facebook, allow you to track conversions, including product or lead values. They also enable you to see, at a granular level, the ROI of not just the overall account but specific ad groups and keywords, too.
This means that you are able to use data and insights to effectively refine the efficiency and performance of a campaign over time to increase the ROI of the channel.
Choosing the right keywords is what allows advertisers to show ads to relevant audiences. Unlike traditional advertising, PPC allows you to target your exact customer based on your data, some of the targeting options available to optimize campaigns include:
- Device targeting
- Location targeting
- Day and time targeting
- Demographic targeting
This way, advertisers can target users on mobile in the evening, or users under 25 and within a certain radius of a particular location, to optimize their ads’ performance. These are valuable because different variations of ad copy, for example, might perform better for one group of users than for another.
4. Clicks & Conversions
Once you have set up your ad account and created an ad, these will typically need to be approved by the platform, but this usually takes no more than a few hours.
Once your ads are live, so long as you are eligible to appear in the auction and your bid is high enough, you can start appearing (and receiving clicks so long as the volume is there) very quickly. Compared to channels such as SEO, PPC allows you to start seeing returns and this is absolutely one of the reasons why it is so popular with marketers.
But the point of all this hard work isn’t just to get clicks. The real end game is to obtain conversions. These are the actions that advertisers want users to complete after clicking on their ad and depend on the type of business being advertised.
Common examples of conversions are:
- A customer purchase
- Signing up for a newsletter/online event
- Sharing information to be contacted about a product or service
- And more
It’s vital to track conversions to know whether a PPC campaign is doing well and how many conversions can be attributed to paid search rather than other marketing channels.
PPC vs. SEO
SEO and PPC advertising are two different strategies on both ends of the same digital marketing spectrum. SEO services focus on driving organic traffic to your website, while PPC advertising is all about displaying paid ads on search engine results pages.
But really, the two aren’t competing channels. They are both parts of a much wider digital marketing mix, and the two can, and should, work together effectively to drive success online. Whenever possible, try to avoid comparing these two channels and see both as vital parts of driving digital growth.
An excellent example of SEO is creating content for your website by writing blog posts or articles. Each blog post or article should contain relevant keywords that will improve your site’s web visibility. Ensure that your content is descriptive, easy to read, and offers valuable information to help people find what they are looking for on search engines.
As for PPC advertising, you can show ads and present your offers to potential customers. While you need to pay each time someone clicks on your ads, PPC advertising gives you the chance to expand your reach more quickly than SEO. Also, you can customise and personalise your ads to reach a specific audience.
SEO – The Pros
- A steady increase in website traffic
- Being on top listing in Google, your website becomes the brand name
- Low cost of acquisition and better ROI
- SEO makes you stand out among 1.5 billion websites on the web
- On average, 67.60% of clicks go to the first 5 results on Google
- Beat your competition and take the business to the next level with permanent results
Essentially, most people trust websites that appear on top of the search page, so focus on increasing your SEO rankings to establish your credibility. With a high ranking on organic search results, you can build trust and manage your online reputation.
SEO targets quality traffic – One of the biggest advantages of SEO is that it’s an inbound marketing strategy, in HubSpot’s most recent State of Inbound report, 59% of marketers said that inbound practices provided the highest quality leads for their sales teams.
Unlike traditional “outbound” advertising channels, which involve reaching out to consumers whether they want to hear from you or not, inbound methods center on making it easy for your audience to find you when they want information. These traditional methods, like cold calling, spam emails, and interruptive ads, are done solely with the advertiser’s goals in mind…and many consumers find them downright annoying.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is much more customer-centric. Instead of interrupting consumers as they’re watching TV or listening to the radio, it involves creating helpful resources and making helpful information more easily accessible. Then, when users are ready to spend some time researching your industry or learning more about their options for a specific type of product, they can find you on their own. This is not only much more convenient for consumers but also results in more qualified leads for your startup.
Most SEO services are not cheap, and it might even take a long time before you generate results. However, SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to boost your online presence compared to other digital marketing strategies. SEO is a lot less costly compared to outbound marketing strategies, such as cold calling and print ads, where you could spend a lot of money without making any leads or profits.
SEO – The Cons
- It requires significant investment to remain competitive
- It isn’t guaranteed to work for sure
- Being controlled by an algorithm
- Your actions can be penalized
It can take time to produce results
It could take a long time before your SEO campaign generates substantial results, you have to be patient and create consistently effective website content for your SEO rankings to boost in due time.
SEO Is Constantly Changing
You might want to hire a third-party SEO company as SEO is constantly changing. Search engine algorithms evolve as time progresses, so you always have to be on the lookout for the latest updates and changes.
Long wait to get a return on investment ROI
It requires a long time to produce tangible results from your SEO endeavors, it is likely that you require a long investment to accomplish a decent Return of Investment (ROI) from every one of your endeavors. This may not be good for startups that require generous incomes in the short term, which they will use as an asset to maintain their proceeds with operations.
PPC – The Pros
- PPC ads reach audiences cost-effectively
- User data can help inform your SEO strategy
- User data also benefits your social media strategy
- PPC gives easy-to-understand and measurable results
Users who search the terms you specify will see your business at the top of their search results, so you can draw those eyes to your site and hopefully convert those visitors to leads.
You only pay when someone clicks your ad – One of the major PPC benefits is that you pay per click. This means you only pay when someone interacts with your ad, providing a chance for conversion. You won’t go over your budget, though, since you can set your maximum spend ahead of time.
Seasonal Marketing Strategies
Probably one of the best advantages of Pay-Per-Click Marketing is that you can choose when to run your campaigns by the season. During slower seasons when you may not be receiving much traffic, you can turn your ad campaign off or ‘pause’ it. It’s worth noting that due to competition, costs will increase during a busy holiday season.
PPC – The Cons
- Clicks don’t always lead to sales
- Creative assets need to be refreshed to reduce ad-fatigue
- Requires commitment to maintain quality of results
- Higher CPCs/CPAs for LinkedIn compared to other social platforms.
Maintaining PPC ads is Time-Consuming
Although the initial setup might be simple, maintaining and making improvements to your PPC ads can be extremely time-consuming. Between changing your keywords, writing new copy, designing new ads, trying out different platforms and making changes to your landing page, your PPC campaign will take up a great deal of your time if you want it to be effective.
While we do love that pay per click grants you immediate visibility, the flip side of that coin is that influx of leads drop off the day you quit paying for social media advertising. For many companies, this makes PPC too expensive to be a long-term strategy.
(Potentially) Lower Quality Leads
While this depends entirely on your strategy, advertisers who are not yet adept at Facebook Ads may not know that optimizing for link clicks leads to Facebook serving your ads to “clicky” consumers who may not actually care about your product or service.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you need to use both PPC and SEO as part of your Internet Marketing campaign. PPC can bring you faster results so you can run a PPC campaign and test which keywords convert better and then try with SEO to rank for those keywords.
Use PPC when you have a high converting product and use SEO when you have a limited budget to spend on advertising. SEO may take time but the results are (under some conditions) long-lasting while with PPC when you stop paying for clicks, traffic will also stop.
When you’re planning out the marketing for your startup, consider both PPC and SEO for a comprehensive approach that will drive the results you’re looking for.