When Americans are looking for a local business—whether for a bite to eat or to get a bike repaired—93% search online first. Even the smallest of businesses benefit from digital marketing.
After all, digital marketing is a business’s best chance to be seen by potential customers in the space they spend time in every day—online.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) notes that, on average, small businesses spend 1%-4% of their revenues on marketing. Since revenues already tend to be small, there’s not much room in the budget for trial-and-error.
Fortunately, there’s at least one small business digital marketing tactic that’s all but guaranteed to net a solid return on even a small investment.
But what makes PPC advertising so effective? And why does it work when alternatives so often fail?
If you’re asking those questions, get ready for answers. Discover what PPC advertising is, why it works, and how small business owners like you can make it work on almost any budget.
Then, learn how to weave PPC into a broad, effective digital marketing strategy.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Where Small Business Digital Marketing Strategies Fail
Small businesses’ marketing strategies fail in a few different ways.
Sometimes, they try to do everything at once but don’t have the budget to do any of those things well. They give everything from video to content marketing a shot, but nothing is compelling enough to convert,
Other times, they fail due to poor targeting or optimization. They run ads, but the ads never get in front of the people who actually want what you’re selling. Or, the ads don’t clearly communicate the value proposition.
Instead, it’s better to do one thing well and to see it through to the end.
What Sets Apart Successful Digital Marketing? (Hint: It’s Not Ad Spend)
Regardless of the budget, successful digital marketing campaigns all have five things in common. These campaigns:
- Know who their ideal audience is
- Know where and how to reach that audience
- Don’t waste time advertising to those outside that audience
- Can connect with audience members emotionally
- Know how to communicate their product’s value to that audience
Now, you can hit all these marks with a range of different strategies. But one is sure to get it done for less.
PPC Advertising: It Gets Results
PPC advertising is one of the most successful digital marketing strategies for a business on a budget. Why?
It makes sending your message to the exact people you’re looking for easier than ever.
PPC campaigns use tailored and targeted ads. They allow you to discover where your ideal customers are online, then test your messaging as you go.
What is Pay Per Click Advertising?
The “PPC” in PPC advertising stands for “pay-per-click.” It’s a useful way to run ads online on a budget because, as an advertiser, you only have to pay when an internet user clicks on your ad.
This stands in contrast to most traditional advertising strategies, where an advertiser pays a publication up front to run an ad. Or, they pay a radio station or tv channel to run an ad in a specific time slot.
In those models, the advertiser pays as long as the ad is run—even if nobody sees it.
PPC advertising enables an advertiser to run an ad hundreds or even thousands of times without going over budget. The advertiser pays a set amount every time a user clicks on the ad.
The amount is set through a competitive process where advertisers bid on keywords. Ads are served exclusively or primarily to users who type those keywords into a search engine.
Once enough people click the ad that the advertiser hits their limit, the system stops running the ad. There are other ways to set limits within a PPC campaign, too, but this strategy is common.
What Exactly Are Keywords in a PPC Campaign?
Keywords are words, phrases, or terms people type into Google.
The optimal PPC campaign associates ads with the keywords the advertiser’s ideal customer will use when dealing with a problem the advertised product (or service) will solve).
Advertisers bid on keywords they want to build the campaign around. The right keywords are:
- Frequently used
- Not too competitive
PPC campaign strategists often aim for highly-relevant, less-competitive keywords in the long tail. To choose the right words, some marketers use keyword research tools. Others use survey data or their own intuition.
Types of PPC Ads
Google Ads and similar platforms enable businesses to run a wide range of types of ads using a PPC strategy. There are eight popular types of ads you might run in one of these campaigns.
Some types require more from advertisers in terms of assets—images, video, or audio clips that compose the ad as displayed. And others are best-suited to eCommerce or B2B brands.
Consider where your company fits into the PPC ad ecosystem.
Paid search ads are the most common type of PPC ad. These are the ads you see at the top of the Search Results page when you search on Google.
Like an organic search result, paid search ads take the users to a landing page when they click on the text. They have a heading, subheading, and metatext, just like other search results.
Google indicates the result is an ad unobtrusively.
Google Ads offers options to improve paid search ads that are often worth considering. For instance, ad extensions enable your ad to show extra business information, like a phone number or location, when it’s displayed as a result.
You can also take advantage of tools like Responsive Search with paid search ads. This lets Google test different combinations of headlines and metatext, then promote the combinations that get the best responses.
Display ads are the ads you most often think of as online advertisements. These ads are images and ad-copy displayed in slots at the top, bottom, or sides of a webpage. Banner ads are display ads.
In a PPC campaign, displays ads are still connected to keywords and search terms. However, they tend to have lower conversion ratios than paid search ads. As a result, they typically cost less per click.
Video ads run before, after, or in the middle of YouTube videos. According to one market research firm, online video now comprises 84% of online traffic.
While video ads can cost more to produce, they can be useful as part of a video-centered marketing strategy.
Remarketing shows display ads to users who have already visited your site. Remarketing ads can be used to upsell happy customers. Or, you can use them to remind potential customers about products they were interested in.
Social Media Ads (Paid Social)
Paid social media ads are displayed on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Social media PPC campaigns can vary significantly by platform.
Many social media platforms give advertisers the option of creating a landing page within the platform rather than taking users who click to another site. This can enable you to build on the trust users already place in the platform.
Like Paid Search ads, Shopping ads are displayed to users after they Google search with the relevant keywords. Google displays these ads at the top of the results page.
Shopping ads include a product’s image, name, and price. They often empower a user to buy a product or add it to their cart instantly when they click.
Amazon Sponsored Products
Amazon Sponsored Products are ads displayed in Amazon’s search results. Amazon displays these ads in response to keywords users type into the search bar.
These ads look like all other Amazone search results, but Amazon labels them as “sponsored.” When a user clicks on one of these ads, the ad redirects them to that product’s Amazon page.
Gmail Sponsored Ads
Gmail Sponsored Ads are typically used by B2B advertisers. Google displays these ads within people’s Gmail inboxes. They look like an email, and each ad includes a compelling subject line.
When a user opens the email, the ad is displayed in the email body.
How Does a PPC Digital Marketing Campaign Work?
A PPC digital marketing campaign is fundamentally simple.
Campaigns are built around keywords advertisers hope their ideal customers are typing into search bars. Advertisers bid on keywords. The higher the bid, the better the ad’s placement.
Bid on Search Terms
Bidding on a keyword means naming the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for each click on your ad. You can also set a rate of pay per thousand impressions or per specific engagement.
Small businesses often opt for automated bidding. This lets you set a budget and gives Google’s bidding algorithm the ability to win keywords on your behalf, within your constraints.
Manual bidding is another option. This is more hands-on. It’s a good strategy if you want to cut all spending on low-performing ads.
Pay When People Click on Your Ad
Some actions cost more per “click” than others. If you only want to pay for acquisitions—say, when a lead actually purchases an advertised product from your eCommerce store—that costs more than paying solely per click.
Which action you want to budget for depends on the nature of your business.
Running a PPC Ad Campaign: Overview
There are five stages to running a PPC ad campaign.
There’s also a preliminary stage: learning how Google Ads determines the quality of the ads it runs.
Want easy-to-follow digital marketing advice? Get this information before you start. It shapes your copy, targeting, and overall strategy of a PPC campaign.
AdRank and Quality Score
Google Ads determines a given ad’s placement. Placement describes an ad’s location on a webpage (including a Search Results page). Google gives high-priority and high-frequency placement to ads with a high “AdRank.”
An ad’s AdRank is the product of its Quality Score multiplied by the advertiser’s maximum bid on the related keywords. An ad’s Quality Score is calculated by weighing four factors:
- The ad’s relevance to the keyword
- The quality of the ad’s landing page
- The ad’s current click-through rate (CTR)
- The ad’s previous performance on the Search Results page
Improving an ad’s copy, call to action, and landing page can improve its efficacy by increasing your bid.
A landing page doesn’t need to be elaborate to convert leads effectively. High-impact visuals and mobile optimization will do a lot for a page’s effect on an ad’s Quality Score.
Plan PPC Campaign With Templates
Business owners typically begin a PPC campaign by using templates to create ad groups. A campaign typically has two or more ad groups. Each ad group encompasses a cluster of related keywords.
The cluster may be broken down into sub-groups, each of which can inspire separate ads (both in terms of copy and design).
Templates can show you visually how each ad in each group relates both to your ideal audience and to the specific goals of the campaign.
Ads within an ad group are thematically similar. Users are likely to encounter multiple ads in the same group as they search if the keywords are relevant to one another.
Ads in a group should reflect the intent of the user who is searching with the set of terms to the extent possible.
Choose Keywords and Key Phrases
As you establish ad groups, you’ll want to choose sets of about five keywords per ad.
You’ll also want to choose exclusions. Exclusions are similar-seeming terms that are not relevant to your message.
After you develop ad groups and choose keywords, you’ll choose a geographic location for your campaign. If you have a local service or brick-and-mortar aspect to your business, run your campaign in the region you serve.
If your business is entirely eCommerce or online, consider regions with a high population of potential customers.
Factors like the population’s income level range, common cultural identities, and occupations may make a region a good choice for your campaign’s location.
Choose Match Type
Match types tell Google whether you only want it to show your ad to users who type in the keyword exactly or if you want it to be shown to users who typed in similar, related terms. Google Ads offers PPC advertisers four options:
- Exact match
- Phrase match
- Broad match
- Modified broad match
The company explains each option in detail within the Support pages for Google Ads.
Create Highly-Clickable Ads
Once you have your PPC campaign laid out, it’s time to create and launch your ads. Ad creation is complex. For more on the creative aspect of a PPC campaign, scroll to “Digital Marketing Tips: How to Set Your PPC Campaign Up For Success.”
Success Stories: PPC Marketing Gives Small Brands a Boost
As a small business owner, you may be skeptical if PPC campaigns will work for your brand. The good news is, you aren’t striking out into uncharted territory.
Many small and mid-size businesses have seen incredible success with optimized PPC campaigns. Consider the impact one campaign had on a local service-oriented business.
To alter its digital marketing strategy, this business only had to raise its marketing budget by 1%. The results? Conversions increased by 58%.
The local services business also increased the number of sales calls it took by 30%—all due to a single PPC campaign that cost a 1% bump in the marketing budget.
Another local business, a sign company, actually decreased its ad spend by 14.72%. That’s right: it saved almost $1000 by switching to a digital PPC marketing strategy.
The result? Impressions increased by 18.83%. And conversions increased by 50%.
If your small business is struggling with digital marketing, a PPC campaign might be the answer.
Can Pay Per Click Advertising Work For Me?
PPC advertising can work for almost every brand. In one firsthand account, the manager of the company Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing notes that a managed PPC campaign “immediately got us results.”
Moreover, it kept working. Over a year later, the customers just keep rolling in.
Digital Marketing Tips: How to Set Your PPC Campaign Up for Success
Successful PPC campaigns have certain attributes in common. Typically, they’re planned out from the beginning. And the plan leaves room for revision and iteration as you get information about what works—and what doesn’t.
To set your PPC campaign up for success, take these six tips in stride.
1. Identify Your Ideal Audience
Before creating a campaign, try to cultivate a clear vision of who you’re speaking to in your messages. You might even conduct an exercise to help you develop audience profiles.
These profiles can help you envision the ideal audience for your ads. They have a problem your business can solve, they have the income to pay for it, and they may share some affinities or values.
Insight data can help you flesh out these audience members in greater detail.
2. Discover What They Want
The best way to discover what your potential customers want is to gather data.
You might collect information on your current customers through feedback surveys. Or, you might recruit potential customers to participate in observational studies or focus groups.
This data on your audience will shape your keyword research.
When you understand your audience members’ desires, emotional responses, and conversational styles, you can paint an accurate picture of the way they search online.
3. Map Out the Market
After researching your ideal customers—the audience for your ads—conduct research on the market as a whole. Who are your primary competitors? What do they offer, and what are their prices?
You may want to create a competitive map.
4. Establish Your Brand’s Differentiators
Determine what your company offers that your competition doesn’t.
Consider gaps in the market. Who is your competition neglecting to serve but would benefit from your services? Gaps can be demographic, in terms of products offered, or in terms of price points.
Try to state what makes your brand better in one sentence. Break that down into keywords.
5. Develop Your Digital Marketing Strategy
You understand your audience (your ideal customers). You understand the competition. You know how your brand stands out.
Now, it’s time to develop your digital marketing strategy. The goal of your digital marketing strategy is to:
- Demonstrate the value of your product
- Distinguish it from the competition
- Speak to different audience members (connect)
- Call them to action
This will involve a PPC campaign. But, that campaign may be woven into a broader marketing campaign. It may encompass email marketing, content marketing, or influencer marketing, as well as paid ads.
6. Set Up a Customer Acquisition Funnel
Most digital marketing campaigns are structured like a customer acquisition funnel. PPC ads can communicate messages to potential customers at any stage of the funnel.
Each stage of a funnel ushers audience members along a path—one that results in their conversion to a customer. Funnels typically have five stages:
- Lead generation
- Lead nurturing
- Lead to customer conversion
- Relationship building
- Customer to evangelist conversion
PPC ads are most often used to generate and nurture leads. However, remarketing ads can be effective when strengthening your company’s relationships with existing customers.
A PPC ad might encourage a lead to engage with nurturing content through a different channel.
For instance, if an ad generates leads and brings an audience to a landing page, the audience members might be called to sign up for an email newsletter in exchange for a free gift. The email newsletter then serves to nurture the leads.
It’s worthwhile to A/B test the copy for each ad at each stage. And note that audience members with different profiles may respond to entirely different funnels. Targeting effectively gets better results than trying to cast the widest possible net.
PayPerClick Authority: Watch Your Business Boom
PPC advertising can be easy to start, and it offers significant potential returns on your investment.
But, optimization can be a challenge. From keyword research to bidding strategies to A/B testing copy, it takes skill to run a campaign that truly maximizes returns on your investment in digital marketing.
As a business owner, you likely have your hands full with everything else involved in running your company. It can be nearly impossible to find the time to gain the skills you need to thrive online.
Why not leave it to the experts?
At PayPerClick Authority, we elevate small business digital marketing strategies with optimal techniques. From campaign management to ad copy, our PPC professionals know how to get results.
Interested in what we can do for you? Schedule a free, 30-minute consultation with a PPC expert today. Let us empower your small business to thrive.