What is PPC Advertising?
Pay-per-click (PPC) e-commerce advertising is a form of digital marketing in which businesses post an ad on a search engine, such as Google, or social media site, such as Facebook, and pay for each click the ad receives. Through this, businesses can drive traffic to their sites by paying for it rather than drawing it in “organically” through good search engine optimization (SEO).
PPC advertising is a powerful form of marketing, and when PPC campaigns are conducted properly, they can be incredibly beneficial for both large, medium, and small businesses alike.
However, the world of digital marketing can seem daunting and a little confusing for small business owners, since it does take some time to fully understand it and most small business owners have anything but free time on their hands. Yet, it is important for small business owners to recognize the important role online advertising can play for e-commerce businesses. In this post, we will cover a number of different marketing tips on PPC strategy that you can use in your current marketing campaigns or as you decide whether or not you think PPC advertising is right for your small business.
#1 – Define Your Advertising Goals Early On
PPC marketing can be used to accomplish a number of different goals, such as:
– Drive sales
– Increase traffic
– Raise brand name awareness
– Generate leads
Whenever you are designing a marketing campaign, the first thing you have to do is define what your goals for the campaign are and what you would like to accomplish.
These goals are important because they will allow you to assess which campaigns are the most effective.
For example, let’s say you are running two different ad campaigns on Google through Google AdWords. One ad is performing really well in the sense that it is driving tons of traffic to your site. In fact, your site has never had this much traffic. The other ad you have is also performing really well, except it is leading to a much higher conversion rate than the first ad, meaning a larger percentage of those who click on the ad are actually buying something from your site. The second ad is not, however, driving as much traffic to the site as the first one. If your goal is to drive sales, then ad number two might be the better bet in the long-run. However, if your goal is simply to drive traffic to your site and raise brand awareness, then ad number one might be the better ad for right now.
If you have clearly defined goals and objectives, you will easily be able to decide which ad is performing better for your needs and you will be able to tailor future ads to reflect those goals. However, without clearly defined, measurable goals, you won’t have benchmarks from which to compare, contrast, and evaluate different ad campaigns.
As such, setting goals is extremely important, as they will both allow you to assess your ad campaigns in line with your larger business plan, as well as give you something to work towards.
#2 – Make Sure You are Using the Proper Bid Strategy
Whenever you run an ad campaign, your bid strategy must align with your goals. Different bid strategies will yield different results. Google AdWords, for example, has a whole host of different bid strategies that you can choose from which will allow you to achieve certain results.
Take some time to look at the different bidding strategies offered by each ad platform and familiarize yourself with the results they are intended to yield. Some strategies will be designed to increase conversions, some will be designed to drive down your cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and some will be designed to maximize the traffic to your site. #3 – Design Multiple Ads and Rotate Them
Much of e-commerce marketing, whether that is PPC marketing, email marketing, search marketing, or anything else, centers around trial and error.
Sure, marketers with experience will have a much better shot of getting things right early on, as well as knowledge of the different marketing methods and marketing strategies, however, at the end of the day, advertising campaigns are all about analyzing and refining.
In light of this, it is always best to run a number of different ads at once. If you only run one ad, you won’t know if another ad with different keywords or different phrasing would work better.
By running multiple ads at once, you can compare and contrast them to see what is working and what is not. We recommend running at least four different ads to ensure you are casting a wide net.
Many ad platforms, including Google AdWords, even have automated ways to rotate ads. Google in particular has four different ad rotation optimization methods you can choose from, all of which can help achieve a different result.
#4 – Track and Reassess Keywords
The core foundations of all PPC advertising campaigns are keywords. Keywords are particular words or phrases that searchers use when looking for search engines, such as Google search.
When choosing keywords, you should be choosing words which you believe accurately describe your product and which you believe people are searching for.
There are also long-tail keywords, which are particular phrases that consumers will search for. These are especially important for businesses selling in crowded markets.
For example, let’s say you sell organic, sustainable oolong tea. It is going to be very hard and expensive to get your ad in the face of the generic consumer searching for tea, and odds are you wouldn’t want your ad in front of everyone searching for “tea” anyways, since many of them will be looking for regular, cheap options. Thus, instead of trying to be in the running for the keyword “tea”, a better approach would be to use the long-tail keyword or phrase “sustainable oolong tea”. That way, you are reaching your target audience while still advertising and beating out competitors.
As a simple exercise, think about your product and the benefits it offers. If you were a consumer looking for a product that provides those benefits, what would you search for? People are similar in many ways. Odds are what you would search for someone else would too.
Whenever you are running a marketing campaign, you should keep close tabs on the keywords you are using to see which are your best performers. Once you get a good idea of your best performing keywords, you should refine your campaign to focus on them. Google in particular formulates a “quality score” for each of your keywords. You can use this to help you determine which keywords are yielding the best results for your business.
#5 – Don’t Forget to Use Negative Keywords
While keywords help you get your ads in front of those who are most likely to be interested in them and click on them, they can also get your ads in front of individuals whose search queries are only tangentially related to your advertisement.
Negative keywords can help you keep your ads from showing up for searchers who won’t be interested in what you are offering, helping you both save your advertising budget and increase the cost effectiveness of your ad campaign.
For example, let’s say that you sell new gym equipment, like recumbent bikes, treadmills, weights, and more. When you decide to run an e-commerce ad campaign, odds are you will use keywords like “gym equipment”, “new gym equipment”, and “workout equipment”.
Obviously, you want to get your ad in front of searchers who are looking for new gym equipment. However, based on these keywords, it is possible, and even likely, that your ad will show up in front of searchers looking for “used gym equipment” and “gym equipment repair”. Your business neither sells used equipment nor does it make repairs, so you want to prevent this from happening.
What is the solution? The solution is negative keywords. By listing keywords like “used” and “repair” in the negative keywords section, you can keep your ads from showing up for these unhelpful search queries by informing Google, or whichever ad platform you are using, that you don’t want your ads to show up for those keywords.
#6 – Create Ad Specific Landing Pages
Usually, it is best not to send searchers directly to your site’s home page when they click on an ad, since it typically won’t have information that addresses their specific search query.
Instead, your ad copy (what searchers see and click on) and your landing page (the page that searchers are taken to once they click on your ad) should work in unison. Landing pages should provide searchers with the information you would expect someone to be looking for if they were interested enough in your ad to click on it.
For example, going back to our example of a business that sells gym equipment, let’s imagine for a second that you are running an advertisement for treadmills. If your ad simply links to your website’s homepage, which is presenting a lot more than just treadmills, the searcher will have to expend effort navigating through your site to find the information they are looking for. However, if the ad links to a specific treadmill landing page, which shows the products you offer, financing deals and offers, and customer referrals, there is a much better chance that you will convert them into a paying customer, since they have all the information they need to make an educated decision right in front of them. Remember, you want to make it as easy as possible for the searcher to find and make sense of the information they are looking for.
Just like the ad copies themselves, landing pages should be continually refined over time based on the data you get from running the ads. If you are getting a lot of click-throughs, but your overall conversion rate is low, it might be a good idea to assess the effectiveness of your landing page and make changes.
#7 – Understand A/B Testing Principles
Whenever you are starting a new campaign, it is often good to run ads with a lot of different elements to see what works well and which ads are doing the best in accomplishing your objectives.
However, over time, you will want to begin refining ads on a much smaller level to help yield better results and truly optimize your ads. This is where A/B testing comes into play.
A/B testing is where you run two identical ads with identical landing pages. The only difference between the two should be one element on either the ad copy or landing page, but not both. Elements that you can change on the ad copy include the headline, keywords, the description, and ad extensions, and elements you can change on the landing page include the headline, images, etc. This sort of testing will enable you to find out which elements of the ad are working the best.
Remember to only have one difference between the two ads. If you have more than one different element on the two ads, the results will be indeterminate.
#8 – Create Ad Extensions
Ad extensions can drive click-through-rates and conversions by giving searchers more information. Ad extensions typically include things like your business’ address, links to landing pages with different information, your phone number or contact information, and more.
Creating an ad extension with your business’ phone number can be particularly helpful for service oriented businesses, like roofers and window cleaners, since customers typically have to call your business anyways to schedule a service and ask questions about logistics. Enabling searchers to access your phone number without having to look for it can help incentivize them to call you. Once they are on the phone with a real person, the chances of making the crucial lead-to-client conversion are even greater.
Phone number ad extensions are typically less helpful for e-commerce businesses selling physical products, since customers typically don’t have to call your business to place an order, however, there are many other ad extensions that can be helpful, particularly those that enable searchers to navigate to different landing pages on your website. For example, if you have a bike shop, extensions that link to repairs, new bicycles, and accessories could be very useful.
These extensions can be added manually in AdWords, and while they are not guaranteed to show up with the core ad copy each time, they can have a big impact on the effectiveness of your ad.
What is particularly nice about his feature is that Google does not charge any extra for it.
#9 – Utilize Device Targeting
Nowadays, people are always on the go, and as a result they do a lot of searching and web surfing on their phones.
When you are designing ad campaigns, you should be cognizant of the fact that ad copies can display differently on different devices, particularly in terms of a desktop versus mobile formats.
Google AdWords has sought to address this by enabling advertisers to create mobile-only ads, which will only display on phones, and call-only ads, which incentivize searchers to call your business by only providing a little information on your business and a phone number.
#10 – Craft Compelling Ad Copies
Whenever you are creating an ad, the goal is to be informative and concise. Headlines should grab the viewer’s attention and get directly to the point. Ask yourself the following question: “would I click on this ad if I saw it?”.
Whatever you do, do not drag on and on with your ad description. Get directly to the point and try to communicate what you want to say in as few words as possible. Searchers scan web pages incredibly fast, so they will likely only give your ad a quick glance. Make sure your ad can grab their attention in that millisecond timeframe.
Digital marketing can seem daunting at first, especially for those with little to no experience in it. However, with the proper research and good strategies and techniques, anyone can run a successful advertising campaign.
As such, while it is not necessary for all businesses to run ad campaigns, if you are looking to grow and expand your business, particularly an e-commerce business, ad campaigns are certainly something you should consider.
In addition, while we have presented a substantial overview of some of the key aspects and tips for PPC ad campaigns, this post is far from exhaustive. The world of marketing is endless, and there is always something new to learn.
So if you have some spare time on your hands, be sure to spend a few hours reading about advertising and PPC campaigns. A few strong ad campaigns could be just what you need to help take your business to the next level.