Pay-per-Click (PPC) Advertising - What Are The Options For Your Small Business?

One of the most effective and efficient ways you can reach your target audience is through Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising. With that in mind I wanted to write a post that will hopefully give you a head start in terms of the various options available to you and the ways in which you can get PPC working for your small business.

First Off, What Are The Benefits Of PPC Advertising?

Your business can experience a lot of benefits from a well designed PPC advertising campaign. Here are a few of the most beneficial:

  • You get to reach your target audience quickly
  • You can do so on a cost effective basis
  • You can use it to quickly test how profitable select keyword can be for you (before you invest in a long term SEO strategy for them)
  • You can instantly direct highly targeted traffic to your website - targeting can be razor sharp

How Could You Use Pay-per-Click In Your Small Business?

PPC campaigns can be used in a variety of ways in your small business. It's a versatile option, which can be used to:

  • Directly promote your core services or products
  • Indirectly promote your core services or products through advertising an e-book/free download that you have available on your site 
  • Promote special offers/time sensitive deals over a short period of time
  • Secure short-medium term search engine coverage for some keywords/phrases that you don't rank well for yet
  • To re-target web visitors who left without purchasing, contacting you or downloading anything (through Remarketing) 

What PPC Platforms Are Available For You To Consider?

While most of us would naturally think of Google Adwords first of all when we consider which PPC platform to build our campaign on, it's important to remember that there are many others available for you to use.

Here are a few popular examples:

Search PPC: Google Adwords

Google Adwords is by far the most popular PPC platform and is most likely the best one for you to start your pay-per-click journey with. With over 80% of the market it definitely makes sense that you would want your business to be involved.  Google also have a strong partner network, so your Ads can be shown on partner sites who use the Google Custom Search facility (assuming you want to use this feature of course).

This platform also allows you to set up a Remarketing campaign through the Google Display Network, which can be very powerful indeed. Plus, you can also target app users through AdMob and you can also target Youtube users through video ads too - it really is an excellent platform to work with.

You can get to Google Adwords here.

Search PPC: Bing Ads

Bing Ads is a relatively new platform and it definitely has it's benefits. For example, you can quickly and easily import an existing Google Adwords campaign into your Bing Ads account, and cost-per-click rates are a lot lower too. In addition to covering searches performed on the Bing search engine, Bing Ads are also displayed within Yahoo! search results pages too.

However, you have to balance the above with the fact that their market share is a lot lower too - only around 5% at the time of writing (November 2013).

You can get to Bing Ads here.

Social PPC: Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads are a great way of spreading your message across the social networks massive user-base. In fact, if you want to grow your fan base Ads might be the only way to do it to start with - Facebook themselves say that only around 15% of your fans will see your updates, so Ads might be essential to begin with.

Another plus point is that Facebook Ads are much less expensive than Google Ads. However, you have to balance that with the fact that on Google, people are actively searching for products and services related to your business. On Facebook, they are most probably not.

You can get to Facebook Ads here.

Social PPC: LinkedIn Ads

I really like LinkedIn Ads. If you are targeting specific B2B sectors, then this could be the best place for you to start off with. For example, the platform offers a high degree of targeting - you can target its user base according to job role and industry, for example.

Again, in my experience anyway, LinkedIn Ads are less expensive than Google Ads, although the balancing factors are reach and intent - people who see your Ads on LinkedIn might not really want or need your services.

You can get to LinkedIn Ads here.

Social PPC: Twitter Ads

Twitter have recently opened up their social networking platform so that small businesses can reach their user base with targeted Ads. As with the platforms mentioned above, you set budgets and bid limits and you pay as and when someone interacts with your Sponsored Tweet (clicks a link or RT's for example) or follows your Promoted Account.

This could be an excellent way to grow your social following. Also, I find that it's an excellent place to promote content such as e-Books, infographics or even blog posts. You can also use Twitter Lead Generation Cards - I'm writing a separate post on this actually, so please check back in a couple of weeks for that.

In the meantime, you can get to Twitter Ads here.

What To Think About When Choosing Your Platform 

It's worth having a think about your goals and which platform would likely help you reach them best before you invest in your campaign(s). Essentially - as will all other forms of marketing - you want to figure out where your target audience is most likely to be and then focus your attention there.

Although Google Adwords is probably the best choice for most new businesses, there are a few finer points that you may want to consider.

Here are a few examples:

  • Target market location: Although Google has excellent all round reach, if you are targeting foreign markets it might not be the best choice. For example, if you are looking to reach the Russian market, the local engine Yandex trumps all
  • Age range: It's been said that Google generally attracts younger users (up to 34) while Bing generally attracts older searchers
  • User type: Again, there seems to be a slight difference between Google and Bing here - Bings' user base is mostly consumer based, while Google attracts more of the the professional/business type
  • Cost per click: I mentioned this above, although if cost is a big issue, you should note that there is a substantial difference between cost-per-click rates across the main PPC platforms

Of course, none of these finer points may be relevant to you and there may  also be more areas that you will want to consider - just be sure to look into each platform in as much detail as you can to ensure you make the right choice before making your investment. 

Basic Tips For Setting Up Your Campaigns

While every platform will be different in terms of how you would actually open your account and set up your campaigns, here are a few general points to keep in mind when designing your pay-per-click campaigns:

  • First of all, have a clear goal in mind for your campaign - are you trying to directly promote products and services? Are you promoting an e-Book? Is this a short term campaign, or is something longer?
  • Make sure you set affordable daily/monthly spend limits 
  • Make sure you set a maximum CPC (cost per click) limit
  • Make sure you have a different Ad Group set up for each product or service you are promoting
  • Run at least 3 Ads per Ad Group to ensure best ROI - they will compete against each other, with the best one being shown more often
  • Make sure that your Ads direct people to a relevant landing page on your site - you shouldn't direct everyone to only your home page, for example
  • Ideally, you should have an individually designed landing/squeeze page for every product/service you are promoting
  • Finally - make sure that your keywords aren't all set to 'broad match'! It's best to use phrase or exact match until you are comfortable with what you are doing

Hopefully this has helped steer you in the right direction - please let me know on Twitter (below) if you have any thoughts or have anything to add.

Also, if you're looking for more information on Retargeting/Remarketing, you'll find this post useful.

Thanks for reading,

By Alan MacDougall

Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.

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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.
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