Wondering if you should market your small business with PPC ads? When you run a business, you inevitably get pushed and pulled in all directions when it comes to making decisions about your marketing. Ask many a small business owner and you’ll hear about the constant phone calls, emails and other messages encouraging them to take advantage of some “amazing” marketing opportunity. Amidst the noise about social media and just marketing in general, PPC continues to be tossed around as a must-have opportunity for business of every size.
And no wonder – reports show that people are twice as likely now to click on PPC ads than they were a year earlier. In 2012, Search Laboratory found that click-through raates – how many people who see an ad actually click on it – rose to 11.1% in 2012, up from 4.8% in 2011. It’s not just advertisers who are responding to PPC – customers are increasingly clicking on ads and responding.
What is PPC?
PPC stands for pay per click. As an advertiser, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Your ad may be served up for hundreds of thousands of impressions – views of the ad by your potential market members – but you only pay when someone clicks. The cost of that click can vary – from a few cents for an unpopular category to $35 or even higher for competitive areas, such as personal injury lawyers in Las Vegas.
Where can you see PPC?
Search engines, online newspapers, websites, blogs and social media sites often have PPC ads. When you search in Google and Bing, you may see text ads above search results. In fact, you may have even assumed those were part of the search results, because the advertisers often emphasize the keywords that you used in the first place. Similarly, Facebook and other social media sites offer PPC ads. Even your hometown newspaper’s website may have PPC ads. And, while text-based ads are the entry-level means of getting into PPC, many advertisers now also use more advanced ads with images too.
Why use PPC to market your small business?
PPC ads allow you to run ads in multiple markets without a huge investment. You may be able to tap into an option, such as the Google content network, to run your ads on hundreds of websites. If you run ads on all of those sites and no one clicks, you don’t pay anything – it’s performance based. And you can make changes on the fly, unlike with a static banner ad or a print advertisement. Many PPC advertisers make tiny changes to ads over time, using the tracking metrics of the PPC ad providers. Adding or deleting something as simple as a period may influence clicks and advertisers can look at the PPC metrics to help guide choices.
Why avoid PPC for small business marketing?
While PPC can deliver up great results, you need to think it through carefully:
- Why are you running the ads? What are your goals?
- What compelling reason do you have for people to click on your ads?
- Once people click on the ads, what do you want them to do on the landing page?
- Do you have a strong enough landing page to get visitors to take the next step, such as signing up for a newsletter, making a phone call, taking part in a contest, sharing your content, emailing you or making an online purchase?
- How will PPC work with your other marketing campaigns and strategies?
- What other strategies and campaigns could you use?
- Will the PPC ads allow you to show up in search results, whereas perhaps right now your firm ranks on the second page or worse?
- Do you want to manage the PPC campaign yourself?
- Do you want to write ads yourself?
Think through these points carefully. If you come up with wonderful PPC ads that deliver huge numbers of visitors to your website, that’s great – as long as you meet your goals. If you run a popular ad but people click away when they get to your site, you’ve just blown money only to lose your potential customer. That’s like holding a giveaway inside your store, only to have a customer walk out. So think of how you’ll get the customer to stick once they get to your landing page – and how you’ll get them to take the next step. More on that next time.
Andrea Coutu is the editor of Consultant Journal and the author of Consulting Fees: A Guide for Independent Consultants. She started running PPC ads on Consultant Journal in 2006, after her blog post on consulting rates went viral. She has also used PPC ads to market her business and those of her clients before that. She has run her marketing consulting firm, Trustmode Marketing, for 17 years.