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What is PPC ? Basics of Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing

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Can you imagine spending even a day without using the internet to learn new things, find important commercial information, finish work, stay entertained or be connected with your loved ones? Today, the number of global internet users is on constant upswing and businesses cannot afford to not have an online brand presence. But what if you need to create an immediate buzz around your product/service offering and start generating leads? Here, we take you through the nitty-gritty of PPC marketing, a valuable and instant booster of site traffic. 

What is PPC/ Pay Per Click

PPC or pay-per-click marketing is the process of advertising in the paid ads section of Google or other search engines’ SERPs (search engine results page). As the name suggests, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and is led to the landing page you pre-set as the destination for them.

Pay Per Click deals entirely with web traffic that is paid for. The cost per click is governed by many factors, including your business domain and keyword competition, quality score and so on, as detailed in the subsequent sections. PPC advertising is a controlled, measured and highly budgeted way of reaching your target audience. It has gained a positive reputation over the years on account of the high revenue it is capable of generating. 

PPC (Pay Per Click) Ads

So now you know What is Pay Per Click, let’s get started with how it works.

How Pay Per Click Marketing Works

Although paid ad space can be bought on social media channels, YouTube, the Google Display Network (which is made up of numerous display/publisher sites and apps looking to make a quick buck), etc. this section will explain the many complexities of PPC for text ads on Google. 

Keyword Research and Types

A customer can search for your business or terms broadly associated with it in many unique ways, including by seeking information about your industry or business domain/category, solutions for various pain points related to your products/services, etc. You can use AdWords’ Keyword Planner to get an estimate of the CPC, search volume and other important metrics for relevant keywords. The following are the types of keywords and keyword matches you must understand before planning a PPC campaign. Below is a video where you will understand how keywords work.

  • Broad Match Keywords

Are those search queries which trigger an ad based purely on relevance. These keywords may not be a part of ad groups but provide the advertiser with invaluable information about the unusual ways users are searching for their brand/business. You can set any one or all of the afore-mentioned match types for various keywords within an ad group. However, exact keyword match is usually given the top priority, followed by phrase match, BMM and broad match categories.

  • Broad Match Modified (BMM) Keywords

When words within a search phrase are denoted using a ‘+’ symbol, it means that for an ad to be triggered, they must compulsorily feature in a user’s search query. In contrast, those words without a ‘+’ prefix need not feature in it at all for an ad to be shown. If, for instance, you specify ‘blue +sling +bags’ as the BMM keyword match type, Google will display your ad for search phrases that resemble it closely, including misspellings, plurals. etc. while the word ‘blue’ may not be included in it at all.

  • Phrase Match Keywords

Are marked using double quotes: “”. This type of matching will require the search keywords’ order to be exactly as specified by you, although there may be words before or after them. For e.g., if you define ‘Nike shoes in India’ as a phrase match keyword, even search queries like ‘men’s black Nike shoes in India online’ will trigger your ad.

  • Exact Match Keyword

Are denoted using square brackets. Google permits close matches in this category, including plurals, misspellings, words with changed orders, etc. although top priority is given to perfectly matching search terms.

  • Negative Keywords

There are certain keywords that you just do not want your ad to show up for. These are called negative keywords and it is important to determine which search terms fall in this category right from the outset. Remember that keywords can be pre-set at various levels, including the ad group, campaign or account umbrellas. If you have covered a keyword in one campaign, setting it as a negative keyword in other campaigns is important so you do not have to spend on it more than once.

Selection of network

While creating a PPC campaign on AdWords, you will be asked to choose the campaign type. Here, you will have to choose between Search, Display, Video, Shopping and Universal App options while also allotting the campaign an appropriate name of your choice. Make sure you pick the ‘Search’ option here. You can also categorise your campaigns based on brand and non-brand keywords or ads. Display ads (animation, images, videos, logos, etc. shown on publisher sites) are very different from search ads (textual content displayed on SERPs) and hence it is crucial that you select ‘No’ under ‘Add Display Network’ in the networks settings. Once this is done, you will have to set the daily budget and other parameters mentioned below.

  • Location targeting

It is very important that you indicate to Google where you want your ads to be displayed, including various countries, provinces, cities, districts, a certain radius around chosen locations, etc. You can also opt to not have your ads shown in specific places no matter what the search query. All of these parameters can be tinkered with under the ‘Select location to target’ setting in AdWords. 

The video below explains how to set up location targeting.

  • Ad scheduling and rotation

Part of crafting an intelligent PPC marketing strategy is to know exactly when to strike, i.e. to understand when your prospective customers are most active on the internet and are likely to convert into a profitable acquisition. This is where the Ad Scheduling feature/setting comes in – here, you can pick the time of day when your ad is displayed. Conversely, you can have your ad displayed throughout the day, whenever relevant search queries trigger it. Ad scheduling is most helpful to those who have a limited spend capacity. A campaign is made of various ads and Google can use machine learning to display the top-performing ads on rotation whenever you pick the ‘optimise’ option under the Ad Rotation setting on AdWords. You can also use the ‘Do not optimise’ option which means that your ads will rotate evenly no matter which ones are outperforming the others. 

  • Bidding

As mentioned earlier, the CPC depends on your competition’s ad rank and your quality score. You can choose either an automated bid strategy that is based on gaining maximum clicks, maximum conversions, enhanced CPC, etc. or a manual bid strategy by selecting a relevant option from the ‘Select your bid strategy’ dropdown menu under the Bidding settings in AdWords. You can also rely on smart bidding strategies, a technique that uses machine learning and previous account data to predict an outcome and make bids that fulfill your conversion goals. Check out this video to know more about smart bidding strategies.

  • Parts of a text ad

A text ad is made up of two headings and a description, a URL to a landing page and ad extensions, i.e. additional information about your ads that are instantaneously populated by Google based on various parameters, including location and device settings. The more information you provide under the ad extensions section, the higher your CTR. Sitelink, callout, structured snippet, image and other ad extensions further outline the USP of a brand or its product/service so that a user knows if the ad is relevant to their search query or not. Check out this video to understand more about how to write a text ad. 

The Importance of Pay Per Click Marketing

If you are a new business, it is understandable to feel at odds with the ways of the internet and not know where to start marketing your brand. Read on to know why you must give PPC a shot:

  • Budget

As mentioned earlier, one of the major aspects of PPC is that as an advertiser, you only pay when your ad gets clicked on by a Google user. This helps you retain great control over your spends and understand exactly where or how your money is being spent and converted into a favourable action. The moment the money in your PPC spends account is exhausted, Google stops posting your PPC ads until you fill it up again. You can constantly review your financial situation and proceed with PPC only if you feel you are in a comfortable and advantageous position. But we must caution you that tightening your purse strings altogether will not work in your favour. This, because your PPC campaign may not be as effective if executed for very short periods. Besides, you will be unable to draw up reports that help identify patterns or confirm if the campaign was effective due to only a small quantity of performance data being available to you. 

It is important to note here that although PPC may seem expensive to smaller businesses, the means justify the end in that if you pay around Rs. 300 for one click which converts into a Rs. 3000 purchase on your site, the profits you make are well worth the initial investment. To simplify the whole process of managing your funds, you can talk with your management and set aside a monthly or even quarterly budget for PPC efforts and ensure that you do not overspend. 

  • Targeting made easy

Imagine if you searched for ‘bicycles for kids’ online and were shown results that were for people in the USA. In today’s day and age of extreme personalisation, you must put in ample thought into the demographic/profile of your customers. PPC advertising lets you target the users of your choice with laser focus, be it based on their age, lifestyle, location, device, the times they are most active online, etc. Even retargeting, that is attempting to convert users who initially showed interest in your brand but did not convert to active customers, is possible through PPC as you can learn from past mistakes and optimise your ads for the most impact. 

  • Guaranteed results

As mentioned earlier, PPC is all about seeing faster results that are also consistent. This is all the more crucial if you are just setting up your business and want to hit the ground running by reaching out to potential customers and making them aware of your brand. There have also been instances when new websites, in their ambition to draw in maximum traffic, did not think to equip themselves to handle large visitor loads, leading to a temporary outage or crashing, thereby affecting their reputation. In such scenarios, you can pause your PPC campaigns until things are in the clear again. 

  • Features that sway

PPC affords you an immense amount of control, be it through geo-targeting, ad scheduling, ad rotation, bid strategies, keyword planning/research, data reporting features and more. Not only does this help tailor-make a campaign that will reach only those you want to approach, it will also help you track where you are doing well and where you are not. Besides these helpful features, you even have the option to run multiple campaigns at the same time for various keywords and audiences. All this will add to substantial jumps in revenue once you have perfected your PPC strategy

  • SEO and PPC go hand-in-hand

Many digital marketing novices may believe that SEO and PPC do not work well together but that could not be further from the truth. Not only does PPC help better the overall ranking of your site by instantly attracting web traffic for new keywords, it also provides you with fresh information about popular keywords that will help you gain better business/brand exposure. A clever PPC campaign can in fact enhance your SEO strategy by quickly making up for the keywords the latter may not be working that well for. Hence it is imperative that you include both these marketing techniques into the mix.

Commonly-used Terms in PPC Marketing

A PPC marketing professional or just about anyone interested in exploring it must have a thorough knowledge of popular PPC terms. Here is a quick list of a few important definitions:

  • SEM

Search engine marketing is a combination of both SEO and PPC, i.e. unpaid/organic and paid search marketing efforts to direct web traffic to your site.

  • CTR

The click-through rate is one of the metrics that help judge the effectiveness of a PPC campaign. It is obtained by dividing the number of people who clicked on your PPC ad by the number of those who just viewed it, i.e. the number of impressions your ad received. The higher the CTR of an ad, the better it has performed. CTR is also used to determine the quality score of a keyword and PPC ad.

  • CPC

The cost per click, as the name suggests, is the sum of money an advertiser pays to Google every time their ad is clicked on. This is based on the notion that if a person clicks on your ad, it indicates that the ad caught their attention due to its relevancy to their search keyword. In other words, you are paying for the user’s attention and it does not matter if he/she later comes right back to Google’s search results page without making a purchase. CPC is calculated using the below formula:

CPC = (total cost/number of clicks)

  • CPM

Cost per mille is another way of charging the PPC marketer for paid advertising space on a publisher website. It is the sum of money you pay the one who carries/displays your ad per thousand impressions or views of the ad. An impression is every time a page carrying the ad is loaded or the ad is fetched from ad serving software.

  • CPA

Cost per acquisition or cost per action as it is sometimes called, is when the advertiser shells out a predetermined sum of money every time there is a sale, an impression or click-through, or form submission (read: signing up for a newsletter, agreeing to being contacted by a sales rep, etc.) from an ad, all of which are viewed as a desired action or acquisition.

  • Quality Score

It is a score that Google assigns to your keywords or ads based on how relevant and top-quality they are. The CTR, keyword and ad pairing/matching, landing page user experience, usefulness of your ad text, and the past performance of your AdWords account all affect your quality score, which in turn affects the ad rank and CPC.

  • Ad Rank

Is a product of the maximum amount you are prepared to bid for a keyword or ad and the quality score. Google will decide where to place your ad (there are four coveted spots in the paid ads section atop organic search results on an SERP) and how much to charge you (CPC) based on your ad rank. In general, the better or higher your ad rank, the lower your PPC campaign cost.

  • Conversions

When you get a website visitor to do what you want them to, i.e. to perform an action that you desire or deem valuable to your brand or business, it is known as a conversion. Depending on what part of the marketing funnel you are focused on, this may mean creating awareness about or interest in your brand, making people consider buying from you as opposed to from your competitors, enticing them into contacting you, or even directly purchasing a product/service from you. A high CTR may not necessarily mean that you make more money/sales. However, it will lead to you paying less for your PPC ad and ranking better than other paid ads.

  • Ad Groups

Is a group of ads that share a common target or theme. A PPC campaign may contain one or more ad groups. Google recommends that an ad group be made of three ads for successful ad testing that identifies how well a campaign is doing based on various performance data like customer feedback and behaviour.

  • PPC Campaigns

Are a powerful way of organising ads by your individual product or service category. It is a bunch of ad groups that have a common location setting/targeting, language, budget preferences, etc. You can have multiple PPC campaigns running simultaneously. Each campaign may be made of many ad groups, which in turn are constituted of multiple keywords and ads.

What You Must Know Before Proceeding

The most important thing to consider before embarking on the PPC path is what you hope to achieve through it. Do you simply want to draw attention to the launch of your business? Do you want people to get in touch with you? Do you want to let people know that you have a new brand name and business approach after a merger? Or do you simply intend to boost sales? Whatever your business goals, make sure to tailor-make PPC campaigns that are aligned with it.

Remember that no matter how great your PPC campaign is, an uninteresting and irrelevant landing page will fail to get the results you crave. This may in fact prove the most harmful towards controlling your spend as a high bounce rate would mean that you end up paying whenever a user clicks on your ad even though it does not convert into a profitable action for you. It is also important to set aside an optimum amount of money to run an impactful PPC campaign and learn from accumulated performance data. 

Summing up Pay Per Click

While having a smart PPC marketing strategy is a must, ensuring great user experience on your site is even more important. Although the world of PPC is constantly evolving, just like any other branch of digital marketing, it is worth understanding its intricacies for the many benefits it offers. Keep watching this space for ever more on the world of online marketing.

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