Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a powerful marketing strategy for generating sales leads, boosting website traffic, growing e-commerce sales, and increasing online brand awareness. PPC is becoming a digital marketing must, as search engines like Google reward advertisers and minimize organic ways to climb in the rankings.
While PPC is undoubtedly effective, executing a paid advertising strategy can be challenging and requires a carefully crafted approach. We’ll share proven ways to improve your PPC strategy and point out common mistakes to avoid.
Did you know? Google is a major PPC player. According to StatCounter, Google’s global search engine market share is more than 92 percent. And according to Google’s recent economic impact statement, businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads.
How to improve your pay-per-click (PPC) strategy
Your campaign’s effectiveness depends on various factors, including how much you spend, keyword organization and PPC landing page optimization. Consider the following strategies for improving your PPC approach:
1. Choose the most effective keywords for your PPC campaign.
Choosing the right keywords is an integral part of a successful PPC strategy. You must ensure that you bid on the most relevant keywords for your business. Google Ads garner 64.6 percent of clicks for high commercial intent keyword searches, according to WordStream. (Commercial intent refers to the intention to buy a product or service.)
Use Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner to research and select the most effective keywords. However, understand that your competitors will likely also use these exact keywords. To avoid wasting money on generic terms that won’t bring in quality leads, focus on bidding for keywords that encapsulate the buyer’s intent.
Be specific about what customers will search for, and use descriptive keywords that include the company or brand name, product or service type, location, and appropriate words, like “affordable,” “reliable” or “guaranteed.” You can even use a competitor’s name to reach people searching for that company.
2. Focus on providing value first in your PPC campaign.
When spending money to attract visitors to your website, you must be laser-focused on successful lead conversions. It all starts with providing a valuable experience for your visitors.
While conversions are critical to a successful PPC campaign, few PPC accounts have effective customer tracking measures. Active tracking helps you tailor the user experience and provide added value for each person who comes across your content.
3. Use long-tail keywords in your PPC campaign.
Many individuals and businesses stick with short-tail keywords (containing just a few words) because these terms are general enough to cover broad topics. Short-tail keyword examples include “how to lose weight” and “best auto insurance.”
However, this strategy is a recipe for blowing your advertising budget with minimal results. You’ll target a vast audience and get many clicks, but your campaign won’t be focused enough to reach your target audience.
A long-tail keyword of at least five words, like “how to lose weight and gain muscle,” will likely get you better results. Although it’s more specific and may not attract as many clicks as a short-tail keyword, the individuals who click your ad will be more likely to convert because your solution meets a specific need.
Long-tail keywords are more likely to appear more frequently and attract attention from users seeking your solution. For the best results, find long-tail keywords that seamlessly fit with your product or solution.
Conduct a marketing analysis to help determine relevant keywords and phrases, find ways to expand your reach with paid ads, and evaluate your current strategy’s effectiveness.
4. Target prospective and returning customers in your PPC campaign.
People first click an ad to receive more information about a product or service, thus beginning the marketing journey. These potential customers are drawn to your ad’s focus and must receive value from your business to become customers.
Those further along the customer journey require a different approach. They know what your company provides and have an established buying intent. Consider retargeting these prospects and focusing on keywords suited for them. For example, if you have a social media marketing service, use terms such as “hire a social media team” instead of the more generic “social media agency.”
Retargeting is vital because prospective customers need multiple touchpoints with a new brand before purchasing.
5. Have a call to action in your PPC campaign.
Every effective advertisement ends with a call to action (CTA). While the advertisement’s body should focus on providing value to the customer, the CTA must give a clear and actionable next step.
After potential customers receive immense value from your ad, what is the next logical step? Tell customers exactly what they must do to achieve the benefits you outlined in your ad. For example, a CTA could instruct prospects to visit your website, download a newsletter, join your email list or buy a product.
6. Focus on quality instead of quantity in your PPC approach.
After potential customers click your PPC ad, they must be presented with quality content on your website or landing page. At this point, you’ve paid for the click, and it’s time to ensure you get the most from your PPC expenditures.
It’s crucial to provide content that is inherently convincing and optimized for converting consumers. Consider why prospects come to your website and how you can provide value — and the promise of additional value — after they engage with your business.
7. Consider geotargeting in your PPC strategy.
Geotargeting can help you make full use of each click. Different audiences from various locations have unique preferences. Geotargeting lets you run various campaigns in different places, allowing a degree of customizability in your marketing efforts to meet diverse preferences and needs.
Geotargeting can also help you increase in-store sales with online marketing. For example, present unique coupons to various customer segments or push specific mobile ads as customers approach your location.
8. Optimize your PPC campaign for mobile.
There is a marked difference between desktop content and mobile content. You must create responsive PPC ads that are optimized for the mobile experience, because a growing number of people use mobile devices to access the internet.
According to the GSMA’s Mobile Economy report, 5.3 billion people subscribe to mobile services, and 400 million more are expected to do so by 2025. This vast reach means mobile device marketing is crucial, and businesses must have a strong focus on media that functions and converts well on mobile.
Ensure your strategy aligns with where your customer base is trending, and create mobile-friendly content to stay competitive.
9. Concentrate on ad groups in your PPC campaign.
Relevance is essential to getting an ad group to score highly on the quality metric. Every ad group you utilize must have a particular purpose. It’s far more effective to create unique ad groups for keywords when you want more conversions and clicks than to target everyone with the same ad. Ad groups are best utilized when there is a narrow target audience, especially when only a small percentage of online consumers think ads on a site apply to them.
Use market segmentation to differentiate your ad groups by customer journey placement, location or demographics. For example, if you have a real estate company, a first-time homebuyer will have different needs than someone looking to downsize once their kids have moved out.
10. Understand that timing is everything in a PPC campaign.
Your ads must catch the optimal customer conversion time in your target demographic. Studies have shown that PPC interactions increase or decrease over the day, with peak times between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Some experts say Tuesdays and Fridays are best for PPC campaigns.
However, your industry and specific customer demographics will determine the best times for your PPC campaign. Learn what works for your industry, and integrate it into your advertising strategy.
PPC strategy mistakes to avoid
To avoid wasting money on PPC ads, steer clear of these common mistakes:
1. Don’t focus too much on traffic generation.
Although a PPC campaign will generally lead to an uptick in web traffic, this shouldn’t be the only goal. When your keywords or promotional offers are too general, you’ll get plenty of website visitors, but most won’t be people who are genuinely interested in and able to buy your product.
Each PPC campaign should have specific, measurable goals that directly benefit the company. For example, if you’re new to PPC, you should focus on generating more quality leads. Perhaps you keep customers on your website but they don’t buy. In this case, improving conversions may be your goal. You may have visitors who come to your site and make a purchase but only spend a small amount of money. In this case, your campaign’s goal may be to increase buyers’ purchase amounts.
2. Don’t send visitors to a poorly designed or slow site.
You can have the most effective PPC ads in the world, but if your site or landing page is poorly designed, slow or confusing, those visitors will bounce, and you’ll waste your PPC budget.
Speed, website design and clarity matter. Ensure your overall website and landing page are clean and fast, with intuitive navigation and clearly written copy. These factors make a good impression on customers and make it much more likely that they’ll take the desired action.
3. Don’t forget to include a CTA.
Once visitors are on your landing page, you must tell them what you want them to do. Otherwise, they’ll usually look around and wander off to another website. Make it clear what the next step is and why they should take it.
For example, you may want them to sign up for your email list. If so, put a quick and easy subscription form where they can easily see it above the fold; use graphics and bold colors so it’s easy to spot. Tell them what they can expect to get if they sign up, so they have an incentive to do so. If you want them to buy from your e-commerce site, include your most popular products on the home page and tell them about any special promotions.
4. Don’t put too many links on the landing page.
Ideally, you’ll send PPC visitors to a landing page instead of to your general website. Landing pages are laser-focused on moving visitors through the sales funnel, while websites serve a more general purpose, making it easier for users to become distracted.
Your landing page should present the action you want the visitor to take. The copy should tell them why they should take that action — and nothing else. When paying for traffic with PPC, you want to ensure that the maximum number of people will convert, and a focused landing page is the best way to do that.
For even more effectiveness, have multiple landing pages that pair with specific PPC campaigns and targeting efforts.
5. Don’t neglect to test and track KPIs.
Running a PPC campaign on faith will virtually guarantee wasting money. Test all campaign elements, including the ad’s headline, targeting and message and the landing page’s headline, copy and design. Use A/B testing to see which elements work best, and eliminate poor performers. You can measure results against the key performance indicators (KPIs) in your PPC dashboard, including click-through rate, conversion rate, cost per acquisition, and cost per click.
Based on your offering’s pricing and customer lifetime value, you can decide which KPIs are most crucial and make decisions from there. For example, maybe your cost per acquisition is high but you sell a high-end product that customers regularly reorder, so your customer lifetime value is also high. In that case, as long as your conversion rate is reasonable, you are likely doing the right thing.
6. Don’t ignore the big picture.
Although it’s essential to analyze KPIs, it’s also crucial to examine your PPC campaign as a whole. Are you spending more on advertising than you’re earning from new business?
Measure the ROI of your PPC campaign (net profit divided by ad spend), and find your return on ad spend (revenue generated divided by ad spend). Perhaps your ads are being shown to existing customers who are just scooping up your free giveaway, or maybe your campaigns are not as effective as they could be.
PPC ad profitability is an art form
Pay-per-click advertising can be highly effective if done right, but it takes some trial and error to produce great results. PPC campaigns aren’t as straightforward as they may appear. Like any other business aspect, running profitable PPC ads can be an art form. Ensure you scrutinize every nuance of your ad campaign, and take the time and effort to present an optimal strategy. Your successful PPC campaign will be worth the trouble.
Wes Smart contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.