Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising Right for Your Small Business? (+ Tips for a Successful Campaign)
Smart marketers don’t typically turn to traditional advertising as a lead generation tactic. It’s not that TV, print or radio advertisements don’t work; it simply takes time and persistence to get in front of the right people and convert them into a lead.
However, with the advent of pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements (the “sponsored links” that appear above and alongside search engine results), marketers hailed the advent of a new form of advertising that has the potential to quickly deliver very targeted leads.
But do PPC ads work? Are they right for your business? Below are considerations and tips to bear in mind as you assess whether PPC ads can work for your business and how to go about planning a successful campaign.
How PPC Advertising Works
PPC is an online advertising strategy whereby advertisers pay to place ads on search engines and pay only when a user clicks on the ad.
Ads are charged on either a flat rate cost-per-click basis or advertisers can bid for specific keywords. When a user’s search matches these keywords, their results are loaded and your ad will appear on the page alongside them. Note that the more money you bid for a keyword, and the more specific and targeted your choice of keywords is to your particular niche, the more relevance your ad will have.
Does PPC Advertising Work for Small Business?
With planning and proper management, PPC ads can afford certain businesses many benefits.
For example, PPC affords a much quicker ramp-up than traditional ads do. You can also monitor and adjust your strategy as and when you need to, thanks to real-time analysis, without being locked into failing long term advertising contracts. Perhaps the biggest benefit, if you plan and manage your campaign properly, is that you can precisely control your costs while reaching your target with much more certainty than you would with a traditional ad.
Is PPC Right for Your Small Business?
PPC advertising services are not right for everyone. For example, if you offer a product or invention that is relatively new to market, consider whether potential consumers would even know to search for it. But here are some scenarios in which PPC can pay off:
- Just started a new online business? PPC can help build awareness and generate immediate traffic until your business’s organic rankings and other online marketing activities ramp up.
- For bricks and mortar businesses, PPC works particularly well when combined with geo-targeting to increase a business’s online profile in the local community it serves.
- Do you have a very defined niche? If you do, then consumers searching for your business are likely to use more defined keywords, ensuring a better match. Plus, the cost-per-click is not as high since there may be less competition bidding for those keywords.
- Do you rely on your local community for most of your business? Geo-targeting tools let you restrict your ads to certain metro areas, regions or countries, helping you reach your local market while keeping the cost-per-click low.
Tips for a Successful PPC Campaign
Think a PPC campaign can help your small business? Here are some tips to bear in mind as you plan your strategy.
- Plan and Manage Your PPC Campaign – The key to a successful campaign lies in planning and managing it. Be prepared to conduct in-depth research to identify your keywords. What are users searching for? Get inside the minds of your consumers who are ready to buy what you have to offer as well as those that are simply information hunters. Strive for the right balance of terms for both types of consumers – or split campaigns based on your goals. Remember that the more in-demand a keyword is, the more expensive it will be. Consider shooting for middle-ranking keywords that are less in-demand and cheaper. Test and adjust these as your campaign is running. Continuously monitor click-through percentages and conversion rates so that you are making money and not wasting it.
- Keep an Eye on Conversion Rates – How much are your PPC customer’s worth? Are they repeat buyers? This is important to understand because you may spend more on your initial PPC campaign than you anticipated, but if you are retaining your customers, then the value of that customer is significantly higher. Don’t overlook the fact that PPC does have branding value, too. While you may not get immediate ROI, getting your name in front of consumers and generating click-throughs, even if they don’t convert, can have a long-term benefit.
- Don’t Invest in PPC Alone – While PPC ads are a useful tactic for new online businesses, when it comes to the long term, consider using tactics that will help you rise to the top of an online search organically. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, claim and build a local listing page such as Google Places, Yahoo Local or Yelp. Optimize your website using search engine optimization techniques on the front end (inject relevant content and update it frequently, search engines love blogs for just that reason). On the back end, make sure your tags and meta tags that reflect your keyword research. Ranking organically will always outperform a PPC campaign even with the same keywords – and much of it is free.
Has your small business run a PPC campaign? What worked or didn’t work for you? Please leave a comment below.
Related Articles from the U.S. Small Business Administration