On a scale of one to ten, how well do you really understand the basics of pay-per-click (PPC) marketing? There are a number of advantages that make PPC advertising a great fit for many B2B companies. Are you missing out on them?
Pay-per-click (PPC) is a channel for advertising that digital marketers should have in their tool box, or at least an understanding of the fundamentals. This guide will help you grasp PPC for B2B SaaS and services companies. To start, we’ll dive into the benefits of paid advertising, how it works, and then get into some key definitions that you’ll need to know. Let’s get started!
What is PPC?
PPC is a bidding method where advertisers pay when people click on their ads. However, while PPC literally implies paying-for-clicks, PPC can also refer to ads that are placed using bidding strategies like cost-per-impression or cost-per-action. Essentially, it’s a way of buying targeted traffic to your website from search results.
PPC advertising is most commonly found on search engine results pages (SERPs), like Google or Bing, and is also used on social channels. If you’re wondering where you can find PPC ads, they’re the results you see before organic search results. For example, clicking this ad in Google costs Miles Technologies money:
PPC Related Terms You Should Know
If you’re going to enter the paid advertising realm, there are a few terms you should know. Below, we review the main elements of a PPC campaign, ranging from broad to the more specific:
- Ad Text → Your keywords should inform your ad text. When creating ad text, there is room for three headlines, which can be no more than 30 characters each. There is also space for two descriptions, which can be no more than 90 characters each. At least one headline and one description should include your target keyword.
- Clickthrough Rate (CTR) → CTR is the percentage of ad views that result in clicks. This metric shows if your ad copy is compelling enough to make people click on your ad.
- Cost Per Click (CPC) → CPC measures the price you pay for each click on your ad. CPC acts as your bid in an auction that determines where your ad will be placed.
- Keywords → Each ad within your Ad Group will target a set of relevant keywords. These keywords tell search engines which terms or search queries for which you want your ad to be displayed.
- Ad Group → Ad groups consist of keywords, text ads, and tightly integrated landing pages with consistent messaging across the board.
- Key Performance Indicator (KPI) → A key performance indicator is a measurable value that demonstrates a company’s effectiveness at achieving key business objectives.
- Landing Page → A landing page is a critical piece of your paid advertising strategy. This page is where users will land once they click your PPC ad. Whether it’s a dedicated webpage, your homepage or somewhere else, make sure to follow landing page best practices to maximize conversions.
- Quality Score → This is the score given by Google Ads based on several factors including CTR, landing page, keyword relevancy. The higher the score, the better your ad is performing in terms of positioning and engagement. Your Quality Score is determined by how relevant your ad is. The text in your ad (and landing page for that matter) should match the keyword terms that you’re targeting.
- Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) → A performance measure used to evaluate the amount of revenue your business earns for each dollar spent on advertising.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM) → SEM, or search engine marketing, is a marketing tactic where a marketer optimizes and advertises their website in order to appear higher in search results. This refers to any paid marketing done on a search engine, like Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
So, why would you pay for ads when you can reach your audience organically? Answer: keywords have become increasingly competitive over the last few years, which means that ranking organically takes time and domain authority. Running a PPC campaign is a fast way to reach the top of a search page.
To get your ads to appear when people search for your product or service, for example “cyber security software,” the keywords you choose need to match the words or phrases that people search for. For businesses that don’t have a strong domain authority, it is extremely difficult to get into the top organic rankings on a search engine.
Today, Google allows a certain number of ads to appear at the top of the page, so organic results often don’t appear until you’re further down the page. You can see where your ads are showing on the search results page by checking your top and absolute top metrics. Let’s face it, it’s not always possible to get to Page 1 of search results just by writing great content. There’s a lot of competition, and sometimes you need to invest in alternative marketing strategies to reach your audience.
“When people search for your keywords, you know their search intent and can display the most relevant ad to your audience. This means more clicks and a greater chance of conversion.”
- Laura Mittelmann, Paid Acquisition at HubSpot
Paid advertising through Bing Ads and Google Ads will help you be on Page 1 for your target searches. So long as your content is relevant and users find it useful and engaging, paid ads help you be seen by potential customers who may not know you exist.
Also, make sure that your PPC goals align with your overall marketing strategy. For example, if your campaign goal is raising brand awareness, then social media and display ads can be more effective than search ads.
Top PPC Platforms
Now that you understand PPC basics and terminology, the next step is to figure out what platform is best to advertise on. Keep in mind, no two ad platforms are exactly alike. How do you decide which PPC platform is right for your business? Here are our top suggestions.
With a more than 90% market share in 2020, Google claims the top spot with ease. Google Ads is the most popular ad network due to the volume of searches done in the Google search engine and large number of websites on the Google Display Network (GDN).
According to Google, “Google Ads display ads appear on over two million websites and in over 650,000 apps, so your ad can show up wherever your audience is.” This gives you plenty of opportunities to target keywords that will get your intended audience to click 🖱
More than 3.5 billion searches happen every day on Google — over 40,000 search queries every second.
Pricing: Cost-per-click (CPC) model based on the competition and ad quality. GDN allows Cost-per-1,000 impressions (CPM).
Pro Tip: Advertisers will find higher CPCs on Google Ads on search keywords.
Ahhhh, Bing. Many people tend to forget about the search engine’s deal with Yahoo!. Even though Bing and Yahoo! operate as separate websites, they both rely on the Bing search algorithm. Additionally, Bing Ads has tools for advertisers to import campaigns from Google Ads, simplifying the process of getting started.
Pricing: CPC model based on the competition and ad quality.
Pro Tip: While Bing Ads allows the ability to upload directly from Google Ads, keeping an exact copy and not optimizing for the Bing Ads platform could be problematic. Be sure to adjust bids (usually down), match types and add any Bing Ads ad extensions.
Launch a Successful PPC Campaign
Now, let’s dive into crafting a quality PPC campaign!
Structure Your Campaign
Your campaign structure is basically the skeleton of your account and is one of the most crucial pieces of a successful PPC effort. Most businesses will want to start a search campaign. If you’re primarily looking to generate calls (i.e. you’re an emergency electrician), a call-only campaign is the right choice. If you’re trying to generate awareness for a new brand/ products, display campaigns are a great option. You can also create multiple campaign types to satisfy multiple goals:
- Finding customers who are looking for my product/ service → search network.
- Generate phone calls for my business → call only.
- Build brand awareness → display network.
- Re-engaging previous site visitors/ customers → remarketing.
When those decisions are made, it’s time to consider your campaign settings:
- Location Targeting
- Bid Strategy (Automatic vs. Manual)
Create Ad Groups & Add Keywords
The level below campaigns in your Google Ads account structure consists of your ad groups (refer to image above). How big should an ad group be? Here are some guidelines to follow when determining the size of your ad groups:
- Max seven-to-ten ad groups per campaign
- Single keyword ad groups [This helps make sure that our ad copy is highly relevant for every keyword that we target.]
- Two-to-three ads per ad group
Now it’s time to define your keywords, the level under your ad groups. Use keyword tools to do your keyword research so you’ll know for sure that you’re bidding on keywords with search volume.
Google Ads Keyword Planner is available within your Google Ads account, there’s also various free keyword tools that will help you get in front of the right customers.
Once you choose the keywords relevant to your product or service, it's best to separate them by funnel stage. Then, of those relevant keywords, it's important to evaluate which has the highest purchase intent. This will ensure that your ads are being seen by people who have buying power. Once you've narrowed down your keywords, take a look at search volume and the average cost per click. This will help you determine how much budget you need to fund your campaign.
When it comes to keywords, there are branded and non-branded keywords. Branded keywords would be specific to your company — they allow you to control the messaging around your brand specifically, and it protects against competitors who may bid on your brand name.
Non-brand keywords are important to get in front of new customers who may not be familiar with your brand but who are looking for the products and services you sell.
Create Your Ads
Make sure you’re setting the table for conversions. A couple of tips:
- Include unique selling points, prices and promotions. Why? Because they make it easier for people to differentiate your service or products from competitors. People are also more likely to engage with ads that help them self-select before they click, according to Google.
- Match your call to action (CTA) to your landing page – When the same CTA appears in your ad and on your landing page, people are in the right mindset to convert before you even pay for the click (WordStream, 2020).
Create Your Landing Pages
Arguably the most important element of PPC (after your ad copy) is the page that you send leads to after they click on your ad. This page needs to be highly targeted, relevant to your ad, deliver what was promised, and present a seamless experience. Not only that, but a high-converting landing page will improve your Quality Score, leading to better ad placements.
What should a PPC landing page include to increase conversions?
- A/B testing
- Captures the offer in your ad
- Copy that’s relevant to your target keywords
- Strong headlines that mirror your ads
- Responsive forms with a stand-out CTA
Setup Conversion Tracking
Conversion tracking monitors how your landing page is performing via a tracking code that you place on the page where people land after completing your form — typically a page with a thank you message. By enabling conversation tracking, you’ll be better equipped to make adjustments that can improve your conversions.
It’s essential that your paid advertising channels drive the results needed to generate a positive ROI. A report is a final presentation of the results of a campaign. It lays out what was accomplished, areas of improvement and what benefits the company received.
Get Started With PPC
However long you’ve been in business, paid advertising is an effective tool to benefit your company and stand out from the competition! At Beacon Digital Marketing, we are Google Ads and Bing Certified Experts in search engine marketing. Learn how you can get started today!
John is a search engine specialist focused on gaining greater visibility in search results for Beacon Digital clients. His expertise includes SEO campaigns, PPC, Google Analytics, keyword research, technical website auditing, paid social media optimization, web analytics implementation and conversion tracking.