If you are looking to capture new visitors to your website in the short- term then paid search advertising might well be the tactic you are looking for. It is a great way to get your company in front of people who are searching for your product or service – and a handy short-cut to a good position on a search engines ranking!
I am going to focus on Google here because it is so dominant here in the UK. It might be that Google is not the most popular search engine where you are, but hopefully these principles will help you with your search engine of choice.
So, you have decided to launch a paid search advertising campaign, but what are the ingredients of a great PPC (pay per click) campaign?
Good Targeting – Before you start unleashing your creativity on ad copy, you need to work out what keywords to target. This can be done by spending time on Google looking at what your competitors are bidding on (and using Google AdWord’s keyword tools), but you should also consult some customers or prospects. How do they describe your product; do they search for the problem that they have (e.g. searching for ‘cash flow issues’ instead of a ‘business loan’). Understanding this may help unlock some keyword gems – keywords which don’t receive a lot of bids meaning that their cost per click is low but are being searched for by your audience.
Stand Out (it’s tough!) – The click through rate (i.e. the number of times your ad is clicked divided by the number of times your ad appears) of PPC ads is notoriously poor – the low single figure percentages are not uncommon. But smart ad copy will help you stand out – just by addressing your credibility (the searcher may not have heard of you before) or answering the issue that the searcher has, when accompanied by a call to action, will put you ahead of most PPC ads – most ads don’t contain these!
Utilise the Tools – there are a number of advert extensions that can enhance your PPC advert. Enhanced site links offer a number of paid links to your site, it’s like having multiple adverts in one, and this will definitely help your click through rate. Or, if you are trying to build credibility, why not add reviews onto your advert? Or if you are advertising on mobile, maybe you should add a ‘call’ button to your advert? The tools are available, so you should be using them to drive more traffic to your website.
Test, Test, Test – one of the great elements of PPC advertising is how quickly you can measure the ad’s performance. You will be able to check your click through rate (i.e. how good is your ad at standing out), number of clicks to your website and your average advert position (if this is low, you should probably increase your bid). Amend your advert following this feedback and check the results again – get into the habit of continual improvement.
Joined-Up Thinking – don’t lose sight of what role you want PPC to play. It is a channel for driving traffic to your website, and it’s the website where the campaign can succeed or fail. Your landing page should be directly related to your advert – don’t direct people to your home page, it’s not specific enough, direct them to a specific landing page that contains a call to action. And when someone is on your site, monitor what they are doing. Are they bouncing right out of the site because your landing page isn’t effective? Your analytics tool will help with this, and investigate linking AdWords to your analytics for the ultimate in joined-up thinking.
This is a deliberately quick tour of PPC advertising – there are a number of issues raised here which justify a better explanation that can’t be covered in a short blog. But, if you follow the above principles, your should start to see paid search becoming an important part of your digital marketing strategy.