When it comes to attracting and converting new customers, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is one of the basic tools to master as part of your digital marketing arsenal. However, while generating organic traffic via SEM is ideal, if a speedy acquisition is what you’re after, it doesn't come any better than Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. Easy to set up and super accountable too, PPC allows for testing the audiences, the products and the content which best lead to action or sales. All you need is the know-how.
While other online advertising options exist, display and social media for example, PPC allows you to rank your brand or business ‘top of the pack’ on search engines. People are already searching for information or solutions online, therefore immediate positioning of your products or services is ideal. That’s why paid search often delivers the highest ROI of all the digital advertising options available.
So, getting started. Firstly, you need to choose the search engine you want to place ads on. As Google is the most popular search engine globally,AdWords seems like the obvious choice. However, with higher traffic volumes comes higher competition for keywords, so Bing Ads, which has around 30% paid search market share, offers better value for money. Bing also claims to have higher spending customers. The important thing to know is, you have choices.
Depending on what you are promoting, having a good understanding of your audience is essential, as are the keywords and phrases they are most likely to type into the search bar. It may seem obvious that would-be cyclists would search for “bicycles” for example, but “road bicycles” might do better in attracting customers to your business, or “cycling holidays in New Zealand” in appealing to new audiences. So, how do you decide?
Determining the best keyword terms can be something of a science. Blind testing is an option, although there are plenty of tools out there which allow you to carefully refine search words to test.Moz has a Keyword Explorer that allows 20 free queries per month for short-tail words, and KW Finderis great for long tail phrases. Both also provide links to sites already ranking. This offers an indication of how difficult using that search term could be if you are only relying on organic ranking through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and whether PPC would be valuable.
This is important. Higher searched phrases tend to have more competition, so understanding who is already using the terms best suited to your brand and business provides insight. Firstly, you can determine what type of content already works for these terms. Watching which brands are already using them in PPC ads allows you to estimate how costly the terms might be.
The more competition, the higher the cost. Finding unique combinations of terms and phrases is how you increase your chances of click through and ultimately conversion. In high competition industries, this is where digital agencies and search experts come into their own. Utilising more sophisticated tools is beneficial not only because they can advise which terms to prioritise, but they can also recommend advertising copy and budgets to optimise your chances of click-throughs and conversion.
What’s great about PPC advertising is that you can spend what you can afford. In the early stages of utilising paid search, this is essential. As you trial and learn which audiences respond to which keywords, advertising copy and landing pages, you can adapt your budget depending on what’s working. Whether it’s simply awareness through impressions, or sales from the traffic you drive to the landing pages on your site, once you are happy with the result you can boost your budget accordingly, and scale your ads for success.
What’s great is that there are tools available to track exactly how each ad is performing. You can track bounce rate through platforms likeGoogle Analytics to see how appropriate your landing pages are in converting customers. You can use code on your website which allows for conversion trackingfrom an ad through to a defined transaction. Whatever your goals, you can measure how much impact PPC ads are making on everything from page visits to ROI.
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