Paid Search and PPC Advertising: An Inbound Marketing Must

By Denise Konkol on July 12, 2017

Paid Search and PPC – part of inbound marketing, but under utilized

With the dawn of the PPC logointernet, marketing was turned upside down, literally. Company and customer previously had a relationship that required companies to push, or advertise, their goods and services to their customers. Then when “www.” began to precede every company’s nameplate, the opportunity to reverse that relationship was created, with companies instead offering awareness first to pull in customers. Outbound became passé, inbound had arrived.

Billions of people are using  the internet in search of information. Inbound marketing tools like blogs, social media marketing, Search Engine Optimization, referral marketing software, paid search and pay-per-click advertising are used to create that awareness as well as stimulate action (buying your product). However, there seemed to be an early scorn for the latter two, with a certain purity assigned to its organic (unpaid) counterparts.

In the interest of fairness, we acknowledge there are plenty of detractors out there who feel the model for is not very inbound, and that people feel “sold to” when they see a PPC ad. Yet much of that is determined by how the strategies and content is executed, and that comes down to working with a company that will

  • Thoroughly explain how paid search works
  • Review your objectives with you to determine what will be considered a successful campaign
  • Respect your budget and be honest with what can be expected from it
  • Report results that are understandable and measureable

In other words, paid search and pay-per-click should be transparently and collaboratively managed with your business in mind, by a company that specializes in it and isn’t too big or busy to make sure you understand it as well.

In addition, Facebook’s slogan has been “Free and Always Will Be,” that doesn’t stop the social giant from enjoying $8.03 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2017, paid for by advertisers who use PPC strategies to have their ads seen. So the argument that PPC doesn’t work isn’t resonating, in part because Facebook’s targeting features in its Power Editor are giving users a better ROI than posting really great organic content.

What paid search and PPC offers that organic doesn’t

Page Ranking. While we’re on the subject of transparency, let’s make sure PPC is understood. Let’s say you’re selling kayaks, and you want your business to appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). An SEO company will bid on the keywords that are likely to be used in the search, and if they offer to pay the most for that keyword (usually in a given time period), your ad will appear at the top of the results page, to the right or sometimes in the main listing with the word “Ad” or “Sponsored” in it. If someone clicks on your ad, you pay Google or Bing or whatever search engine you’re on for that click. Of course, not everyone that clicks will become a customer, but in receiving data from these responses, you can start to make decisions and adjust your campaign, which tips our hand to the next benefit…

Trackability – there are a host of metrics you receive when you invest in paid search. Seasoned professionals will also start campaigns using various keywords, monitoring which are performing better and adjust your spend accordingly (called A/B testing). This allows your dollars to become more effective over time as you interpret the data that your campaign gives you.

Speed – Using Google Adwords, many businesses can get up and running with paid search in about an hour. However, this is generally where the complaint comes in that paid search doesn’t work. With changing algorithms on Google layered on top of all the strategy that needs to be considered for creating a successful PPC campaign, it’s a lot like chess: it’s easy to learn the rules, but it takes a lifetime to master. PPC campaigns can also be changed quickly to respond to new products you’re offering, especially if you carry a large inventory.

Geo-Targeting – along with choosing keywords that help target your audience, you have the option of geo-targeting, or requesting that your ad appear only for searches based in a specific location. This is especially valuable to restaurants, as their relevance in a search is based in large part on location. It also allows you to stretch your budget farther as you’re targeting a particular location.

Costs to suit your budget – You control your spending on a PPC campaign, but again objectives should be realistic. If you’re operating on a shoestring budget and you’re hoping to outbid Amazon, you might want to redirect your dollars to developing other parts of your inbound marketing budget. You may also want to start with seeking to build brand awareness using cost per thousand (CPM) strategy, where you pay based on every 1,000 search results you appeared in, whether the person clicks on your listing or not.

The future of PPC

The strategies for PPC are evolving, but make no mistake, they aren’t going away. Content will need to respond to trends like

  • Voice search – generally made up of longer phrases, so marketing needs to adapt strategies to match these searches beyond the use of keywords
  • Mobile browsing – this is getting big, and can offer opportunities for paid search, especially retargeting ads that appear after someone has been to your competitor’s site.
  • Loading speed – people are less patient, and if they click on your ad, delivery in a hurry is key. If your website is too slow to produce a result within 3-5 seconds, you may get passed over (and you still have to pay for the click!)

In general experts are seeing PPC as becoming more complex as the demand for customers’ attention grows and the real estate on SERPs shrinks to accommodate Google’s instant answers and Knowlege Graph. While the waters are easy enough to wade into, PPC is becoming increasingly demanding of a specialist rather than someone who wants to dabble. Your time and ROI is too important to gamble on this, so before you jump in, talk with an SEO expert that can recommend a strategy that will work for you.

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