Is PPC Right for Me?

Managing the Rising Costs of PPC for SMBs

Google AdWords, the largest pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform, was launched in 2001, offering marketers a method for measuring online rankings across search engine results. Google said recently that Google AdWords has “well over one million advertisers” and also claims the majority are small to medium-sized business (SMB) owners. AdWords and other PPC platforms have only grown in popularity as marketers understand their usefulness in the marketing mix.

The biggest attraction SMBs have toward PPC advertising is that the search results do not depend on which advertisers have the most money to spend or the most clout. If these factors were a part of the results equation, small businesses would not bother with this method of attracting new customers because they simply could not keep up with the big budgets of their larger competitors.

Instead, SMBs have the opportunity to use PPC advertising campaigns to level the playing field and pull customers away from their larger competitors.

PPC management is not always easy, but with some creativity, research and hard work, PPC campaigns have the potential to be an SMB’s most lucrative form of advertising. Running a paid search campaign on search engines has become easier than ever to set up and manage. What is more difficult is managing a campaign to get the maximum return on investment.

  • Consider the potential pitfalls.

A mismanaged PPC campaign not only wastes marketing budget your organization could be using elsewhere but can also divert time and resources by:

    • Targeting poorly converting keywords
    • Incorrectly positioning ads within search rankings
    • Suffering unnecessary cost overruns
    • Failing to display ads at crucial consumer times and locations
    • Underutilizing user demographic tools and advertising too broadly
  • Understand your quality score.

Larger companies may have the ability to outbid smaller competitors for some of the more essential keywords, but there are ways for SMBs to pay less for top PPC positions by earning a high “quality score.” Quality scoring rewards advertisers who run highly relevant campaigns by charging them less for top search result positions. Since SMBs are usually more focused on specific niches versus a wide range of offerings, an SMB has a good chance at crafting ad copy that is more relevant to an essential search term.

  • Pinpoint targeted audience groups.

Big organizations have the ability, budget and resources required to achieve mass awareness–even if their messages reach companies that have no interest in their product. Since smaller businesses do not typically have the luxury of large budgets and staffs, they have to be more precise in their audience targeting. PPC advertising campaigns allow SMBs to very precisely target niche industries or demographic categories, reach the right audiences and, ultimately, achieve more effective results.

  • Align your SEO efforts.

Whether you internally manage search engine optimization (SEO) efforts across your organization’s websites or work with an SEO consultant, your end goal is to organically reach the top of search engine results pages. PPC advertising provides an inorganic method for achieving search rankings more easily, but marketers can also use PPC metrics to monitor website visitors’ behavior, understand which keywords are most effective, and write targeted copy to attract and retain potential customers.  

  • Start small before committing big.

If your business chose to advertise on television or the radio given a limited budget, your ads would play during the times when very few people are watching or listening. However, with PPC advertising, your organization can still broadcast a message in front of business consumers during peak hours. Your daily budget may diminish more quickly, but your ads are reaching a more targeted population of potential buyers–driving revenue and assuring more measurable ad spend.

  • Make use of decision support data.

Most SMBs cannot turn to extensive business data sets that larger competitors use to build budget and revenue sourcing plans. Instead, SMB marketers must rely on what metrics they can collect to judge campaign effectiveness and justify increased spending–many times this data comes from PPC campaigns. Utilizing PPC analytics, marketers can understand which consumers are searching for a product, when they are searching, where they are geographically located, and other factors. SMB marketers can also collect more granular data regarding conversions, abandoned online shopping carts and bounce rates.

  • Don’t expect immediate results.

For a PPC campaign to generate significant improvements in search engine rankings, marketers must stick to a continuous schedule and realize that results take time. Marketers should plan to spend time in researching which keywords to focus on, finding and removing negative keywords, and writing relevant ad copy. Once a campaign is executed, however, marketers can start to see ads appear at the top of the search engine result listings right away. Marketers should continuously develop ad copy and adjust spending limits to see ads appear in front of their most valuable audience networks.

Despite inherent barriers to entry, PPC advertising will undoubtedly continue as an easy, affordable, and measurable marketing tactic for SMB organizations. At first, your organization may choose to hire a search marketing agency to assist in identifying the right keywords, drafting solid ad copy and understanding the resulting metrics and data.  

Once your campaigns generate measurable results, your marketing team can start start making bigger decisions about bid strategies, ad testing, new campaigns and further segmenting your existing campaigns. There are endless possibilities for scrutiny but small, incremental changes are the key to ongoing effectiveness.

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