Pay-Per-Click Advertising: Worth it?

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Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is one of the most common methods of reaching new audiences. So how do you spend your ad money wisely?

What is PPC

Pay-Per-Click advertising is where you give money to Google, Facebook, or Instagram in exchange for them showing off your product/event. Unlike taking out an ad in a newspaper, which costs you a fixed rate based on how much space you take, you instead pay a few cents every time someone actually engages with your ad.

PPC is often used in conjunction with other types of marketing and advertising tactics, and can be a relatively easy and cost-effective way to get started.

PPC advertising: the pros and cons

Gimme the Goods

Get some fresh eyes

To grow, you need to have a starting point. You might have an awesome business and be great at pitching it, but you still need to figure out who to pitch to. “Lead generation” means finding new potential customers who have shown a bit of interest in your company, so that you can follow up with them and turn them into loyal customers. PPC advertising is generally a lead generation tactic that can be very useful for getting in front of new audiences who have characteristics you expect to fit with your company.

Increase sales and conversions

PPC advertising can increase sales by targeting people who already have a high intent to buy (as in, they’ve googled “where to buy X” and your ad pops up). Increasing conversions is probably the biggest goal for most online companies - it’s the direct key to a bigger bottom line.

Totally trackable

One of the great things about PPC is that it is entirely data-driven. For those who love when online marketing is gamified and easy to plug in and measure, PPC is perfect.

You can learn really useful information from a PPC campaign, such as your return on investment, conversion rates and what keywords are working best, to be incorporated into your general content

Pay for what works

Unlike lots of other forms of advertising, such as banner ads or affiliate marketing, you’re only paying when someone actually clicks on your website.

Saves you time

There are lots of other ways to advertise and use digital marketing to generate leads and increase sales. Email marketing is incredibly effective at increasing sales; influencer marketing is all the rage when getting interested buyers; affiliate marketing puts your name on the map in your field; and referral marketing is what worked for some of the top companies in the world like Uber.

But the process of setting up a whole marketing plan can be slow, and implementation slower. Having a few different kinds of marketing - including PPC - can help you get to the critical mass you need for your other types of marketing to work well.

With PPC, you can set up a campaign in really just a few minutes or a couple of hours, and let it run. This can mean huge time savings to get to the same position through long-term SEO tactics.

Work with whatever budget you have

If you have $25 to invest in AdWords, you can invest $25 and get pretty good results with the right kind of targeting. If you’ve got $100,000 to invest in PPC, you’re obviously going to be ahead. One of the major advantages of PPC is that you can put whatever you’re willing to spend on ad money in, often with really low minimums.

And the bads?

PPC advertising isn’t everything. There are plenty of businesses that make ads that end up having pretty low ROIs and end up getting frustrated, saying “Facebook Ads don’t work” and give up. It definitely takes a fair bit of targeting, practice, tracking and strategy.

Gone baby, gone

Using a PPC campaign, especially on a low budget, gets you lots of attention for a short period of time. When your budget ends, so do the ads. While PPC can be a good way to get new exposure, it is just temporary and needs to be used in conjunction with long-term SEO and branding techniques.

Let’s get you rolling: Creating a PPC ad with Google AdWords

Start off by logging in to Google AdWords.

1. Connect your e-commerce, AdWords and Analytics Accounts

Before you go any further, you should make sure your Shopify account is linked with Google AdWords and Google Analytics. That way, you’ll be able to measure conversions, and see later on how your PPC marketing is doing.

Google AdWords and Analytics are not automatically linked. Log in to Google Analytics, select Admin → Property → AdWords Linking. You can then select your account and hit continue.

Make sure to tick the box to enable auto-tagging, otherwise your data will show up as organic instead of PPC. And that’s not useful, is it?

Connecting your Shopify account means adding a conversion tracking tag to your AdWords account. Here’s a step-by-step guide from Shopify.

2. Create your ad

Choose your ad type

You can choose to run a search ad, a display network ad, a video ad or an app ad. You can also look into options like Google Shopping.

Keyword research

Google AdWords does help you out quite a bit in teaching you what keywords might be the best to use. Before you set up a PPC campaign, doing some keyword research in advance can help you ensure you’re using your money in the most effective way. You should try to have a mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords, geo-targeted ones and keywords with less competition. Here’s how.

You can create multiple ads for any group. For example, if you sell sweaters for pets, you can have separate ads targeted at bunny owners, dog owners and cat owners. And within those groups of pet owners, you can have several ads with slightly different wording. A Google Ads Pro will see what wording is most effective and tweak as they go along.

Setting a budget and bidding

You’ll be competing with others in your industry for what you’ll pay per click. Google takes both how much you’re willing to spend and the quality of your content.

Direct people somewhere interesting

You should not ever have your ads take someone to your home page. Make sure your ads go to a page specifically for a product or sale.

3. Set up remarketing

Remarketing or web retargeting is one of the most effective ways to use your Google Adwords money. Setting up a retargeting campaign directs your ads to people who have already shown some interest and need an extra reminder about your company. Get the full lowdown on using remarketing for PPC ads here.

4. Tracking your results with Google Analytics

While you can get reports on your campaign-level data in your Google AdWords dashboard, Google Analytics is your home base for tracking how your website is doing overall, including AdWords marketing.

The most useful way you can use Google Analytics with Google AdWords data is by using Goals and Funnels. By setting up a funnel, such as a conversion funnel, you’ll be able to see how people are finding you and what makes them click “purchase”.

Need a more visual guide?

Try the Google AdWords step-by-step tutorial videos that help walk you through setting up a campaign in your account:

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* Image via Thirst Creative