Bridget_Driscoll

How PPC campaigns can boost sales

May 19, 2017

PPC

In the digital marketing world, you may have heard the acronym PPC. But what the heck does it mean?

PPC, or pay-per-click, is a way to buy listings/ad spaces placed within relevant search results. Paid listings will show up on search engine result pages (SERPs). Money goes to the search engines every time someone clicks on a PPC ad.

When incorporating PPC into a company’s online marketing budget, each keyword is auctioned, so the company must decide how much of their PPC spending would go toward each keyword they wish to target. The question you should ask yourself is, "How much am I willing to spend per visitor to click through to my site?"

Why use PPC?

Pay-per-click is a great way to get relevant traffic. When you have a paid search result, potential customers who search for related products and services will find you, and you will be within the ads on that SERP. Many who use pay-per-click notice a click-through increase as soon as the ad is activated.

Also, PPC campaigns can be adjusted daily and immediately. Other DIY methods, such as working on your website's SEO performance, don't always lead to immediate changes. However, the instant you change something about your pay-per-click choices, they are changed on the search engine.

While more competitive keywords—meaning keywords that more people search for—will require a higher bid, some keywords can be found cheaper. For example, "outdoor furniture" is a highly competitive keyword. Something like "plastic garden table" is more specific, so you will have less competition and achieve better results when building a campaign around that keyword.

Tips for a successful PPC campaign

Here are a few things you can do to optimize your PPC campaigns:

Use A/B testing. This is where you take two variations of the same ad and test them both to see which one performs better. Each brand is different, so you can't follow a cookie-cutter approach. What works for one outdoor retailer may not work for another. Also—continue to test! Prices, success and availability of keywords have a tendency to fluctuate, so it's important to continue to test the profitability of your PPC campaigns.

Don't engage in "ego-bidding." This happens when you spend all of your PPC money on a competitive keyword, simply because you must be the first to show up on a results page. Ego-bidding can cause you to blow your whole budget before you know how well it will work for your brand.

Take advantage of negative keywords. These are words that, if searched, tell search engines your ads shouldn't match your ad with the query. For example, when selling outdoor furniture, you can specify negative keywords like "bedroom" or "bathroom" because these are search results you would not want your ads found among.

Quality is still important. Spending money on keywords is only part of the equation. The ad has to be high-quality—meaning it's relevant to your desired SERP. This includes the page that the ad takes visitors to (also known as a landing page). If it has content other than what the ad specified or alluded to, this will be misleading to those who click on it and can affect your ad's rank.

Long tail keywords change bidding prices. According to Hubspot, a long tail keyword is "a keyword phrase that contains at least three words." Using the earlier "plastic garden table" example, if you change the keyword to "recycled plastic outdoor furniture," which goes from specific to extremely specific, it will have a higher bid associated with it. Here are the keywords, monthly search volume and a suggested per-click bid for those three examples:

• Outdoor furniture: 100,000–1,000,000/$1.92 bid
• Plastic garden table: 1,000-10,000/$0.42 bid
• Recycled plastic outdoor furniture: 100-1,000/$2.61 bid

Even though "recycled plastic outdoor furniture" has the lowest search volume of the three, it has the highest suggested bid, because of its niche nature. In this case, bidding higher for a keyword may be worth it, as it would attract the proper audience. However, this is why I suggest testing out keywords and ads: There is no clear-cut, right-or-wrong answer when it comes to PPC. You have to test out keywords and see what works the best for you and your audience. For example, your brand might want to start off with the cheaper words, and then work your way up to the long tail, specific keywords once you've started generating more sales.

It isn't necessary for outdoor retailers to use pay-per-click, especially if they have a strong SEO campaign. However, it makes a great addition for those who want an increase in conversions.

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