The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to PPC Marketing
Want to appear on the most valuable online real estate in the search engine results and drive lots of traffic, conversions and sales fast?
Well, this can only be accomplished by using PPC advertising.
But how do you create a successful PPC campaign without running through your budget and having nothing to show for it?
45% of small businesses use paid ads, still not many understand the concept of it. As a marketer PPC is a skill you should have and hone over the years. Otherwise you’ll most likely get stuck in a growth limbo while your competitors will take market share and get all the customers.
In this guide I’m going to uncover PPC in its entirety, starting from the basics to your campaign strategy and the tools you can use to streamline your workflow. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
How Does PPC Work?
Pay-per-click is an advertising model that lets brands place ads on certain ad platforms and pay that platform every time their ad is clicked.
Search engine advertising is one of the most popular forms of PPC as it allows marketers to bid for ad placement in a search engine’s sponsored section when someone searches for a keyword that is related to their business.
Advertisers pay a set fee every time internet users click on a PPC ad. Essentially, advertisers pay for site visits instead of attracting clicks through organic traffic. This cost-per-click (CPC) can rise or fall depending on various factors in your campaign.
The goal of a PPC ad is to lead online searchers who are looking at a targeted ad to click through to the advertiser’s website or app, where they can potentially complete a valuable action, such as purchasing a product, setting up a call or else.
Creating a winning PPC campaign can be intimidating: from finding the right keywords to assigning said keywords into separate campaigns and ad groups, to creating well-optimized landing pages.
But in the end, paid advertising can be the key for you to rise above competitors and take market share and be seen by potential customers. It can help you promote every endeavor you take up from new product launches to virtual conferences to brand awareness.
Moreover, Google and other search engines that host ads reward advertisers who create relevant, smart, targeted PPC ad campaigns by charging less for each ad click. If your ads are relevant and useful for the users Google will charge you less per click, which will give your budget a break and will ultimately lead to profitable business growth. So if you’ve set your sights on using PPC to boost your brand, look no further.
PPC Ad Networks
Now that the PPC basics are covered, the next thing to tackle is: Where should you advertise?
There are dozens of platforms where you can choose to spend your precious ad money. Search engines are incredibly popular ad platforms. They allow you to display different types of ads that are relevant to what people are searching for. PPC is all about relevance. Users are searching for specific information, products or services and advertisers have the ability to offer them a targeted ad at the exact moment this search is happening. Still the best way to find the ones that fit in with your business goals is by taking a look at your potential ROI on each one.
With over 3.5 billion search queries per day Google search is the most popular platform for ad placements, giving advertisers plenty of opportunities to target keywords that will get their intended audience to click. Google Ads platform enables advertisers to create ads that appear on Google’s search engine YouTube, Gmail and other Google properties via Google Display Networks.
With Google Ads you bid on certain keywords and pay for each click that wins the auction. The overall workings of Google’s ads are the same as organic search results, every time someone makes a search it scans the numerous advertisers of that search terch and ‘chooses’ a winner or two to appear in the paid search results section above organic results. The auction is based on a number of factors, such as the relevance of the keywords, the overall ad campaign, as well as the bid amount.
The main downside is that keywords are very competitive on Google Ads, resulting in a greater ad spend than expected.
Similar to Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising is a pay-per-click platform showing ads on the Bing search engine and Yahoo networks. Microsoft has the distinct advantage of exclusively serving Yahoo search traffic, powering several voice searches, with access to LinkedIn data, providing even more opportunities as advertising technologies get more advanced. The platform also utilizes Search Partners. Bing ads is primarily keyword-based advertising with significant traffic and lower CPC than Google ads, which gives more room to diversify your ad budget and reach wider audiences.
Facebook being the biggest social media out there with close to 3 billion users is a popular and effective platform for paid advertising, mainly due to its specific targeting options. Facebook allows you to target users based on their location, interests, demographics, behaviors and much more.
Moreover Facebook ads are blended into the social feed making them less obvious and more pleasant for the targeted audience. Not to mention, Facebook ads manager allows you to create ads for Instagram, offering even more options to reach your target audience.
When you think of PPC advertising, Amazon doesn’t immediately pop up in your mind. But being the biggest online retailers in the world, amazon ads are a goldmine for ecommerce businesses who sell on Amazon. Moreover, you can’t have a successful Amazon selling strategy without integrating ads into it.
Amazon PPC advertising has grown to rival Google’s search ads with its multiple ad formats, targeting options, bidding flexibility and ready-to-access reporting. With this easy-to-use self-service platform advertising on Amazon is an excellent idea for driving sales and improving your listing strength. The only downside of advertising on Amazon is that you have to be a registered seller which is not the case for everyone.
AdRoll is a great platform for businesses who have significant traffic and would like to take them further down the marketing funnel. It’s a retargeting platform that shows ads to people who have already visited your website by using the power of networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google, AdRoll to turn visitors into buyers. It works by targeting searchers who have already visited your website, showing up as ads when they browse other partner websites.
This ability to reach almost ALL of your existing site visitors is what really makes this network so widely used. Whilst retargeting is possible with other platforms mentioned above, AdRoll can show your ad on both Google and social media sites, allowing more opportunities to capture clicks and drive impressions.
Types of PPC Ad Campaigns
Now that we’ve figured out where to advertise, it’s time to know how. There are many different types of paid ad campaigns, but they mainly depend on the platform you’ve chosen to advertise on as different platforms support different types of content.
That isn’t to say that you can’t advertise through various channels; you can try out a combination of campaign types customized for each platform.
The most common type of PPC ads. These refer to the text ads that show up on the SERP above or below organic search results on popular search engines like Google, Bing, etc. They contain text with no visuals. If you want to create a search ad on Google, you need to use Google Ads to create and set up your ad campaigns.
Display ads are another type you can use to reach people interested in your business offering. These are primarily image-based ads placed on external websites, including social. These ads usually appear on Google’s partner websites. There are various ways to create display ads, including Google Display Network (GDN) and other ad networks such as Adroll. Display ads allow for multiple targeting options in order to focus on the exact type of people you believe would be interested in your business.
Social media ads are one of the most popular types of paid ads in the past years. These ads appear in social media feeds on different platforms making a pleasant ground to interact with social media users without being obvious. These are ads you see on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok. You can pay for your ad to show up in your audience’s feed, depending on the platform.
Remarketing ads are designed to retarget your audience as many people will visit your website but won’t convert at once. By using either cookies or a list of contacts you can target people who have previously engaged with your company and by showing them your ad get them to think about your business and to choose your brand.
Google Shopping Ads
Google shopping ads are another type of PPC ad your ecommerce business can utilize to help potential customers find your products. It’s a type of product ad that shows on a carousel on a search page based on your target keywords along with an image, price, and a short product description. This is one of the most effective formats of PPC campaigns as searchers get accurate information about your item as well as its price making them more likely to click on and become a customer.
First and foremost you need to set certain parameters to avoid your ad being untargeted and ineffective. You want to consider your overall business goals and the impact of your paid campaign on said goals. Think of what you want to accomplish with your ad campaigns — visits, sales, brand awareness — and how much you’re willing to spend to achieve these goals.
Before creating each ad campaign you should set these parameters:
- The specific audience you intend to target
- The theme of your ad campaigns
- The success metrics that will measure effectiveness
- The types of campaigns you want to run
Goals and Goal Metrics
With each ad campaign creation you need to have specific goals in mind for your advertising efforts. Most PPC campaigns have common benefits such as:
Site traffic – one of the primary goals of paid ads is to direct traffic to your website, as most marketers struggle with bringing in enough organic traffic to make a difference. But first, If you’re going to spend money getting people to visit your site, you want to have properly designed and written landing pages that can keep potential customers there and eventually convert them into profitable leads.
Brand awareness – If you want to get your brand in front of as many eyes as possible search ads won’t be your friend, without breaking the bank of course. It might be a better idea to look into display ads where you can create eye-catching copy with engaging imagery. A great channel for boosting your brand awareness is social media and social ads. Appearing in your target audience’s feed will get you new followers along with their trust as a noteworthy brand.
Lead generation – if your goal revolves around generating quality leads the first step is to have a relevant and engaging landing page to support your paid ad. If you intend to create separate landing pages for each ad group, you can easily track your lead generation efforts either with a tracking pixel, or through UTM parameters.
Sales – And the most important goal metric of them all: generating sales. You can measure by how much of your product or service are being sold based on your paid ads. You should be able to track this through a quality CMS software or with attribution reporting.
Set Your Budget
Before moving on with the rest of the strategy, one important point you need to consider is your potential budget. We all know how hard it is to spend your precious ad money and get nothing for it. Your budgeting and bidding strategy are a key component of your overall paid strategy as many people make the biggest mistake right here rather than later on.
The pay-per-click marketing cost includes two methods for setting your budget: daily budget and bidding.
Budget – the total amount you’re willing to spend per campaign for one day
Bid – the total amount you’re willing to spend for a specific keyword
When starting out, it’s better to spread your budget across all of your campaigns and as you start to get results from your campaigns, you can analyze the outcome and on higher-performing keywords and campaigns.
Do Keyword Research
Keyword research can be incredibly time-consuming, and require a lot of resources. But your entire PPC strategy is built on keywords, and even the most successful advertisers constantly update their keyword lists not to miss out on hundreds of thousands of profitable, low-cost and valuable keywords that could be driving real visitors to your site.
Once you set your campaign structure, look for keyword sets to use in your ad groups. Conduct keyword research to identify the top performing keywords in your industry. Each campaign and each ad group needs to target a set of keywords — that’s how your ad will be displayed in case of a search query. The general rule of thumb is to assign from one to five keywords per ad group. But remember, you’re not forever stuck with the keywords you started with. You can closely monitor your keyword list throughout your entire campaign — setting negative keywords, eliminating ones that don’t bring in desired results and increasing your bids on keywords that do.
Write Steller Ad Copy
Bidding on well-researched targeted keywords will get your advert in front of the right people; attention-commanding ad copy will get them to click on your ad. Just like the keywords you choose, you need to keep the user intent in mind when creating ad copy. You can’t make the most out of your ad without knowing what people pay attention to.
There are usually 4 main parts of the actual ads you place.
Headline – The title of your content/landing page
Description – Why the user should click on your link
URL – The webpage you’re sending your visitors when they click
Network-specific elements – Things like sitelinks, hashtags, likes, and shares.
As I’ve mentioned before some networks are more text-based, like search engines, while social media ads are typically more image or video-based. Still there are some general guidelines that will make sure your ad copy is commanding attention:
- Address your audience’s objectives
- Speak directly to your potential visitor
- Avoid keyword stuffing
- Include the main keyword you’re bidding on
- Focus on the headline, it’s what everyone sees first
- Make sure your ad copy and page copy match
- Include actionable CTAs
- Tell a story in your description
- Make an offer
- Show testimonials and reviews
- Appeal to FOMO
- Use emojis
- Optimise for location
- A/B Split tests to optimise for your target people
Craft Landing Pages that Convert
We have our goals, we have the keywords, we have the copy, you feel like you’re done. Not so fast. Yes, your ad is ready and running, you are getting traffic but where are you directing these visitors? Your homepage? Big mistake.
You need to create a super targeted, highly relevant to your campaign landing page that will make sure to convert site visitors into profitable leads. If your landing page is not up to scratch, or worse, you direct all of that expensive traffic to your homepage, what is the point in spending so much resources on PPC ads?
The digital ad campaign is only half the picture; without your landing page and your sales funnel coming to the rescue.
Managing Your PPC Campaigns
Once all your ad campaigns are created, you’ll need to manage and analyze them regularly to ensure their effectiveness. You should be continuously analyze ad group performances and separate keyword performances by making the following adjustments to optimize your campaigns:
Add PPC Keywords: Expand the reach of your campaigns by adding new, untapped keywords
Set Negative Keywords: Set non-converting keywords as negative to improve campaign performance and ROAS.
Review Costly PPC Keywords: Review under-performing, costly keywords that don’t seem to convert well and shut them off.
Split Ad Groups: Split up your ad groups into smaller, more targeted ad groups, which help you create more relevant ad copy and landing pages.
Refine Landing Pages: Modify the content and calls-to-action (CTAs) of your landing pages to align with individual search queries in order to boost conversion rates.
This all-in-one marketing tool is perfect for anyone who specializes in SEO and PPC. The advertising toolkit can assist you in all aspects of your paid campaigns and strategy.
In addition to multiple ways of finding the right keywords, it also fuels your creativity by finding successful ads by certain competitors.
If you have an established business with significant emphasis on SEO and PPC, then SEMrush is the perfect option for you. However, for basic PPC needs, you can find a cheaper and less advanced tool.
SpyFu is a competitive tool for SEO and PPC that you can use to boost your organic and paid search strategy. From in-depth keyword suggestions, rankings, to spying on your competitors’ ad activity, you can do it all.
You can type in a domain to see all of the keywords you rank for the ads you win on Google, and strongest competitors. Another cool feature is that the tool groups all the important keywords for each ad group so all that’s left to do is add your branded or product keywords and you’re set.
SpyFu is a solid tool for marketers who are just starting a campaign as well as those who are looking to optimize what is already in motion.
Google Ads Editor
Google Ads Editor is a free ad creation and editing tool. It helps you work on different ad campaigns across multiple accounts in Google AdWords both online and offline. You can manage ad campaigns, make bulk changes to keyword bids with the help of the editor. This useful tool can help you manage your campaigns with ease.
Did you know that it allows you to make changes to all your accounts from a single dashboard? It also allows you to search and replace your text and redo or undo changes to
Make changes quickly to all of your accounts all at once. With the Google Ads Editor, you can search and replace text, move items, and undo or redo changes across multiple campaigns.
Bing Ads Editor
Bing Ads Editor, similar to Google Ads, helps you streamline your ad campaign management. You can import all of your ad data directly into the platform via Google. You can create campaigns, manage keywords, add ad copy, campaign budgets, and more.
You can continue editing your ads, even if you aren’t online. The editor allows to sync-up your accounts and campaigns to make additional changes, even when you are offline. So, when you are online, you can transfer all the revisions at once.
Optmyzr is a renowned PPC tool that automates add optimization with the help of machine learning technologies. You can manage both Bing ads and AdWords with Optmyzr.
You can manage your account by adding new or negative keywords, adjusting ad placement, optimize bids, change up the ad copy and use the shopping campaign splitter and bidder.
AdEspresso is a one-stop solution for managing and optimizing Facebook, Instagram, and Google Ad campaigns. From just this one platform, you can manage all of your ads on different platforms which can save you a lot of time instead of switching between channels.
Setting it up is very easy as it has lots of visuals thanks to its integration with Canva. By using AdEspresso, you can easily optimize and split test your ad campaigns for the best results.