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Are PPC Ads Effective?

Now I’m going to answer this question in a most frustrating way – it depends! PPC ads, like any digital marketing, need to be done well to be truly effective. But don’t worry, I’m going to help you understand what you need to do to create successful PPC campaigns for your business.

Catch-all ads targeting everyone with a generic message generally don’t work well. For PPC ads to deliver the best possible results for your business, you need to target a message that will really entice the audience to purchase a product or service from you.

When targeted digital marketing, especially PPC, is done well, it can be incredibly cost-effective and bring your small business plenty of new customers and sales. 50% of SMEs choose digital marketing because it is less expensive than traditional channels, and 38% of small businesses say they saw quicker results, according to Alba SEO research published in February 2019.

I will walk through some of the essential PPC aspects that will help your online advertising campaigns to really shine.

What is PPC?

PPC stands for pay-per-click. Put simply, you pay an amount of money each time someone clicks on your ad. It is used to buy visibility in search engines and social channels to prompt users to visit your website. They are great for reaching a whole host of potential customers.

Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads), Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Instagram Ads, and Twitter Ads are the most popular platforms for PPC advertising.

Targeting your desired audience

Example of choosing an audience in Facebook Ads

Before starting to set up your PPC advertising campaigns, you need to work out who you are targeting – who is most likely to buy your product or service? There are several ways to target audiences which vary depending on what platform you want to advertise on. According to Alba SEO’s research, 38% of SME businesses said they were able to be more targeted with their digital marketing over traditional channels.

Targeting can include things like:

  • Gender, age, location, or job role
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Family life events, e.g. moving home, new parent
  • Search terms and keywords (for Google and other search engines)
  • Online behaviour

Trying to target a broad group of people, e.g. everyone in the UK, aged between 20 and 70 years old will not give you great results, as the audience is too broad. You’ll most likely get many people seeing the ad, and maybe they will even click through to your website – but usually, the conversion to a sale is very low. The result of this is that you’ll pay for many clicks without making money from sales in return.

Look at who buys from you and try to determine:

  • Who buys from you? – Think about age, gender, wealth, location, career
  • When do they buy? – Is it seasonal? After a life event such as a birth or marriage?
  • Why would they buy from you? – Is it a fun purchase? Or maybe something to make their work easier?
  • Why might they choose you? – Price, location, type of product/service, or maybe reputation
  • How do they purchase? – Online, in-store, phone call, email etc

Once you’ve worked out all these questions, try and find a pattern in them. For example, maybe you appeal to high-income newlyweds between 20-40 in the six months after they are married. You should be able to use these patterns to separate customers into several separate groups that you can market to with appropriate messages.

Making your ad message relevant

It can be very easy to fall into the trap of creating a catch-all fairly generic ad to try and entice all your audiences. You’ll often see adverts consisting of a company name/logo, a line about what they are “plumbers”, “lawyers”, etc., and a web address/phone number. But this very rarely entices customers in. Customers are often after a specific service – e.g. for a solicitor firm, they might need help with family matters or with a house sale – both require very different things, and you need to speak to them individually.

So, once you have grouped your customers, you need to think about how to speak to them. Take the information you know about each group of customers and work the messaging to suit their needs.

For example, if you were a builder and had these two groups of customers:

  1. Homeowners with young children who can’t afford to move but want to expand their home to fit their growing family rather than move.
  2. A wealthy retired couple who wants to improve their home now they have more free time to enjoy it. This might include adding a sauna or hobby room.

The messaging should be very different for both. The first want to hear about cost-effective ways to expand, see that you have helped other growing families develop their home, and possibly how extending can increase the value of their home.

The second audience wants to read about upgrading their house for enjoyment, adding a little bit of luxury to their lives, and see examples of high-quality builds.

Also, don’t forget imagery. The images you use for each group should reflect what that group look like. For example, you shouldn’t use photos of a young family when targeting a retired audience etc.

Putting It All Together

Example of selecting specific audience interests in Facebook Ads

Once you have your groups of customers and the right messaging, choose which platforms you want to advertise on. You might want to try a few out to see what works best.

Use what you know about your audiences to set the targeting for each advert. For example, on Facebook, if you’re targeting the young family in my home expansion example above, you might set the age as 20-40 and pick some interests such as “children”, “DIY, “home improvement”.

You might even find targeting people who have expressed their interest on Facebook in topics such as “Money Saving Expert”, “IKEA”, or “Wickes” might be helpful as they might follow those companies too if they like saving money and home improvement.

Also, look out for popular media interests that this type of audience might follow. For example, the shows the family in my example might be watching could be “Fixer Upper”, “Grand Designs”, or “60 Minute Makeover”.

Monitoring your ad performance

Don’t panic if all your ads don’t always perform straight away. There is always a learning curve. Just start with a few ads, see how they perform, then tweak them as you go.

The best way to track is through the platform you’re advertising on and via Google Analytics.

You need to analyse who is looking at your advert, how many are clicking through to your site, and then convert to a sale once there. Not enough click-throughs mean your advert might not be enticing the audience. If people are clicking through but not converting, you might be bringing the wrong people to you, or your site is not converting them well.

Have fun trying out some adverts. By tailoring your ads to your audience, creating the right messaging, and tracking the results, you’re more likely to have effective PPC campaigns. Good luck!

If this all feels like too much effort, and you’d prefer to leave PPC advertising to the experts, Yell is happy to help! It offers a product called Smart Performance which creates online ads across PPC, social and display advertising channels, and optimises your budget on a daily basis towards where the best results are being delivered.