Despite the monumental growth in digital advertising spends over the last two years – 2013 saw a 13% increase over 2012, and a 14.8% increase was projected for 2014 ($137 billion) – I’m still surprised how many businesses have yet to recognize the value of, and adopt, PPC (pay-per-click advertising/paid search) as part of their business and marketing strategy. From jump-starting a brand to maximizing revenue, to promoting business assets like whitepapers, PPC is an incomparable business weapon. Find out right now five reasons why your business should be using PPC.
1. Are You in a Competitive Industry and/or Is Your Competition Doing It?
I have come across myriad marketing and business forum discussions that take up the question: What is better for my business? SEO (search engine optimization) or targeted PPC? Well, the answer to this really boils down to the industry you are in and how competitive the search space is for that industry. If the target keywords for your business are fairly easy to rank for (low/medium competition), then your marketing strategy likely does not need to include PPC, at least not as part of a long-term plan. However, if you have found your target keywords rather difficult to rank for (high competition), then PPC should be at the front of your mind.
In no particular order, 10 of the most competitive industries for SEO are:
- Real Estate (home/condo sales and apartment leasing)
- Financial Services (mortgages and loans)
- Travel and Tourism (hospitality, vacation packages and tourist attractions)
- Higher Education (online)
- Legal Services
- Web Hosting (design and development)
- Retail (apparel and computer hardware)
Is your business in one of those 10 industries? If you go to Google right now and do a search for your target keyword and/or your target keyword plus the geo location of your business (e.g. “Homes for Sale San Francisco,” “Hotels in NYC,” “Online Marketing Degree,” “Divorce Lawyer,” etc.), does your business show up on the first page – or more importantly, at the top of the first page? No, you say? Furthermore, do your competitors crowd the first page, especially all the paid ad placements? Yes, you say now? And what if you perform a search for your branded keywords — are any of your competitors bidding on your brand (i.e. do any of your competitors show up in paid positions above your organic search result)?
Countless studies have proved the importance of top page visibility in search engines. For example, one Compete.com study, which analyzed tens of millions of search queries across multiple search engines, reported the following breakdown in terms of search position and the traffic received:
- Position 1 – 53%
- Position 2 – 15%
- Position 3 – 9%
- Position 4 – 6%
- Position 5 – 4%
The results are shocking, right? And there are tons more results like them.
Our team at HZ manages SEO and/or PPC efforts in six out of the 10 industries listed above, so we thoroughly understand the difficulty of organically ranking businesses in competitive industries. Some of our clients, like a NYC-based tourist destination, have competitors bidding on its branded keywords, and all of our clients have competitors competing against them in PPC, including our national homebuilder, dorm-furnishings retailer and online university clients.
2. Do You Need to Increase Sales and Revenue?
Whether you are an online business (retailer, ticket vendor, etc.), and/or a local business with only brick-and-mortar locations, you should be using PPC if you answered “yes” to number 2. Why?
- Businesses with both a paid and organic result in high positions can see an 8% lift in purchase intent and a 4.5%-6.2% increase in expected profit.
- Local businesses that use search ads can see a up to a 3.6% in-store sales increase, as well as a 15-to-1 return on ad spend (ROAS).
- Businesses that use PPC in combination with an action-oriented landing page, such as a checkout page, can ensure greater and quicker sales when their first organic result for a keyword with high purchase intent is “general and non-compelling,” like the homepage, by providing an initial experience that is both compelling and cuts down on the number of times a user has to click before getting to that “Complete Order” button.
Our team has a Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit client that needed to increase its membership sales this spring, so they asked us to create a PPC campaign to help them do so. The campaign started in March of this year, and is still running. During March and April of last year, our client only received 968 visits to its membership page, and only sold 47 memberships. During the same time this year (during the run of the PPC campaign), our client received 5,383 visits to their membership page (a 456% increase), and sold 96 memberships – a 104% increase in sales!
3. Are You in the Beginning Stages of Branding and/or Re-Branding?
Every brand strategy should include PPC to help with the following:
- Brand Awareness – If you are a startup or a less recognized name in your industry, employing search ads to show in top positions on Google for general product/service keywords, and/or using banner ads on websites related to your business via Google’s display network (e.g., buying ad space on Forbes if you are a B2B software company), can help get your name out there to your target audience.
- Brand Authority – Using PPC ads on Google and Bing for keywords where you also have an organic listing on the first page can actually increase your trust factor with searchers by having two results show on the same page.
- Brand Voice – PPC advertising is great for testing messaging and honing your brand personality because it not only drives more traffic than organic search in a shorter timeframe, but PPC platforms allow you to split that traffic among multiple ads and landing pages with different brand voices, easily allowing you to gauge what searchers respond to and engage with more.
4. Do You Need to Respond to Negative Publicity?
When your business’ online reputation is threatened by a crisis, negative reviews/ratings, social slander, etc., it is crucial that you take action to preserve and control your image. And because the majority of information gathering by potential customers, clients and decision makers will be conducted via Google, PPC is a great starting point.
Our team at HZ recently had a client – a commercial real estate builder – come to us with an online reputation management (ORM) problem. They were embarking on a new project – a mixed-used development – and needed a majority vote from the community members, stakeholders, etc. in order to get approval and move forward with construction. However, if someone conducted a search on Google for the name of the project, nothing but negative articles from local newspapers came up.
Despite the project’s promise to create new housing and jobs, boost the economy and make it easier for entrepreneurs to start a business, it seemed that everyone was up in arms about the initiative; thus, our client was afraid the project was not going to survive the vote. So, what did we do to make sure this wasn’t the case? We ran a PPC campaign for them!
We started out by creating a brand-new landing page for them – one that highlighted all the amazing benefits of the project. We included quotes from stakeholders, county board members and any positive articles we could find; an infographic illustrating the city’s current housing issue; the project’s live Twitter feed, which showcased positive feedback from “regular” people; and links to useful resources.
Then, we created our keyword list, including any and all the branded and non-branded search terms that triggered the negative articles and commentary. Next, we crafted positive ad messaging, like “Support Project X” and “Project X Means Jobs.” Finally, we ran the campaign, making sure to bid for position 1 so that our positive ad was the first thing searchers saw when they Googled one of the keywords that triggered negative organic results, meaning they were more likely to click through to our strategically created landing page than one of the negative articles.
We started the campaign about a month before the day of the vote, and ran it up to the day before the vote. The campaign received 3,385 clicks and 780,092 impressions. And guess what? The morning after the vote, our team received an email from our client thanking us for all of our hard work on the campaign, and informing us that… *cuing the music*… they had won the vote, and by a large majority at that!
5. Do You Need to Promote an Event? New Content? Or Grow Your Email List?
Sometimes businesses don’t get the reach they want with social marketing and bulk email blasts to all their media contacts, and when you have something like a new eBook you want to promote, PPC, in combination with strategic contextual targeting via keywords and website placements, can help.
For example, when I was running the in-house PPC efforts for a cloud-based software company, I would run a campaign to promote their annual marketing and PR conference, as well as their quarterly industry whitepapers. I would target keywords like “PR Tips” and “Best Marketing Conference,” as well as place banner and text ads on websites like Entrepreneur.com. Not only did we see an increase in conference registrations and whitepaper downloads compared to when we weren’t running PPC to promote these, but we simultaneously grew our email list since a valid email was required to register and/or download.
- Things Your Business Can Promote Via PPC:
- Press Release
Did you answer “yes” to any of the numbered questions above? If so, then what are you waiting for? The PPC bandwagon is awaiting you, so jump on! Or if you’re already on it, stop for a moment and ask yourself – am I doing it right? If you need tips to get started, then check out Google AdWords. And if you want experienced experts to ensure the success of your campaign, then contact HZ.