Most small and medium businesses have one thing that comes to mind when they’re asked about PPC advertising: Too expensive. It’s true; PPC advertising can be excruciatingly expensive and a drain on your company’s bottom line if you don’t do it well. When PPC first came around, a lot of businesses threw their whole marketing budgets at it and many received less-than-fruitful results.
If you’re in a highly saturated market, the thought of implementing PPC can be even more daunting. You may think you’ll never be able to afford the keywords most of your competition is using because they’re driving up costs. But there are ways around intense competition and ways to use PPC without breaking the bank. Now we have far more powerful analytics tools at our disposal and we know a lot more about how to make PPC work. Here are a few tips for running an effective PPC campaign without breaking the bank.
Run a Brand Campaign
A brand campaign is essentially running a PPC campaign to enhance brand recognition. All your ad groups in this case would be closely related or contain some form of your brand name. The key is that these keywords will be much more affordable than bidding on highly sought-after keywords all your competitors are pricing you out of. Using AdWords Extensions is a good choice when running a brand campaign, providing additional opportunities for web users to discover more about your company or quickly find your phone number or location for local businesses.
Invest in a Qualified PPC Consultant or Firm
“What?” you’re thinking. “I can’t afford to run a PPC campaign, let alone hire an expert to do it for me.” Not necessarily true. Check out some qualified PPC experts and get price quotes. You may find that your investment in hiring an outside firm or expert will pay off in PPC returns. Even if your budget is slim to start with, an experienced PPC consultant can advise you on the best ways to use your available funds and turn that initial investment into additional revenue.
Analyze, Test, and Analyze Some More
Google Analytics is free and offers a robust set of analytical tools and metrics to help you improve your PPC campaigns. Use it. The mantra among online marketers is “Always be testing.” You can never test enough and never stop testing to totally maximize your PPC spend. What works today may not work as well tomorrow as seasons change, trends change and customer preferences and searching habits change.
Test your ads, test your keywords and test your landing pages until you find what works. And keep testing that against continuous potential improvements, always using the most effective combination to drive clicks and sales. This way, you’re getting the most clicks out of your budget as possible.
Convey Your Unique Value (Sales) Proposition
If you’re always trying to implement SEO best practices, it’s easy to transfer some of those habits to your PPC campaign, but that’s not always a wise idea. SEO was traditionally focused more on appealing to search engines (although this is now quickly changing), PPC has always been a customer-focused tactic. Sure, you want your ads to appear in the most promising locations, but without customer appeal location means nothing.
Always communicate your unique value proposition in your ads. Don’t talk about features; talk about benefits. What sets your product or service apart from your competitors? Why would customers choose your company over another, and what’s going through their mind when they’re browsing the web in search of products or information? Keep these things in mind when crafting your ad copy.
Use Negative Keywords
This is always good practice when running a PPC campaign, but it’s especially important when you’re trying to do it on a budget. Negative keywords prevent your ads from appearing for certain keyword combinations that you’re not shooting for. By specifying certain keywords that change the meaning of the search, you can avoid paying for clicks that aren’t relevant to your business and will never earn you sales.
Place Unusual Bids
It’s the same concept smart contestants use on The Price is Right: Bidding $601 instead of $600 is safer than jumping all the way to $650. Why? Because a bid of $650 could be over, disqualifying that contestant from that round. A bid of $601 is just enough to beat the contestant who bid $600 without spending an extra dime. In PPC , bidding 11 cents on a keyword instead of 15 cents will earn you that bid over a competitor who bid 10 cents, but saves you four extra cents.
If you’re not careful with keyword selection, optimization and bidding, you can quickly get in over your head with a PPC campaign. Fortunately, there are experts who can help you launch a successful campaign and earn you a return on your investment with a little expert insight. If you choose to go it on your own, do your research and plan your campaigns carefully, and always continue to test.