Managing your Pay Per Click Advertising

Posted on 19/06/2014 by Pete Keyworth

Do you want a lot of visitors to your website? Do you want to avoid wasting a lot of money? There are many important considerations to think about  before you embark on a Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) Campaign. Managing your Pay Per Click Advertising isn’t as straight forward as you may think and I am always amazed at how many businesses forget that a successful Pay Per Click Campaign isn’t simply a matter of getting a lot of visitors to your web site.

Trying to get the maximum number of visitors to your website means you might just burning money if you don’t have a strategy for converting visitors into clients.

In brief, your firm’s PPC strategy has to address three core areas:

  • How to get more visitors to your website, at the right price
  • How to convert web visitors into fee paying clients
  • How to retain your customers, and keep them loyal to your firm.

Of course, Pay Per Click is just one of the broad range of Customer Acquisition techniques, including search engine optimisation, referrals from other websites, email marketing, social networking, all underpinned by any traditional marketing activities.

What do you need to consider when planning a successful Pay Per Click campaign?

The Pay Per Click Advertising Model

Pay Per Click (PPC) is an advertising model that enables you to buy your way to the top of the search engine results. PPC advertisements are those familiar small ads appearing down the right-hand margin of the search engine results, as well as the initial few “sponsored links” appearing at the top of the search results

There are two main search marketing advertising networks: Google AdWords, Yahoo! Bing NetworkAds. With Google having approximately 84% share of the global paid search market, many firms focus their efforts on the AdWords service. A wealth of other platform are available to advertise on including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

PPC advertisers are charged on a cost-per-click basis, meaning your advertisement will display hundreds or thousands of times, but you are only charged when a searcher clicks on your advert, and makes a visit to your website.

As a customer acquisition tool, PPC helps searchers to discover your firm for phrases that your website wouldn’t otherwise rank well for. It offers the possibility that your firm will appear on the first page of the search results, resulting in more visitors coming to your website.

The Advantages of PPC

There are 4 primary advantages to using a PPC advertising service:

1. It’s flexible. You can bid on any number of phrases that can bring potential clients to your website. You might choose to bid for highly specific phrases that reflect your firm’s niche area of expertise, bringing a relatively small number of highly suitable prospects to your website. Or you might bid on generic “solicitor” phrases that will bring a large number and broad variety of potential clients to your site.

2. It’s quick. Your site will appear in the search results, quite literally, immediately. You can change the copy on your advert and have it display instantly. And if a topical issue is mentioned on Radio 4 this morning, you could be displaying an appropriate advert by the start of the working day.

3. It’s controllable. You have full budgetary control, with your own daily advertising limit. When you hit your maximum budget your advertisements simply stop appearing. You can also control the times your ads appear, control where your ad appears, and to a certain extent control who sees your ad.

4. It’s measurable. You will know exactly how many visitors came to your website, and the price you paid per visitor. You can also measure how many of those visitors then converted to a prospect by measuring how many enquiries you received. From there it is a straightforward matter to calculate your final return on investment by comparing the number of your new clients with your PPC spend. You can effectively calculate your cost per conversion whether this is a sale or enquiry.

Disadvantages of PPC

Firms express a certain reluctance to use PPC in their marketing mix, raising concerns that include:

1. It can be expensive. PPC Advertising in the legal sector is highly competitive, and it is not uncommon for firms to be willing to pay a premium price for each click, knowing there is a potential client at the other end of the keyboard.

2. It’s temporary. Your ads will continue to appear so long as you continue to pay. Once you stop paying, you will disappear from the search engine results. For this reason, PPC is usually used in conjunction with search engine optimisation with the aim of having your site rank well in the search results without resorting to PPC. If you do not have a large enough daily budget your adverts may stop showing part way through the day.

3. It’s a sophisticated process. Pay Per click is not a simple auction like eBay. The highest bidder doesn’t buy his way to the top of the results. Instead, Google AdWords makes use of a “Quality Score” that determines the price you pay, assessing the relevancy of the phrases you’re buying, the quality of your website, your history as an AdWords advertiser. Get the process wrong, and you will be paying over the odds for your clicks. You might want to consider a fully managed Pay Per Click service service.

4. It takes time. Careful planning during the set up of your campaigns will yield benefits in terms of the price you pay per click. You will also need to monitor your advertising to see which campaigns are successful, and which ones you should cancel. You will need to keep an eye on which ads are bringing new clients, and which ads are just costing clicks but not generating new business. If you don’t put in the time to manage your PPC advertising campaigns, the average cost per click can increase and eventually your adverts will show less and less.

5. Click Fraud. The fear of competitors fraudulently clicking on your ads and costing your money is a reasonable fear. However, all of the search engines have sophisticated methods for detecting invalid clicks, which includes fraudulent as well as accidental double clicking. Your most important measure has to be your final Return on Investment: how much have you paid on PPC, and how much business has it generated. Failure to keep a handle on this metric will lead to you wasting money.

Keyword Research

The start of the PPC process is to identify the phrases you will be bidding for. Google provides you with a free keyword research tool that will show you the monthly search volume for your chosen phrases, an indication of the potential Cost Per Click (CPC) and a measure of the advertising competition. To help with managing your pay per click advertising effectively you should also use the Google keyword planner to research negative keywords that you do not want your adverts to show for.

Google Keyword Planner - Research AdWords keywords and to help you with managing your PPC advertising
Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Choosing your key phrases is a fine balancing act: you want to bid on popular phrases in order to get sufficient visitors to your website. But you don’t want to be bidding on popular but highly competitive phrases that might not result in getting a client.

The key metric for your keyword selection is Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) : how much you’re willing to pay to get a new client. By understand the conversion rate of your website and the average cost per click of the keywords in your account you can estimate how much you need to spend to get an order.

Creating Adverts

The next step is to create your three-line advert that will display for your selected key phrases. Crafting the perfect ad is a time consuming process, and writing a compelling 95-character mini-message is an art. You can experiment with:

1. Including the key phrase in the advert, so that the searcher recognises your ad as matching what they were searching for

2. Including clear benefits as to the service you provide, remember to think the way your client thinks and using language they’ll relate to.

3. Making a strong “call to action” which often takes the form of “Call for a free consultation” or “Ring now:”

4. Make your ad look different. Use short phrases, leaving lots of white space. Use alliteration (“Perfect Pink Presents”) or rhyming. Just make your ad look eye catching and memorable as compared to your competitors.

Landing Page Design

The click on a PPC advert leads a visitor to a particular page on your website known as a “landing page.” As an advertiser you need to bear in mind that landing pages serves two purposes: it is the vehicle which will persuade the visitor to do business with your firm, and the landing page is also a crucial factor in AdWords determining your Quality Score, which in turn influences the price you will pay per click.

In terms of conversion, your landing page makes or breaks the deal. It has to be designed to get that all important “most desired response.” Your visitor will decide within milliseconds whether they trust your site, and whether they like your business. And they’ll only spend 7 or 8 seconds looking at the page, so everything needs to be discernible at a single glance.

When designing a landing page, you might want to consider:

1. Is the page specifically about what the visitor searched for? If I searched for conveyancing, then take me directly to your conveyancing page. Do not take me to your Home page and make me search for the right page.

2. Are the benefits of your firm clear, and written in simple, brief, and compelling language?

3. Is the page quick to load?

4. Have you included your main Call to Action, making it easy to see your phone, or including the form for me to fill in.

5. Have you eliminated any unnecessary distractions from the design of the page? Consider reducing the navigation options on your landing pages to increase enquiries

6. Is the page uncluttered, making good use of colour as well as white space and graphics?

Quality Score

Your price per click is determined by advertising competition, and your Quality Score for the phrases your bidding for.

Quality Score is a dynamic metric assigned to each of the key phrases you’re bidding for in your PPC campaign. The higher your Quality Score, the lower the minimum bid you will be charged per click, and the higher position your advert will take in the search results.

Your Quality Score is determined by the relevancy of your key phrase to the other phrases in the same advertising group, the relevance between the advert copy and the key word phrases, the quality of your landing page as well as a number of other historical performance factors.

One historical factor influencing your Quality Score is your Click Through Rate (CTR.) Your CTR is the number of clicks your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown on the search engines results. Clearly the advertising networks like it when you get the most possible clicks, and they reward you with a lower price per click.

Mobile Desktop Advertising

In 2013 the UK percentage share of paid clicks on mobile devices jumped from 24 per cent at the beginning of the year to 43 percent by December (Source Mobile Marketing Magazine). As with search, there is a seismic shift towards mobile and so it is important when setting up your Google AdWords campaigns to consider how your adverts will display on mobile devices. AdWords campaign settings and advert settings allow you to manage which adverts show on mobile devices and adjust your bid prices specifically for mobile.

Successfully Managing Your Pay Per Click Advertising

Running successful PPC campaigns is all about the detail: researching your key phrases, organising the structure of your PPC campaign, writing compelling ads, creating powerful landing pages, managing your Quality Scores, and most importantly keeping an eye on your budget and Return on Investment.

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Managing your Pay Per Click Advertising

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