What is “PPC” and how does it work?
PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click (advertising). However, web-based advertising actually extends beyond this, for example Sponsored Search (paying to go to the top of Google search results), so it is very much a generalisation and also a misnomer. The theory behind it is that, on a given website, your advertisement(s) will be shown and you pay a variable price for each person that responds to your ad, usually by clicking on it. The variable price is calculated based on several factors: How much are other, similar businesses paying, how precise is your audience and how many times it has to be shown (impressions) before someone clicks it.
This may sound a bit bizarre, but there is actually no such thing as a “cost-per-click” because the price you pay is in fact based on cost-per-mille (CPM) which means how many thousands of times it was shown to get your clicks. It’s the same a traditional advertising in that sense; you aren’t paying for the people that respond to your poster, you are paying for the number of posters that were printed and placed on walls.
When someone acts on a PPC advertisement, they are usually then taken to a website ‘landing page’ or some type of response mechanism such as a form or a phone number which can be tracked. This is called a “conversion” and it is always important to look at your CPC (Cost Per Conversion) because it’s usually the bottom line for a campaign’s success, or failure. Getting a conversion for £5 sure is a hell of a lot better than one for £50.
It’s all about the what, where and who.
Going back perhaps 10 years, “PPC” was synonymous with “advertising on Google” and, for a lot of people, it still is. However, there are countless places you can advertise online and if you take the time to understand the connection between what you are selling, who would buy it and where is best to reach them, you can reduce your advertising costs substantially. I take the view that a quality sale/lead is a quality sale/lead, no matter where from it may come. What matters is how much it cost you.
The most popular platforms for advertising, and the ones I will cover in this article, are below. They vary in cost and each has its own advantages, depending on what you are selling and to whom:
Search Engines & Display Networks
- Google Ads
- Bing Ads
I bet you didn’t know you could advertise on some of these platforms? Well, you can, so take some time to research each one and see which you feel might be best fit for you.
Uses, advantages, pros and cons.
Before we get into this, keep in mind that ALL of the above platforms have both paid and unpaid routes to reach people. You can either create content and build your audience naturally, or you can pay to push your way to the front of the queue. Many companies will actually use a combination of both as there are advantages both ways to doing this; you will reach more people and it can reduce your spend and reliance on paid conversions.
I don’t have the word count to be able to cover each of the above platforms; each one could comfortable fill its own extensive article. What I want to try and do it point you in the right direction.
The first big question to ask is are you selling a consumer product or a business service? If you are selling a product then the more image-focused platforms where audiences can talk about your product and share it with friends will probably serve you better. These include Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn to some degree. Business services are best promoted through LinkedIn, Google Ads and Bing Ads as we can target business people much more precisely than we can through social platforms. This said, do not underestimate the bargains to be found reaching business people when they are on Facebook through ads targeted at their behaviours.
The second big question is what age group you are looking to reach? Instagram is a younger audience, Facebook and YouTube mid-range and Twitter mid to older. Platforms such as Google Ads can reach any age group.
The third and final big question is how and where the people you want to sell to are most likely to find and engage with your product or service? Will people actively search for it or do you need to push it out in front of them? The search engines provide ways that you can not only push yourself to the top of search results (very expensive) but you can also show ads, in real-time, to anyone who may have recently searched for something or expressed an interest in it. These are generally much cheaper; they are the ads that seem to follow you around across different websites and know what you’re interested in!
It all comes down to conversions.
Getting an ad in front of someone (an impression) is the easy part. The challenge, and it is a huge challenge for those who do not know what they are doing, is to get people to respond and to do that without wasting heaps of money. This is where I see so very many small business try to do it, get it wrong, then wonder why they don’t have a single sale or lead to show for hundreds if not thousands of pounds in ad spend. These platforms are designed to spend your money, not find you customers which is entirely down to you.
To give this some context, we ran a campaign recently for a mortgage company that had been paying as much as £50 per enquiry. They thought this was pretty good as just one of them would result in a £1,500 – £2,000 fee and the spend was more than paying for itself. However, they were interested to see if that spend could be reduced. The following approach, within just one month, yielded more enquiries than they could handle at a Cost Per Conversion of less than £2 per lead!:
Choose the right platform(s)
Facebook. We can target people whose behaviours indicate they are actively house-hunting or looking to re-mortgage and make it quick and easy for them to express their interest with an inline response form.
Take time to target people as precisely as possible.
We were able to set up a number of different campaigns targeting different types of mortgage requirement with appropriate ad visuals and messages. For example, first-time buyers, those looking to buy a rental property and those needing a better deal or extra cash from a re-mortgage. It is really crucial to note here that the less effectively your ads target the right people, the more you will pay. Instead of printing more posters, you want to put fewer posters up in the right area so the proportion of people seeing them, and taking action, is higher.
Create an ad campaign that is clear, direct and resonates with audience.
We produced some rather unusual ads, one featuring a vampire, that cut through all the other ads of this type featuring stock images of home owners, houses and house keys. Coupled with compelling copy, the audiences really noticed the ads, knew straight away what the proposition was and were clear what was expected to happen next if they click the ads (fill out a quick form).
Make it quick and easy to convert.
The longer the process from seeing your ad to buying your product or enquiring about your service, the more chance you have of losing them. Literally every second you can reduce that process by counts. In this instance, from clicking the ad, the user stayed within Facebook rather than being taken to an external website or landing. They were then able to provide their details for a call back within around 15-20 seconds.
As you can see, the landscape of web-based advertising is quite daunting but, provided you plan properly, target well, and create a journey from ad to conversion that resonates, you will generate great results and it shouldn’t cost you the earth to do it.
As always, you cannot be good at everything so I recommend you get a professional agency like TFA to do this for you. We typically save clients thousands and have saved two clients this year tens of thousands.
If you’d like to read the full case study for our Mortgage Buddy campaign, click here.