In Part #1 of our more in-depth look at paid media, you can see examples of interruptive advertising on Facebook, Twitter and on various websites across the Internet.
This time we’re going to talk about intentional advertising. These are ads you see when you enter specific search terms in a search engine. This is also known as PPC advertising and it’s a great way to get more traffic to your landing page.
However, just like any form of paid media, you need to create the right kind of campaign to get the best results. Otherwise you risk wasting time and revenue.
So let’s talk about the right way to do PPC advertising.
First off, I’d like to give you a glossary.
There are so many terms and acronyms surrounding PPC advertising that I figured I’d make it a bit easier on you up front. Here are a list of terms you will see if you spend any time researching PPC advertising:
- PPC – Pay Per Click: Let’s start with the basics. This means that you, as the marketer, pay a fee every time someone clicks on your ad. You are paying for your traffic instead of just hoping you’ll get it through organic search.
- Google AdWords: The most popular PPC advertising system in the world. This system is the most commonly used and tends to drive trends in the PPC arena. It also has the Keyword Planner, which lets you determine which keywords will work best for your ads.
- Keywords: These are the words that you will focus your ads on and bid on within the Google AdWords system. You want these words to be relevant to your product and to the person searching for them.
- Long-Tail Keywords: Longer strings of words that identify a more specific search goal. Let’s compare the search terms “craft beer kit” and “home brewing craft pilsner kit.” The first set of keywords indicates that someone may just have started their search. The second set of keywords indicates that the searcher is looking for something specific, and may be ready to buy.
- Ad Groups: These are essentially “containers” to house your keywords, text ads and landing pages within the Google AdWords system.
- Text Ads: The actual ads that show up on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP). They look like this:
- CTR – Click Through Rate: This is the rate at which your ads are clicked. It’s calculated like this:
Total Clicks on Ad (how many people clicked on your ad)
Total impressions (how many times your ad showed up)
Equals: Your Click Through RateYou can find this information in your PPC account dashboard.
- CPC – Cost Per Click: This is how much you’re paying every time someone clicks on your ad. This is how your CPC is calculated:
(Your competitor’s ad rank / Your quality score) + .01 = Your actual CPC
- Quality Score: This is a really big deal in the PPC advertising world because the better your quality score, the lower your CPC. Google calculates a quality score based on:
- Your CTR
- The relevance of each keyword to its ad group
- The relevance of your ad text
- The quality and relevance of your landing page
- Your past AdWords history
- CPA – Cost Per Action/Acquisition: This is how much you pay to get a conversion. “Now wait,” I hear you say. “Isn’t that the same as CPC? I mean, someone clicked on my ad.” That is true. However that person may or may not take action once they hit your landing page. A true conversion happens when someone gives you their email address or makes a purchase on your landing page. Because of this variable, your CPA can be higher than your CPC.
- CRO – Conversion Rate Optimization: If you’re a LeadPages® customer or have spent time reading our blog, you know we talk about conversion optimization a lot. In this case, I’m talking about optimizing your conversion rate by improving your keywords and text ads, as well as your landing pages, to get a site visitor to take your desired action.
By the way, if you’re seriously thinking of doing a PPC campaign, whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned veteran, we’d like to help.
Right now, we’re giving you $100 to use for your Google Adwords or Facebook Advertising, plus two classes on how to run your PPC campaigns with our Paid Media Manager, Andrew Scherr and our Marketing Educator, Bob Jenkins when you purchase a Pro Annual Membership before Tuesday, June 30th at Midnight Eastern.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out yesterday’s blog post for more information.
Now that you have the vocabulary you need, let’s dive in…
Yes, I’m starting with landing pages first, even though they are the last step in the PPC funnel.
Why? Because your landing pages are one of the most critical parts of your funnel. As I mentioned in the very first “Now What” blog post, on Social and Paid Media, Rule #1 is, “Make sure you’re sending people to a landing page that matches the ad, post, tweet or other link they’re seeing!”
I’m going to keep driving this rule home in every post I can, because so many marketers take the lazy route and send their dearly bought click through site visitors to landing pages that don’t correspond with the ad they just clicked on. If you do this, you lose two things:
- The trust of your site visitor: The person who just clicked on your PPC ad is honestly interested in your product or service. If you take that person to your home page, or to a generic landing page that doesn’t correspond to the words you used on your text ad, that person will bounce straight back to Google’s SERP and look elsewhere for the solution to their problem. You cannot afford to lose potential customers, so make sure your landing pages are relevant to your text ads.
- Your Quality Score: Google judges part of your quality score on how well your keywords, ads and landing pages correspond to each other. If your quality score goes below 5, you are charged considerably more each time someone clicks on your ad. Between 25% and 400% more!
Don’t throw money away because you don’t want to take the time to make several landing pages. Inside LeadPages®, you can customize a landing page in minutes. We have more than 100 fully optimized landing page templates in our template library. If you’re already a LeadPages customer, I recommend testing the Adwords/PPC 2.0 Landing Page and the Adwords/PPC Ready Squeeze Page for your PPC campaigns first. Both of these pages are optimized for PPC, so you know you’ll be following Google’s landing page requirements for your ads.
We also offer the ability to duplicate any landing page, once you’ve created it. This means you can make as many versions of this landing page as you want, and make minor alterations to match each of your text ads. This can be done within minutes instead of hours.
You can have all of the landing pages you need for your Google AdWords campaign set up in less time than it takes you to do your keyword research.
Speaking of which, it’s time to talk about…
As mentioned above, your keywords should be relevant to your product and to the person searching for them.
I’d like to give another quick definition here, for the term “search query.” A search query is the words an end user (possibly your potential customer) puts into a search engine query form field.
Your keywords will be based off of the search queries entered into Google by millions of people all over the world. Google uses these searches to determine the popularity/interest for different keywords.
Keywords are a huge deal, and there’s a lot more information than I can possibly cram into this article out there. I would recommend you check out information on keywords from Wordstream’s PPC U as a good start. They, and lots of other websites, have great information on the details of keywords and how they work.
A quick synopsis of keywords in PPC:
All of the ads you see on a given SERP are triggered by keywords. For instance, if I type the words “women’s boots” into Google’s search engine, this is what happens.
As you can see, there’s a lot of variety in the types of women’s boots available.
As a shopper, I don’t necessarily want to wade through all of these pages and pages of women’s boots, so I might put in something more specific, (commonly referred to as long-tail keywords) like “knee-high brown women’s boots, size 7, on sale.” If you’ll notice, there are several very good keywords in my search query.
You, as the marketer, can bid on those keywords. However, your keywords must correspond to your product to be effective. So if you’re selling three different styles of women’s boots, tall black riding boots, short brown ankle boots and mid-calf patent leather high-heeled boots, you want to make sure that the keywords for each of these products corresponds to the product itself.
If we use the first example in the paragraph above, Tall black riding boots, you would want to bid on:
- Women’s boots
- Women’s black riding boots
- Women’s black boots
- Women’s leather boots
- Women’s leather riding boots
And so on, and so on.
The more specific your keywords, the more likely you are to get someone who is actually interested in your product to click through to your landing page. Because let’s face it. A person who can specify which kind of boots she wants is more likely to buy than someone just browsing “women’s boots.”
Ideally, you will be able to organize your keywords in small, tightly related groups for efficiency and to be more effective.
So if we keep going on our women’s boots example, your keywords would be grouped by the type of boot you’re selling:
You should have your keyword in your text ad. So if you chose “Women’s leather riding boots” put those words in the headline, and ideally also in the text of the ad.
This is a “best practice” for PPC and will help raise your quality score. One of the reasons to do this is because Google makes those words show up as bolded when your ad is displayed, so people who are searching for those words can find them easily.
You can also add negative keywords. These are words that you don’t want your ad to show up for when they’re entered into a search engine. These words help narrow your targeted audience and ensure that your ad is only seen by people who might be interested in your product.
For example, if you’re bidding on “Women’s boots” and you’re selling high-end designer boots, you should add a negative keyword of “military” so your ad doesn’t display when someone searches “Women’s military boots.”
Let’s talk about your ad…
Your text ad is made up of three parts:
- A headline (which should include your keyword)
- A landing page URL
- A compelling call to action, which should include your keyword. (The technical name for this area of your ad is “Description Line 1 and Description Line 2)
You can also add information like your location and phone number, using Google AdWord Extensions.
Once you’ve created your ad text, you want to test different ads to find out which one works better. There are various tools and videos out there, including one that Google offers called Campaign Experiments.
I strongly recommend that you look into these tools so you can keep improving your text ads. Yes, it’s extra work, but it will also help you improve your quality score and lower your overall costs.
Speaking of which…
Bidding on Keywords
To bid on keywords, you have to set up a Google AdWords account. You can find instructions on how to do that here. Once you have that in place, you can start working on your first campaign.
I have to be totally honest here. I could try to explain the keyword auction process to you, but Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist does a much better job that I could ever do, so watch this video to get the full story.
Meanwhile, I’ll give you a summary of what Hal says.
Google users want to see relevant ads when they search. As a marketer, you want to get an ad out there that people will click on. And Google itself wants to display relevant ads so its users will keep coming back and using its system. So everyone wins when your ads are made properly.
Google has set up an auction system based on the idea of a “second price bid.” This means that regardless of what you bid on a keyword, you really only pay just enough to beat your competitors for that keyword. You may bid $4.00 for a keyword, but if the person just below you only pays $3.00, you’ll end up paying a lot closer to $3.00, depending on a couple of other factors, including your ad rank.
“What the heck is ad rank?” I hear you ask.
Google has set up a system to rank the different ads they display. Some of this goes back to your quality score, which we talked about earlier.
Google determines your ad rank by these factors:
- Your bid
- Your expected click through rate (or how popular your ad is expected to be)
- Your landing page relevance
- Your ad relevance
- Ad formatting
Ad formatting means those Google AdWord extensions that I mentioned earlier. These let you add additional information to your text ad like a phone number or address and they let you add certain features, like site links or allow you to put your website’s domain in the headline.
Once Google has calculated your ad rank, it will place your ad according to that ranking and charge you accordingly. (Hal talks about this at length in the video so I’m going to let him explain it.)
“So now that I know all of this, what am I supposed to do with it?”
I’m so glad you asked.
I checked with Andrew Scherr, LeadPages® Paid Media Manager to find out the strategy that LeadPages® uses in some of our PPC campaigns. This is what he recommends:
Start with your own brand name. Especially if your competitors are bidding on it.
We always bid on:
- Lead Pages
- lead page
That way we’re the first ones to come up if someone searches for our name.
Next, bid on your “head” terms. These are the keywords that are the core of what you do. For LeadPages® it’s words like:
- landing page
- landing page builder
- free landing pages
- landing page optimization
After that, consider bidding on some long-tail keywords. These would reflect more specific searches entered into search engines. Ours might look like this:
- fully optimized landing page builder
- fully optimized landing page templates
- landing pages that convert
Lastly, bid on your competitors’ names. This might seem underhanded, but your text ad copy would steer searchers toward your product in a positive light instead of making any disparaging comments about your competitors’ products. This is actually a very common tactic.
When I searched for one of our competitors’ names, I found this ad:
If you don’t sell your own products, you can bid on names of products you do sell. To go back to my women’s boots example earlier in this post, if you’re selling women’s boots, you can bid on brand names like:
Now that you know where to start with your campaigns, let’s talk about what to spend.
One of the biggest concerns with using PPC advertising is how much you’ll spend. Google lets you set, and stick to, your budget. When you set up your ad campaign, you are given two choices:
You can set your bids manually, but most savvy marketers allow Google to automatically set their bids for them. This may give Google more control, but Google also knows what it’s doing and will do right by you if you have set your ad campaigns up correctly.
In terms of when to consider your campaign a success, I will refer to what our Paid Media Manager, Andrew Scherr, said in the original “Now What” post on Social and Paid Media.
“If you’re one or two sales away from being profitable, optimize your ads until you reach that profitable point. If it’s more like six or seven sales away, turn off the campaign and try again.”
The question you need to ask yourself is, “How much is one customer worth to you?” If you have very high-end products or services, one customer will be worth much more than if your price point is on the lower end of the spectrum.
PPC advertising can be a very effective way to grow your list and/or sell your products. But make sure you follow the guidelines above and do some extra research on the best ways to run your campaigns. I will refer you to Wordstream’s PPC U, where I got some of the information for this blog post. They have in-depth courses that take you through just about everything you need to know to run a successful PPC campaign.
Thinking of giving PPC a try? Or are you a seasoned PPC veteran who is pondering using LeadPages® to make your campaigns even stronger? Tell us in the comments!