Introducing our beginners guide to PPC (pay-per-click) advertising for small business and start-ups. 

‍Before we badger on, it’s maybe worth giving you an actual definition of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. 

‘Pay-per-click is an internet advertising model used to drive traffic to websites, in which an advertiser pays a publisher when the ad is clicked. Pay-per-click is commonly associated with first-tier search engines.’ - Wikipedia.

The world of digital is a big one! According to a report by emarketer, in 2018 global digital advertising spend was $282.35 billion and this is expected to almost double over the next 5 years.

The simple reason for this is that digital advertising works.

As a result, it seems like every business, large and small, wants to get involved. Some with considerable marketing budgets, making the PPC marketplace competitive. Consequently platforms and their features are constantly changing, updating and modifying to allow advertisers the opportunity to gain competitive advantages and gain results. The slightly unfavourable conclusion for many people though is that advertising online can seem very complicated.

For amateur marketeers or businesses, it’s very easy to get lost along the way or fall down the rabbit hole of complex ‘marketing procedures’. Over complicating things can often be as detrimental to marketing efforts as being too simple, and the result is that ad budgets are not used to their full potential, or even worse, wasted.

At CampaignHero we help businesses (no matter how small) every day with improving their PPC strategies and I can tell you we’ve seen some real horror stories. In this blog post, I’m going to be blocking out the noise, trimming the fat and drilling down on the most effective strategies, tips and tricks that are all you need to know to create a simple yet effective PPC marketing strategy. I’ll also highlight some money wasters and pitfalls to avoid.

So without further ado here are my top tips to our beginners guide to pay-per-click advertising!

Tip 1: Knowing your goal, choose the right campaign type

PPC platforms like Google Ads offer a range of campaign types, each designed to help you achieve goals that matter to business. Having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve before you begin in PPC advertising will help guide you throughout your campaign set up.

If your goal is to collect leads or have people make purchases then you’ll need conversion or eCommerce tracking in place to make sure you can measure your campaign performance and the effectiveness of your ads.

Learn more about conversion tracking in our webinar with our partners at Google. 

So, picking the right campaign type to match your goal, which is right for you? There are nine main campaign types available on the Google Ads platform.

Google Ads Campaign types user interface

  1. Search campaigns
    Text ads that appear in the search engine results page, this campaign type is good for generating leads and targeting people while they have high intent to buy.

  2. Display campaigns
    Image ads that appear on websites across the Google Display Network (GDN), this campaign type is good for creating brand awareness by putting your company or service in front of relevant people, even when they’re looking for you directly.

  3. Shopping campaigns
    Shopping ads have your products appear directly in the search engine results page, this format is great for generating sales.

  4. App campaigns
    Promote your app across the Google Display Network and Google Play Store.

  5. Video campaigns
    Video ads appear in YouTube as well as other places in the GDN and are a good method of generating brand awareness, leads and sales. But do require effective and creative video content.

  6. Remarketing campaigns
    Target ads of all types towards people who have previously interacted with your website allowing you to strategically place ads to help move people closer to completing a conversion or making a purchase.

  7. Smart campaigns
    Now if you’re new to Google Ads or even Microsoft Ads, then Smart Campaigns are the ones to test out. These are for businesses who want to increase leads or sales and want a seamless set-up with easy management.

  8. Discovery campaigns
    Promote your business through YouTube, Gmail, Discover and more, ideal for brands wanting to drive traffic to their website and generate brand awareness. 

  9. Local campaigns
    Local ad campaigns from Google allow business to drive customers to a physical location 

Tip 2: Understanding the costs of advertising

Set yourself a realistic expectation of cost. One major misconception about PPC advertising is that it’s cheaper than it really is. On several occasions, I’ve had advertisers tell me that they would, for example, like to get 150,000 views on their YouTube ad for a budget of £175. Or to put it another way, for a £175 budget you’re more likely to get around 10,000 views.

The same goes for clicks. The cost per click (CPC) of keywords in search campaigns can range from £0.05 right up to £50+, this all depends on the industry you're in and the competition within the auction space. 

The best way to approach managing the costs associated with PPC advertising is deciding on the maximum you would be prepared to spend in order to achieve your goal, whether that be a video view, sale or lead and then work backwards to improve it. Figure out the life-time value (LTV) of a customer and your ability to calculate your budget and target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) shouldn't be far behind.

You can also make use of CampaignHero’s Ad Spend Calculator as well as use Google’s Performance Planner to understand how much you might be paying per click for your desired keywords. 

Tip 3: Structuring your campaign

Your PPC campaign structure is important, it’s how you arrange your ads to create the most effective method of delivering to your target audience. As we discussed previously, there are several different campaign types but for this section we’ll focus on Search campaigns that use keywords, as these are one of the more popular campaign types and most susceptible to mistakes from newbies.

When structuring a Google Ads account, sometimes more than one campaign might be necessary in order to gain the results you want, for example if you’re targeting London and New York demographics.

Google Ads account best practice campaign structure

At campaign level we choose our budget, target location, bidding strategy and audiences/demographics, like we said before, having more than one campaign avoids too many crossovers with targeting and keywords. For example, if we are a shop that sells shoes, we might want two campaigns both containing the keywords “shoe shop” but one targeting only men and the other targeting only women. 

At the ad group level we can start to focus more on the message we would like to send people (the ads), the types of searches we would like the target (the keywords) and the destination we would like the ad to direct to (landing page). Create multiple ad groups within a campaign in order to control keyword/ad association and organise by theme.

See the below example of a “Computer Services” Campaign and the relevant ad groups and keywords arranged by theme.

Google Ads campaign example based on keyword sectioning for computer services

The reason that we arrange keywords and ads into ad groups is so that we can better tailor the message that we would like people to see when our ad is triggered by their search term. 

Let’s use one of the ad groups above as an example.

In the ad group “Mac Repairs” we should fashion our ads to reflect the theme of the keywords, you guessed it, Mac Repairs. Simple right?

Here’s an example below of an ad you might have in that group:

Google Search Ad - Computer repair examples

Having an ad that contains the keywords that people searched with will increase the chances of your ad being clicked. This has the bonus effect of improving your quality score which can make your clicks cheaper.

How general or specific you want to be with the number of ad groups you use is ultimately up to you, but a good ratio is:

  • A maximum of 7-10 ad groups per campaign.
  • A Maximum of about 10-20 keywords per ad group. 
  • About 3 ads per ad group.

Tip 4: Nailing your keywords and targeting

Keywords are the area where we see the most confusion within marketing newbies and start-up businesses. The keywords are the fuel that powers campaigns, and can potentially “burn” budgets if not used correctly.

The keywords are what we use to target the people we would like to come to our website, usually to perform a specific action like making a purchase or becoming a lead. Users that perform one of these actions we would hope are worth the investment needed that we spend on a click.

It goes without saying that we utilize search engine marketing in order to capture the people who are already looking for a product or service like yours. So it’s very important to remember this when we’re choosing our keywords. A good place to start would be to pick the keywords that best describe your service, and try to be specific. Being too broad can result in a  lot of wasted money on clicks from people who aren’t looking for the service you provide. 

Let’s say for example that you are a local kids football coach and you’re looking to attract more participants for your classes.

You might think that “football” would be a good keyword to bid on. However, the word football will trigger your ad to appear for a very broad range of searches. People looking for football kits, football fixtures, football balls, and the list goes on, potentially clicking your ad. As you do not provide the products or services they were looking for the result will be that you have spent money bringing someone to your website who will not be interested in kids coaching services and instead is looking for football boots for sale. On the other end of the spectrum targeting very specific long-tail (long) keywords like “kids football coach teaching Wednesday evenings” is not likely to generate many, if any, impressions and clicks.

Finding the right keywords, that capture people with the right intent, and in volumes enough to fulfil the goal of your campaign is the challenge and can take a bit of testing. However, picking keywords that are consistent with the product and service you deliver is essential for a successful campaign.

Google Ads football example with funnel impressions relating to keywords

To help you find the right traffic, Match types can be applied to your keywords. Keyword match types can help you with your keyword targeting by reducing the breadth of search terms that can trigger your ad to appear.

Click here to learn more about the different match types you can use in Google Ads. 

Tip 5: Don't expect results on your first day, let it run!

Lastly, another misconception with PPC advertising that I encounter frequently from advertisers, is that it all happens very quickly and results are delivered to you straight away. It’s true that paid marketing does deliver traffic in high volumes and over shorter periods of time than organic marketing or free social marketing.

It all comes down to finding your customers, which can take time, and is achieved through diligent monitoring of performance and careful implementation of improvements. This should be an ongoing process of monitoring and updating keywords, ad copies and targeting. Ad rank which is affected by a variable called quality score also takes some time to build up. Gaining rank is like building trust when it comes to Google, established accounts have a natural advantage as a result. 

More specifically, smart bidding strategies that are commonly used in most campaigns to drive traffic for the purpose of completing a goal as well as Smart Campaigns, having a learning period.

The suggested learning period is four full weeks (28 days). In this period you shouldn’t make significant changes to the account as this effectively resets the learning period back to day one. Patience is essential when it comes to effectively and correctly optimising your Google Ads account, be prepared to not see an immediate return from your investment and plan accordingly. 

If you’re unsure if you’ve set up your digital marketing account effectively and would like some expert advice and input then sign-up to the CampaignHero app or book a free strategy call with us.


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