Many marketers are moving away from using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising in lieu of more cost-effective lead generation methods, like blogging, social media marketing, and creating excellent offer content that drives net new leads and reconversions.
While we are obviously 100% on board with the whole inbound marketing thing, we think there are still instances in which it makes a lot of sense to invest in some paid online advertising. After all, everything in moderation, right? Sometimes you just have to give in to ordering that decadent piece of chocolate cake -- and not feel guilty about it. So here are some of those instances in which a little PPC might do your business some good!
Bidding on Your Own Branded Terms
Have you ever done a search for your company's name in a search engine, and another brand comes up in the advertisements? Yikes! That’s not good. Another company is outbidding you on your own name! Sneaky? Yes. Uncool? Totally. Dumb move? You bet your buttons. But some people are doing this kind of stuff anyway, and you want to be the first ad to pop up (and maybe the only ad) when someone performs a branded search.
Setting aside a small amount of budget for a campaign around your own name is a good idea if you're being targeted in this way by competitors. If you're concerned about the cost, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn it's not going to make a big dent in your budget -- this will be far less competitive than other keywords, because there's far less competition driving up the cost-per-click (CPC). Make sure this campaign is up and running on as many variations of your brand name as you can think of, including misspellings.
Driving Quick Results
PPC can be extremely helpful for you if you're in a time crunch. For instance, maybe the holidays crept up on you, and before you know it you only have three weeks until the end of your year and some serious numbers to hit. If you need results fast -- like net new leads to hit a lofty lead generation goal -- PPC can be a helpful, short-term resource. It's no replacement for long-term organic strategies, but if you need results in days or weeks, a smart PPC campaign could help give you a boost.
Think about it: You can get an AdWords campaign up and running within an hour or two, depending on how complex your campaigns are, and quickly adjust your bids to increase your AdRank -- and by extension, your results. If you've never set up an AdWords campaign and you find yourself in this scenario, check out this blog post, "A Simple Guide for Setting Up Your First Google AdWords Campaign." It'll walk you through all the steps you'll need to take to get started.
Informing Your Keyword and Content Strategy
Do you really understand what your audience is looking for before they end up on your site? If your answer is no, it may be time to do some creative keyword analysis to get a more complete understanding of who they are.
First, run a campaign in AdWords; looking at the initial keyword data in AdWords can be helpful to see which keywords have the highest clickthrough rate (CTR). These are the ads that are most popular with your audience, so it now it's time to back track and analyze which keywords actually generated leads or customers. By using a tracking token, you can look at the data within your CRM connected to leads and customers that were originally generated from a specific AdWords campaign. Here, you will be able to see which keywords people searched for before they became a lead or customer. That's some seriously hand information to know for anyone trying to craft a keyword or content strategy, right? I think it might be high time to create more content around those terms your audience (you know, the ones that turn into leads and customers) wants to learn more about.
Finding a Ridiculously Niche Audience
There's an audience for every product and service out there, no matter how obscure. The problem, sometimes, is finding them. Pay-per-click campaigns can help you find that audience more easily by bidding on relevant keywords for your specific niche market -- and hey, you can even apply the methodology we just described in point #3 to start targeting them organically, once you know what they're looking for. Here's an example I found of a pretty niche industry, butterfly sales:
The butterfly industry is probably not prominent is most parts of the world, but you can bet that when someone is in need of a butterfly, a Google search is one of the first places they'll go. Use this to your advantage if your audience is incredibly niche, too, and bid on these keywords to help generate leads and figure out how the heck to target them.
Improving Your Local Search Presence
AdWords enables local businesses to advertise for a very specific location. Bidding on keywords related to a location, such as "Best sushi in Boston," is a helpful way for local businesses to drive traffic to their specific locations. You can also choose to have your ads shown only in a specific location, even rural towns! If you want to exclude a certain area, you can choose to "exclude location" as well, making PPC ads perfect for local businesses who don't want to waste money on people who are nowhere near them, and would never become a customer.
Leveraging Social Networks' Ad Platforms for Their Super Powers
Let's not forget that Google PPC isn't the only paid online advertising that marketers can take advantage of. Many of the big social networks have their own ad platforms that, if you're familiar with running a Google AdWords campaign, will seem quite familiar. The key to utilizing them guilt-free is picking the right networks, for the right campaigns, to target the right audience -- because let me tell you, these social networks have a ton of demographic data that makes targeting your social media ads incredibly, well, targeted. Here are what three of the most popular social networks that offer advertising are particularly useful for -- see if any are applicable to your business!
Promoting Exclusive Deals on Twitter
With 500 million users, Twitter has a huge following. But with over half a billion tweets per day, how could an advertiser possibly use Twitter to reach its target audience? Twitter ads work well when in conjunction with a current marketing campaign, or promoting a special deal or promotion for social media fans only. These work the best for retail brands and other B2C companies. Asking people to share your content to redeem the deal can also help increase your brand's organic reach, a nice win to tack on to your paid campaign.
Growing Your Facebook Reach With Qualified Fans
Your Facebook fans are a unique group of people that want to stay involved with your brand. It's also pretty likely that the friends of your fans are also qualified to be your followers, due to the close nature of Facebook relationships. But they may not know about you yet! Using Facebook ads, you can promote your business page, or a specific offer, to the friends of your fans. Not only are these people similar to your friends by nature, they're also more likely to check your brand out, because you have the strength of social proof working for you!
Targeting B2B Companies on LinkedIn
LinkedIn has great targeting capabilities for its 100 million+ audience. Not only can you target the usual demographic characteristics PPC provides, you can also target people based on job title, skills, and groups they're involved in. This is a remarkable level of targeting capability, and it's especially helpful for B2B companies who are looking to target professionals. Think about it, if the decision-makers to purchase your product or service are all IT directors, LinkedIn ads provides an insanely targeted way to get those people -- and only those people -- exposed to your content via LinkedIn ads. And you'll spend way less money on these ads than you might on other ad platforms, because you're only targeting the exact seniority level you need for that campaign.
Just remember, you should be backing up those ads with amazing content, and supporting it with a valuable presence on LinkedIn through things like Groups and an active company page.
What else do you think PPC is uniquely positioned to help marketers with?