Even for the most seasoned marketing professionals, PPC can feel like a whole new, confusing world to get your head around.
However, as I’m sure you know if you’re here, PPC is an essential part of any successful marketing strategy. It’s a great way of getting conversions; whether you’re just starting out and getting your first clients or have an established business and are looking to seriously scale.
This guide will take you through getting started with your PPC strategy, some of the common concerns when starting out and best practices for your campaigns. It’ll be your ultimate guide to everything you need to know about PPC.
What is PPC?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of how you can use PPC to grow your business, let’s talk a bit about what it encompasses.
PPC, or Pay Per Click marketing, is a form of digital marketing in which the advertiser (that’s you), pays depending on how many times an ad is clicked, hence the aptly named, Pay Per Click. How much you pay depends on the level of competition and how popular the keywords you’re bidding for are. We’ll get into keywords more later on, but they’re essentially the words or phrases you choose that you want your ads to be shown for.
The majority of PPC campaigns are run on the big daddy of search engines, Google, but you can also run campaigns on Bing, Facebook and Instagram, to name a few. The platform you choose to run your ads on will really depend on your business and target consumer.
As well as having multiple platform options, the goal of your campaign may change depending on your business targets and position. The main three campaign goals are:
– Driving sales
– Generating leads
– Brand awareness
Each type of campaign goal will be set up differently and have different outcomes. They might also be run to target users at different stages of the buyer journey, which is what we’ll talk about next.
Integrating your ads into your marketing strategy
If you’re considering whether or not to add digital marketing, and specifically PPC, to your marketing strategy, you might want to see where PPC falls in your buyer journey and how it will integrate with your current marketing strategy.
For those of you not so familiar with the buyer journey, also called the sales funnel or marketing funnel, it’s essentially a model that aims to explain how customers get from the stage of finding out they have a problem to solve, to choosing your business to solve that problem. It can look a little like this:
It can also look a little like this:
With the ever-looming presence of social media and the overwhelming choice that customers have, the buyer journey isn’t always quite as simple as it seems. However, the traditional model still roughly stands, so we’ll stick to that for now.
If you want to learn more about the role of social and the intricacies that make up the buyer journey, we recommend checking out Chris Walker on LinkedIn.
Of course, every business is different and your marketing strategies will vary because of that, but this is a general run down of how PPC can fit into your marketing strategy.
Top of funnel
Your audience is looking to solve a problem, but aren’t yet sure of the solution (your product / service). They are, at the moment, unaware of your business.
What you’re currently doing:
Where ads come in:
Promote your checklists, infographics and videos with PPC ads on social media.
Create brand awareness campaigns that drive users to your website to discover your content.
Middle of funnel
Your audience knows the solution they want to buy into and are researching and comparing businesses.
What you’re currently doing:
– Gated content
– Webinars and events
– How-to videos
Where ads come in:
Run Google Ads to drive more traffic to your website or a specific landing page that houses your gated content.
Use snippets of the information in your gated content to create social media ads.
Package your content into different formats like infographics and videos to engage new audiences.
Bottom of funnel
The audience has now done their research and are ready to buy. Make sure you’re their first choice.
What you’re currently doing:
– Case Studies
Where ads come in:
Use remarketing ads to target consumers who have been on your website and haven’t converted, or have engaged with your video ads.
Format your testimonials and case studies as images and videos to grab attention.
By running ads that integrate with your organic messaging and marketing strategy, you’re not only solidifying your messaging in your consumers’ minds, but also building up a familiarity with your brand.
So, even if your potential consumers aren’t quite ready to buy, you’ll be top of mind when they come to purchasing further down the line.
How much does it cost to run PPC ads?
Like many things in marketing, and something you’ll hear us say a lot throughout this article, is ‘it depends.’ Running PPC ads can really cost as much or as little, within reason, as you would like it to.
This table shows the average costs of PPC across the past few years, as well as the averages for a few key metrics
However, the CPC (cost-per-click) isn’t going to mean a lot to you unless you understand the structure of paying for ads.
Google Ads and other paid search ads all work on a bidding structure, using keywords. When Google has ads space available, it starts an auction for that spot. This could be on a search results page, blog or any other web page.
Advertisers will place a bid on this space and it enters them into the auction. Just like an auction on eBay.
What metrics should you bid on when running ads?
There are generally three metrics that you’re going to want to focus on when running your ads, and your bidding strategy will be developed accordingly.
If the goal of your ad campaign is to get more traffic to your website then you’re going to be looking at clicks as your main metric.
In this case, it would make sense to bid on a cost-per-click basis, meaning you’ll only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad.
Here’s an example from Google:
This is the metric that measures how many people see your ad, something you might measure if the goal of your campaign is to increase brand awareness.
Target Impression Share can be used across the search network (Google Ads), and this allows you to set targets for your ads and bid according to how much impression share you’re looking to get.
Say you’re looking for 60% impression share as your target, Google will optimise your budget so your ad shows in the top spot for your keywords, 60% of the time.
Arguably the most important metric to track in any campaign, this is the money maker.
In this case you’ll tell Google the maximum amount you want to pay per conversion. That would be classed as a sale in ecommerce businesses, but could also be a phone call, form filled in, newsletter sign up etc.
You’ll still be paying per click with this strategy, but Google will make sure they optimise your bids to get the most conversions at the cost you set.
What can affect the cost of PPC ads?
Like we said at the start of this section, the cost of running PPC campaigns really depends on a lot of different factors, and can massively vary. A few things that could affect how much or little you spend on your campaigns are;
1. Number of products or services
Simply, the more products or services you’re trying to sell with your ads, the more money you’re going to have to spend to keep each one of them running.
Our advice if you’ve got a tight budget, is to start with a select few products or services and run ads for those. They could be your best sellers or maybe the ones with the highest profit margins, but choose a few that make sense and put all your effort and money into getting those going first.
2. Your industry
Unfortunately, running ads for certain industries costs more money than others, and the price really does vary massively. Some industries may only cost a couple of pennies for a click, whereas many others can cost tens of pounds. The more expensive the industry, the bigger budget you’ll need (or hopefully in your case, the cheaper, the lower).
3. Your location
If the area you’re wanting to target has a higher population, then there’s likely more competition, which drives up the CPC.
4. Keyword selection
Using broader keywords like “gravel,” will cost more than targeting long tail keywords like “buy decorative gravel near me”. Not only would the CPC likely be lower on the longer keyword, but it also has a much higher chance of converting, because someone is being so specific about what they want.
How can PPC be beneficial for your marketing strategy?
PPC across all platforms, and particularly paid search platforms, can really work for any size budget. There are always options to start running your ads at a low budget, and provided they’re set up well, they can still bring you some great results without spending too much.
If you’re not quite ready or don’t have the means to assign a bigger budget to paid ads, we recommend that you check your campaigns frequently. A small change or mistake in your setup can potentially cause you to waste hundreds of pounds.
There are so many analytics platforms out there that allow you to measure the success of your campaigns, providing you with insight on which channels you should be focusing your energy and budget on.
The most obvious platform for monitoring Google Ads would be Google Analytics, which is available for all businesses and provides in depth data on all the most important factors of your ads accounts.
Performance in factors like CPC (cost per click), conversion rate and sales for ecommerce are amongst the most important pieces of data that Google Analytics reports on.
Platforms like WhatConverts are great to use alongside your Google Analytics account to give you a more well-rounded picture of where your sales or leads are coming from. WhatConverts allows you to track calls (less creepy than it sounds), as well as view the search terms your new customers used to find you (also less creepy than it sounds). This data can then inform how you continue using ads, where you place your budget and what keywords you use.
One of the biggest pros of using PPC is the pretty incredible targeting options. For those who know their target audience and customers inside out, something every business should know before they start advertising, the ability to target audiences you know are going to convert is a dream come true.
Advertising platforms like Google Ads allow you to target audiences in a particular demographic, location, age bracket and even with particular interests.
Generates brand awareness
PPC lets you reach audiences who wouldn’t necessarily organically find your business, which is great for brand awareness. Running ads means you can utilise the huge audiences that are using platforms like Google and Facebook.
Brand awareness ads don’t look to drive sales but simply tell an audience about who you are. You can do this in an entertaining or educational way, and don’t be afraid to experiment. As long as what you’re producing is in line with your tone of voice and brand messaging, you should be good to go.
This Visa Facebook campaign doesn’t have a specific CTA and isn’t necessarily trying to sell anything, but is simply raising brand awareness.
It’s also worth noting that even your sales led campaigns are constantly creating awareness. Just because someone doesn’t click on your ad, it doesn’t mean that they haven’t mentally registered interest in your brand. They could just be saving you for a rainy day.
Understanding user search intent
Search intent describes how likely a user is to make an enquiry or a purchase based on the wording that they use in their search term. Targeting search terms that display high purchase intent will go a long way in helping you make those sales without wasting your budget.
There are four types of search intent:
Informational – ‘how,’ ‘why’ and ‘what’ searches
Navigational – name of a business or specific page (an alternative to typing the URL)
Transactional – ‘buy’ and ‘price’ searches
Commercial – ‘best’ and ‘review’ searches
Here are some examples:
In PPC, we generally want to be targeting bottom of the funnel users, so this means focusing on transactional and commercial search intent keywords. These are the users that are ready to buy now, or are very close to buying, and are the ones that are going to bump up your sales.
You can see from the infographic the types of searches you should be targeting with your campaigns. Look for words that display an action such as ‘buy’ or ‘request,’ as well as searches that name a specific problem solution, such as ‘PPC agency’ or ‘software.’
Keywords and keyword strategy
As mentioned earlier, keywords are the words or phrases you bid on that your ads will then be shown for. The price of these keywords vary depending on factors like search volume, intent and how competitive they are.
When running your ads you’ll come across keyword match types. These determine how closely Google will follow the keywords you’ve chosen, and what searches your ads will show for.
As the name suggests, broad match is the most, well, broad, type of keyword matching. It hands over a lot of the decision making to Google and means your ads will show up for a range of search terms, which might not all be relevant to you.
Your ad will show up for any searches that are related to your keyword, even if they don’t necessarily include one of your chosen words.
Unless you’re specifically looking for lots of clicks without conversions, we highly recommend avoiding using broach match as it can easily run up your costs for searches that aren’t going to convert. Broad match is the default match type so be careful to check this before setting your ads live.
The phrase match type gives you more control over your ads whilst still having some of that leeway for varying phrases.
In 2021, Google made updates that changed how phrase match worked.
We’re going to get a bit technical here so bare with us, it’s worth knowing.
Prior to the update, there was another match type called broach match modifier. phrase This would only show results for searches that included the keyword with additional words either side. Like so:
After the update, Google bundled all this into one match type; phrase match. This meant that your ads could now show up for the keyword phrase with additional words in between as well.
Altogether, the phrase match type now looks like this:
For your ad to show, all keywords have to appear in the search. However, you can also have words in between and on either side. Phrase match can be used if getting traffic to your site is a high priority for you, whilst still having a good level of intent to buy.
It used to be that exact match would show your ads for search terms that were your exact keywords in the exact order. Nothing else. You can see that this would be quite limiting, and although intent would be high, it might not bring much volume.
In one of Google’s better received updates, (depending on who you ask), exact match now includes synonyms for your keyphrase. This means that your ad may show up for a slightly different search term, as long as the overall intent was the same.
Varying phrases could be matched to your ad because of the use of paraphrasing, same intent or implied words.
Exact match is a great one to use if you’re looking to keep your spending low, or are experimenting with a new product, service, landing page or ad copy. The clicks will generally be cheaper because of the low volume and you may find that your conversion rate is far higher.
Choosing the right keywords
Your campaigns are only going to work if you choose the right keywords for your products or service. It can be a long process but the keyword research you do before setting your ads live is what’s going to make or break your campaign.
Google’s Keyword Planner is probably the best way to start off your research. The tool generates keyword ideas based on your products and offerings and gives you data on the search volumes of each. This will help you choose a range of keywords, ensuring you have some with a high volume of searches, as well as more niche, high-intent keywords.
It also gives you an estimated cost for each keyword so you can plan this into your marketing budget.
The best advice we can give for keyword planning is to take your time doing your research, and really pick keywords that reflect your audience.
Choosing the right platform for your ads
Google vs. Bing
“Is that even a question?” “Who actually uses Bing?”
Well, yes it should be a consideration, and yes, lots of people actually use Bing.
In our work with Stuart Mobility, we found that Bing has a more mature consumer base, and due to Stuart Mobility’s product offering, this was the perfect place for them to advertise, and has proven massively lucrative.
Bing can also be a great option for the B2B sector, with many professionals using Bing in the workplace, due to its connection to Microsoft Windows. Adam Smartschan, Chief Strategy Officer at Altitude Marketing, has also found similar data from his experience running Bing ads, saying that the platform is “the domain of IT experts and users of Windows machines on default settings (tending to skew 45+).”
So, how do you know if Bing could be right for your business?
Let’s have a look at the biggest pros and cons of each of the platforms.
Pros of using Google
There is no denying that the sheer volume of users on Google is an advantage. The bigger the potential audience, the more likely you are to be able to find high-intent users in your specific niche. The more high-intent users in your niche, the more likely you are to get conversions.
Cons of using Google
1. It can get expensive
The downside of the huge audience that Google has, is that they can charge a lot. Google Ads are often a pricier option than Bing, and are therefore sometimes not the best option for small businesses.
Google is, naturally, the go-to choice for paid search advertising and because of this, there’s also a whole lot of competition.
Digital Marketing Specialist at Logit.io, Eleanor Bennet, says they’ve seen a “ROI of up to 800% on Bing. For the exact same campaign on Google, [their] ROI had only been 400%.”
Not only does this competition drive up the cost of keywords, but it also means that you have less chance of being able to make that coveted top spot.
Pros of using Bing
1. Often cheaper CPC
The silver lining of the undeniably smaller reach on Bing, is that the CPC is often a lot cheaper than on Google.
Unfortunately, it’s the way of the world that the more in demand something is, the more you pay for it. PPC is no different.
2. Niche audiences
If you’re a business looking to target consumers over the age of 45, Bing should undoubtedly be your go-to option.
This age group makes up around 54% of all Bing users, so that’s a huge audience you could be advertising to. Combine this with the cheaper CPC rates, and you have a winning combo if this is your target consumer.
Eleanor at Logit.io, also suggested another interesting use case. She said “the browser DuckDuckGo is popular with privacy-focused technical users and advertising via this search engine is only available via Bing ads. It is well worth considering using Bing if you wish to target DuckDuckGo users who are more likely to be software and DevOps engineers, and as a result, would be more ideal to target for relevant B2B SaaS signups.”
Cons of using Bing
1. Small market share
Whilst Google accounts for around 84% of the market share, poor old Bing only has roughly 2.5%. It doesn’t take much explaining to understand why this is a negative for using Bing. More people on Google = more chance of people seeing your ad = more chance of sales.
Best practises for setting up PPC campaigns for small businesses
As a small business, one of the biggest concerns when starting your PPC strategy might be around budget. You might be apprehensive about spending your budget all in one place, or wasting budget on audiences that you know aren’t going to convert. This is where targeting comes into play.
Targeting more specific keywords can reduce the amount you’re paying for clicks, and bring in more relevant users. Here’s an example:
You’re a will writer and you’re looking for new clients. When you’re running paid search ads, a great way to waste your money would be to bid on the keyword ‘wills.’ Lots of people will be searching for this, meaning bigger competition and higher costs per click. They also aren’t likely to be very high-intent searches so you’ll see less conversions.
A better way to approach this would be to target a keyword like ‘will writing services.’ You could even add your location to make it even more targeted. This is going to reduce the competition and cost for your ad as well as target users with the intent to buy.
If you missed the bit on buyer intent earlier, here’s a handy little link for you to go back to it. Trust us, it’ll help.
Layer on interest targeting
When setting up paid social ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, you will always create an audience for your campaign. This will determine who your ads are shown to.
In the interest of saving budget and driving higher intent leads, one of the best things you can do is layer interest targeting on top of your standard audience targeting.
Here’s an example. If you’re selling gym clothes in large sizes made for weightlifters, you’d likely set up your audiences for 25 -35 years olds. In addition to this, you might want to layer on interest targeting to promote your products to audiences who have displayed interest in strongman competitions or certain weight lifting gyms in your area.
Optimise your conversion tracking
Conversion tracking is something that can be easily forgotten when setting up ads, and although most platforms have decent native analytics, it’s best to use a dedicated conversion tracking tool.
Properly tracking your campaigns will allow you or your marketing agency to see which ads are generating the highest conversion rates. You can then produce more of these and less of the ones that aren’t doing so well.
Not only does conversion tracking allow you to see what’s doing well, but it also tells the platform which ads are doing well, and lets them push these to more people.
Run split tests
Tracking your analytics for a single ad is great, but what’s even better is tracking your analytics for multiple ads.
When you first start running ads, no matter how much you know about your audience, there’s going to be some level of experimentation. Split testing allows you to see which versions of your ads are performing the best so you can do more of those and less of the not-so-great ones.
Split tests let you run multiple ads at the same time, varying small details between each one to see which performs better. You can test variants like the CTA, headline copy, creative, landing page, and, well, you get the picture.
The amount of options might seem a little daunting at first but use it as an opportunity to experiment and get a bit creative.
Get expert help
Somewhat of a shameless bit of self promotion here, but getting expert help with running your ads can quite often save you money in the long run.
Advertising platforms usually make it pretty easy to spend your money and if you’re a complete beginner, chances are they’ll catch you out somehow. This means you’ll likely end up spending a lot more than you had budgeted for, and often on audiences and keywords that aren’t going to convert.
Employing an agency or even enlisting the help of a techie friend is a smart move, especially when you’re starting out.
Best practise for ad creative and copywriting
Of course every industry and brand varies in what resonates with their audience, and you’ll know better with us what kind of content your audience reacts best to. However, there are some best practices in creative and copywriting that are applicable to most, if not all, industries.
1. Write like you talk
One of the biggest elements in a successful piece of copywriting is being able to come across as authentic. As every marketer and business owner knows, trust is the key to repeat purchases and brand loyalty, and trust is only built by being authentic.
Don’t try to make your copywriting too fancy or technical, it’s not only boring, but it’s probably not you. Writing how you talk is a great way to ensure you’re showing off your personality and being authentic.
Top tip: read your copy out loud. If you’re cringing listening to what you’ve written, it’s probably not authentic, and your audience will see that.
Here’s a great example of conversational copywriting from McDonalds.
2. Be concise
There are few things more boring than lengthy, wordy ad copy. Your audience doesn’t have time for it, and even if they did, they don’t care.
Be concise in your messaging and get your point across quickly. If you can remove a word and have it still make sense, you should probably do it.
3. Make it relatable
Great copy is all about making it relatable to your audience. What might be great copy for a B2B Saas company is likely to be very different to what would be classed as great copy for a Gen Z fast fashion brand.
Your ads should speak to your audience and be relatable to their pain points and desires.
This old iPod ad does a great job of relating the audiences’ desires, focusing on the benefits of the product rather than the features. This famous ad wouldn’t be nearly as powerful if the copy had read ‘16GB of memory with long-life battery.’
4. Address the problem
Services and products sell well when they offer a solution to your audiences’ problem. So, don’t beat around the bush, address the problem in your copy.
This doesn’t have to be done negatively, you can switch it around and address how your solution solves their pain point.
Take this example from Everydae, a studying tool for exams, who have addressed the problem of passing the SATs, as well as presented the benefit of the solution; just 10 minutes a day.
1. Consider the platform
All advertising platforms will require you to use different dimensions for your creative, but your consideration of the platform should go way beyond that.
Think about what kind of audience is on each platform and tailor your creative accordingly, whilst still being true to the overall campaign message and strategy.
A single campaign running across Facebook, TikTok and LinkedIn, for example, will all have the same messaging, but are likely to vary in the delivery of the message, both visually and through your copy.
2. Do something different
It’s no secret that we are all oversaturated with content, and so it can be hard for small or new businesses to break through the noise and make a name for themselves. However, this does drive the need for you to be a bit more creative, which is always fun.
Don’t be afraid to do something a bit different with your content, whether it’s paid or organic. It could lead to a viral piece of creativity that drives thousands of sales. The key is to be authentic and true to the personality of your brand.
‘Thursday’ has been doing some interesting things, often great, often controversial, but it’s certainly made a name for themselves.
3. Make it look like organic content
No one wants to be sold to, especially when they’re scrolling through TikTok in bed at 11pm. If they want to buy something they’ll search for it, right?
Here’s the trick; don’t let them know they’re being sold to.
Creating paid ads that look like organic content is going to get you far, and there are multiple ways of doing this, ranging from zero budget options to spending thousands on influencers.
This goes back to thinking about the platform and creating ads that feel native to the platform. You could create TikTok ads that follow a particular trend, for example. Or LinkedIn ads that look like a video of your CEO talking about how she got to where she is.
1. Demonstrate the benefit
Benefits > features. Always. So, demonstrate what benefits the user is going to get by clicking the button.
Instead of using ‘download the case study’, try something like ‘how you can increase your revenue by 120%’ or ‘steal our strategy.’ These alternatives tell the user what they’re actually going to get out of downloading the case study.
2. Utilise FOMO
FOMO is real and it can be a powerful marketing tool.
No one wants to miss out on a 70% off everything sale or the final five copies of the number 1 bestseller book you wrote this summer.
Use your CTA to create a sense of urgency and tell your audience about the incredible, once in a lifetime offer that they could be missing out on. CTAs with a sense of time-based urgency are a great way to do this.
Marc Bromhall, CMO at Storage Buddy, ran A/B testing on CTAs that both did and didn’t include a sense of urgency. They found that “the ones that stressed urgency performed 28% better over the 6 month period that [they] tested them.”
Another way to play on your audiences’ sense of FOMO is to make them feel like they’re missing out on something that everyone else has.
The Technical Director at Cloud24, Andrew Dale, gave his take on the subject.
“Humans have a strong desire to belong. We desire to emulate what we see others do. Call it the bandwagon effect, mob psychology, or peer pressure. Whatever you name it, it’s here to stay, and your CTA may capitalise on it by mentioning influencers or superstars, such as, ‘try LeBron James’ workout routine for $10/month.’ You can also include endorsements, recommendations, reviews and ratings.”
3. Command action
Using action verbs in your CTA can spur the user to complete an action. Try to avoid what I like to call ‘wishy washy verbs,’ like ‘get,’ that don’t create any sense of urgency or emotion.
Instead, try to use stronger, more emotional words like ‘discover,’ ‘explore’ and ‘win.’
4. Be different
Again with the ‘being different?’
Sorry if we sound boring but standing out from the crowd can do such amazing things for your brand, it just can’t be left off the list.
If you’re a bit nervous to do an outlandish, potentially controversial, marketing stunt like the guys at Thursday, a creative CTA is a nice way to just dip your toe into the pool of difference.
Although not technically a digital CTA, we still love this slightly different call to action on this house’s ‘sold’ sign. It stands out because it’s something new, it triggers an emotion and it’s shareable.
We spoke to James Parsons, the Founder and CEO of Content Powered, and he echoed our thoughts. He says, “you cannot use something that is overused and doesn’t aggressively outline an action. Something like ‘click here’ is just not going to work anymore. You must use actionable words that stir up something and urge your viewers to actually do something.”
A couple of the examples he suggested are ‘set off your butt and start earning money now!’ and ‘swipe your finger up and take a look.’ Of course, the latter is only applicable for mobile, so be careful to make sure you’re not using this CTA on desktop!
5. Spark curiosity
The main point of a CTA is to get people to click. If you give too much away to begin with, unless you’ve got an incredible offer like ‘we’re giving everyone who clicks this a free holiday,’ what reason do people have to click?
“A smart, curiosity-inspiring CTA teases the outcome of whatever story you’re telling in your content without giving too much away. In essence, you’re connecting the audience with something they already desire by making them curious about how they may acquire it.” That’s the take of Matthew Dailly, Managing Director at Tiger Financial.
He suggests using CTA’s like “Find a Cocktail That’s Right for You” or “Take a Look at What 22 Leads in One Day Looks Like,” are great ways of inspiring curiosity.
6. Optimise for mobile
The space you have to get across your message is far smaller than the space you have available on desktop.
You don’t want your CTA to go onto two lines, so make sure you keep it short and snappy, and cut out any unnecessary words.
CEO and Founder of Revenue Geeks, Adam Wood, also says that “mobile customers are frequently looking for a faster response. So keep mobile CTAs brief and to the point, and strive to provide an immediate answer.
Call extensions for mobile CTAs can also be enabled. As a result, clicking on the ad automatically initiates a call to your business phone number.”
Measuring the success of your campaigns
Key metrics to measure
1. Impression share
Impressions are how many times someone sees your ad, which is a useful number to know, but doesn’t really determine whether your ad was successful or not.
Impression share, however, can give you a much better idea of your performance, as well as benchmark you against your competitors.
It’s calculated by taking the number of impressions you received, against the number of impressions that were available.
Simply: number of impressions received ÷ total impressions available.
Here’s an example:
Your Google Ad receives 50,000 impressions, and there are 120,000 impressions available for your keyword. This gives you a 42% impression share, also meaning your competitors own 58% of impressions.
2. Click-through-rate (CTR)
This is often considered the next stage in the funnel after impressions, and measures how many users have actually clicked on your ad.
CTR is also shown as a percentage and is calculated with the formula: (Total ad clicks ÷ total ad impressions) x 100.
Whilst CTR is important in determining the performance of your ad copy and creative, telling you if people are actually clicking, it’s not the be all and end all in determining campaign success.
You might be getting a great CTR, but if people aren’t converting once they get on the site, it’s really irrelevant. That brings us nicely onto the next point.
Conversions are pretty much the most important metric that you can look at and measure, because this is what is directly driving revenue.
Conversions can look different for every industry and business type, and can be things like a form enquiry, phone call, app installs and direct purchases for ecommerce businesses.
4. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
Conversions and sales are all well and good, but if your margins aren’t there then you’ll need to rethink your ads strategy.
Your return on ad spend calculates how much you’ve spent against how much revenue you’ve made back from your ads.
ECommerce Strategy Lead at Code Signing Store, Michael Hess, says; “it’s useful to maintain track of revenue as a percentage of ad spend. The return on investment (ROI) is computed by dividing income by ad spend. This is a statistic that may be used to gauge if your ad spending is delivering the intended value – especially when your campaigns grow in size.”
From the perspective of a business running ads, ROAS is also probably the most important metric to measure, as it gives an overall summary of how their ads are performing.
Richard Barker, who uses an agency to run ads for his business, Clarion Security, says, “of course cost per conversion is also key, however we have found that ROAS is essential when evaluating the performance of ad campaigns.
It also shows us what methods are working per campaign or keywords, and then what keywords and campaigns to double down and focus on.”
It’s also worth being aware of the ever-increasing presence of AI and automated strategies for building campaigns that could affect how you measure your campaign performance.
Amanda White, a Freelance PPC and SEO Specialist, brings up the point that “as PPC evolves and becomes more intelligent we are seeing the introduction of more automated strategies and AI being used. When we rely heavily on science we might lose sight of what exactly is working and why.
Many people can be misled by being sold the idea that more clicks will eventually return more conversions. But what if those clicks aren’t relevant to your website? What if those increased clicks are bouncing back to the search results and clicking on another ad?
As we move into the next generation of AI and move to performance max campaigns and the Smart shopping campaigns are being retired we are back into a world with and without keyword data.
When it comes to search campaigns I think the golden metric of successful paid ads is keeping a close eye on what phrases are triggering your ads and removing those that don’t meet the mark.”
Whilst all the metrics mentioned above are essential in determining the performance of your campaigns, be careful to not just take them at face value. Always dive deeper into your ad accounts to really get an idea of what’s working and what isn’t.
So, how can you measure these metrics?
Tools for measuring success
1. Google Analytics
We mentioned Google Analytics earlier and this is the most commonly used analytics platform for PPC advertising.
Google Analytics allows you to see all your various traffic sources in one place, breaking down metrics like users, bounce rate and goal completions. This data allows you to drill down how each of your channels are performing, and specifically which metrics they are performing well on.
1. Mix Panel
Mixpanel is an analytics platform that runs slightly differently to the traditional reporting platforms.
Their philosophy is based on the idea that a users’ action gives much more insight than just their page views. This philosophy means that their platform allows users to create custom maps and track how users navigate your website and products.
The analytics also works very intuitively, so it’s a great one for people who are newer to PPC.
This should be a pretty comprehensive guide to PPC and how to start running your campaigns, however, should you want to learn more about it on a more technical level, there are loads of resources you can take a look at.
Where to learn more about running PPC campaigns
1. Google Skillshop
Created by Google themselves, the Google Skillshop course is aimed at beginners in PPC, and gives you a certification in Google Shopping, Display, Video and more.
2. WordStream’s PPC University
PPC University is a great resource for anyone at any level of PPC understanding. It takes you through the basics of PPC, as well as going more in depth on topics like social media advertising and bidding strategies.
3. WordStream’s Growth Academy
If you’re more of a visual learner, Growth Academy is a video based PPC course designed for both small businesses and digital agencies. The course offers badges and certifications that allow you to show off your new skills to your coworkers!
Right, you’re probably sick of us by now, so we’ll leave it there. If you’re a business looking for more help with your PPC strategy, our inbox is always open. Or, if you’re already running ads but aren’t getting the results you want, you can request an audit and we’ll take a look at where you can improve.