You’ve invested a significant amount of time into your inbound marketing strategy. You publish high-quality blog posts and promote them on social media. Maybe you’ve even spent time writing guest posts or doing link-building outreach. But you're still struggling to reach the people in your audience.
That doesn’t mean you should scrap your inbound marketing efforts. Inbound marketing is crucial for raising awareness of your brand, generating new leads and building relationships with your target audience. But it can take a long time to see big results, especially in a competitive space.
If you want an effective way to reach your audience faster, Google PPC (pay-per-click) may be a good option for your business.
Paid advertising always comes with budgetary considerations. You only have so much money to spend on your digital marketing efforts and want to be confident any method you choose will pay off.
Google PPC offers significant benefits, including:
Google’s advertising placements span the entire web. The most obvious place Google PPC ads show up is on the Google search engine results page—above and below organic results. But they can also show up in people’s Gmail inboxes, on YouTube, on Google’s local results, and a huge number of websites around the web.
Websites in the Google Display network reach more than 90 percent of internet users worldwide.
As long as people in your target audience use the internet (and these days, who doesn’t?), you can reach them with Google PPC.
Google’s reach is bigger than an ad in the Super Bowl or a billboard in Times Square, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. For most businesses, good marketing isn’t entirely a numbers game. You don’t need to reach as many people as possible; you need to reach the right people.
Google PPC offers extensive targeting options to make sure your ads get in front of the people in your target audience at the moment they’re looking for what you sell.
The combination of a huge reach and precise targeting options pays off. Companies that do Google PPC advertising make an average of $2 for every $1 they spend.
Just because other businesses have found success on the platform is no promise you will. Google PPC may be a great fit for your business, or it could be a costly failure. You can’t know for sure which before you try it, but you can get a good idea by taking a few steps first to figure out if Google PPC is right for your business.
Google Ads’ policies prohibit using the platform to advertise certain types of products. Obviously, if your company’s products are on the prohibited list, Google PPC isn’t for you.
The main categories of products this restriction applies to are:
For Google PPC ads that show up on the SERP, keyword targeting plays a big role in how much you pay and how successful you’ll be. Keyword research will cue you into whether or not people are searching for the products you sell online and what language they’re using.
Any SEO or PPC tool you use should have features to help with keyword options. If you don’t have any subscription tools you use, the Google Keyword Planner is free. Plug in the keywords on your list and it will provide the average number of monthly searches and how competitive the term is (this will be important in a later step).
Don’t just research keywords for your products; also look up traffic rates for keywords relevant to the content you create. Long-tail keywords are less competitive and, therefore, cheaper, and promoting your content as well as your products will help you reach more potential customers.
Test out what the SERP looks like for your target keywords.
Now that you’ve identified the keywords you’d want to target with Google PPC, go straight to the SERPs to see what comes up. If a SERP has a lot of ads showing up, that tells you two important things:
Google Ads uses a bidding model to determine the pricing of each click. The more businesses bid on a particular keyword, the higher your budget needs to be for your ad to show up and the more you’ll spend for each click.
The average cost-per-click (CPC) varies a lot for different industries—sometimes it’s under $1, others it’s more than $10. How much PPC will cost your business depends entirely on this information.
Acquisio did a recent study to find out the typical CPC for different industries (the lines in grey).
A high CPC may well be worth it if the products or services you sell come at a high price tag. Spending $10 for a click would be outrageous for someone who sold $20 ear buds that people can buy once and use for years; but a $10 click for a business that sells a subscription software that costs $1,000 a year is more valuable.
This is the other important factor in understanding your likely costs. Not every click will be relevant. Sometimes people click by accident or, more often, they land on your website and realize that what you’re selling isn’t actually for them.
Acquisio’s research also determined the typical conversion rates and cost-per-acquisition (how much businesses spend for each customer they gained) for different industries. If your industry isn’t included here, do some research to see if another source offers PPC benchmarks for you.
This information helps you better determine if PPC will yield a positive ROI for your budget.
But it’s important to remember many leads take a long path to becoming a customer. You don’t want to discount the value of a visitor who may click now and buy in a year, once they’ve come to know and trust your business better.
In comparison to other forms of advertising, Google PPC is great for reaching specific audiences.
If the products you sell appeal most to a niche sector, say owners of law firms that have less than 10 employees or busy professionals in their 30s also into physical fitness, then Google PPC can get your messaging directly in front of those people.
If you haven’t yet, this is a good time to create buyer personas to clarify who you want to reach. This exercise will help you figure out if your audience is specific enough to make Google PPC’s targeting options especially valuable.
In most cases, someone who interacts with your brand once won’t be ready to buy. It takes anywhere from six to eight interactions for a lead to become “sales ready.” And B2B brands typically have much longer sales cycles than B2C.
You can find out if a majority of your visitors are disappearing after their first interaction in Google Analytics. Choose Audience in the menu, then Behavior. Under New vs Returning, you can see how many of your visitors were there for the first time, and how many have visited before.
Under Frequency and Recency, you can see how many times your repeat visitors have been to your website and how many pages they view.
If your visitors aren’t returning as often as you’d like, you may want to use Google’s retargeting option to get them back.
Past visitors have already shown an interest in you, so you know they’re likely a relevant audience. With remarketing, you can target your ads to people more likely to come back and convert.
For example, for keywords related to PPC marketing, Wordstream and PPC Hero most consistently show up in the search results.
If your SERP research shows a couple of main brands have claimed the top organic spots for a lot of the terms you’re interested in, then the best way for you to compete in the short term is to claim the ads on those pages.
Google Ads also lets you target branded search terms, so you can potentially capture some of the would-be direct traffic going to those brands as well by showing up above them in searches for their brand name.
If you’re fairly new to inbound marketing, then you’ve likely seen a lot of talk about how important analytics are—and it feels lost on you. Before you’ve managed to build up much traffic and engagement, you won’t have much data to work with. Without that data, it’s hard to gauge what’s working and how you can improve.
Google PPC offers a shortcut to gaining analytics. You can see what keywords perform best for your goals, which audiences respond the most, and which marketing tactics most consistently lead to conversions. You can then use that information to better shape your larger inbound marketing strategy over time.
Nothing else on this list matters unless you’re willing to commit to doing Google PPC well. The Google Ads platform takes time to learn and it requires ongoing work to manage your campaigns. And since a lot of success depends on tracking your analytics to make improvements over time, the longer you do it, the more successful you’ll be.
If you don’t want to learn the ropes and commit the time yourself, then you should be willing to spend money to hire an agency or specialist to do it for you. This isn’t a tactic you can easily automate or just dip your toe into. For it to pay off, you have to commit.
Google PPC won’t work for everyone, but if it is right for your business, you can gain new leads and see impressive returns. If you're interested but need help getting started, our Inbound Marketer’s Guide to Paid Media is a good starting point.