real-world-ppc

As a small business there are so many thing to manage with your online marketing: SEO, PPC, email marketing, PR, blogging, etc. Horror stories of businesses making mistakes seem to be all over the internet. But what about the SMBs out there doing it right? Today I'll highlight 5 businesses that are doing PPC right.

Bidding On Brand

This is a question I get all the time. Should I do PPC for searches on my brand name? The answer is usually a strong yes. To illustrate, here are actual results from brand PPC in 2015 from one of my clients.

Brand-PPC-Results

Keep in mind that this client ranks #1 organically for this query. However, this keyword generated nearly 8000 ad impressions which led to 3,848 clicks. That's nearly a 50% click-through rate (CTR) which is quite high. We bid $0.30, yet it only costs us $0.06 per click. With an average position of 1.0 we know that no competitors are showing above us. Awesome right?

Some people argue that this $237 was wasted. We would have gotten those clicks anyway since we rank #1. But notice that this $237 in ad spend ensured that $9,407.85 worth of customer sales made it to our website. With an average purchase of nearly $60, this means that losing even 4 purchases by NOT advertising would have lost us money. By contrast we effectively insured those transactions for a couple hundred dollars.

My favorite quote on this subject goes like this, "Not bidding on your brand is like letting your competitors answer your phones." Which brings me to the next example.

Bidding On Competitors

This is a controversial area. For many industries it's common practice while in other industries it's taboo. But you can't argue with these kind of results. Here is a search for "Standard Plumbing" which is a national chain of plumbing supply stores.

Standard-Plumbing-SERP

Yes, StandardPlumbing.com is the #1 organic result. Great SEO on their part. But really, they're not the first result on the page. The first result belongs to AdvancedPlumbingID.com, a small company not far from my house that actually installed several items in my house (I can tell because they put their sticker and phone number on all of them).

Other than the small yellow "Ad" tag, you wouldn't even know that the #1 result on this search is a PPC advertisement. Many people will click it because it's first on the page and Advanced Plumbing may have just won a new customer.

Using Social PPC

Don't forget that PPC can include many different channels, including social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Most of these sites have PPC platforms that allow you to advertise.

Let's look at another example from one of my clients. This business uses PPC to generate leads (the industry is very niche, but I can say it's solidly B2B) and has produced a whitepaper to fill the top of the funnel. The problem we faced was that bidding on relevant keywords in AdWords was prohibitively expensive. Our average cost per click (CPC) was $3.62, but our target cost for a conversion on this whitepaper was $10. It was a good offer, but we weren't going to get 1 in 3 clicks to convert.

We decided to turn to social PPC, specifically to Twitter and a new option they offer called Lead Gen Cards. Lead Gen Cards are a special format of sponsored tweet. They appear directly in the normal feed and have a large picture, the tweet text itself and most importantly, a button that says "Subscribe". Our tweet copy mentioned the whitepaper and the beneficial information contained inside, so the conversion was getting an email and sending them the whitepaper.

Using Lead Gen Cards cut out the step of having someone fill out the form on our landing page. When they click the Subscribe button on the tweet, Twitter (through a direct integration with our email program) sends the name, Twitter handle and email address straight into our database. Slick as a whistle. Check out these results:

Twitter-Results

As you can see, three of our 4 campaigns were beating the target CPA of $10 and our top performing campaign was nearly 25% below target!

Takeaways For Your SMB

From these 3 examples, here are a few takeaways that you can start using with your PPC efforts:

  • If you're not bidding on your brand name, I strongly recommend it. The incredible performance helps build up the historical performance of your account, which helps your other campaigns, and you ensure that customers already looking for you, find you!
  • Bid on competitors brand names too. Obviously you don't misrepresent that you're them, but putting your best offer in front of someone when they're looking for a competitor could win you some business. Especially if you're less well known and your offer is more attractive to the potential customer (with the strong positive sentiment around "buying local" this is often how you can compete with the big names).
  • Social PPC is a growing area of online advertising and the earlier you get in, the less competition there is. Even as social PPC grows and more businesses get on board, you'll be 1 step ahead all the time.

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*Lead image adapted from spaceyjessie