Business owners, especially those who have just started their business, are always looking for the best and quickest way to increase business without emptying out the bank account. Faced with a variety of channels to market their business, it’s often difficult and confusing to make the right choice.
In my experience as a marketer, most business owners have a love or hate relationship with pay-per-click (PPC). Many clients I work with come to our agency convinced that they need to do PPC. Others come to us jaded after a failed PPC campaign turned out to be (in their opinion) nothing but a get-rich-quick deal for Google.
Without proper training and expertise, choosing whether PPC is an option for a small business can feel like throwing darts in the dark. Before making a decision, business owners should consider their own business situation.
Let’s consider a few different business scenarios.
For business owners who run e-commerce websites, the biggest concern should be cost per acquisition (CPA). If that amount is close to or surpasses the price of the product, PPC may prove to be a big risk. A product that sells for $8 but costs $7 per click may not be the best candidate for PPC. Given that not every click will result in a sale, it’s possible that the cost to get a sale will far surpass the actual sales figures, unless a substantial re-order potential is possible.
Another thing to keep in mind is the competition for the product. If the product is readily available on well-known and trusted sites like Amazon, the likelihood that a customer will buy from an unknown online store is much lower, especially if the price and shipping fees are equal or higher.
Competing online with mega e-commerce sites is extremely difficult and costly. When testing out PPC for e-commerce, it’s best to narrow down the most profitable products and build from there. This will ensure the campaign is running smoothly and low-profit products won’t drain the budget.
Professional services like law firms, insurance brokers and mortgage loan officers are typically interested in outperforming their competitors and ensuring high visibility for their business. While PPC may seem like the best option, it’s important to keep in mind that some of these industries tend to have the highest cost-per-click (CPC) rate.
Attorneys, for example, can pay anywhere from $20 to upwards of $70 per single click. With limited budgets, a $70 click can quickly deplete a budget and show little to no results.
While PPC offers a great opportunity to build awareness and visibility online, professional services should be aware of the actual cost of running a campaign.
Custom Product Businesses
Businesses who sell custom products, whether invitations, apparel or other customizable items, often have difficulty seeing positive ROI from PPC advertising campaigns. When the process from discovery to order completion may require multiple steps or substantial setup to finalize the order, PPC may be a complicated undertaking.
Businesses that sell complex, custom products should consider simplifying the entire sales process from beginning to end. More importantly, it’s critical to support paid ads with other initiatives like retargeting, automated coupons or signups to get visitors to complete the intended transaction or action.
When it comes to local businesses, getting PPC right is crucial. Getting more calls or walk-ins is important for new, local businesses to thrive. PPC is a convenient and easy way to get found online, and therefore, a practical marketing initiative for new local businesses.
Where local businesses go wrong is tracking. Phone calls, reservations, and inquiries should be carefully tracked when running local paid campaigns. Unfortunately, most of the time business owners simply send traffic to their website’s homepage and set up no tracking methods, making it extremely difficult to track ROI and success.
For businesses running local campaigns, using unique phone tracking numbers, landing pages or special offers is key to properly measuring campaign success.
Service Businesses with Long Sales Cycles
Because service businesses don’t have the luxury of a quick sale, PPC can be slow to show a return on investment. Unlike an e-commerce site or a local business that requires a short sales process, most service businesses require a long sales cycle that might take months or even a year to close.
These types of businesses also don’t have tangible offers like free shipping, discounts or free estimates to convert visitors into leads. Therefore, capturing tangible results from PPC can be very difficult.
Leveraging conversion tactics along with nurturing campaigns, PPC can still be a viable solution for businesses with long sales cycles. In this case, rather than focusing on cost per acquisition, it’s important for business owners to think of lifetime value of a new customer. Although the CPA may be high, if the customer lifetime value is greater, PPC can still be profitable.
Making the Right Choice
Regardless of business model, PPC can be a great strategy for gaining online visibility and growing a budding business. However, it’s important that business owners have a clear mindset about expectations from their campaigns as well as an understanding of what matters the most to their business.
Even when the right mindset is established, lack of tracking or focusing on the wrong metrics can be detrimental to the campaign. Regardless of the industry or the business type, tracking, analysis and testing should always be part of the equation. Without these components a PPC campaign can easily fail.
Are you unsure whether PPC is right for your business? Let us know about your hesitation in the comments.