The Essentials of PPC for Small Business

This article is part one of a series of five posts on the basics of online marketing for small business. The series is designed to inform and empower small businesses about their online marketing options and give them the confidence to explore the potential growth opportunities that are available through online marketing.

This week will focus on paid search engine marketing. Pay per click (PPC) advertising is an excellent way to attract visitors to your website and target messaging towards an intended audience. For this reason, PPC is a core element of many small business' online marketing strategies.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising?

PPC is a form of online advertising that allows you to quickly get visitors to your website by placing ads on search engines and paying only when those ads are clicked on.

Pay per click ads are the advertisements that appear at the very top of a search engine's (e.g. Google or Bing) results and on the right hand side of the page when a search has been made. Advertisements are shown when users search for a related term or keyword. Every time someone clicks on your advertisement or paid search result, the search engine charges you a fee - called a 'cost per click' or CPC. You can control how much you are willing to spend on these clicks via a bidding system. The more you are willing to pay, the better position your ads will have and the more traffic you will receive. Getting your ads to rank highly also depends on the advertisement's popularity and click-through performance over time.

Why You Should do it?

Simply put, you should try PPC advertising because it has the potential to immediately bring you new business at a great price. Although it has become more and more competitive, PPC is still renowned as one of the most cost-effective forms of online advertising. It's success can be measured very closely and you can accurately calculate a return-on-investment figure and gain valuable feedback for alternative online marketing campaigns.

What to Expect:

With the correct advise, set-up and implementation, you can expect to see the results of the campaign within your first week of PPC. You will gain an understanding of the categories that work for your business in terms of converting leads, and you will identify areas that you need to work on through your website and other marketing channels. You will also understand what segments are the most lucrative - for example, you may learn that people viewing your website from an iPad are more likely to purchase, therefore you can optimize your marketing strategy to prioritise iPad related search terms over others.

Who is PPC Best Suited For?

Generally speaking, PPC is best suited for businesses that have high individual sale figures or high lifetime client value figures. And although there are exceptions to the rule, it does tend to be a lot harder to get a positive return on investment when the average sale figure is around $50 as you're unlikely to break even on the investment of your cost per lead/sale, or make a valuable profit on the lead/sale once the cost per click (CPC) is considered.

Bonus Tip:

As a general rule it's better that you don't try to set up and manage the PPC account yourself. The reason for this is that the expertise of an experienced professional will save you a lot more money than if you did it yourself. There is a lot to PPC strategy and although anyone can get a PPC account running there are multiple ways you could in fact lose money if you're not sure what you're doing. A PPC professional has experience with gearing the campaign to have a positive acquisition value for each of the new leads.

PPC is a great place to start if you're new to the world of online marketing, just make sure you get the right advice on whether it could be suited for your particular business and make sure you invest in the help of a professional to set up a cost effective campaign for your business. You'll reap the best rewards and return on investment if you have a clear strategy towards segmentation, testing and evaluation.

Online marketing is now an extremely important part of any website. We have ranked it number ten in our article, "The 11 Essentials of a Successful Web Design".