Is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Right for You?

Marketing your products and services online has become an essential ingredient for business success. As more consumers shift their purchasing behaviors online, you can’t afford to let your business lose sales by standing on the sidelines. Internet marketing isn’t just a trend or curiosity; it is truly the future of commerce in the modern world. As you’ve begun to venture into online advertising, you’ve heard about PPC ads. But what are they, and are they right for your business?

What Is PPC?

PPC advertising involves placing your ads on search pages and websites and then paying the ad network every time somebody clicks on one of your ads to go view your landing page. When someone searches for something online using keywords on which you are bidding, or when they visit a blog on that topic, they will see your ad and hopefully click on it.

PPC has some advantages and disadvantages compared to other forms of marketing, but overall, it is a very successful and popular form of online advertising. Some marketers praise PPC internet ads as the greatest thing to happen to the advertising world since the invention of the television. According to Methodic, the thing to keep in mind is that “successful PPC strategies aren’t just about CTRs or CPCs. It’s about knowing what makes your business successful; how you operate, who your clients are, and what the real drivers of results are.”

All the marketing tricks in the book cannot make up for a low-quality product, shoddy workmanship or inefficient customer service. But once these basic building blocks for success are dialed in, using the most effective online marketing tactics can make a real difference. With that in mind, here are some of the pros and cons of PPC advertising for your business.

Pro: PPC Can Be Very Cost-Effective

Even with the problem of invalid clicks, PPC ads still deliver great value when done right. One huge advantage of these ads is that they are strategically placed to give you high visibility. According to Search Engine Journal, “If you use Google AdWords, first you need to bid on your target keyword. If your page is relevant, and you bid enough, Google will put you on top.” If you are the highest bidder for a particular keyword, your ad will likely show up at the top of the page and will be the first thing the customer sees on the page. If you have a high-converting headline and great ad copy, you’re likely to get a lot of clicks on your ad.

Con: Ad Blockers Can Reduce PPC Reach

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One last disadvantage of these online ads is that some of them will never be seen at all due to the rise of ad-blocking software being installed on people’s computers. This, along with ad blindness in general, can lead to fewer clicks and fewer sales.  

Again, you are only paying when someone clicks on your ads. This means that rather than costing you money, it just limits your reach. The silver lining here is that more consumers are turning away from home computers and are using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, and most of those users don’t have ad-blocking apps installed.

Pro: Easy to Advertise to Local Customers

One of the cool things about PPC ads on search pages is that you can target specific location demographics to limit the geographical scope of your ad spend. You can set up your ads to be seen by potential customers who are within a set radius of your business’s location, assuming the searchers have their location settings allowed on their device. According to Local U, “If you want to target locally, vs hyper-locally, you can put in specific zip codes to target locations nearby or cities near you. This can be especially effective if you've a brick-and-mortar location in one town, but want to be aggressive in targeting nearby cities. It's very hard to rank organically in the local pack for towns where you don't have a location—getting a PPC ad to the top of results can help.” Keep in mind that customers could potentially see your Google My Business listing, so having strong reviews can help with conversions and set you apart from your further set you apart from your competitors

This keeps you from wasting money marketing your business to people in the wrong geographic locations who would likely never be anywhere near you. You can further target specific cities or neighborhoods by bidding on locally-optimized keywords in your ad campaigns.

Con: Invalid Clicks Can Drive up Costs

One of the disadvantages of PPC marketing is that you will sometimes end up paying for invalid clicks. B2C says that, “Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a consumer clicking your ad will turn them into a buyer. You still have to pay for their click whether or not they did it accidentally or purposely.”

When someone is scrolling through the search engine results looking for a web page to visit, she might accidentally click on your ad. It happens, but it will cost you 10 or 20 cents—or maybe even a dollar—when it does.

Sometimes the ads are clicked intentionally. This can be done by bloggers hosting the ads on their sites in an attempt to make more money or by competitors trying to run up your ad costs. It’s rare, but it happens.

Try not to stress about it too much, though. Ad networks are becoming better and better at recognizing these accidental clicks and invalidating them to prevent you from losing money. Some are still going to slip through the cracks from time to time, however. There’s not much you can do about it, so you simply have to absorb the cost into your advertising budget.

Overall, PPC ads tend to be a good investment for most businesses, despite the limitations described above. Also, compared to big media advertising via television, radio, and billboards, online ads are still relatively underpriced during this time of transition into the digital age. If you take the time to learn how to perform keyword research, optimize your ads to attract clicks, and optimize your landing pages to boost your conversion rate, then PPC can be a powerful weapon in your advertising arsenal.