A pay per click icon on a smartphone screen.

PPC ads… it’s an abbreviated term that many SMB owners have heard or seen before, but without digital marketing experience they don’t know what it means or how to use them. If you want to learn more about what PPC ads are, how they work, and how you can use them to grow your business, this blog post is for you.

What are PPC ads?

A hand clicking on a white computer mouse to illustrate what PPC ads are

The pay-per-click (PPC) advertising model allows digital marketers to create ads on an advertising platform (such as Google or Facebook) and pay that platform for each time that ad is clicked. This type of ad is intended to get the attention of your potential customer and have them click through the ad to visit your website, landing page, or app. From there, you can guide them through your funnel to make a sale or conversion.

PPC ads come in a variety of formats and styles depending on the advertising platform, including:

  • Text ads that appear on relevant SERPs (search engine results pages)
  • Display ads that appear on various sites and networks
  • Social media posts that appear in a prospect’s feed
  • Remarketing ads that target previous visitors or leads

Alternatively, you can optimize your ad spend depending on your goal, such as impressions or conversions, but the PPC model is for clicks (traffic) in particular. No matter what industry your business is in or who is in your target audience, you can use strategic paid ad campaigns to effectively and efficiently market to your potential customers and increase your traffic.

How do PPC ads work?

Analytic data showing a business's traffic sources

Essentially how PPC ads work is that you or your digital marketer creates an ad on an advertising platform, and then you pay that platform for every time that ad has been clicked. How the CPC (cost per click) is determined depends on the type of platform you are using and the type of ad you are running.

If you are running a PPC ad campaign on a search engine like Google, those ads are created with a list of keywords. With strategic market research you choose keywords that are relevant to your ad content and click-through destination–keywords that your potential customer might use when making a search and you want your ad to be displayed in their SERP. These keywords will have an CPC which is determined by factors such as quality and competitiveness. Once you have created your ads and determined your keywords, you will set a daily budget for those ads, and that budget should be set based on how many clicks you desire and what your average CPC is predicted to be.

Let’s say you own a shoe repair company and you want to run an advertisement on Google to promote your services. One of your target keywords is “mens shoe repair”, which has an average CPC of $1.87 USD. If you aim to receive ten clicks to your ad per day, you would need to set a daily budget of at least $18.70, so that you can bid on those competitive keywords and have your ads displayed for searchers to click on.

(Keep in mind that you will be targeting more than one keyword or phrase, and each keyword has a unique CPC. So it is important to calculate the average CPC of your keywords to determine your daily ad spend budget.)

With PPC campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook, ads target specific demographics and audiences with certain interests or engagement behaviors instead of keywords. These ads can be text ads, photos or graphics, or even a short video. Once you set your objective and budget (which can be a daily average or a lifetime budget), Facebook will attempt to deliver as many clicks as possible with your set budget.

How to create a strategic paid campaign?

A "create an ad" button on a PPC ad platform

There are several important steps to creating and launching a digital marketing campaign of any kind, and these steps apply to PPC ads as well. In order to make the most of your ad spend budget and gain optimal results, your campaign and ads should be strategic and data driven. Depending on your specific industry, audience, or campaign, the details of these steps and additional variables may change, but here are the five core steps to developing any strategic campaign.

  1. Determine your goals.
    If you’re creating and launching a PPC campaign, your goal is likely going to be to drive traffic through clicks. But what do you want your audience to click on, and why? Do you want to send them to your homepage, an interior page on your site, or a designated landing page? Or, do you want to drive that traffic to somewhere offsite, like an app store or a social media page? Determining your goals and how those goals will grow your business is the foundation of your campaign’s success.
  2. Discover your audience.
    Knowing who you want to target will help you select the right keywords for search engine ads, or the right users on social media platforms.
  3. Create your funnel.
    If your ultimate goal is to simply increase your traffic, then you may not find this step necessary. But, if you want to turn those clicks into conversions and that traffic into revenue, develop a conversion funnel for your new users to travel through. A strong conversion funnel includes that first ad impression, the click-through, and what should happen after.
  4. Develop your content.
    Your ad content should be relevant, clear, and attention grabbing. Text should include buzzwords, relevant keywords, and strong CTAs (calls-to-action), and visual content (photos, graphics, videos) should be high-quality and professionally developed.
  5. Analyze and optimize.
    Once you have established your funnel and launched your ads, closely monitor their performance and optimize as needed. Never “set and forget” a campaign–periodically reviewing, analyzing, and optimizing a PPC campaign ensures that you are continually making the most of your ad spend budget and receiving optimal results.

We can help you strategize, launch, and manage your PPC campaigns.

If you’re ready to increase your traffic, conversions, and ROI with paid ads, learn more about our PPC services or contact us today. Our digital marketing experts will help you discover your target audiences, determine what PPC platforms are best suited for your goals, and create strategic paid ads that will increase your clickthrough rates and grow your business.