Pay per click (PPC) advertising is one of the most reliable strategies you can use to promote your website — in part because of how it’s structured. For example, if you place a billboard on the side of the highway advertising your business, you’re going to pay for it even if it doesn’t result in a single phone call. But in the PPC world, you’re only going to pay for the traffic you actually generate from your ads.
That said, PPC advertising does have some glaring weaknesses. Of course, it’s easy to compensate for these weaknesses – and even turn some of them into strengths – but you’ll need to be proactive and strategic to do it.
We’ll begin by listing and addressing some of the biggest weaknesses of PPC advertising. What are the drawbacks and potential failure points of this strategy?
You’ll need to spend a lot of time researching keywords, planning your path of attack, and optimizing your strategy for the best possible results. This isn’t as simple as throwing a dart and trying to hit a target; your priorities are going to be constantly shifting, and the data is going to be changing from day-to-day.
Is it better to go after a high-traffic keyword that’s highly relevant to your target audience, even though it’s expensive? Or is it better to find a cheaper alternative that will yield more traffic, even if it’s less relevant? Unfortunately, there often aren’t clear, objective answers to these critical strategic questions, making it difficult to find the “best” path forward.
Business owners love PPC ads because of their immediate capacity for generating brand awareness and traffic. In addition, you can pay a fixed amount of money to get a fixed amount of traffic, not worrying about long-term traffic generating strategies taking a long time to kick in.
But here’s the thing; over time, those long-term traffic generating strategies get more and more efficient, eventually yielding higher and higher returns on investment (ROIs). So while PPC ads can get more effective over time, they do tend to be less powerful – and less valuable – as your other strategies begin to take prevalence.
The more competition you have in the PPC world, the more trouble you’re going to face. If you’re literally the only business in your industry and you’re capitalizing on a totally new market, PPC ads will work amazingly for you; you can get tons of traffic for ridiculously low amounts of money.
Remember: the second a major competitor emerges, you’ll be stuck in bidding wars with aggressive antagonists and your costs will start to climb. In particularly competitive industries, it’s hard to turn your PPC ad strategy into something consistently profitable.
One of the real secrets to success in PPC advertising is spending time experimenting. You’ll need to tinker with different bidding strategies, different keyword selections, different ad copy, and tons of other variables to see how they play out in a live environment.
Only after seeing their performance in the live environment and analyzing the results will you be able to make definitive conclusions about which tactics are best – and only then will you be able to tap into the true potential of PPC advertising. Unfortunately, if you don’t have much time to spend or much experience to work with, this can be exceedingly tough.
PPC advertising is incredibly effective at one thing: generating traffic. And, of course, traffic is valuable to any brand. But the exact value of that traffic is going to depend heavily on several other factors, such as the relevance of that traffic to your brand, the quality of your landing page, and your capacity for getting conversions.
If the back end of your strategy isn’t in place — in other words if you don’t know what to do with your traffic once you generate it — PPC ads are functionally useless.
This isn’t a negative article; it’s a positive one. So now that we know the critical weaknesses of PPC ads let’s look at some of the best strategies you can use to overcome them (or transform them into strengths).
You can often eliminate the competition problem, reduce your expenses, and improve the relevance of your traffic, all by differentiating your brand. So what makes your company (and your ads) different than your competitors?
Target audience. Can you differentiate yourself by targeting a different segment of your shared audience or venturing into totally new territory?
Keyword selection. Can you make your brand stand out by choosing a different selection of keywords? For example, can you be more precise with your keyword phrases or appeal to customers at a different stage of the buying cycle?
Offers. Can you make your brand pop by providing a better offer than your competitors? Can you offer more or better products for less money within the body of your ads?
Next, hire a professional PPC ad manager to help you – especially in the earliest stages of your journey. They’ll be able to provide you with better advice and direction you can use to run a more efficient campaign.
Look for the following:
Next, start small. There’s no reason to start out with a $100,000 per month PPC advertising budget, even if you can afford to spend it. Instead, dip your toes in the water and get comfortable with the system before you start dumping money.
Run small-scale, temporary campaigns and experiments to get a feel for your audience, your competitors, and how the system works; you can start scaling up when you feel you’re ready.
Finally, diversify your marketing portfolio by using PPC advertising in combination with various other strategies to promote your brand.
These are some of the best additions:
PPC advertising isn’t a perfect strategy for every business, but it does have the power to provide a jump start to your inbound traffic, no matter what.
Consider your strategy carefully and recognize the key downsides of PPC campaigns – so you can make up for them and see the best possible results.
Originally appeared in ReadWrite