Here at Real Business, we’ve been on a journey through the world of online sales and marketing – attempting to cut through the jargon and provide you with the key tips and advice required to make sensible investments.By speaking with knowledgable SME leaders, we’ve covered making your website stand out from the crowd, rethinking your online digital advertising to attract new customers and working out where ROI comes from in the digital world. Now, however, it’s time to dive into pay-per-click (PPC) – a strategy employed by a wide range of businesses with varying degrees of success. If you like what you read, don’t forget to click through to the full digital guide – the link for which can be found at the top and bottom of this article. PPC marketing can be a very effective, scalable and reliable approach to boosting a company’s online presence quickly. Unlike SEO, which takes time to build effectively, PPC campaigns go up quickly, encompass all the strategic keywords needed and can get a business to the top of the page rankings fast. But sadly it’s not that simple – the biggest reason being that this approach isn’t for all businesses. The four different business leaders we’ve spoken with all have a different take on the decision to use PPC – and whether they found any success in using it. If you like what you read, don’t forget to click through to the full digital guide – the link for which can be found at the top and bottom of this article. PPC advertising is growing quickly and there are two key reasons behind its rise. At the forefront of its advantages is the fact that companies are in complete control of how much to spend – though of course the more money you spend, the more traffic you can drive to your site. Most importantly, however, is that it funnels a plethora of consumers onto your web page much like a sudden injection. For Custom Planet director Andrew Dark, it was to obtain a sudden injection of customers to his company’s web page that he started using PPC. After launching Custom Planet’s new site, Dark revealed there had been a drop in visitors – and PPC was used to make up the difference in what was lost. “In terms of immediate success, the jury is still out!” Dark said. “I have been monitoring it and there are ways of tracking phone calls and other ‘conversions’ but we haven’t implemented all of them yet. With the industry we are in, we track quotes as a conversion, as well as online sales. Generally, I think it is working for us: the phone and people’s inboxes are definitely busier when we have PPC campaigns active. The good thing is you can adjust your budget when you need to.” Meanwhile, Rachel Bedgood, CEO at screening company CBS, claimed the firm had always budgeted for PPC activity right from the start, but wanted to see how far it could grow organically first of all. “With the increase of competitors into the online space, we then implemented our PPC strategy in order to keep our traffic volumes up and our presence front of mind,” Bedgood explained. This growth success was quantified to by Matthew Rogers, Toxic Fox’s head of search, who explained that two years ago it was run and managed as something that was needed, but never really used. However, it now generates several thousand clicks a year. He said: “Since then we have grown it out by over 40 per cent, from 2014 to 2015. And already in the first three months of this year we grew it out a further 50 per cent – so it’s rapidly expanding.” However, unlike the natural flowing progression of SEO, PPC does come with its downsides. This was highlighted by Dark, who claimed to have used a lot of poor PPC companies which just didn’t seem to pay attention to the keywords Custom Planet was using. “We would be spending a fortune on ads about products we don’t sell, like ‘screen printing equipment’.” His advice? While it’s good to get help setting up PPC campaigns, you have to stick to it and have a lot of involvement in keeping an eye on what you are paying for – at least every other day to make sure you are getting value for money. Advice was also offered by Rogers, who suggested that there is nothing like running the campaign yourself to actually realise its performance. He explained that while you may feel you have everything set up perfectly, and the products are the best in class, customer feedback could reveal you missed the mark. “And by customer feedback I mean on site signals, such as low conversion rates, high bounce rates – things like that,” he said. “This means you can never take anything for granted and, as with any campaign, you have to be able to adapt and improve as the campaign evolves. Plan, test, change, adapt and repeat.” It’s easy to see why PPC is such a polarising topic, and while it has much to offer, a lot of effort and money needs to be invested in order to keep it ticking.
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