So, why do we use paper clips?
Sorry, I meant 'pay per click', also known as PPC.
Ok, now the bad joke is out of the way, let’s move onto discussing this topic properly.
A question we’re often asked by clients and potential prospects is: ‘Should we use Google Ads instead of other forms of marketing?’ As you might imagine, the answer isn’t that simple I’m afraid (sorry!).
When it comes to PPC, the tactic is used to better effect as a part of a broader, more holistic strategy. If you were to ask me, ‘Should we only run PPC ads?’ I would say that is not the best path to take. Some of our best performing clients at Eastside Co have taken on several or all of the marketing tactics that we offer: SEO, organic marketing, social media advertising on Facebook and Instagram, and email marketing. If these are used together, as a full, well-thought out strategy then the results can be exceptional.
So why should you consider using PPC?
- You’ll gain access to a whole new (and very specific) audience looking for your products or services
- It’s extremely measurable and gives instant results
- It’s excellent for brand exposure, particularly if you’re a new brand
- You only pay when people click through i.e. show an interest or intent
- The ad spend is flexible so you only spend what you budget for (if managed properly)
Are there any disadvantages to PPC?
Well, if campaigns aren’t managed properly it can become an expensive way to advertise. If you’re unsure about how to run your PPC campaigns, ask us at ESC for further information on how we can help you.
Expanding on these points, here are some of the questions I’m often asked about Google Ads:
I’m a new brand - should I use Google Ads?
Yes, we would recommend that you use Google Ads. If you’re a new client and your website has just launched, you’re unlikely to rank in the organic search engine results for some time. One approach to give you some visibility is to use paid ads, and bid on your brand keywords. Setting up your Google Shopping presence will also raise brand awareness, allowing you to appear in the same search landscape as your competitors and their products.
However, when new brands launch (and I cannot emphasise this next part enough), we need to include advertising on all platforms. If I had to pick a preference, I would include organic (i.e. not paid) and Facebook marketing. The audience definition on all of these platforms are all very different, giving you an array of opportunities to build up your brand. Ultimately, people search and shop in a variety of ways online, and Google Ads is just one way to target your audience.
What is the best time to run Google Ads?
Our recommendation is to keep your Google Ads campaigns live at all times - as long as the performance of your account shows strong results. For example, if you’re selling high end clothing, running Google Ads would be a great idea: you can afford to spend on a high number of clicks but only need a low number of sales to give a good return on your ad spend.
There are certain times that Google Ads will perform very well: for example, seasonal sales.
During Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Christmas or Boxing Day Sales, we would recommend all clients run Google Ads. Simply put, the messaging delivered via Google Ads will differ substantially compared to your organic SEO results. The ad copy can detail:
- The offer
- How long it is valid for (creating a sense of urgency)
- How much discount is being offered
- What products are available in this offer
- The discount code (if needed)
At these important times of year, keywords containing the phrases “discount” or “sale” on your ecommerce product will yield high search volumes.
It is worth targeting these keywords for a few weeks beforehand so that Google can gauge the quality score of your ads. If you have a high quality score, you will be unlikely to pay the highest cost per click available, as Google prefers to give searchers a better experience based on historical performance (crazy right?). Google would rather give a proven ad account a high number of clicks over a new account which has no historical data and could prove to have a poor user experience onsite.
I’m already getting good results from one paid media outlet like Facebook; should I really look at Google Ads too?
Definitely. The reason we’d recommend this is because people click and abandon ads all the time on Facebook. It is true that they may be tempted back via remarketing ads on Facebook, but what is their number one search outlet for intent? Google.
So why not advertise through Google too? If a prospect has seen an ad on Facebook, clicked, and then abandoned, serving an ad on Google could recapture that lost lead! Maybe they forgot the name of your brand and are looking for the rare item they really liked on your site? You’ll be visible on Google Shopping if it has been set up correctly and the titles are optimised. The possibilities for cross-channel compatibility is much wider once you move out from one tactic alone.
Why should I pay attention to Google Ads?
Google is uniquely positioned to give you a variety of ads. From expanded search ads to display ads, there are lots of possibilities. Usually, we at ESC would encourage you to advertise in two different ways at the beginning:
- with intent-based searches via keywords (e.g. “buy a complete toolbox,” “high quality sofas near me,” “cheap gloves and scarf for winter,”)
- through Google Shopping
When it comes to Google Shopping, the title of your product needs to be highly optimised to return high search volumes. It’s really that simple: name it so it reflects what people will be searching for. If your scarf has a branded name instead of using the words “thick woolly scarf”, the chances are you will not be able to attract many new customers. It is likely you will be advertising to your existing customers, which will not encourage business growth in the long term.
The product title does not necessarily have to change on your site to do this; there are ways around this. You can display a well-optimised product title on Google Shopping which is very different to the product title on your website. Just be sure to include those keywords in the description of your product so that users don’t land on your site and feel like they’ve been misled!
If I get sales through customers clicking on my Google Ads, how do I know that those sales wouldn’t have happened anyway, without me paying for them?
Easy - if you have your Google Analytics set up correctly you’re able to track the Google Ads journey up to when they convert. This can be really useful and very insightful into improving performance in the long term. This can show the customer journey from when they first arrived on site, to their last click of a conversion. You may even see customers begin their user journey from a variety of places at the first click (Facebook, directly via a link, organically etc), to the last click conversion obtained from Google Ads.
If the SEO value of your site is quite poor*, Google Ads can provide you with exposure to customers you may not be exposed to. For example, say you have a new product launching which is going to be popular, and aligns directly with all your competitors’ products. Bidding on the generic keyword associated with this said product can provide you with some much-needed sales, along with launching this successfully on Google Shopping. This means you don’t have to wait for Google to crawl your pages so it can eventually be found in the results pages organically.
- if you'd like to improve your SEO, check out some of our other blogs on the topic, for example an explanation of Google Page Experience, a guide to link building strategies and a reminder of the fundamentals of keyword research.
How much should I spend on Google Ads?
This is a difficult one - it really does depend on lots of factors. Let’s examine some of the variables.
A big factor is how your service or product is performing.
If you’re in a very competitive space, you’ll likely have to spend large amounts of money to compete. If you’re in a new and growing space, I would also recommend spending large amounts too, after testing the waters. Ideally, you want to strike while the iron is hot. And lastly, if you’re in a new product space (that hasn’t been tested yet and is largely unknown to a wider audience) then I would suggest allocating a relatively low budget of about £1,000 per month - although this budget may not be spent after a month of activity. Why is this? I’ll explain more below.
By using tools such as SEMrush we are able to pull out keyword volumes for phrases we would want to bid on. (By keyword volumes, we mean how often per month people are searching for a particular keyword.) If these volumes are in the thousands, that means the clicks will be along those lines too. Depending on your cost per click in your industry, that could become quite costly very quickly.
In the case of a new untested industry, the keyword volume may be very low. People are not familiar with the new product or service at all, so it will be hard to bid on keywords or phrases which are not in high demand, or existence yet. If your product or service falls into this category, I would suggest using Google Ads later on and focus on other tactics such as blogs or newspaper articles, influencer marketing, or brand awareness and traffic campaigns via Facebook or Instagram to see if there is a market out there to be discovered. If there is a space for it, revisit Google Ads later on after traction has been found.
With PPC, is it worth considering other platforms? You’ve mentioned Google Ads & Shopping but what about other search engines or AdRoll?
Yes, there are alternatives to Google Ads & Shopping that should be considered. Firstly, I would utilise Google Ads as much as possible, since Google is the go-to search engine for the vast majority of the world’s internet users. After this, there are other options such as Bing Advertising. The user interface isn’t as friendly as Google Ads, but it still has similar ad builds and does the job.
If your product qualifies, considering Amazon paid marketing too. This can be a more flexible alternative to Google Shopping, as the images can be customised to include things such as text and overlaid images. Amazon marketing works via keywords too, but the images of products are served as sponsored content instead of text based ads. This is very competitive so be careful before jumping right in as many of the big hitters in all industries are already marketing on here.
AdRoll can be good if you have an eBook or want to remarket to your audience. We have experience of using this service in-house, but AdRoll also has capabilities for display ads, and dynamic ads too. This can be extremely beneficial considering that a huge portion of ecommerce customers do not purchase the first time they visit your website, so it makes sense to target them over time to keep your brand in their mind and capture sales later.
Hopefully that helps give you an idea about the value that you can gain from PPC. If you want to learn more about how to get started, check out our guide to setting up your PPC account structure and campaigns. Of course, if you want to talk to us about how we can create and manage your campaigns for your business, just get in touch and we'd love to have a chat!