It’s always a good idea for small business owners to invest in a variety of marketing tactics. While those tactics would typically include social media, email marketing, and content marketing, there are definitely benefits to utilizing paid search for your small business marketing. However, before investing time and money, here are a few things to consider before starting a paid search campaign.

What is paid search?

pay-per-clickPaid search is a form of digital marketing where search engines such as Google allow marketers to show ads on their search engine results pages. Paid search works on a pay-per-click model, also known as “PPC”. It quite literally means pay per click: you don’t pay until someone clicks on your ad. You bid on certain keyword phrases and depending on the searcher and what they type in, your ad will be served up in the search results if it’s relevant. If the searcher sees your ad and is inclined to click on it, you’ll get charged for that visitor that is now on your website.

The benefits of paid search

Pay-per-click, or paid search ads, can be a powerful way to drive targeted traffic to your small business website. Why? Unlike many other forms of marketing, paid search is measurable, and the costs easily controlled if you know what you’re doing. It can be very reactive in nature based on the type of audience you want. It’s one of the more flexible marketing options out there for small business marketers. The most popular paid search option, Google Ads, allows you to position your brand in front of a very targeted audience while allowing you to control the spend as needed. It’s one of the more customizable forms of marketing out there for small businesses. In addition, studies show that paid search can help a website’s organic search performance. The analytics provided in paid search campaigns like Google Ads are valuable in providing insights that can be used in your other forms of marketing such as content marketing.  If you have a high performing keyword phrase in Google Ads that is also quite expensive per click (this often happens for extremely competitive keyword phrases), it may make sense to leverage that keyword phrase in some form of content such as an onsite blog post and pull it out of your Google Ads campaign to save money.

What platforms can you use?

ad platformsMost marketers think of Google when they think of paid ads, but there are actually quite a few networks where you can place paid ads, including social media networks. Search Engine Journal wrote an insightful article on the best networks to advertise on, and how to choose the one right for you. Here are the 8 they recommended:

  • Google Ads
  • Microsoft Ads
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

Much of the decision behind which platform(s) to use for paid search will come down to ad budget and where your target audience resides. The article gives great insights on how to make that decision, or a small business marketing consultant can guide you in the right direction.

Why many small business marketers don’t this tactic

With paid search, there is the potential for costs to ramp up quickly if not carefully monitored or if the marketers are unfamiliar with how paid search works. Rapid spend usually happens when small business owners start a PPC campaign without doing any research first. It’s difficult to understand how to bid certain keyword phrases if you don’t first understand:

  • What your average cost per acquisition (CPA) of clients across all marketing channels is
  • What your lifetime value of a client is
  • What your goal is for a conversion

Ideally, a small business has a marketing strategy in place that has already identified these. It can help you determine if an average pay-per-click cost makes sense. If the cost per click is as expensive as the product you’re selling, you’ll quickly become upside down in your ROI. For example, if you’re selling a competitive supplement, and the average cost per click is $20 yet your product sells for $19.99, you’re already upside before that click even converts to a sale. It’s also important to understand your cost per acquisition. Let’s take that same example above but this time, let’s assume the cost per click is $5. However, if you’re average close rate is 20, meaning you close one sale for every 5 leads, you’ve just spent $25 to sell a $19.99 product. It’s all about return on investment, so understanding these numbers upfront can guide you on how much to spend and what your anticipated ROI should be. Starting a paid search campaign without understanding this can make the effort extremely expensive and ineffective.

Paid search works if you do it correctly

paid search checklistPaid search can be a challenging tactic to use in small business marketing but taking the time to understand and manage a paid search campaign can be enough to put you ahead of the vast majority of your competition. Most marketers that fail at paid search do so because they neglect to customize and monitor their PPC campaign. Here are a few helpful tips to get a handle on your paid search efforts and see positive results:

  • Know your CPA and the lifetime value of a client before you start a campaign.
  • Do keyword research to understand what phrases will attract quality traffic.
  • Create a targeted landing page for the keyword phrases you’re bidding on.
  • Start with a small campaign, give it time to collect data, and measure results.
  • Be an active participant in the PPC campaign, monitoring and adjusting often.

Paid search can be an effective marketing tactic for small businesses, but there are definitely items to consider before starting a paid search campaign. It takes research and planning before starting an effective campaign and requires ongoing, diligent management and measurement in order to be successful. If you have the resources for this, then try a small campaign of Google Ads. Google provides clear, easy-to-follow instructions on how to get started with Google Ads. Still, be prepared to commit to ongoing management if you want to see results. If you can’t commit to these efforts, it’s better to leverage other tactics instead or hire a small business marketing professional to oversee these paid marketing efforts for you.

Patty Hughes
Follow Us!