PPC: Short term solution for immediate marketing needs
As a small business owner, you may’ve had situations that required to do some online advertising to promote your new line of product or a service but weren’t quite sure how to do it. Usually you start with Googling for ‘online advertising’ and after almost an hour of browsing different blog articles or companies websites, you may realize that nothing can give you quicker results than PPC (Pay-per-click) ads such as Google Adwords or social advertising (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc). PPC refers to a group of online ads which you only pay for what your ad has observed. For instance you can only pay for number of times your ad has been displayed (CPM) or the number of clicks your ad has received (CPC).
With no doubt, ‘How to do it’ & ‘how much does it cost’ are your next questions and soon you’ll understand to run an effective ad you need to pay a fortune to a consulting companies who have dedicated resources to setup & monitor the performance of the ads by applying daily (or sometimes hourly) changes to the settings. It is obvious that with thousands of online resources such as e-books, videos you may decide to spend a bit of time & learn how to do it so you can avoid paying to 3rd party. However, with limited time & budget you have, the question is “Is this the right decision to pay someone or shall I do it myself?”
What does a successful PPC campaign look like?
The final goal for any business is ‘Sales’ and business won’t survive if there is no one buying from them. So as the business owner, you are committed to sell more and when it comes to marketing, the rule of thumb for running a successful ad campaign is to minimize the costs while maximizing the sales. if you are entering a crowded market with many existing similar products or services, then you should consider bigger budget for the marketing as you need to spend more to stand out.
But because of the unlimited number of audience and high competition among multiple ads running simultaneously on the same product that target the same group of audiences, it is really hard to reach the goal and you should expect to waste a big chunk of your budget, especially if you don’t know the tricks! if an online ad is not setup properly or you lose the control of monitoring it, that suck all of your budget over a night.
So, before you get your hands dirty with DIY advertising, make sure you know the consequences and are not surprised with unexpected outcomes. Below are only a few major risks involved in DIY PPC management that I have seen from the businesses who tried to self-manage their advertising, however they ended up with me!
Major Challenges Of DIY Online Advertising
Creating effective Ads
To win the ad auction and being displayed on the best spot while paying the lowest possible rate, can only be done with proper ad setup. A typical ad requires the Title (usually limited to 25 characters), 1 or 2 lines of description, a link to the web page that user will be redirected after clicking on the ad. With limited space allocated to each ad, choosing an effective title and description with prop call-to-action which trigger the user to click on the ad, is vital.
Usually, for each campaign, multiple ads should be created with different theme. This allows the advertiser to focus on the ad that performs better while stopping the ads with poor performance. But this process can take up to a week (depends on the budget allocated) until enough data is populated. So it is important to choose the correct content to lower this risk.
Acceptable landing page experience
Assume you want to order flowers online for an occasion. You start with searching for ‘order flower online’ in Google and the first ad on the list is ‘Order Online Flower! Free Delivery’! with no doubt you will click on because it is clearly tells you that you can take the advantage of free delivery. But what would be your first reaction if clicking on the ad takes you to the contact page of a flower shop in your area? Wouldn’t you prefer to be redirected directly to the page with the list of flowers or a page that tell you more about this offer?
This is called ‘landing page experience’ and refers to the contents and the way that they are structured on the landing page. In Google AdWords, landing page has a big weight in calculating the rank i.e. if the users immediately leave your page or doesn’t have much interaction with parts on the page, then it is likely that you get negative ranking and lose the battle against your competitors.
Creating a landing page is also a big challenge for non-technical person who doesn’t know that much about web pages and styling. Choosing the right text color, positioning the elements, and creating enough links to answer the user questions, can be a hassle for beginners. I have seen many business owners who have created a page with their CMS systems by putting all the information in a paragraph. This is not enough! landing page is the heart of your ad.
Staying up-to-date with latest updates:
The ad platforms such as Google AdWords, Facebook Ads or any other similar tools are dynamically changed to make the platform more efficient by providing more control over the ad setup. While ago, targeting the age or gender of the users were an impossible thing, but this is now part of all platforms. While this customization may be helpful for expert users, it can be harmful for the group of advertisers who have less technical knowledge of the concepts. As an example, in AdWords, you can easily limit your ad to only reach to a group of people who are not in your business area. But is that a good option? What if a user from another city is planning to book in advance for a dinner at your restaurant but he can’t see your ad just because you have excluded him! But this doesn’t end here. while you are in the learning phase some rules may change and you are almost out dated without even knowing that! So, if once you decided to give it a try, you should plan for a regular study which keeps you up to date. But dos it really worth? What if instead of trying to become a beginner (!) in something which is not your expertise, focus on the business and lets the experts do the job for you?
Time consuming management
The main task starts when the ad setup is completed! For the period that your ad is running you need to spend at least one hour per day to check the reports and make sure everything is working as planned. While there are out-of-the-box reports provided by the advertising platform, but some of these require custom reports to be created. Here are a few questions you should answer every day:
- Is the ad getting enough impression?
- Is the ad being displayed for the right keywords?
- How much each ad visit cost me?
- What are the irrelevant keywords?
- For how long the user stayed on the landing page?
- Apart from landing page, which other pages the user visited?
- Which part of the landing page the user has clicked?
The biggest mistake a business owner can make, is ignoring the importance of the tracking and leaving the ads running without checking the performance.
DIY or Not DIY?
I hope that I could highlight some challenges that you may face during your online advertising experience, as a small business owner. Knowing the bumps and planning ahead for what may happen down the track is critical. However that shouldn’t stop you from DIY advertising if you believe you can do it.
At the end of the day, it is completely up to you to choose between giving part of your cash flow to someone to do the job with more chance of return or spending time to learn and run the campaign and saving on consulting fees. It is not clear though how much this learning journey may cost you!