Digital marketing can be complex and even confusing. For one thing, it’s made up of so many different parts, including websites, social media, email, SMS, advertising and more. For another, each of these parts has its own benefits to you as the marketer and it can be hard to know which areas to focus on, because it’s almost impossible to focus on all.
Fortunately, many of these channels can be integrated to increase the impact and ROI of your digital marketing efforts. Pay-per-click, or PPC, is one of those marketing methods that can be done independently, used on its own as a form of online advertising, but can also be useful in doing research for or bolstering the impact of other channels such as SEO, social and email.
What Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?
Before we dive into ways PPC can help with other digital marketing efforts, let’s first answer the question, “What is pay-per-click advertising?” PPC is a powerful and sophisticated marketing tool with far more capabilities than we can cover here, but we will give a brief overview of how it works. With PPC, you pay for a click. You place an ad with a search engine like Google, based on certain keywords. How much you pay for that ad depends on your budget. Paying more can get your ad better placement as opposed to paying less. If someone searches on the keywords you’ve designated and your ad shows up on the search results page, the searcher clicks on your ad and you pay for that click. Hence, the name ‘pay-per-click’. This is admittedly an oversimplified description of PPC. To learn more about PPC, see articles by expert Brad Geddes that cover many aspects of PPC and AdWords.
What Is the Difference Between PPC and Adwords?
Although PPC is available through multiple channels, Google’s AdWords is the most common form of PPC. There isn’t any difference between PPC and AdWords, but usually people mean AdWords when they say PPC only because Google dominates the search engine market. AdWords is a way to do PPC, but PPC can also mean paying for clicks via another search engine or method.
How PPC Can Boost Other Direct Marketing Efforts?
Now that you have a basic understanding of PPC, let’s consider some ways in which it can be used to improve your overall digital marketing. Most importantly, with PPC, you can get immediate data about what works or doesn’t work, and this is information you can apply to other marketing channels. For example, you can:
- Use PPC for A/B split testing to optimize landing pages. You can drive traffic to two different landing pages to test headlines, layouts, content, calls to action, imagery or something else. Once you have a winner, you make that your landing page.
- Test drive keywords before you optimize a page for SEO, so you know which keywords generate better results and then you can focus on those in your SEO content.
- Test headlines, offers and calls to action. Then, you can use the lessons learned in all of your other digital marketing including social media and email marketing, as well as in display ads or even to tweak a blog post headline or tweet.
- Test audiences, geotargeting and localization. Does an audience in one part of the world respond better to a different kind of headline compared to another? You can find out with PPC, then use that information in your other marketing practices.
- Capitalize on events in a timely way. Let’s say something happens in the news or the entertainment world and your brand could capitalize on that event. With PPC, you can have relevant content up and running right away, to tap into that event or trend. Then, do all of the types of testing described above to see if you learn anything you can apply elsewhere.
In addition, to being a powerful tool, PPC is flexible in a way other channels are not. You can easily turn PPC on or off, or increase or decrease your bid amount. It’s like a faucet and you’re holding the handle and controlling the flow of water. That makes PPC decidedly unique compared to other marketing methods.
Now that you have a better idea of the ways PPC can be used to support your other marketing practices, let’s go into a little more detail about using PPC specifically in the following categories:
- SEO and PPC
- PPC and social media marketing
- PPC and display advertising
- PPC and email marketing
SEO and PPC
If your digital marketing includes SEO, you might not think you need to spend money on PPC because you’re already trying to get your website found. But when it comes to SEO and PPC, they work really well together.
For one thing, PPC can give your online marketing a jumpstart. SEO takes time and it can take quite a while to generate results. The average first-page result on Google is a web page of 1,890 words. It takes a long while to produce a webpage with that amount of quality content! Plus you need to get links to it, and it needs to get found and ranked by the search engines. Then there’s trying to get to page one. Various researches show that searchers don’t click past the first page of search results. That means in many cases, all your SEO efforts could be in vain if you only get to page 2.
While SEO takes a lot of time and effort with no guarantee of success, PPC can get you immediate results. With paid search, you only need to pay enough and you’ll be where you want to be right away: on the first page of the search results.
Even though up to 80 percent of searchers ignore the paid ads and click on an organic search result instead, you’re still getting the opportunity to make a positive brand impression. They might not click on your ad, but they will see your ad. And what if you’re already winning the SEO wars and appearing on page 1 of the search results? You could increase your click-through rate by supplementing with PPC: Research has shown that organic listings get more clicks when a paid ad appears on the same page.
PPC and Social Media Marketing
The connection between SEO and PPC is rather obvious when you consider how PPC can help with online marketing. Perhaps less obvious but just as useful is using PPC with social media. As with SEO, PPC and social media marketing can also be a coordinated effort to boost your digital marketing results. You can use PPC to test drive offers, concepts, keywords and more. You can also use PPC to drive traffic to your social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest—and then earn a follow. Or, if you’re running a contest or an event on a social media site, PPC can make more people aware of it.
PPC and Display Advertising
PPC can also be used to improve your online display advertising. There are many ways to advertise on the Internet, including ads on other websites as well as on social media platforms. LinkedIn has sponsored ads, Facebook has ads, Twitter has promoted content, and so on. Before you commit to paying for any of those ads, you can use PPC to test out your headlines, offers, calls to action, even your imagery.
PPC and Email Marketing
PPC can even help you at the inbox level because using PPC and email marketing together can help you grow your email list, plus help you target your ads. To grow your list, your use of PPC can drive traffic to a landing page with gated content where the searcher must use an email address to get a download or a discount, for example. You can also use your PPC ads to test drive offers and calls to action, to learn which are more likely to generate better results as part of an email marketing campaign. For campaigns you’re already running, your PPC ads can re-emphasize the branding or messaging of your emails so that someone sees the message in their inbox while on the Internet too. And for those email addresses you already have on your list, you can use Customer Match to target PPC ads specifically to them.
Learn More About PPC to Get More From PPC
These are just a few basic ways to use PPC to boost your other digital marketing efforts by integrating it with SEO, social, display ads and email. Even if you’re fairly new to PPC, you can start to put these ideas to use right away. Then, once you’ve mastered these basics, learn more to do more. You can get certified as a PPC specialist with our Advanced PPC training course which will give you the tools to make full use of this powerful marketing method. Or do the Digital Marketing Specialist Masters Program to master not only PPC, but also SEO, web analytics, social media marketing and much more. The more you know, the more you can do, and the more you’ll add to your organization’s marketing ROI.