Many inbound marketers shy away from pay-per-click advertising (PPC). That’s because paying for the placement of your message is, by nature, an outbound marketing approach. But that doesn’t mean there’s no place for it in your inbound marketing strategy.
By positioning your message in the right light and ensuring only right-fit people receive it, you can use PPC — such as search, display and social ads — as an effective tool to support your inbound efforts.
The Value of PPC Advertising
Maybe PPC doesn’t seem like a cost-effective choice for your business — we get it. Why would you want to “buy” conversions when you’re already driving those conversions with free inbound marketing methods?
The idea is that these ads offer an immediate conversion point to your prospects, which makes it as easy as possible for them to become leads. Because you’re only charged every time someone clicks on the ad, you’re paying for the effectiveness of your ads. Unlike traditional advertising where you’re paying for the ad space itself, PPC advertising only costs you when it successfully contributes to your pipeline.
Furthermore, PPC ads allow you to segment your audience by criteria like demographics, location and previous conversions. They give you control over which times of day your ads are served and the kinds of website you want them to appear on. This allows you to target your buyer personas more effectively, driving conversions and boosting ROI.
And as any good inbound marketer knows, optimizing for conversions and ROI requires continuous analytics to understand what is and isn’t working. PPC ads come with UTM parameters, which allow you to track their attributed traffic and conversions. In fact, most digital advertising platforms are already equipped with A/B testing capabilities. This gives you the ability to continuously optimize your advertising approach.
PPC ads probably won’t put too much of a dent in your budget, anyway. According to a 2016 study done by WordStream, the average cost-per-click in AdWords is $2.32 on the search network and $0.58 on the display network. That’s a tiny price to pay for a potential customer. But once you’re sold on the value of PPC advertising, how do you incorporate it in your marketing strategy?
Tips for Incorporating PPC into Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
1. Maintain an inbound mindset
Because PPC advertising is traditionally an outbound marketing approach, it’s important that you keep inbound best practices in mind while implementing it. Rather than purchasing ad space and interrupting someone’s day, make sure you’re offering highly relevant content to a targeted audience.
Don’t forget the core tenants of the inbound methodology: helpful, noninvasive and contextually relevant. Structure your paid ad campaigns so that they’re educational and served to specific, segmented audiences based on your buyer personas.
2. Be conscious of targeting and timing
When serving these ads, you also have to take into account who you’re targeting and when you’re targeting them. If you’re a B2B business, it will probably be more effective to serve ads within the 9 to 5 timeframe, not at 11 at night when your ideal customers are likely to be at home in bed. Also consider where you do business. If you only operate within the United States, then you shouldn’t serve ads in Europe or Asia.
Make sure to keep funnel stages and buying cycles in mind as well. You wouldn’t want to serve bottom of the funnel content to someone who’s never heard of your brand before. Conversely, don’t waste general awareness ads on people who are ready to become customers. Target users in the decision stage by segmenting your audience by past conversions.
By serving ads with the right content to the right people at the right time, you can ensure these ads will be as effective as possible.
3. Don’t rely on Google’s defaults
Google provides default settings for certain features of PPC advertising. For example, Google may offer to optimize and adjust your keyword bidding for you. This may be easier, but it’s not ideal. You know your business better than Google does, so you should be in control of this process.
Keep up to date with your ads. Check in on your ads periodically, manually adjust the bids based on how they’re performing and make sure none of them have been flagged due to recent changes in SEO criteria. This will give you better insight into how and why your ads are performing. If you let Google adjust your settings without your input and conversions decrease, you won’t know what to change to bring those conversions back up again.
4. Test and optimize continuously
As with any inbound marketing practice, you should never put your PPC campaign aside after one successful iteration. Use UTM parameters and analytics to gain insight into whether or not your ads are generating site visits, who’s clicking on the ads and how many of those visitors ultimately become customers.
By tracking the performance of your ads and using A/B testing to examine different approaches, you can continuously optimize for conversions and drive growth. You marketing decisions should never be left to guesswork; maintain a data-driven mindset and you’ll be able to make smarter, more effective choices for your business.
PPC: One Tool in Your Inbound Marketing Playbook
Remember, you shouldn’t rely only on PPC advertising for driving your conversions. PPC is only effective when it’s used to augment a well-rounded marketing strategy. With an inbound mindset, the right content to back it up and a multifaceted, data-driven approach, PPC is a great tool for growing your business.