How small businesses can kickstart Pay Per Click advertising

Pay per click (PPC) advertising is a powerful channel for securing conversion and raising awareness of your business. According to research, for high commercial intent searches (someone looking to buy a product) paid ads get 65% of all clicks.

But people say PPC is expensive and time-consuming. Not to mention complicated. Given the massive time investment and potential risk, is it wise for a startup to invest their marketing budget into pay per click advertising?

5 reasons why startups should invest in PPC

  1. It’s instant!

Almost every other form of marketing has some amount of lead time before you start seeing results. With PPC you can see enquiries and sales within hours. No waiting for your SEO to kick in and give you visibility, no waiting for a customer to open a newspaper!

  1. PPC is actually affordable

If you run on a strict budget, PPC marketing is an inexpensive way of advertising. That said, it needs to be well planned, implemented and monitored correctly. A well-run PPC campaign is up to 61% more effective than traditional marketing methods.

  1. PPC speaks for your brand when you’re busy

While larger companies employ a big staff contingent, most startups consist of just the owner or a small team. A PPC campaign allows a small business owner to set up a strategy and then focus on other areas of their business in their day-to-day activities.

  1. Track results in real-time

Results from traditional advertising are only often available once a campaign is finished. With PPC marketing, you can track results in real time including ad clicks, conversion rates and other parameters. This gives you direct feedback to judge your return on investment and allows you to tweak your campaigns on the fly.

  1. Let’s face it, your competitors are using it

No doubt some of your direct competitors use PPC. Well, definitely the successful ones!

Not only can a PPC campaign boost your customer base, but it can also provide much-needed exposure for your company. This is especially important for startups. Appearing on the first page of Google organically is really difficult and takes time.

Getting your pay per click advertising off the ground

So, if you’re the director, head of marketing, CFO, graphic designer, and coffee maker all rolled into one, here are some things you can do to easily set up your PPC and have it ticking over nicely.

Remember, to have effective PPC you need to:

  • Invest time early in set up
  • Don’t rely on automation – you know your customers best!
  • Location! Location! Location!

Take the time to get set up

To get the best results with PPC, you need to be proactive and manage it every day. We understand that not everyone has a marketing department or agency to lean on. So, if you are going to choose paid advertising, invest time early in setting up your account. The more time you can invest in the set up, the better.

You will need to create a Google Account in order to sign up to advertise on AdWords.  Then pop over to and sign in.  Once signed in, you can set up your ad campaigns.

To set up your account, spend time on the following. This will give you a basic framework for your first campaign.

Choose your budget

When setting your budget, it’s important to remain realistic.  To make an informed decision we suggest you look as a group of keywords using Keyword Planner and figure how much you expect to pay for each click. Once you’ve done that you can extrapolate that out to figure out how many clicks you will get for the various budgets you consider. As rule of thumb, invest at least £400 a month.

Create a keywords list

By using Google’s Keyword Planner, you can generate lists of keywords based on your existing site content or a few root keywords that you believe define your service best. It’s at this point that you need to start putting yourself in the shoes of the searcher, so you can try and anticipate how they search for goods and services.

Structure your campaign

Separate out your products and service in a logical manner. If you have a solid website structure, make your campaigns mirror your site structure to keep things simple. Related products can be grouped into one campaign and separated at ad group level. The overall structure is largely dependent on your goals and business, so ultimately just use common sense.

Create your ads

Create ads that you think will entice potential customers. Include calls to actions and qualify users appropriately with clear information about your pricing and proposition.

Consider tracking

Without being able to actively track when a click is generating a return for your business, PPC becomes a pointless exercise. To ensure you can do this you must implement conversion tracking through either the AdWords platform or Google Analytics. This will also allow you to track your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), which is an essential metric when benchmarking PPC campaign success.

We could write a whole blog on CPA and its importance alone but ultimately it is a metric that allows you to understand whether you can run a PPC campaign at a profitable level. For example, if your profit margin on your product is £20 and your CPA is £12 you’re running in the black on every product sold via PPC at a £8 margin (here’s a handy tool we built to help you work out CPA).

Be wary of shortcuts

It might be tempting to rely on Google’s automated tools, like AdWords Express, to pick your keywords and generate your ads. But don’t.

  • AdWords Express chooses keywords based on industry
  • All keywords are broad matched
  • You can’t exclude any keywords
  • There are no tracking options

If you’re not careful, Google will run off with your credit card and start bidding on terms wildly beyond your core offering. These broad, generic keywords mean you waste money and get fewer conversions. You know your customers best, so create ads that target their needs and their search behaviour.

Location! Location! Location!

For small businesses and startups that rely on local business geographic targeting, or geotargeting for short, allows you to pick and choose where to place your ads based on post code, place of interest, tourist destination, countries, and more. There are some great tools for effectively targeting specific locations. For example, location extensions tack on your business’ address to your search or display ads, so searchers can see that you’re just up the road from them.

For example, searching “estate agents” shows us this:

But searching “Estate agents near me”, we see an ad with a business address. Local “near me” searches are very powerful tools for people looking to capitalise on local custom.

How to set up a location extension in AdWords

You can add location extensions to your ads in five easy steps.

  1. Select the campaign you would like to add your location to from your Campaigns dashboard
  2. Select the Ad Extensions tab
  3. Click the View:  drop-down menu and select Location Extensions
  4. Click the +EXTENSION  button
    • You should see a popup menu from Google My Business, which brings up two scenarios:
    • A. You have a Google My Business Account
      • Select  Done 
    • B. You need to set up a Google My Business Account
      • Select  Add Locations
      • Follow the Get on Google instructions to register your business on Google for free!
  5. It should take a little less than 24 hours for Google My Business to sync with the ad extension, then you’re good to go!

Pay per click advertising doesn’t have to be such a daunting process if you set it up right. Remember the basics: Take the time to get you setup sorted, be wary of shortcuts and leverage geotargeting.  Provided you work smart and get things set up effectively, you can start seeing real returns from day one.

The Pitch offers free, education events for small business owners. Intimate sessions include advice on how to improve your marketing. Find out more about applying here.

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Holly Sawyer
Holly is the Marketing Manager at Inkwell, the company behind The Pitch.

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