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As a business owner, you know attracting customers and generating leads are crucial. Depending on your customer acquisition strategy, it can feel like they come in waves.

Some days, your channels are filled with new customers, while other days can be lackluster. Pay-per-click (PPC) ads can change that pattern.

When done correctly, PPC marketing will help you drive targeted traffic and boost your online presence.

And don’t worry if you’re new to pay-per-click ads. We’ll walk you through the process step-by-step.

What is PPC marketing?

PPC, or Pay-Per-Click, is an online advertising model where advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked by a user. It’s a way to buy visits to a website rather than earning them organically. Advertisers bid on specific keywords, and when users search for those keywords, the ads appear.

PPC is commonly used in search engine advertising, like Google Ads, and can be an effective method for driving targeted traffic to websites.


How does PPC marketing work?

Pay-per-click advertising is a powerful online marketing tool that lets you reach potential customers by bidding on keywords related to your business. Essentially, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad — making it a cost-effective way to drive targeted traffic to a landing page.

PPC ads work through an auction system, where advertisers bid on keywords relevant to their target audience. Your ad can appear in the search results when a user searches for a keyword you’ve bid on.

Your ad’s placement depends on your bid and your ad’s own quality score.

Therefore, more competitive keywords will cost more per click.

ppc services at bluehost

Here are the steps to PPC marketing:

Step 1: Choose a PPC platform

First, choose a PPC platform like Google Ads, Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads) or Facebook Ads. Keep in mind where your typical customers spend the most time.

You’ll also need to choose a PPC ad network

Step 2: Select keywords and set a budget

Next, you’ll want to choose the keywords to target.

As for setting a budget, start small. Once you have a profitable ad, you can begin to scale.

Step 3: Write compelling copy for ads and landing pages

Arguably, the most critical part of your PPC campaign is copywriting. Your copy sets your ads apart from the rest. It has the power to change an unprofitable campaign into a winning one.

Step 4: Bid on keywords

Then, begin bidding on the keywords you selected. You can opt for manual or automated bidding. Manual bidding sets a maximum ad spend for bids. Automated selects bid to maximize results from your campaign.  

Step 5: Adjust and optimize based on results

Your results will guide you. Depending on your analytics, you can adjust your positioning, ad copy, or landing page copy. Sometimes, certain ads won’t be profitable regardless of how often you change the copy or visuals.

The benefits of pay-per-click ads 

Total search advertising spending was projected to hit $178 billion in 2023.

This staggering number highlights pay-per-click advertising’s growing importance in the digital marketing landscape. But why is PPC so popular among businesses?

Let’s explore the key benefits that make it an appealing marketing option.

The benefits of pay-per-click advertising.

Benefit 1: It’s cost-effective

PPC marketing allows you to set your own budget, ensuring you only spend what you can afford. Plus, you only pay when a user clicks your ad. So, your investment directly correlates to user engagement and potential leads.

For example, a small business owner with a limited marketing budget can benefit from PPC’s cost-effectiveness — allowing them to reach potential customers without overspending.

Benefit 2: It’s precisely targeted

You can target specific keywords, locations and demographics with PPC, ensuring your ads reach the right audience. This level of targeting increases the likelihood of converting leads and maximizing your return on investment (ROI).

Let’s say a local bakery wanted more customers looking for birthday cakes. The business could target the keyword “custom cakes” in their area and increase the chances of attracting relevant customers.

Benefit 3: It offers fast results

Unlike search engine optimization (SEO), PPC ads can deliver immediate traffic to your website. PPC’s fast-paced nature makes it an ideal option for businesses looking for an instant boost in visibility and sales.

It’s also ideal for a startup looking to validate its concept, as these ads can generate traction and visibility.

Benefit 4: It’s measurable and trackable

PPC platforms provide comprehensive analytics, allowing you to track the performance of your ads in real time. This data-driven approach lets you make informed decisions about your campaigns and continually optimize for better results.

The adage “What gets tracked, gets improved” remains true. Tracking the progress of your ads lets you A/B test copy, designs and budgets, helping boost your success.

Benefit 5: It enhances brand exposure

Even if users don’t click on your ad, simply appearing at the top of search results can increase your brand’s visibility and credibility. Over time, this enhanced exposure can lead to increased brand recognition and customer trust.

Customers respond best to brands they already know. And according to Google, using search engine marketing ads can help you improve your brand awareness.

What skills are required for PPC marketing?

While it may seem difficult to start PPC campaigns, it’s crucial to remember the basics.

PPC marketing mainly comes down to two components: copywriting and analytics. If you nail that, you’re on your way to a successful journey with pay-per-click advertising.

Let’s break down each of these so you can understand what’s most important.

Copywriting and data analytics for PPC.

Copywriting

While copywriting might seem overwhelming or boring, it’s the bread and butter of PPC advertising. You’ve mastered the basics when you can write a headline that draws attention to your body copy and creates intrigue.

The key? Testing.

Here are the four steps to writing captivating copy:

1: Headlines

To create an effective headline, focus on making a claim or promise that speaks to your target audience’s needs or desires. A strong headline should grab attention, clearly convey your message, and entice the reader to learn more. The more people you can convince to read, the higher your conversion rate.

2: The “big idea”

The “big idea” is the central emotion or concept around your product or service that your target audience finds extremely compelling. It makes them want to click on your ad and consider buying.

To identify your big idea, consider what sets your offering apart from the competition. Focus on the emotional response you want your audience to have when thinking of your brand. Customer research and buyer personas will help you determine your big idea.

The “big idea” examples.

3: Body copy

The body copy should elicit curiosity and desire in the reader. It needs to build on the promise made in the headline, providing more information while maintaining their interest.

Use persuasive language and focus on the benefits or results of your product or service. If space allows, address potential objections, and highlight your product’s uniqueness.

4: Value-packed call to action (CTA)

Your CTA bridges your website and the platform where you run ads. It encourages and nudges the reader toward acting by illustrating the benefits. Be clear; use strong, descriptive language and refrain from simply stating, “click here.”

Data analytics

Once you’ve run your ads for at least 48 hours, you’ll see data and trends. Then, you can extract valuable insights for fine-tuning your campaigns.

For instance, analyze the search terms report to identify keywords driving the most conversions and highest click-through rates (CTRs). This information helps you adjust your bidding strategy and keyword targeting for better results.

Analyze the demographic data to identify trends and patterns in your target audience. This data allows you to create more targeted and personalized ad messaging, which can lead to higher click-through and conversion rates (CVRs).

Here are some other key metrics to optimize for in paid search ads and display ads:

  1. Cost per click (CPC)
  2. Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  3. Return on ad spend (ROAS)

What are the types of PPC ads?

The PPC advertising platform you choose will depend on your business type and your ideal customer. For example, a service-based business should opt for video or search ads instead of Amazon advertising for better targeting.

And with nearly 62% of global ad spend focused on the internet, you have plenty of options.

Here are the types of PPC ads and who they’re best suited for:

The types of PPC ads.

Search ads

Search ads appear at the top or bottom of search engine results pages (SERPs) when users search for specific keywords. They’re text-based and designed to blend in with organic search on search engine results page.

By bidding on relevant keywords, you can display your ads in front of users actively searching for your product or service, increasing the likelihood of conversions.

Examples:

  • Google Ads
  • Microsoft Advertising
  • Yahoo Native

Shopping ads

Shopping ads showcase product images, prices, and other details directly on SERPs. They’re commonly used by eCommerce businesses to promote their products and drive online sales.

Shopping ads can help increase visibility. Plus, users can compare products and prices, making them more likely to click and purchase.

Examples:

  • Google Shopping
  • Microsoft Advertising (Bing Shopping)
  • Facebook Dynamic Ads

Display ads 

Display ads are visual advertisements that appear on third-party websites within a full display advertising network. They can be in the form of images, animated graphics, or videos.

Display ads on social media sites are ideal for building brand awareness. They also reach potential customers who may not be actively searching for your product or service but could still be interested.

Examples:

  • Google Display Network (Google Ads)
  • Facebook Ads
  • Media.net

Video ads

Video ads are short video clips that play before, during, or after other videos on platforms like YouTube. These ads can be highly engaging and provide an opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality, demonstrate product features, or tell a story.

Video ads are an excellent choice for businesses looking to capture users’ attention and promote brand recall.

Examples:

  • YouTube Ads
  • Facebook video ads

Amazon shopping ads

Amazon shopping ads, also known as Sponsored Products, appear within Amazon search results and product detail pages. These ads promote individual product listings and help boost visibility for sellers on the platform.

Examples:

  • Amazon Sponsored Products
  • Amazon Sponsored Brands
  • Amazon Sponsored Display

Gmail ads

Gmail ads are interactive ads displayed within users’ Gmail accounts, usually at the top of their inbox or promotions tab. These ads can include images, videos, or embedded forms and expand when clicked.

Gmail ads offer a unique opportunity to reach users directly in their inboxes, increasing the chances of engagement and conversions.

Example:

  • Gmail Sponsored Promotions (via Google Ads)

Common platforms for PPC marketing and how they differ

Before we dive into the ad platforms available, here are the factors to consider:

  1. Target audience
  2. Budget
  3. Ad formats and targeting options
  4. Industry and competition
  5. Ad reception on each platform (they’re all different)

It’s recommended to start with no more than two platforms.

Several enticing platforms exist. However, it’s essential to make your campaigns profitable before expanding to more platforms.

Here are the best options for PPC marketing campaigns:

Google Ads offers a diverse range of search ads. It’s ideal for businesses targeting a broad audience or specific demographics. Reach customers by bidding on keywords relevant to your products or services and enjoy the benefits of high visibility on the world’s largest top search ad engine.

Bluehost Google ad.

Google search ads are an excellent choice for local businesses seeking brand recognition and a fast customer acquisition strategy.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads is perfect for brands aiming to create visually engaging social ads too. The platform lets you use display and video formats to target users based on interests, behavior and demographics.

Wth a massive user base and detailed targeting options, Facebook’s lead-generation platform helps you reach your ideal audience.

Bluehost Facebook ad.

However, you can only target specific interests — meaning it might take longer than other platforms to get wins. But when you find winning ad sets, you can scale with ease.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn Ads caters to B2B businesses and professionals seeking to connect with a niche audience. LinkedIn Ads allows you to focus on specific job titles, industries and company sizes to target decision-makers in your specific sector.

This platform is an excellent choice for B2B marketers and service providers.

Twitter Ads

Twitter Ads allow businesses to promote their content, join real-time conversations and engage their target audience in a more casual setting. It offers multiple ad formats, including promoted tweets and video ads.

This is an attractive choice for brands seeking a more personal connection with their customers.

SEO vs. PPC 

SEO and PPC have their pros and cons. Choosing the right approach depends on your goals and resources. In short, SEO is a long-term, higher ROI strategy, while PPC is quick results, fast-paced and shorter term. If you’d like, you can pursue both simultaneously.  

SEO versus PPC.

SEO

Pros:

  • Free organic traffic
  • Long-term results
  • Builds trust and credibility
  • Improves overall website quality

Cons:

  • Takes time to see results
  • Requires ongoing maintenance
  • Can be highly competitive for high-demand keywords
  • Algorithm updates can affect rankings

PPC

Pros:

  • Immediate results
  • Highly targeted advertising
  • Easily measurable and trackable
  • Flexible budget control

Cons:

  • Can be costly depending on competition
  • Requires ongoing optimization
  • Clicks don’t guarantee conversions
  • May have a lower ROI compared to SEO

PPC best practices made simple

Running a successful PPC ad campaign may seem daunting. But with a clear plan and some best practices, you can start driving targeted traffic and generating leads for your business.

Here are the best practices to help you easily set up and manage your PPC ad campaigns.

The best practices for your PPC strategy.

Conduct thorough market research

Identify your target audience and assess competitor strategies for better positioning. Your competitors are likely running similar campaigns, and you can take note of their keyword research.

Define your goals and choose the right platform

A clear vision allows you to understand how to set your budget. Your ad campaign’s effectiveness will skyrocket when combined with the right ad platform.

Write copy for ads and landing pages

Craft compelling, targeted messaging that resonates with your audience and drives action. Test headlines and big ideas with your market to ensure effectiveness.

Set budget and bids

Allocate resources strategically to maximize ROI and ensure optimal ad placement. As you find winning ad groups, scale them accordingly.

Monitor, test and optimize your campaigns

Regularly analyze performance data, make data-driven adjustments and fine-tune for success. Consider A/B testing headlines, big ideas and visuals to see which option converts the best.

And remember, you may not see success after a few days. Continue testing and researching your audience to raise your chances of success.

Common questions regarding PPC marketing

How does PPC work?

PPC is an online ad model: you pay each time your ad gets clicked. It’s like buying site visits rather than earning them organically.

What is PPC on social media?

PPC on social media involves paying platforms like Facebook or Instagram for ad clicks. These ads target specific user demographics.

How much will PPC cost?

Costs vary based on keywords, industry, and competition. Set a budget; platforms like Google Ads work on an auction system.

How do I choose the right keywords?

Focus on relevant keywords for your audience. Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and consider keyword match types.

How can I measure the success of my campaign?

rack metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI. These show ad effectiveness and areas for improvement.

How do I optimize my ads and campaigns?

Write compelling ad copy, test variations, optimize landing pages, and adjust bids for the best performance.

How successful is PPC?

PPC’s success varies but can offer immediate visibility and high ROI. Success hinges on targeting, budgeting, and ongoing optimization.

Is PPC a good marketing strategy?

Absolutely! PPC provides measurable results, targets specific audiences, and is great for short-term and specific campaign goals.

What is the target audience for PPC?

Anyone searching or browsing online. Define your audience based on demographics, behaviors, interests, or keyword searches.

Is PPC marketing worth it?

Yes, when done right. It’s a flexible strategy offering immediate traffic and measurable ROI. Continuous optimization is key.

Final thoughts: What is PPC marketing — beginner’s guide to pay-per-click ads

If you want to attract qualified leads directly to your website, PPC advertising is a fantastic choice. It’s fast, reliable, and suitable for nearly all businesses. You can achieve impressive results quickly by following the best practices and continually optimizing your campaigns.

Are you ready to take your online business to the next level?

Get started with Bluehost’s digital marketing services.

  • Minal Agarwal

    Minal is the Director of Brand Marketing at Bluehost. With over 15 years of business experience in the technology industry, she strives to create solutions and content that fulfill a customer's needs. She is a dog mom and a stickler for calendaring.

    Education
    Masters in Marketing Management
    Previous Experience
    Strategic Partnerships, Customer Success, Events and Community
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