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This is the third article in our startup founders series, where we look at the critical questions founders need to ask their teams to ensure effective business growth. The first post of the series examined the key task that startup founders focus their time and energy on: decision making… and how asking pertinent questions to team leads, managers, and stakeholders leads to better decision making.
In the last post in the series, we looked at the function of SEO in startup business growth and how to optimise and get the best out of your SEO strategy from all angles -growth, marketing, content, and project management.
SEO is organic and can reap rich rewards – but you need to be consistent and patient. In this blog we’ll examine paid ads or the PPC (pay per click) model. All founders and marketers have a general idea of what paid ads are – you pay, and Google displays your ad, as opposed to SEO which is free and organic. But how does it work?
PPC stands for pay-per-click: it is a type of advertising that allows you to pay a fee to have your website show up at the top of the search engine result page (SERP) when someone types in specific keywords and terms that match.
The SERP will display the ads you have created first on the page – with a tiny “ad” text on the side – and send visitors to your site. Organic results and links will appear below your ad links. If people click on your ad – you pay a fee. That’s why it’s called “pay-per-click.”
PPC can be time-consuming and certainly more expensive than SEO, but when executed well, you stand to gain a number of high-quality leads that can convert. PPC can occur on search engines like Google and Bing, and even other platforms where search happens, like Facebook (Facebook Ads).
As the founder, you may not be setting up each ad and account. But much like SEO, you do need to know the important functions of PPC and metrics to track, so you get a better understanding of how well your campaigns are doing and manage budgets.
Apart from your PPC team, other departments like marketing, content and creative have different functions to perform to bring an Ads campaign and strategy together. From setting goals for the campaign and managing budgets, to keeping in step with industry developments, to crafting Ads that will resonate with the viewer, PPC has many moving parts – and when they work in sync, you can see an exponential growth in business.
These are the critical metrics you need to track – and the important questions you need to ask your team – to make your PPC efforts successful and profitable.
Strategise account planning and growth, conversion attribution modelling, budget management, keep pace with search engine and PPC industry trends and developments, keep tabs on the competition, scaling strategies, fulfilling expectations, data analysis.
Your marketing manager is responsible for getting the ball rolling. They need to understand what’s out there, what your audience is looking for, and come up with a strategy to get their attention – and then turn it into a profitable PPC campaign. These are some key metrics to ask your marketing manager.
How is the sales lift?
The goal of a PPC campaign is less about discovery – and more about sales/conversions/leads. Whether it is more literal sales via an e-commerce platform, more sign-ups to a free trial/freemium model, more subscriptions – the end goal is to have people click with the intent of buying. Based on what kind of industry you are in, you need to keep tabs on how much your sales have grown and how many more qualified leads are coming in since you started PPC activities. Your marketing head should be able to tell you the funnel conversion rates so that you and the rest of the team know which channels, campaigns, and targeting options are driving the most valuable leads and sales.
How is the funnel engagement and audience performance?
Like we said, PPC is more about sales, but it is also a good tool for discovery and engagement. If the goal of the campaign is to generate awareness about your business and see how the audience is engaging, your marketing head must keep you informed about engagement metrics.
What is the total conversion value?
You are spending money on getting and converting leads – but with everything involved, how much is it costing you, on an average, to get that one conversion – and how it stacks up versus the purchase itself. Some shoppers who are looking for a certain type of product may spend more. A coffee snob may want to get their hands on a French press – and buy just that. On the other hand, another customer who wants pure Arabica bean micro ground instant coffee may be willing to spend a little bit more on a mug, milk frother or insulated flask. So maybe, your ads for instant coffee may bring in more revenue than ads for a French press. Your marketing head should be able to tell you the data on total conversion value so you can segment and optimise ads better.
Have you attained the budget?
Budget attainment is the monthly budget that was spent on ads. Sometimes, you may not be able to work with the predefined budget and you need to pump more money in. Your marketing head should be able to tell you this so you can tell if your ads were under budget, or require more spends. (Forecast ad expenditure with our PPC calculator).
What is the ROAS?
Much like any other aspect of business – what are the returns? ROAS or return on ads spends tells you how much bang you’re getting for your buck. ROAS is the overall return you get for running PPC ads. Your marketing head should give you this number by dividing the profits from an ad campaign by the total cost of that ad campaign. (Check out your ROAS for free with our calculator.)
Setup Google Ads, daily account changes tracking (CPC, CTR, CvR, Clicks, impressions, etc), important metric tracking, enhance the right traffic to the site to meet the objective, tracking regularly if the campaigns are moving in the right direction.
Your PPC executive is at the heart of the operation: setting up and running the Ads as per plan. As the person who does the nitty-gritty of running ads, they have up-close data on how the ads are performing and should give you the details.
How are the clicks?
Clicks are literally the number of times someone clicks on your paid ads. The more you spend, the more clicks you will get – that is a given. But what your PPC executive needs to look at here is any trends or variations in clicks to the ads.
What is the CPC?
CPC or cost per click is the amount that an advertiser pays for each click on your ad. This number acts as a bid in an auction in Google and defines where your ad will be placed – so, the higher the bid, the higher up your ad will appear for that search term. CPCs also depend on how easy or difficult your keywords are – so longer-tail keywords can be used in competitive situations to get more traffic and eyeballs. Your PPC head should know the cost per click so you can plan and budget better. (Check your average CPC with our free calculator).
What is the CTR?
CTR stands for click through rate. This is the number of views that translate into clicks when people see your ad. If your ad is clicked often after being seen, it’s a good sign – because this metric determines how much CPC you end up paying. Your PPC executive should know this number at a glance.
What is the quality score?
This is a score that Google gives based on the quality and relevance of your ads and landing pages, based on the click through rate. Quality score also determines your ad’s position, so your PPC executive must keep an eye out.
What is the impression share?
This measures the potential impressions/views that your ads are getting. How often do your ads show up for a particular keyword that you are targeting? It measures the percentage of all potential impressions your ads are getting. If 1000 searches were done for instant coffee in a day, and your ad shows up 800 times, that’s an 80% impression share. Your PPC executive should know this metric so you can measure the efficacy of your campaigns. (See how adept you are at running experiments for Google AdWords with this quiz.)
Understand the niche and industry and write the ad copies to achieve campaign objectives, competitor study for Ads optimisation, analysis of the history of ad language and tone.
Your Creative and Content team is responsible for making this Ads click-worthy. You can target and pump in lots of money, but if the ad copy and imagery don’t speak to the problem you are trying to solve or to your customer, it’s wasted effort.
Are your ads optimised?
People are searching for a specific term – and your content and creative teams need to make sure those keywords are incorporated into the ad in the most effective way.
Do you know keyword performance?
Ads are structured around keywords, so you need to know which ones are performing well so you can optimise and make changes. Your content team should be in touch with your PPC team to understand which keywords have the best CPC, which have the lowest CPC and which have the highest CPC, so you can optimise for conversions. (Download the PPC negative keywords checklist here.)
Have you compared the ads versus the landing page?
Sometimes, after review, you may notice your ads are not covering. This may be because there is a mismatch between the ad and the landing page that the user is directed to. If you’re selling instant coffee and your landing page has chamomile tea – users will navigate away. Your content team should ensure that headlines and ad copy match the page the ad is linking to. linking to.
Have you experimented with creative copy to engage your audience?
Paid ads are still ads, and they need to be enticing for people to click on them. Just because it appears before an organic search doesn’t guarantee a click or conversion. Your content and creative teams should experiment with ad copy and write copy that resonates and piques interest.
Do you have data on split testing to improve the ads?
PPC is about testing. Some ads may work better than others. Your content and creative teams need to actively work with the PPC team to understand what kind of copy is bringing in more leads and conversions and do more of what works.
A good PPC campaign requires a good understanding of the target market and audience, strategic planning and goal-setting, judicious budget allocation, through set up and monitoring of the ads, and creativity to capture the attention of people online.
When you are a startup and need to deliver results quicker than SEO, PPC is the best tool to use. It may seem like an expensive proposition compared to SEO, but when you execute well, track metrics and optimise for more clicks and conversions, you can boost your sales manifold.
The key is to launch the campaign, test, track, measure and optimise – and asking these questions to your team will help you get the most out of the campaigns.
In the next blog in the series, we will dive into email marketing.
Amol has helped catalyse business growth with his strategic & data-driven methodologies. With a decade of experience in the field of marketing, he has donned multiple hats, from channel optimization, data analytics and creative brand positioning to growth engineering and sales.
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