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What is PPC advertising, and why you should care

The world of PPC, or Pay Per Click, is one you've likely heard about. Many fear it, but it's really powerful when done well - here's what you need to know about it

PPC, or Pay Per Click, is a form of paid advertising for which you are charged when someone clicks on your advert – as opposed to when someone *sees* your advert (which is PPM, or Pay Per Mille (from the Latin for thousand)).  This method is often a cheaper method of advertising because – if done correctly – you won’t be paying to reach an audience that you know won’t be interested.

What does your customer look like?

Not everyone is your customer. And that’s ok…

This is my absolute favourite question when talking to people about their PPC campaign – rather than thinking about reaching “everyone”, you should instead be focussing your efforts on reaching only those that are actually likely to be[come] your customer.

Think of print media (newspapers for example), you run an advert in the paper – how much control to you have over who sees it? Not a great deal – the paper is circulated to a group of people (often geographically depending on which paper you’re looking at) – and then they’re all exposed to the same adverts, regardless of their preferences, inclination, habits, behaviour or interests.

You see…this is where PPC gets really interesting.

Once you know what your customer looks like, you can target your adverts toward that group of people. You can change the copy to match that demographic – you can show your advert with a different image depending on the group – so men see one visual and women another (think valentines day).

The scope of what we’re able to target is limited only by what information the platform in question, collects and stores about its user base.

Where can you buy PPC adverts from?

There are several providers, from Google AdWords to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – so the options are available for you to choose from; it’s a matter of knowing where your audience is.

Let’s take a look at Facebook for example –

Most people in the UK have a Facebook account

There are around 65 million people in the UK – 39 million have Facebook accounts.  11.1 million of those 65m folks in the UK are under the age of 14, and 7.4 million are aged 70 or above – so let’s remove the 18.5 million people that we’ll consider outside of our core demographic. We’re left with 46.5 million.

So we know that most people in the UK have a Facebook account.

Now let’s suppose that the business we’re looking is a clothing store that sells clothes aimed at preschool children. The children are obviously not our customers (they’re notoriously terrible with money), but instead, we want to reach their parents.

So, if we look at how many live in (or within 25 miles of) Manchester, and have children who are aged between 3 and 5 – we can narrow our audience down to 48,000. Now let’s add into that, that statistically, it’s likely that mothers to do the clothes shopping – we can take that audience down to 28,000.

If we allocated a budget of £350 to a campaign running for one month – we’d look to reach between 760 and 2,000 people daily. How much are you paying for your current adverts? Remember that with PPC, if people ignore your advert, you won’t get charged in the same way as you would using ‘traditional methods of advertising.

Doesn’t reaching more people make more sense?

Not really – this kind of net-casting approach may sometimes yield results, but generally speaking, the problem with reaching more people, is that you’re likely to reach a bunch of people who simply aren’t interested in your advert, product or even service. When you’re thinking about building your personas, try thinking about rolling out and cutting cookies.

Targeting is about finding whole personas - like whole cookies

What we’re trying to cut out is the whole shapes – the perfect cookies (or personas).  Sure, we’re going to be left with some dough leftover – and we can re-roll that and cut again if we need to – but we’re only interested in the main shapes (or core demographics).

If you have a sports bar to promote, your core demographic might be males aged between 18 to 35 who live within 15 miles of the bar.  Do people older than 35 go to your bar? Sure they do – but where is the main group? Do females frequent your bar? Probably – but who is the main group?

If your demographic is split – then it could be helpful to change the copy to each demographic, as mentioned before – valentines day could be marketed differently to male and female audiences. Our clothing example was mainly targeted toward parents – but what about the grandparents? They could easily be a purchaser, but our message may be different to them – targeted campaigns allow us to do this.

How does PPC save you money?

Spend less and reach more using PPC persona marketing

PPC grants you the ability to target small, but multiple groups, it’s in this that there are significant savings to be had. Because we don’t need to look at huge communities (and pay for that privilege), the local (or even hyperlocal) groups we can target represent a much smaller financial commitment.

However, it’s not just about reaching fewer people, it’s about who those people are. Throughout this article, we’ve discussed several techniques – but implementing them means we’re creating adverts tailored specifically to our customers, customers who are therefore more likely to convert.

So we’ll spend less reaching a group of customers, and more of them are likely to convert.  This is exactly what we’re after when we’re trying to reach our audience.

Have you run any PPC campaigns – let us know in the comments below about how they worked for you.

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