Pay-Per-Click advertising, also known as PPC. Businesses looking for new customers to grow sales love PPC because you only pay when someone clicks instead of the more traditional CPM approach, where you get charged based on how many thousands of people are exposed to your online message.

Let’s cut to the chase, who cares about impressions if you’re trying to generate sales by finding new customers? Impressions are passive. It’s the “maybe I’ll get back to you” of the Internet, whereas someone who clicks on your link or online display ad is showing true intent.

And while it seems simple enough as a concept, PPC is a complicated process. With a little patience, just about anybody can put together a PPC campaign—but there’s no guarantee of results. There’s a lot to know, as evidenced by the basic answers to these questions.

What are the most popular PPC programs?

Google wins hands-down with its AdWords program. Use keywords to be featured in Google search results, or to run ads on private websites.

Chasing Google’s tail at a distance is Bing Ads, which gives you access to the same type of visibility on Bing, Microsoft, and Yahoo.

Most people don’t make the connection, but Facebook is generally a PPC advertising platform. The difference is that instead of picking just keywords, you hone in on your target by selecting preferred demographics and interests.

How much does PPC cost?

Sorry, but the answer is that it depends. The cost is determined by:

1. The ad network you use

2. The keywords you choose

3. How much you want to spend to buy those keywords

Remember, though, that you only have to pay when someone clicks. That may cost you anywhere from less than a dollar all the way up to $50 or more. The price per click depends on the cost of the keywords you select. You’ll pay more for a keyword depending on how popular it is.

It’s also important to remember that you are bidding on these keywords. You could pay more, but you do get to set a maximum amount you want to spend per day. Your ad network will shut down ads until the next day.

What goes into a PPC campaign?

There are four key components. However, each of the four pieces is made up of many complex pieces:

1. You’ll create ad groups. These are collections of related ads that are closely related to your keywords. An ad group is related to a unique campaign. Successful advertisers run multiple campaigns simultaneously. Most ad groups have less than 20 related keywords.

2. You’ll select keywords. The ad groups you created must be associated with specific keywords to the ad network you use knows where to run the ads.

3. You’ll create the text for your PPC ads. This is where advertisers tend to cut corners. They reason that because their ad is highly targeted, there’s no need to be creative and impactful. While it’s crucial to relate the copy to the keywords, it also has to get someone take the action of clicking on it.

4. The most successful PPC ads don’t take people to an advertiser’s website. Instead these PPC ads take people to a landing page that was specifically created to underscore the offer made in the ad itself. These landing pages are sometimes called funnels because there’s only one direction once you get there. You either request or buy what’s offered, or you leave. Again, this calls for persuasive copywriting and effective layouts.

How does Google’s AdWords auction work?

Google allows you to decide how much you want to bid on a keyword. What’s your wiggle room? If you don’t have any experience with bidding on Google keywords, it’s best to leave this to someone else. If you bid too low, your ads will never be displayed.

Popular keywords nearly always go for exactly what Google suggests as your bid—but it’s not just the amount of your bid that determines whether you’ll get action on the keywords you’ve selected. It also depends on the quality of your ad.

Earlier we talked about the importance of effective copywriting and its relation to keywords. Google uses a scoring system to determine the relevance of your ad to the keywords you bid on. It also measures the relevance of the landing page to these keywords. This is why it’s so important to create a specific landing page rather than direct people to your website. Lastly, Google looks at the percentage of people who click your ad after viewing it.

These measurements result in your quality score. You can multiply it by your keyword bid price to determine what’s known as your “ad rank.” If your ranking is higher than other advertisers bidding in the keyword, your ad is placed at the top of the list.

But, does that mean you’ll pay what you had bid for the keyword? No. It’s actually going to be based on the next-highest ranking advertiser.

Simple, yet complicated…

Now you start to see why even large companies prefer to engage a professional if they decide to use PPC advertising. It’s extremely effective for online lead generation—but only when keyword research, bidding, copywriting, and graphics are done correctly.

Otherwise, you’ll invest a lot of money and see no return because of inappropriate keyword or bidding strategy. Or, your bid and keywords will get you a lot of clicks, but your offer will fail to resonate with people because of ineffective ads that have poor copywriting or confusing layouts. This second scenario is the most painful because you’ve let qualified leads get away.

Keyword matching can be done as a broad match, a phrase match, or an exact match. An incorrect choice here can have a big impact on reaching your goals. Then there’s process of selecting the appropriate negative keywords. And keywords actually is a misleading description. In most cases, you’re going to be working with key phrases.

It can be time-consuming, but PPC is a highly effective online lead generation tool. Like most powerful tools, it can be costly if used incorrectly. It’s why PHCE residential services of any size seek out professionals to help them. Professionals like us.