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Effective PPC & PPI

Last edit: Friday 6th October 2017 ?
This date is important. Online marketing and SEO are fast changing fields so always check what you are reading is recent (less than a year old) before taking action or you could damage your rankings!

When it comes to paying to advertise online – either beside the organic search results in search engines or on other people's websites – there are two ways to do it:

  • PPC (Pay per click) – you pay only when an internet user clicks on your ad.
  • PPI (Pay per impression) – you pay each time your advertisement in shown.

These can further be subdivided into:

  • Marketing - general advertising on the web.
  • Remarketing - showing specific ads to people who have already visited specific pages on your website.

The complexity of PPC and PPI has grown exponentially over the last few years, not just in how they are used but in the number of options available. So your first question is to consider which platform would suit you best.

Choosing the right PPC or PPI platform

When most people think PPC or PPI they think Google Adwords (and perhaps Bing Ads) and although these were some of the first on the scene the number of alternatives has flourished in the last decade.

PPC options now exist on Social Media locations like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. They can be found on websites like Etsy and Ebay. They can focus on niches as Outbrain and Taboola do.

All these choices have different levels of capabilities. Adwords is probably the most complex in terms of targeting. You can decide when your ads will show, to whom, where, on what devices, etc. etc. You can even choose to advertise particular content to people who have already visited your website. Etsy on the other hand simply shows your ad randomly until your budget is exhausted but then again as it is a niche website your product should theoretically appeal to the kind of shoppers that are there.

So before you pull out your credit card its worth spending quality time deciding where you should place your PPC/PPI budget. There is no easy answer to this as every industry or sector has different opportunities and pitfalls. Asking your piers (as, for example, I often see book authors do) usually brings mixed messages of successes and failures but it is probably the best place to start if you can't afford to hire a professional.

Common sense should also be your friend here. Look at who is advertising for keywords you are thinking of targeting and consider why it might work for them but not for you.

I'll return to my book author example here. Lets take a phrase like "Good crime novel". It may pay for Amazon to advertise when that phrase is searched because they have thousands of crime novels and someone who clicks through from an ad is highly likely to find one that they are prepared to part money for. A lone author with one or two titles that also targets the same phrase is likely to lose money as it will take hundreds of visitors in order to find one who is prepared to buy.

... just think about your advertising in a level headed way and you will start saving money straight away!

Making PPC/PPI profitable

PPC/PPI works. You will hear plenty of people claim that it doesn't and that programes like Google Adwords of Facebook Ads are justs cons capable of draining a bank account. But it is not PPC/PPI that fails, just as in it is not 'marketing' which doesn't work, it is a component of PPC/PPI that fails.

These could be any mix of:

  • targeting the wrong keywords
  • targeting the wrong websites
  • targeting the wrong people
  • using the wrong platform
  • showing ads at the wrong time
  • the wrong text/graphic
  • a poorly designed landing page
  • poor product or content

Understanding what caused a campaign to fail is the key to refining it into a success. If the ads are driving traffic to your website then Google Analytics has all the data you need to to find out what went wrong but you need to understand statistical analysis and statistical validity in order to draw sensible conclusions from what you see.

Here's how.

Finding diamonds in the coal

Lets say you run a Google Adwords campaign and you lose a lot of money. Digging through the data in analytics you did make money from visitors located in the state of California who accessed your site between 9am and 5pm using a tablet. Is this a sign?

Well it is as long as you had at least 30 (ideally 50) visitors from the state of California who accessed your site between 9am and 5pm using a tablet. Any less than that and you don't have enough visitors on which to base a firm conclusion (or as statisticians call it "a conclusion with a high level of confidence").

Now if you think about it to find these diamonds in the coal you are going to have to spend a great deal of money on PPC in order to generate the data you need. That, I'm afraid, is a fact of life and how the big firms do it. That is how PPC/PPI can be profitable.

But don't get too downhearted just yet. My example was very specific and the answer can be far simpler to find. In the case of one of my clients I found that they simply needed to stop advertising outside of 9-5 business hours. As soon as they made this change their PPC campaigns turned to profit.

They were later able to invest these savings in carrying out further analysis to make their ads even more profitable ... and so on.

Where your target page is not on your website (say a product page on Etsy) your arms are far more tied as the level of data available to analyse is much more limited. That doesn't mean you have nothing to go on and looking for patterns in what you can see is the way to refine these campaigns.

Perhaps, for example, the sales of a different product rose during your campaign and this could be because people who clicked on your ad then looked around your store and found something they liked better. Advertising this product might be more effective.

Quick links to sections within Effective PPC & PPI



I'm Tim Hill (aka Doodled), a Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help our clients at link2light understand the approach we take to clean online marketing ... but you're welcome to rummage around too!


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