Most of the business owners and marketers we work with have a general sense of how their PPC efforts are doing, but few truly have an accurate understanding of how they’re performing. Whether you’re new to running PPC or have been investing in PPC for a while, understanding which key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor can be tricky. While KPIs can certainly vary by industry and even by company, some KPIs will always be important.
Utilizing online advertising for services instead of products poses its own unique set of challenges.
Unlike products, which typically have SKUs and easily distinguishable characteristics, services can be more ambiguous. The nuances between service offerings and providers often requires more explanation that a short text ad will allow. Furthermore, restrictions, in the form of geographic service areas and technical project requirements, complicate matters even further. For these reasons, many local service providers opt to forgo online advertising and rely primarily on word of mouth referrals and offline advertising to increase brand recognition.
However, national service providers understand the value in paid search (PPC) advertising and often invest heavily in building and maintaining online advertising campaigns tailored for different markets.
The result is that national providers typically dominate markets where local providers should be thriving.
For instance, one of our local clients provides specialized equipment rentals across the state of Michigan. Their prices are reasonable, their service is impeccable, and they know the local community far better than their national competitors. However, the big national companies they’re competing with were running sizeable online advertising campaigns and taking business away from them (despite charging a premium for doing nothing more than contracting with the local company for their equipment). We were able to catapult this local provider to the front of the industry using strategic local advertising at a cost far lower than they had anticipated.
How do you find the same success for your service-based business? A three-pronged approach to online advertising will give your business an advantage!
I talk with a lot of small business owners, and the conversation is typically along the same lines. They want to advertise their offerings locally in their community but realize that their growth potential is limited if they don’t have a national ecommerce focus as well. This is especially true for businesses in more remote areas, where their local market may not sustain enough demand to keep them in business. Designing an ecommerce site to sell their products across the US is the only viable way to generate the revenue that they need to thrive.
The catch is that while local advertising may not be as lucrative, it’s often perceived as easier and less expensive than national advertising. Subsequently, most small business “start small” with local campaigns and then expand to a wider market once they have PPC figured out… or at least that’s the plan.
In my experience, one of the following things typically happens instead:
Before you start paid search locally or nationally, plan for how you’ll win at both!
The biggest misconception about online advertising is that there’s no way to track ROI on websites that don’t have ecommerce functionality. Business owners that maintain informational sites assume that they’ll have no way of tracking which business was generated from their online ads. This is problematic for local businesses or companies that require customers to speak with someone before placing an order or scheduling an appointment.
However, there is hope! You don’t have to sell anything on your website to effectively assess the return on your ad spend. There are plenty of other conversions for you to track to determine how much of your revenue to attribute to your PPC ads.
Thanksgiving is almost here, which means it’s crunch time!
If you don’t have a strategic plan for your holiday marketing yet, now is the time to get started. It’s important to focus on the types of online marketing that can be launched quickly and will provide an immediate return. Search engine optimization (SEO) will take too long to build momentum, which means that you’ll probably have to de-prioritize it until after the holidays. However, there are plenty of marketing channels to utilize that will help your business catch up to the competition faster than Santa’s sleigh.
Micro-moments are the hottest conversation in today’s mobile-dominated shopping environment. These intent-driven searches are responsible for determining purchase decisions and shaping consumer preferences, which makes them the holy grail of marketing.
The nation’s largest brands have marketing teams analyzing micro-moments and crafting strategies to convert them into sales across all consumer segments. But the micro-moment conversation isn’t just reserved for board rooms – it’s also accessible to small local businesses.
In fact, with their centralized competition, local businesses are even better suited to take advantage of key moments when shoppers do research and make decisions on-the-go!
Who are your competitors?
Chances are, you probably have a list of other companies that have similar offerings and operate in the same geographical space as your business. If you hired a digital marketing agency and they asked for your biggest competitors, you’d rattle off a few names from the top of your list and ask for help outdoing them online.
However, when it comes to paid search advertising (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO), your usual competitors aren’t your only competitors. And in some cases, they aren’t even your biggest competitors!
While consumers determine who your direct competitors are by comparing products and services across similar companies, search engines determine who your competitors are organically by comparing content across pages. As a result, your online competition can vary widely based on your industry.
These are the top competitors you should be aware of, as well as tips for outranking them online:
One of the trickiest parts of doing paid search advertising is deciding which products to advertise.
Business owners usually want to run ads for all their products instead of being restricted to a few key products or product lines. However, putting together and managing campaigns and ad groups for all your offerings simply doesn’t work (unless you have a very limited lineup of offerings). An approach this broad is time-consuming and ineffective, which is why it typically leads to burnout and wasted ad budget.
Any online advertising expert will tell you that focusing on a subset of products or services is always a better strategy!
So, how do you decide what to advertise online?
Thank you for following our ongoing PPC for Beginners blog series. If you’ve missed any of the previous articles, you can find them here:
We’re wrapping up this series by answering another frequently asked question – “Can PPC replace SEO?” (Spoiler alert: It can’t.)
There is a lot of confusion around this topic because both types of online marketing use keywords as building blocks and they share similar goals, which leads new advertisers to falsely believe that PPC and SEO are interchangeable. This misconception leaves advertisers without the relevant information to make informed marketing decisions. We don’t want you to fall into the same trap!
Hopefully after you’re done reading this article, you’ll understand the essential differences between PPC and SEO, be more knowledgeable about how they work together, and feel equipped to make decisions about prioritizing your marketing efforts.
Once you have the fundamentals in place to get started with PPC and you know how much you should spend, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll gauge success. Knowing upfront what you want to measure and how you’ll measure it is crucial to being able to track and analyze what matters most.
Without proper planning, you’ll end up wasting time and money.
Let’s review what you can track, what you should track, and what kind of results you should expect!
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