Pay Per Click Advertising Explained: The 3 Pillars Of PPC

Alex H

Pay per click advertising has been a cornerstone of online marketing for nearly two decades now, and yet, for the average business owner or company, it’s still shrouded with as much mystery as folklore and urban legends.

Why is pay per click marketing so difficult to understand? The truth is that it isn’t. Understanding what makes PPC tick is rather simple, actually. Where most marketers run into hurdles is in the execution.

In order to design and manage a truly winning PPC campaign, not only do you have to be fluent in the language of pay per click, but you simultaneously need to possess creative prowess, AND have quite a bit of time to dedicate each week to analyzing and optimizing data.

Ask yourself, how many people do I know that are equal parts technicians, artistes, as well as digital marathoners? The answer is probably zip, zilch, and zero. And thus, herein lie the underlying reasons why most PPC campaigns never reach their full potential.

Thankfully, there are solutions available. They’re few and far in between and often times difficult to locate, but I promise you, there are people and companies out there that possess the skill, the craft, and the manpower it takes to actually make a pay per click account shine like it just left the showroom floor.

In this article, we’re going to cover the aforementioned 3 Pillars of PPC in a bit more detail.

One thing I’m constantly sharing with our clients is that an AdWords account has hundreds of moving parts, either of which can make or break you, and it’s true, but these elements can typically be grouped into one of three categories. The Science, the Art, & the Effort, of PPC.

(Although these 3 points are numbers, they’re not necessarily numbered in order of importance. They’re the 3 Pillars of PPC for a reason. They’re all equally important, and if either one of them is missing or lackluster, the temple that is your search engine presence will surely crumble!)

3. The Science

Pay per click marketing is its own computer language, and to get the most out of your campaigns, you have to be fluent. A lot of search engine marketers underestimate the technical demands of AdWords. In an effort to combat this obstacle, Google created AdWords Express to help simplify the process and allow novice PPC marketers to enter the space more easily and more comfortably.

But if you’re looking to enter The Daytona 500 with your Aunt Debra’s ’92 Taurus, you might as well quit while you’re ahead. There are bound to be a handful of savvy competitors, leveraging either a skilled practitioner or a Premier Google Partner agency in an effort to conquer this landscape, and you never even had a chance.

You’d be astonished to hear about the percentage of AdWords accounts that we audit at Softline in which the vast majority of clicks are wasted, the conversions never happen (or aren’t even being tracked), and the ads being rendered have nothing to do with the end user’s query. Why? The answer is a lack of fluency in the language of PPC.

Find someone that speaks it well, or get used to the fact that your crops will be small and humble. (More so depressing than humble, actually.)

A search engine’s PPC dashboard is complex, filled with dozens upon dozens of features, tabs, and settings.

Just remember that each and every single one of those campaign metrics that aren’t being leveraged properly or at all, is another missed opportunity, and more opportunity for wasted ad spend.

The solution? Invest the many hours it will take to learn what these PPC components mean, and how they impact a campaign. Or outsource your PPC marketing to a digital advertising firm. And not just any agency, only a Google Partner that specializes in pay per click management. (Preferably, a Premier Google Partner…)

Your run-of-the-mill web company, hosting company, design agency, etc., most likely will not possess all three pillars, and you’ll find yourself a few months later, staring not only at your results reports, but also your invoices, wondering where you went wrong.

The beautiful thing about this PPC language is that it really can work in your favor, harnessing web traffic that’s very much interested in what you have to offer, IF, you know how to speak, read, and write it well!

2. The Art

Perhaps the most underestimated PPC Pillar of them all. All the AdWords literacy in the world will get you nowhere, if your ad copy is poor, generic, or broken.

Why? The best your ads will ever do in that scenario, is be just like everybody else’s. In a situation like this, the deepest pockets will probably win, and if you’re already the biggest player in your space, hats off to you, but for those of us that aren’t, this article is for you.

(If you’ve come this far, you’re truly interested in learning more about pay per click do’s and don’ts. Keep reading, because by the time you’re done ingesting this post, you’ll be a far wiser pay per click marketer than you were before you started.)

If shows like American Idol are of any lesson to us, they teach us that we’re not all the “artists” we think we are.

You can get a huge leg up on your PPC competitors, even those that are spending considerably more than you are, if your ad copy outshines theirs.

I really can’t make it any easier to understand than that. Assuming you’ve crossed your technical t’s and dotted your scientific i’s, the next pillar to overhaul is the text that actually makes up all the verbiage in your ads. The headlines, the ad copy bodies, the extensions, all of it.

Conduct a Google search, any search. You will seldom find an ad on the SERP (search engine results page) that has even an ounce of thought, creativity, humor, or any other psychological value put into it. Why? Because we’re not all the artists that we think we are.

Some agencies excel at their computer literacy, while others might be design or branding firms that can help companies come up with a cool logo or witty catchphrases, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a PPC practitioner that can shine at both. When you do, latch onto them for dear life, ‘cause they truly are a needle in a haystack.

By leveraging pay per click ad copy that stands out from the crowd, you can make your position 4 or position 5 advertisement yield better results than your competitor’s position 2 ad, at a fraction of the cost.

Ever wonder why some Fortune 500 companies have brilliantly distinct branding, while others couldn’t sell a coat to a naked Alaskan? Because writing truly special ad copy is a skill very few people or companies possess.

If you want your search engine marketing to shine like a record-setting gem, make sure you’re hiring the right person for the job. Because great ad copy can exponentially bolster PPC ad performance!

1. The Effort

“But Alex, now you’re just being silly. Campaigns will obviously go nowhere if they’re not actively being worked on.” And you’re right, that pretty much is a no-brainer. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say. The vast majority of the PPC accounts we evaluate are grossly underserved. We’re not talking about a lack of technical knowledge, or the inability to draft sparkly prose. We’re simply talking about the amount of time and effort it takes to get an AdWords account dialed in and producing desirable results.

Sure, that can vary with the size of the account. A National Franchise or Regional Chain has their work cut out for them, when compared to the local mom ‘n’ pop shop.

In order to truly maximize ad performance, while simultaneously minimizing wasteful ad spend, a PPC campaign needs either some daily optimization, or a lengthy, thorough review every week.

Why? The list goes on and on, but if you’re not doubling down on what’s working, and getting rid of what isn’t, your campaigns are going nowhere like a hamster in a hamster wheel.

If you want more clicks for your budget, a lower cost-per-click, more conversions, a lower cost-per-acquisition, better quality scores, a higher click-through-rate, or just about any other desirable metric out of your pay per click efforts, you have to watch your AdWords nest like a hawk.

I don’t mean to make pay per click advertising sound like an impossible endeavor that requires a lifetime of training, like it’s a global sporting event that’s only held once every four years.

What we’re talking about here is expert-grade or enthusiast grade pay per click marketing. If you wish to become a “PPC Unicorn” (That is, an advertiser achieving key performance indicators within the top 1 percentile of PPC marketers) you can bet everything we’ve talked about in this article is of the utmost importance.

(And we’re just talking about the pillars here. Not the accessories, or the ornaments, or the ancillary. Just the basics of what constitutes PPC done right!)

Mediocre anything is relatively easy to come by, but for businesses looking to ensure their marketing dollars are spent as wisely as possible, and that as much market share is snatched up as possible, it’s crucial to get it right the first time.

Part of our process here at Softline Solutions includes a complimentary PPC audit for current pay per click advertisers, or a free consultation for those new to the world of pay per click. (Nothing excites us more than the opportunity to help a business reach new heights leveraging our AdWords expertise.)

Whether you’re a seasoned search engine marketer that’s been wondering how to take your SEM ad performance to the next level, or a first-timer looking for help hitting the ground running without too much trial and error, I hope this post has served as a solid starting point for your elite PPC journey.

Pay per click has a few unique attributes that really set it apart from other advertising mediums. No fixed costs/complete budgetary flexibility is certainly one of them, but even more importantly, not many forms of advertising provide a business with the opportunity to present a patron with the perfect ad, at the perfect time, right as they’re most interested in researching or acquiring a product or service.

It is for this reason that companies like Google have thrived via their advertising revenues. And there’s no reason why your business shouldn’t be thriving either.

The difference is in the details. As long as either you or the firm you decide to use are incorporating these 3 Pillars along with everything that comes with them in your pay per click marketing campaigns, you stand a much higher chance of using this powerful marketing channel in an advantageous manner.

Don’t bang your head against the wall trying to figure pay per click out. We’ve already been in the trenches, we have the battle scars, and we’ve got it down to an exact science. (Don’t forget the art part!)

If you have questions, comments, concerns, or just want to chat it up with some pay per click marketing gurus, contact Softline Solutions today, and we’ll be more than happy to help. Happy Optimizing!