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What is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising?

Whatever information we need in our daily lives is at our fingertips, thanks to the internet and mobile devices. Whether you need to find the closest post office, buy a pair of earrings or diagnose an illness, an online search can get you the answer.

If you run a business, you’re tasked with reading the minds of people who might be searching for you, then tailoring your online presence to those needs. You will have to anticipate what your potential customers will be searching for in their purchase journey and validate that with research.

Most businesses advertise online or have some kind of web presence, and many make use of Google AdWords, the most widely used service where companies “bid” on keywords, and then pay when a user clicks on their ad, making it a “pay per click” (PPC) service. Google determines the relevance of a company’s ad to the keywords being searched (the “quality score”) and then compares bids, since more than one company will be bidding on the same keywords.

KISSMetrics, in an audit of over 2,000 Adwords accounts, estimated that on average, 9% of your ads deliver almost all of the conversions. And, that “91% of keywords eats up 61% of the ad spend.”

How can you best find the keywords that will convert and meet your customers where they are? Think of your “purchase funnel” and how that impacts what your customers will be typing into search engines. Translate that into the 3 main buckets of user intent: 1) Informational (Know), 2) Transactional (Do) and 3) Navigational (Go).

  • Awareness: If the customer is just starting on their search for your product or service, they will be entering general terms to start evaluating their options. They might also be looking at related products or services. This falls mostly into the Informational bucket and usually covers the widest range of searches.
  • Interest: At this stage, the customer is drilling down for more specific information around your product or service, generally entering longer searches that better qualify their exact need, including using words related to things like “tips,” “comparison” or “help.” Add this to the Informational bucket and, as they search for your business, the Go bucket.
  • Desire: Coming closer to a decision, the customer is actively considering a purchase at this stage. They will also really start narrowing down the list of businesses to a few. Oftentimes they will use qualifiers like “best” to find the top choices for your product or service and “reviews” to evaluate your company. This falls in between the Informational, Transactional and Go buckets as the consumer wraps up their decision-making.
  • Action: The customer is ready to make a purchase. They might be reviewing research from the previous stages, but also looking at price, warranties, delivery times or hours of operation and the final key factors that will help them make their final decision. This falls into Transactional, and in the case of brick-and-mortar businesses, the Go bucket.

Now if you don’t identify customer intent, you’ll blow your AdWords budget on ads that are irrelevant to your customers’ searches. If you know exactly what your customers want, you know exactly what keywords to bid on, exactly what ads to display, and exactly what landing pages fit best for those customers.

Need an example? Suppose you bid on the words “soy candle” because you make and sell all-natural candles. Sure, you’ll get some people who are ready to buy soy candles. But you’ll also get people who are just trying to learn about the differences between soy and paraffin. Those people aren’t ready to buy, and your ad for 15% off a first purchase could be wasted on them.

You can still bid on the keywords “soy candle” but instead of coming out of the gate hot with a 15% off coupon, you can aim to answer the customer’s most common questions. Put up an ad that directs users to an informational tab of your website which explains the benefits of soy over paraffin. Now you have people on your site, giving something of value to them and earning your spot as a trusted resource. When those same people are ready to buy, they’ll already know your name. In this case, determining customer intent took you from wasting your ad dollars to making a sale.

InfoUSA is a Google Premier Partner and AdWords expert, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We can get you noticed on the leading search engines and help with everything from understanding user intent and campaign management to conversions and reporting. Most importantly, InfoUSA can get your ads and landing page in front of the right leads. You can even preview an AdWords campaign using InfoUSA’s handy online tool.

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