If you ask us whether or not PPC is worth it, we’d say yes. But that’s only if you’re doing it right. Read on to learn about our first-hand experiences creating campaigns that work.
Here, you’ll learn:
- Average pay-per-click (PPC) costs
- Why it’s worth it in most cases
- Common mistakes that threaten your PPC return on investment (ROI)
- How to sidestep these pitfalls and optimize PPC with ConversionIQ
PPC campaigns might feel like a deal-breaker for an already-stretched marketing budget.
And if you’re a small business? It’s hard to imagine the ROI at the end of the tunnel of seemingly massive monthly spend.
With that in mind, it’s worth asking, is PPC worth it?
Spoiler alert: Our decades of expertise in search engine marketing say a resounding yes.
But some common mistakes can hamper your success and result in inadvertently throwing money away that may be best spent in other marketing areas.
How can you avoid this? To answer that and more, we chatted with HawkSEM’s CEO Sam Yadegar. He’s got first-hand experience leading and optimizing PPC campaigns for recognizable brands including Nike, Honda, DIRECTV and more.
We’ll share Yadegar’s insights into why (and when) PPC is worth it, how to correct common mistakes, and ways to optimize your strategy.
Is PPC worth it?
The short answer? Yes. But we understand initial hesitance.
After all, PPC platforms charge you every time someone clicks your ad — specifically every time potential customers click your ads on a platform like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Microsoft Ads, or others.
You can bid on keywords that speak to your products and target audience’s search queries. Factors like relevance, quality, and website performance all influence where your ad will appear on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
While each PPC platform is different, most allow you to set daily budget maximums to keep your ad spend in check.
Successful PPC campaigns help you drive sales, build brand awareness, and close the deal on easy conversions. However, they’re notoriously more expensive than other marketing efforts.
Even once you’ve set up your campaign structure, perfected your landing page, and published your first ad campaign, you’re still paying for the privilege.
And ads aren’t just expensive — some people find them intrusive. But that generalization doesn’t take into account the subtle power of high-quality PPC ads.
For example, Wordstream points out that Google PPC ads are indistinguishable from organic search results to about half of your audience. Plus, a wide range of ad types (shopping, display, video, and text-only) helps you tailor your ads to fit your audience’s communication needs.
As for results: Take your pick. HawkSEM helped our client ThriftBooks find an audience segment with a 50% higher average order volume (AOV) via our PPC management services. And how about conversions? California State University – Northridge doubled theirs after we tackled their PPC strategy.
But how much are these successful brands spending on PPC?
Average PPC costs
When yourself, is PPC worth it, the most important factor to consider is cost. Statista predicts that brands will collectively spend $279 billion on search advertising in 2023, which alone tells you that businesses believe in the power of PPC.
And that number has consistently increased over the years.
But let’s focus on your individual brand’s PPC budget. Yadegar recommends a minimum monthly spend of $3,000 or more on PPC costs. But if your first reaction is “yikes,” remember that brands generate an average of $2 for every $1 spent on Google Ads. This means you’ll likely trade an initial $3,000 per month to earn $6,000.
And if you partner up with an experienced search engine marketing agency like HawkSEM? That $6,000 will look more like $13,500, since our clients enjoy an average 4.5X ROI on our services.
Of course, it won’t happen overnight. Expect to wait at least three months before generating these kinds of returns—and that’s only for professionally crafted and monitored PPC campaigns.
6 mistakes that hinder ROI in your PPC campaigns
We’ve seen first-hand just how powerful PPC campaigns are for conversions, traffic, and brand recognition.
But a few common pitfalls could be the difference between sky-high ROI and a PPC nosedive. Let’s explore some common mistakes that impact PPC success and help you learn how to avoid them.
1. Assuming higher budgets mean scaled results
One critical barrier to PPC success is wasted ad spend. It’s easy to blow through your budget, and we’ve seen brands mistakenly assume that throwing more money at a campaign is all you need to scale.
Unfortunately, that’ll just tank your ROI. Instead, ask yourself a few more questions before increasing your budget:
- Is there any wasted ad spend? A PPC audit helps you identify waste, including inefficient keyword bids, ad types, and campaign structure.
- What is my goal? And do you have a way to measure success? We usually don’t increase budgets until we see improved metrics like reduced cost per action (CPA) or increased clickthrough rate (CTR).
- Am I reaching my target audience? Define your audience with client personas informed by data and target them before increasing your daily budget. Otherwise, you might spend too much money reaching the wrong audience.
Once you’ve optimized your strategy and reached a few campaign goals, then it’s time to consider scaling with a budget increase.
2. Picking overly broad (or straight-up wrong) keywords
Let’s say your competitors are big retailers like Amazon and The Home Depot. Unfortunately, PPC campaigns might not work well for you as a smaller business. But if your industry is more saturated, you can stand out from other competitors with the right keyword rankings.
Yadegar’s advice? Target high-competition keywords, both short-tail and long tail.
“If there’s high competition, there’s high value behind that traffic,” he explains. “A well-crafted campaign can actually outperform above and beyond standard return on ad spend.”
For example, just because Hardee’s captures hamburger-related keywords for a certain geographical area, that doesn’t mean your local burger joint can’t leverage them as well.
Don’t forget about negative keywords, too. You can’t afford to rank for an irrelevant, broad-match query. Think: surfacing for searches for an “event planner” when what you sell is event management software.
Keep in mind that there’s also an opportunity to leverage high-intent keywords that the competition missed, like we saw with our client Peninsula Insurance. We helped them more than double their return on ad spend without increasing their budget. Not too shabby.
3. Missing out on an omnichannel marketing strategy
Facebook Ads and Google Ads are just two of the PPC platforms available. But there’s a sweet spot in leveraging them properly, and some brands invest too much or too little.
Yadegar sometimes sees brands hyper-focus on one PPC platform while ignoring others, which creates missed opportunities for more significant results:
“You want to have an omnichannel setup where you’re leading customers down the funnel. An example would be PPC brand awareness with Facebook/Meta leading to bottom panel conversions with Google Ads.”
Social media PPC platforms help build product and service awareness, which supports brand discovery. In fact, HubSpot found that paid social ads were a top channel for marketers in 2022.
But remarketing on social media platforms can be just as effective, which is what we did with our ecommerce apparel client, 686. First, we re-optimized their product feed on Google Shopping ads to reach more high-quality leads. Then, we remarketed to the leads who interacted with our ads via dynamic ad campaigns on Facebook Ads and Google’s Display Network.
The result? A whopping 303% increase in return on ad spend (ROAS).
But you can’t go overboard, either. Yadegar cautions against spreading your budget too thin across multiple platforms: “PPC works best when focusing toward bottom final outcomes, and being scattered across multiple platforms leads to waste and lack of data integrity.”
Another source of budget waste? The wrong targets.
4. Targeting customers with low lifetime value
If your PPC campaigns convert one-purchase customers, that’s less cost-effective than converting repeat customers, right?
The same goes for people who spend more versus those who spend less or customers who promote you more versus those who don’t. These are all a measurement of customer lifetime value (CLV or LTV), which indicates how valuable a customer is to your brand.
Yadegar says he’s seen many brands use PPC campaigns to target customers with low LTV. No one does this deliberately, but it happens when you don’t research your target audience enough or invest in remarketing campaigns.
So, how can you avoid that?
Get to know your existing customers’ purchase behaviors. Find out who spends the most per purchase, purchases most frequently, and who promotes your brand on social media and in their friend circles. These are your customers with the highest lifetime value.
Then your goal is to find more of them. Identify their demographics, location, hobbies, interests, and online behavior—and use that data to tweak your ad targeting.
Trust us, you can never do too much audience research. The more you know the better, for both PPC and SEO.
5. Neglecting search engine optimization (SEO)
Speaking of SEO, let’s say you have an engaging content marketing blog, rich with unique insights, keyword variations, and varied content types. Sounds like a solid branch of your SEO strategy.
But you shouldn’t expect immediate sales from that blog. Why? Because SEO is a long game.
SEO costs less but takes longer, while PPC is more expensive but works faster. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon SEO efforts altogether — that’s a massive missed opportunity to build your brand authority and engage your readers.
So, how do you speed up results from SEO? Yadegar says the trick is to build SEO content around PPC converters:
“PPC can be thought of as an additional channel to accelerate results, drive more conversions, and accelerate data learnings that can help make an SEO campaign that much more successful.”
If you have a high-performing PPC campaign for a new product or service, you can scope out the search report in Google ads to see which keywords are most successful. Then, broaden the lens to see what other search terms and topics you can publish around that central subject.
Looking at the conversion data and search volumes of top performing ad campaigns will reveal long tail keywords you can now target through organic content.
This will double down on the PPC traffic by building an organic strategy that also supports your PPC campaign.
6. Improperly tracking performance metrics
Sure, you might have a solid idea about your PPC campaign’s metrics from Google Analytics. But how do you make sense of those performance results alongside other PPC platforms? Or even alongside other campaigns?
And how can you understand the disconnect between positive metric results and subsequent negative ones?
Goal setting is a vital first step and precursor to any performance monitoring. You have to understand what you’re working toward if you want to tweak your strategy effectively.
But you won’t know what to fine-tune without the right insights. We’ve been in your shoes and spent hours interpreting data across multiple platforms and PPC ads campaigns to generate insights.
We found that, despite our extensive experience in SEM, it just took too darn long to interpret that data, discover those insights, and implement them into a strategy for scaling.
We’ve seen tons of brands abandon the performance monitoring aspect of PPC and attempt to scale with blind budget increases that don’t translate to better results.
A better solution? We created ConversionIQ, our exclusive platform that allows us (and our clients) to stay on top of performance metrics. It helps us attribute conversions to specific campaigns and landing pages, scale campaigns, identify qualified leads, and speed up issue detection in PPC accounts.
Yadegar says insights from ConversionIQ make PPC so much easier:
“With proper tracking and metrics, the marketer at the helm should have a clear understanding of what activities are driving desirable outcomes.”
Despite these common pitfalls, we know for a fact that PPC is worth it when done right. But if you’re not seeing ROI, you’re likely making one of the mistakes we’ve discussed in this article.
PPC marketing campaigns can go sideways if you don’t track performance, skip past the right keywords, and expect results too quickly. On top of that, brands too busy to manage PPC won’t get the ROI they’re looking for.
It takes an intimate understanding of the countless moving parts and intricacies of PPC success that can only come from years (decades, even) of hands-on experience.
That’s where SEM agencies like HawkSEM can step in to support your digital marketing efforts. Our in-house staff of SEO experts, PPC strategists, and dedicated account managers can manage every aspect of your PPC strategy, from keyword research and ad copy to PPC monitoring across multiple platforms.
We’ve helped many brands improve vital metrics like YoY revenue, cost per click (CPC), conversion rate, average order value, and CTR by optimizing their PPC campaigns. Just take a peek at our results page for more case studies.
And above all, we’ll help you avoid the ripples tripping up your campaigns, so you can have smooth sailing toward the ROI you deserve.
So, are you ready to take things to the next level? Together, we’ll unleash your PPC potential.