What Is Paid Search: Benefits to Using PPC to Grow Your eCommerce Business
by Ron Dod
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The advertising industry used to be relatively simple. Way back before the advent of digital media, advertisers had one option available to them: Print.
They would pay a specific price for an allotted space in a publication, and that was pretty much it.
However, in the age of online advertising, things have grown immensely more complicated. Now, promoters can engage inresponsive display advertising, paid video sponsorships, social media marketing and an array of other promotional means.
Yet, with the array of online marketing and advertising means available to today’s sellers, there is one type with which all business owners should be intimately familiar: Paid search.
But that begs the question: What is paid search?
That’s what we are here to break down.
Today, we will be going back to basics and digging into what paid search is and what benefits retailers reap from its deployment.
With that said, let’s start with the most foundational question of all:
What Is Paid Search?
Paid search marketing is a cost-effective form ofsearch engine marketing (SEM). Search engine marketing encompasses both paid search efforts and SEO tactics.
However, that is outside the scope of this piece.
Paid search is an advertising strategy in which search engines like Google display adverts to consumers through the search engine results pages (SERPs). Retailersoptimize their ad campaignsby targeting various keywords that consumers are likely to search, thereby surfacing the ad for relevant queries.
However, when asking “what is paid search,” it is essential to note that it is not always referred to as “paid search.” This promotional method is often called pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Moreover, PPC advertising is the most common form of paid search marketing available.
Obviously, the phrase “PPC” is rather self-explanatory. When retailers run these types of ads, they only pay for each click the advert generates. Therefore, in essence, promoters are paying for website visits, thereby temporarily circumventingthe necessity of ranking organically.
Moreover, while Google is the single most popular destination for paid search marketing, sellers caneffectively manage ads on Bing, Yahoo and other engines as well.
While there are a variety of ad types across search engines, adverts will most commonly appear at the top of the SERPs and will be labeled as an advertisement:
However, ads can appear at the bottom or to the right of the SERPs as well. The placement of the advert is dependent on the bid the promoter makes, and if that bid is higher than others vying for the same territory.
With the “what is paid search” portion of this piece covered, let’s explore why utilizing paid search is a necessity for online retailers.
Why Use Paid Search?
Given that sellers can rank organically in the SERPs, why should merchants bother spending money on something that can be achieved for free?
The fact is that 63 percent of consumers say that they would click on a Google ad. Meanwhile, a full 75 percent of those folks say that they would click-through because the advert makes finding what they are looking for easier.
When it comes to search engines, isn’t making the user’s life easier what the whole game is about?
While the value to consumers is clear, let’s go ahead and examine the benefits that merchants receive from paid search campaigns.
The Benefits of Paid Search Advertising
Plainly put, there are a slew of advantages that retailers receive from engaging in paid search advertising. Some of the many notable benefits include:
One of the most significant benefits of paid search advertising is that it produces instant results. This is one of the key differences between PPC and SEO, as the latter can take a considerable amount of time to produce profitable results.
However, while PPC provides instantaneous results, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t linked with SEO performance.
It Supports SEO
The fact is thatusing PPC and SEO togetheris a recipe for search engine success as the insights harvested from paid search campaigns can then be fed to SEO teams to help fortify keyword strategies, messaging and the like.
Through establishing which keywords best drive paid search results, marketers gain a better understanding of which phrases for which they should be optimizing various on-site pages.
A High Level of Efficiency
As touched upon earlier, it can take months or even years to perfect an SEO strategy and top the Google SERPs. However, paid search produces instant visibility, thereby working in a more efficient (albeit temporary) manner.
This is a massive benefit for smaller brands which simply don’t have the time for the long slog up the SERPs.
Paid Search Can Be Cost-Effective
Some advertisers elect to spend their ad budgets on television commercials, radio spots and newspaper adverts. However, there is a chance that none of these efforts will end up producing results for a brand.
However, utilizing paid search, merchants know that they are getting the attention of consumers who are either highly likely to be interested in their offering or whom they know are already excited for a particular brand’s product, thereby making PPC ads much more cost-effective.
The reason why sellers know these ads tend to work better comes down to one simple fact:
Unlike television ads or radio spots, paid search tracks vital metrics that inform sellers on the effectiveness of their promotions.Important PPC metrics that retailers can harvest data on include, but are not limited to:
By analyzing this kind of information, sellers can optimize their paid search efforts and produce even more prosperous outcomes.
Paid Search Enhances Site Traffic
Because of the visibility obtained through PPC advertising, retailers can significantly boost their website traffic, potentially earning thousands of clicks to a site daily. This is another one of the reasons why paid search enhances SEO performance.
However, it isn’t just anyone and everyone who clicks these ads, which leads us to our next point:
PPC Drives Quality Traffic
Those who click on paid search ads have conducted a search for the type of product or information that they are seeking. When an ad surfaces that meets the consumer’s need, they are likely to click-through.
This means that the traffic a site receives is high-quality and likely to convert. By gaining visibility through paid search advertising, businesses put themselves in a position to bolster their bottom line.
Merchants Can Compete with Larger Competitors
For smaller retailers or those who don’t have the best rankings, competing with more substantial companies can be extremely difficult. However, through the use of PPC adverts, sellers can rank above even sites like Amazon, thereby allowing these kinds of merchants to compete with the biggest brands in the world.
This ties in with the next benefit to paid search.
Increased Brand Recognition
As shoppers continue to see adverts from a specific brand, they will begin to recognize that company, even if they don’t click on the ad at first.
Unlike organic listings, PPC adverts are not impacted byGoogle algorithm updates. When these types of alterations occur, sellers can see a dramatic drop in their organic rankings, thereby wreaking havoc on their business.
However, with paid search advertising, even if Google changes its search algorithms, ads will still surface above the organic listings.
PPC Ads Can Be Launched Quickly
Another advantage of using paid search is that a campaign can be launched relatively quickly. When comparing PPC advertising toeCommerce content marketing strategies, SEO campaigns and similar pushes, paid search is extremely fast to set up and launch.
Different Ads Can Be Easily Tested
Based on the outcomes of a campaign as defined by its metrics, retailers can easily shift gears to try and produce a more prosperous campaign. With tools that allow sellers toA/B test their advertising efforts, changing course and finding a winning combination of copy, images, CTAs and destination URLs is easier than ever.
Paid Search Can Drive Offline Sales
While paid search campaigns surely drive sales predominantly through online stores, PPC efforts can also generate offline sales for merchants with physical stores.
For those with brick-and-mortar locations, customers are likely to visit a store after seeing an online ad. While the transaction that results from this in-store visit does not occur online, the journey nonetheless started in the digital space. In fact, this is the very essence ofomnichannel eCommerce marketing, which is the ultimate direction the industry is heading.
Merchants Set Their Own Budgets
Another of the benefits of PPC advertising is that retailers can establish campaigns as large or small as they desire. There is no need to wield a massive budget to engage in paid search.
Additionally, while traditional advertising methods often require payments to be made upfront, prior to any results rolling in, PPC advertising is the antithesis of this model.
With paid search, sellers need not pay until results begin showing. At that point, retailers can adjust their spending as they see fit, thereby giving advertisers total control over the destiny of their advertising campaigns.
This ties in with the next benefit of paid search efforts:
PPC Is Real-Time
One of the most significant advantages of PPC advertising is its real-time nature. Retailers can view a campaign’s results as they are generated, thereby making the necessary adjustments to an effort–be it through A/B testing, bidding adjustments or other alterations.
With other forms of advertising, this simply is not possible. If retailers invest their advertising budget into any traditional form of promotion such as television, radio and the like, retailers cannot immediately alter their advertisement if it fails to deliver the desired results. Instead, sellers just have to bite the bullet and absorb the loss.
Through paid search ads, retailers can negate significant losses by immediately altering their strategies.
The more real estate that a brand can take up on the first page of the search results, the better. In order to do so, companies will need a combination of both paid search and organic search results.
By using both, retailers can claim multiple spots on the page. Paid search can also help brands get higher on the page, increasing marketing share and helping SEO efforts, which will, in turn, help them reach the height of the search engine results pages organically.
This information is critical as businesses must understand what tactics drive transactions so that they can invest more heavily in those methods.
Paid search not only helps retailers to increase potential touchpoints with their audience, but it also serves to aid in informing retailers how effective their ads are (as well as which ads in specific) in generating sales.
Thankfully, paid search provides retailers with such tools. Through the use of retargeting options, merchants can target individuals who have recently visited their webstore, showing them the exact items that they are most likely to be interested in, based on their browsing behaviors.
One of the more significant benefits of paid search advertising is that sellers only pay for direct actions. This means that a merchant might run an ad campaign that 10,000 consumers see, but if no one actually clicks the ad, the campaign doesn’t cost a single dime.
While this isn’t exactly a desirable outcome, it is much better than running an ad in a magazine that must be paid for upfront, no matter if it generates sales or not.
When retailers ask, “what is paid search,” the right answer is “profitable.”
Through PPC advertising, retailers can vastly enhance their reach, advertising efficiency, consumer awareness, market share and profitability.
However, while there are a plethora of advantages to leveraging paid search, many of these gains can only be harvested if sellers understand how to create effective ad campaigns that garner clicks and conversions.
If your brand wants to up its advertising acumen and partner with an agency that has a proven history of delivering results for its clients, reach out toVisiture’s paid advertising professionals. We can help your brand develop a paid search campaign that earns attention, clicks and sales.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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