PPC can be an incredible source of web traffic that drives lead generation, direct sales, branding, and overall engagement. The ability to get it set up and running quickly and gain data that can be applied to other digital marketing channels is often a good enough reason alone to justify it.
However, despite the fact that digital marketing has simply become the new “marketing” and there are seemingly limitless case studies on the value of Google AdWords, many marketing decision-makers are not convinced it is worth adding to their mix. Through understanding the true cost of traffic and creating fact-based projections, we can do our part to make the case for evaluating PPC and setting proper expectations on what AdWords can do for the bottom line of our businesses.
As marketers, we know that we need more traffic to our website to achieve our end goal of sales, lead generation, thought leadership, and brand building. We’re faced with a lot of options for getting traffic and many of them are woven into existing campaigns and initiatives.
We know that in most cases, more traffic equals more revenue. It seems like an easy concept and easy sell, but when we start talking about the hard cost of advertising on Google, the time investment of the internal team, or additional hard costs to a vendor to effectively manage the campaign, decision makers often take pause.
Understanding the True Cost of Traffic
When compared to other digital marketing channels and options for investing in tactics to get more traffic, PPC often is judged unfairly as the most expensive of the channels. While an integrated approach utilizing all channels is important, when considering whether or not to work AdWords into the mix, it is important to understand the true cost of traffic when comparing the options.
While yes, you are paying Google for every click to your website, you can often isolate and silo that cost and measure the effectiveness of the effort. Compared to the cost of the traffic gained to SEO, email marketing, social media, and offline campaign drivers, it actually stacks up pretty well in most cases.
Most other channels require content to be created on an ongoing basis, technical improvements and optimization of the website, and other soft and hard costs to organically improve visibility. PPC can be split off and siloed enough to see the true costs even when hard costs are factored in.
For example, when you think about the investment needed to improve rankings, increase impressions, gain additional clicks, and ultimately convert that traffic for SEO, there’s a range of tactics needed in the realm of technical indexing updates, on-page optimization and content creation, and external factors like link building and brand mentions. All of those activities — one-off or in a cohesive SEO strategy — require internal team time investments or hard costs to a vendor to conduct.
While organic traffic is always desirable, SEO is a long-term process and requires dedicated effort. The costs are often not fully attributed to content marketing and website optimization efforts, and when stacked up against PPC, aren’t always used in the comparison.
How to Secure AdWords Budget
Knowing the true cost of web traffic and your options is an important starting point to convincing decision making stakeholders to try AdWords. However, that’s just the baseline allowing you to put PPC on a level playing field within the digital marketing strategy, and it is compelling to show a projection using your own historical performance and analytics. If you’re working on making the case for PPC, you don’t want to oversell it or pitch it in a way that puts unrealistic expectations that you must meet when you do get approval.
I learned the value of projecting through a lot of conversations with clients and potential clients about PPC. The need to go beyond my knowledge, convince them that it would be beneficial for driving ROI, and asking them to trust me versus providing an actual projection based on historical data, market data, and competitive analysis provides an expectation of what the investment can do.
The final product should be concise and easy to understand, showing:
- Projected campaign media monthly budget
- Projected impressions
- Conversion value
It is helpful if you have any of the inputs going into the projection like a historical conversion rate and the average value of a conversion as you will have less research to do. Even without these inputs, you can find benchmark and market data. While we can’t always assume that PPC will have the same conversion rate as the site, it is helpful to reference as a benchmark. Wordstream has helpful CTR information for groups and industries.
While my go-to tools to do my research are Google Keyword Planner, Moz Pro, and iSpionage, there are a lot of sources for tracking down information on how many searches (impressions) are available for the keywords and topics that are relevant for your audience. Some initial keyword research is the first step once we have gathered any baselines for conversion rate, click-through rate, and the value of conversions. We need to know how much traffic in the paid ad slots is out there that we are missing out on.
Armed with the information of how many aggregate impressions are available, we can analyze and get to an average cost per click from industry averages, historical SEO performance, and with the estimated bid information provided by Google. That allows us to do the simple math to show what we could expect regarding the number of clicks on a specific budget. It is important to note that we can’t expect to get every impression and click, so we have to apply some judgment on this step to temper expectations a bit.
Most importantly, we can now apply the conversion rate to the traffic and get to a revenue number showing us what the projected return is on the investment. At this point, you know for yourself what the projected scenario is and you can make adjustments to inputs like search volume, click-through rate, conversion rate, etc., for optimistic and safe projection ranges. You’ll also have information to answer questions you’ll likely receive from stakeholders in the conversation about the case for PPC. When you can walk in with this type of projection showing expected revenue, it is often a better bet for securing budget and also helps set objective expectations and a baseline to compare performance to when the campaign is off and running.
Ultimately, the way we win approval for PPC is by leveling the playing field and showing how we expect AdWords to drive revenue. We make a business and marketing case for its place in the digital marketing mix versus the “just trust me” model that many in our industry still push when trying to get approval for testing and ongoing PPC budgets in a lazy way.
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