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Choosing the Right PPC Channel for Your Business

Last updated on February 13, 2020
19 minute read
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Intermediate, Advanced
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Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a quick way to generate traffic to your website, in addition to other tactics like search engine optimization. Through PPC, it’s easy to target an audience with advertisements across several platforms, and you are only charged a fee when someone clicks on it. 

Whether you’re positioning advertisements towards active searchers or re-marketing to customers who left your site without booking, PPC allows businesses to target potential customers throughout every step of the consumer journey. 

Ready to dip your toe into PPC? This guide offers a breakdown of which types of PPC might be right for your business. Before we get started, brush up on PPC terms, definitions, and how to launch your campaign, so you can decide which PPC options are best for your business.

Types of PPC

PPC is much more than simply making your website appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). PPC can range from paid ads on social media networks to display networks and more. Use this guide to compare the different types of PPC and find the one (or more) that’s right for your tour and activity company.

Google Ads

When considering how PPC can boost marketing efforts, it’s common to look to the world’s most popular search engine, Google. The two most common types of ads to run in Google are search ads and display ads. As these both play large roles in many advertising campaigns, it’s important to understand how and when to use them in your own search engine marketing efforts.

Search Ads

Search engine advertising targets active searchers using keywords in their search. For example, let’s say you teach cooking classes in Florence and want to advertise some of your upcoming workshops. If someone searches “cooking workshops in Florence,” and you bid on that keyword, your ad may appear in the sponsored section of the SERP, hopefully leading to a click — and a booking!

Advertising this way is a quick and cost-effective method to give you visibility on the SERP, even if the searcher doesn’t click your ad. The searcher will still see your business prominently listed, increasing the likelihood that they book with you in the future. Along with increased visibility, utilizing a search ad campaign has many additional benefits.

They also allow you to make quick, data-driven decisions that will help drive revenue and make the most of your marketing budget. Track which keywords are performing well and which ones aren’t making the cut, then adjust bids accordingly. Search ads allow you to target a specific audience based on location, intent, and interests. Bid on specific keywords that relate to a certain audience or demographic. For example, if the bookings for your pizza making class are low, target potential customers who are searching for keywords related to making pizza. 

Finally, get the edge to rank over your competition. Quickly boost online visibility without focusing on organic search.

Are search ads right for my business?

Search ads are a great fit for your business if:

  • Your organic traffic isn’t where it should be. While it’s important to optimize your website with organic traffic in mind, search ads offer a faster way around a low organic ranking by sending searchers directly to a solution with one click. If your site isn’t making it to the top page of the SERP organically, search ads can offer fast results and drive bookings.
  • You have a small ad budget. With so many aspects of your business to manage, there may not be as much room in the budget for online ads as you’d like there to be. If this is the case, search ads are a great option for you. Search ads are likely to drive easily trackable conversions so you can get a sense of what’s working — and what isn’t — before investing in other strategies.
  • Your goal is to generate quality leads. Search ads help convert potential customers who are showing intent to make a booking. By identifying who they are, you can market to them again with retargeting (more on this later).

Display Ads

Display ads appear on Google sites as well as thousands of Google partner websites. The added benefit of these partnerships is more exposure and awareness for your business. Display ads get your brand in front of customers whether they’re searching for your business or not.  

The key difference between display ads and search ads is that display ads do not market based on intent (e.g. keywords) but rather focus on brand awareness. In fact, they have nothing to do with searching on a search engine at all. These ads can be in the form of banners, text, Gmail, and apps, so you’re always reaching a wide audience — even those people who weren’t necessarily looking for tours and activities in the first place!

This kind of advertising lets your brand stay visible when people are taking their time and browsing online without intent to make a booking — this is how people spend most of their time online, after all. Think of display ads as a soft push to sell your tours and activities, keeping your business top of mind no matter what people are looking for. However, this wide reach doesn’t mean your ads are running without a target audience. Advertisers can still reach a target audience by displaying their ads on selected websites or groupings of sites based on certain audience characteristics.

Are display ads right for my business?

Display ads are the right move for your business if:

  1. You want to boost brand awareness. Think of display ads as a sneak peek into your business. Since the ads are visible to customers while they do their normal internet browsing, they’ll gain awareness of what your business sells and will recall it first when it comes time to book an activity. Choose reputable sites that are popular among your target audience and make a lasting impression with potential customers.
  2. Photos are your best selling point. Do you operate tours in an amazing destination with awe-inspiring photo opportunities? If your business prides itself on location and your Instagram photos are a huge selling point, display ads are the best place to show these off. 
  3. You need to fill the gaps in keyword coverage. Keyword coverage is the percentage of ad displays your campaign receives for a specific keyword in a certain time period compared to the percentage your competition receives for that same keyword. Imagine that your keyword has a coverage of 80%. That means out of 100 displays based on the keyword, your campaign received 80 of them and your competition received 20. Display ads are a way to fill this gap if you don’t have the budget to get to 100% from search ads alone. Even if you can’t get all of the displays for a given keyword, you still increase brand awareness using display ads.

Retargeting

Despite the good effort to get visitors to complete a booking on your website, not every searcher who finds your business will make a booking the first time they visit. Retargeting, or remarketing, allows you to follow potential buyers with ads after they leave your site.

As a potential customer goes about their business online, they will be served up display ads based on cookie technology. A retargeting program gets your brand in front of an audience who has already visited your website and may just need an extra push to complete a booking. Past visitors who are already familiar with your brand are more likely to return to your site with some encouragement.

Consider this scenario: A tour operator runs walking tours in New York City. They notice people are browsing their website for Brooklyn activities but don’t complete a booking. The operator decides to create an ad group marketed towards an audience of people who browse “Brooklyn activities” on their site but leave without making a booking. They already know these searchers are likely planning a trip to the city or looking for something fun to do in Brooklyn, and now you have a chance to draw them back. The ad includes a special incentive to get them to book, like 10% off a t-shirt with the purchase of a tour. 

If you already advertise on Google, retargeting is as simple as adding a piece of Google remarketing code to your website so visitors get added to a retargeting audience through browser cookies. You can create more specific audiences by customizing the code for different pages to correspond to certain categories.

Is retargeting right for my business?

Reaching out to past visitors certainly has its benefits! Retargeting is right for your business if:

  • You want to target visitors who leave specific pages of your site. Let’s say there is a decent amount of traffic to some of your activity pages but you aren’t seeing the number of bookings you’d like. Creating retargeting ads based around the activity or activities that aren’t performing well can drive bookings to the categories of focus. Google recommends starting by targeting everyone who viewed the homepage, but it’s a good idea to get as narrow as possible to increase ad relevance and lower the cost per click.
  • You want to reach past visitors across platforms. To make the most of your PPC strategy, retargeting is a great way to reach potential customers across platforms. You can create retargeting campaigns through search ads, display ads, ads on social media (more on that in a moment), and other platforms. Catch past visitors who didn’t make a booking in as many places as possible!

 

Pro tip: Nobody wants to see the same retargeted ad over and over. Be sure to update your ads frequently to increase the chance of getting potential customers back to your website.

Social Media Campaigns

Whether you’ve already built an impressive social media presence or are just getting started with platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, social networks are the ideal place to target potential customers with PPC advertising.

With so many networks out there, you can choose where to advertise based on your target audience. A network where content naturally fits in is an awesome place to start. For example, Pinterest has more female than male users, so if you sell an experience like custom bachelorette parties, your ads would be well placed there. Facebook is the most popular social media network out there, with a wide variety of users from different backgrounds and demographics, giving you more bang for your buck.

Facebook

Facebook ads help build awareness, brand consideration, and conversions. Because Facebook is so popular across demographics and offers very detailed targeting options, it’s a great network to start with if you’re just getting the ball rolling with PPC advertising. Plus, with the opportunity to combine beautiful photos or videos with text, you can get creative with the ad content.

You can select your target audience in a variety of ways:

  • Demographic: gender and age
  • Location: country, states/regions, provinces, postal and zip codes
  • Education: education levels, areas of study, specific graduation years and schools
  • Interests: pages or activities they liked on Facebook
  • Behaviors: past or intended purchases, travel history, what devices they use (desktop, mobile, tablet), general digital activities
  • Connections: ads served to people who have already connected with you on Facebook

With such a level of specificity, Facebook lets you make the most of your budget and bids, encouraging conversions and engagement with your brand.

Twitter

Twitter ads work toward several business objectives like earning website clicks and followers, increasing brand awareness and tweet engagements, and promoting tweets with app installs. There are two ways to create Twitter ads: Twitter Promote and Twitter ad campaigns.

Twitter Promote: This option will automatically promote Tweets to a target audience, specifically your first 10 daily organic Tweets that pass the Twitter quality filter. It also promotes your account with the goal of attracting new followers. Focus on up to five metro locations or interests and sit back as Twitter handles the rest. There is a monthly fee and Twitter states that accounts on average should reach an additional 30,000 people per month just by using the service.

Twitter ad campaigns: Start by choosing a business objective that aligns with your goals, like including a website card to get clicks to your website. Create Tweets specifically as ads or promote existing organic Tweets. Set a budget and choose your bids based on how much you want to pay for each interaction (video view, app install, etc.), and you’re on your way to more engagement and new followers!

Are social media campaigns right for my business?

While Facebook and Twitter are just two examples of how you can advertise on social media, other platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and others have amazing benefits. Social media campaigns are right for your business if:

  • You want to get very specific. Facebook and other social media platforms let you get extremely narrow when it comes to finding a target audience, meaning you can reach just about anyone you want with any business goal in mind. Track the success of promoting a website click, gaining new followers, and increasing conversions.
  • You want to grow your social media presence. Gain new followers, make your business visible across networks, and create engaging content like videos, stories, and photos that users actually want to click on. While users don’t necessarily enjoy being overwhelmed by ads, social networks make them blend into the platform, so an ad to you is just another Tweet to the average Twitter user.
  • You want to reach people traveling and ready to book. So many people look to social media for their travel plans. We all love to scroll through our feed when we’re sitting in the airport or looking for things to do when we’ve just arrived at a new destination. Placing ads on social media will help you reach that pool of potential customers who are trying to make a booking right now.

Next Steps

Remember, you don’t have to limit your business to just one type of PPC advertising! In fact, the biggest benefit of PPC advertising is that all of the different options work hand in hand and enhance your overall digital marketing strategy. To test the waters, pick the type that you think will work best for your business and see how to can expand from there. For some reminders about optimizing your landing page, launching your campaign, and general PPC tips, see our PPC breakdown guide.

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