Pay-per-click advertising can be one of the most effective strategies to drive traffic, brand awareness, and — most importantly — conversions. But the digital marketing tides are shifting, and PPC marketing strategies that used to work are now falling flat.
New platforms are rising up, and new technologies are on the rise.
Voice search and automation, for example, are fundamentally shifting what PPC marketing strategies are most effective and the role of PPC advertising in an overall marketing strategy.
Are you ready for the brave new world of PPC marketing?
What PPC marketing trends and advertising strategies should you be paying attention to in 2020?
Here’s what digital marketers and pay-per-click advertisers need to know to stay ahead.
Try Google’s Smart Bidding Features
In the second quarter of 2019, Google generated $32.6 billion in revenue from advertising, an increase of 16% over the previous year.
While it’s no surprise that the search giant is making money, the substantial increase is noteworthy. The drastic increase in revenue might have something to do with newer automatic advertising features like Google’s Smart Bidding.
If you aren’t using Smart Bidding, now’s the time.
Smart Bidding leverages machine learning to automatically optimize bids for conversions.
There are four main types of Smart Bidding features:
Uses historical data to find the optimal bid for each ad automatically
Predicts future conversions to set max CPC and improve ROI
Increase conversion rate by tailoring bids for every auction
Automatically adjusts your manual bids for clicks that seem more likely to lead to a conversion (Limits on the type of campaigns)
In May of 2019, Google announced several new smart bidding controls. This includes campaign-level conversion settings, seasonality adjustments, and value rules.
Values rules should be of particular interest, as they enable advertisers to differentiate conversion values based on specific characteristics such as location, device, and audience.
But do they work?
All signs point to yes. T-mobile saw a 22% increase in conversions by switching to automated bidding.
So, is it time to throw our hands up and let Google manage our PPC marketing?
Not so much, says Andrew Lolk, Lead PPC Manager & Founder at Savvy Revenue. He recently told Search Engine Journal that he remains wary of Google’s automation features.
“I don’t advise outright rejecting Google’s automation, but knowing its strengths and weaknesses intimately instead. By knowing the weaknesses in Google’s automation, you’ll know what to do to beat other advertisers that aren’t privy to it.”
So, while Smart Bidding Features are encouraging (like every other PPC strategy), they still require testing.
Don’t Forget About Automation on Other Platforms
Automation is kind of a big deal. From automakers to accounts payable, nearly every industry is getting a taste for automation. And it’s driving profits:
By 2021, the process automation segment alone is expected to be worth 83 billion U.S. dollars.
In addition to Google’s Smart Bidding features, several other search and social platforms are jumping on the automation bandwagon.
Why? Because it works.
I know, I know; letting go is hard. But automation isn’t here for your job — it’s here to make your job easier and your ads far more efficient.
Here are a few other automation features to try out.
Bing Automated Rules
Bing’s automated rules aren’t new (they were released in 2015). However, as AI and machine learning capabilities expand, they are getting more useful.
If you haven’t taken a look in a while, you might be surprised at what they can do. They are simple to access, located in a tab right in your dashboard.
Here are a few examples of what you can do with Bing automation:
- Auto increase ad groups and keyword bids during busy holidays or special events
- Prevent a budget limit from killing a well-performing ad
- Avoid wasting money on poor performing ads
Bing also has a “notify me when” feature that will send you an email when certain parameters are met— allowing you to make decisions based on the health of your entire strategy rather than create hard and fast rules.
This guide from Microsoft walks you through all the automation features and how to implement them.
While Bing and Google work to balance automation and control, Facebook lets you go almost completely hands-off with Facebook automated ads.
This feature creates multiple versions of your ads, suggests CTAs, tailors your audience, recommends bid adjustments, and will even maintain your ads for you.
To create automated ads on Facebook:
- Head to your Facebook page and click “Promote” in the bottom left corner
- Click on “Get Started with Automated Ads”
- Click “Get Started”
Then, tell about your business and goals, create your ad, and Facebook will target people who are most likely to convert.
Unlike boosted posts, Facebook’s automated ads are designed to run long-term and become better optimized over time.
In addition to the search and social media platforms listed above, several SaaS solutions are making it easier than ever to automate portions of your PPC strategy, including AdEspresso.
Leverage Ultra-Specific Landing Pages
Landing pages are an indispensable part of PPC. And while many digital marketers are already using them, there are still plenty of folks using ads to direct users to category pages and (gasp!) even homepages.
Here’s the thing – landing pages increase conversions.
In fact, companies that have between 10 and 15 landing pages see a 55% increase in leads. People are more likely to convert when the page they land on is hyper-relevant to what they want.
Plus, Google Ads rewards relevance, so the more aligned your ads and landing pages are, the less you pay per click.
Lower cost, higher conversions — what more could you ask for?
Let’s take a look at how ultra-specific landing pages work.
Say you are considering purchasing a new mattress, but aren’t sure which company to go with. You type “Casper vs Purple mattress.’
It’s pretty clear what your barrier to purchase is.
Now, you would think Casper or Purple would jump on this term, but Buyer’s Guide delivers with a carefully targeted ad:
Click through on the ad, and you are taken to a dedicated page comparing Casper with a variety of other types of mattresses.
The landing page offers a quick rundown of each type of mattress including reviews, main features, and even available discounts:
Using a landing page makes it easier for users to make decisions, which increases click-through rates.
Despite their effectiveness, nearly 44% of all B2B companies send the users to a homepage rather than a landing page.
Don’t be part of the 44%.
Create dedicated, ultra-specific landing pages to help users overcome barriers to conversions and increase relevance.
Tips to Create PPC Marketing Campaigns for Voice Search
By 2022, 50% of consumers will be using voice shopping, which some are calling v-commerce. (But let’s see if that sticks…)
So how do you adjust your PPC campaign for this shift in search behavior?
Tip #1 – Start by focusing on long-tail keywords in addition to standard key terms
When users conduct voice searches, they tend to pose questions like:
“Where is the closest plumber to me?” or “What car rental places are open now?
Users also tend to use more words when they search via voice than when they type in a query.
Tip #2 – Target natural language to optimize your ads for voice searches
So users might type “burger joint in Rogers Park,” but in a verbal search, they’ll say, “Where can I find the best burger near me?”
Tip #3 – Optimize your ads for nearby landmarks
Google experts state that using formulas such as “coffee shops near Millennium Park”, for example, will result in ads that are likely to be more successful.
Tip #4 – Focus on local best practices
Nearly 58% of consumers are looking for local businesses with voice search. These searchers are primed to buy, which means higher conversion and click-through rates.
Tip #5 – Make sure you use local ad extensions in Google
This is very important especially for call extension, which allows searchers to access your phone number and call you quickly.
Break Outside of Google’s Box
It is easy to fall in the trap of focusing on Google — they do dominate more than 90% of the search market, after all.
The graph is pretty clear…
However, there is far more to PPC than Google.
Platforms like Quora, Reddit, and Amazon can all drive incredibly valuable traffic to your website.
If you aren’t diversifying your strategy, there is a good chance you are missing out on revenue.
Instead of dropping all your ad spend into Google’s bucket, it might be time to give paid ads on these other platforms a test.
Amazon Paid Ads
Google has a massive audience, however, searchers on the display network (and even search) aren’t necessarily ready to purchase.
On Amazon, however, searchers are ready to buy. It’s why they’re on the site.
That buyer intent is one of the key advantages to advertising on Amazon and can result in much higher click-through rates and more bang for your advertising dollars.
Here is how Amazon ads work:
Searchers type a term into the search bar, for example, “portable laptop monitor,” and Amazon shows these ads at the top of the search results, above the organic results.
The ads are very subtle, marked with just a small ad notification in the bottom right corner.
As an added note, Amazon PPC ads are displayed both on and off Amazon’s site, which increases the platform’s diversity and popularity as a place to advertise.
If you haven’t given Amazon ads a try, it might be time. By 2021, nearly one in ten advertising dollars in the U.S. is expected to go to Amazon.
Quora Paid Ads
Quora is a question and answer site where users can pose just about any type of question — from “What was the moment you realized your significant other didn’t care about you at all anymore?” to “How can I hire great freelance talent over mediocre ones?”
It might not seem like a hotbed for conversions.
As of 2019, however, Quora had 300 million active users — far less than Facebook and Google, to be fair.
But, those audience members are 37% more likely to be in management positions and 28% more likely to have an income of more than $100K.
Quora ads provide detailed targeting, a variety of ad formats, and plenty of data and analytics so you can ensure your ads are working.
And, because conversations on Reddit are separated by topic into subreddits, it is much easier to target audiences you’re interested in reaching.
The ads show up in Redditor’s feeds in a very natural way:
Advertising on Reddit requires a special touch but can be incredibly lucrative when approached correctly.
Keep in mind that Redditors, as a whole, tend to hate advertising and can smell a poorly-planned campaign a mile away.
What Does The Future Hold for PPC Marketing?
Some people will look at the shifting tides of pay-per-click marketing and claim that PPC is dying.
The rise of automation is likely to fuel that fire.
The truth is, PPC marketing is and will remain valuable — in fact, you could argue that the role of PPC marketers is becoming more valuable as automation increases.
After all, if everyone is using the same tools, no one’s ads will stand out.
That is when paying attention to new PPC marketing strategies will make the most difference.
When it comes to PPC, the future lies in diversifying your strategy.
Look for smaller, more niche advertising platforms and use automation tools carefully.
They can help make your job easier and your ads more effective.