The Pros & Cons of PPC for Online Marketing

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Pay-Per-Click is another tool in the marketer's toolbox. In this lesson, you'll learn about this online method of advertising and some of the pros and cons of using it in your marketing plan.

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

How do you make important decisions? Maybe you chat with friends or family, seek religious or professional support or make a written list of all the good and bad things that could happen as a result of your decision.

Sometimes, in marketing, making a list (whether on paper or in your head) of the positives and negatives behind selecting each type of marketing tool can help you determine if a tool aligns with your business goals and objectives. One of those tools, Pay-Per-Click advertising, sometimes referred to as search engine marketing, can either reap rewards or cause headaches. Equip yourself with all the information, both good and bad, to make the best decision about whether it's a good fit for your brand, products and services.

What is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?

Pay-Per-Click, abbreviated PPC, is a method of search engine advertising where marketers develop a targeted message with specially-chosen keywords and pay only when that ad is clicked by a viewer. Pay-Per-Click advertisements show up alongside non-paid search engine results, and are generally placed above or to the right side of those non-paid results in a 'sponsored links' section. How high your ad is placed depends on how much you bid on each keyword.

Like any form of marketing, Pay-Per-Click has its positives and negatives.

As with most forms of marketing, there are benefits, and disadvantages, to incorporating Pay-Per-Click into an online marketing plan. Let's discuss a few of each.

Pros of PPC for Online Marketing

Probably the biggest appeal of PPC for marketers is the ability to determine yourself how much you want to spend. By using PPC, you're participating in a bidding process for buying your desired keywords, in essence telling the search engine how much your budget is and how much you're willing to pay for each click based on those keywords.

If well-written for your intended audience, PPC can generate great impressions (or views) for your ad and your brand. If you're trying to reach people who love weekend travel to the mountains, an ad with those particular search terms is likely to appear at the top or right of any search someone conducts who is looking for information on that topic. Being able to serve targeted ads directly to the consumers and prospects you're trying to reach is an important benefit of PPC.

PPC allows you to be seen immediately. Most ads are approved and can begin showing up in search results right away. This is especially true for searches conducted on mobile devices, where landscape is limited due to smaller screen sizes. PPC ads are shown first, and sometimes exclusively, before a user scrolls down to the remaining search results.

PPC can be a great way to generate traffic to your website quickly, and is certainly faster than relying on organic search traffic, or how high you appear in non-paid search results, alone. It can take a long time for search engines to recognize and rank your website based on the keywords you use on your site.

Cons of PPC for Online Marketing

Some keywords can get really expensive in the bidding process. Depending on the popularity of the words you want, you could have stiff competition to face to win those keywords, meaning the potential to spend big bucks is there.

PPC comes with no guarantees. If your ad is well-crafted for your target audience, you increase the likelihood it will reach the right people which, in turn, increases the chances it will be clicked. But, there's no promise that a click will turn into a sale, or even that it will be clicked at all.

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