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A Guide for How to Start Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Northsail Wants to Help You Get Better Results from Your PPC Marketing Efforts

There's a lot of money to be made through pay-per-click services, but only if you know how to properly utilize them as part of a holistic marketing strategy.

Whether you're sticking to search campaigns through search engines like Google Ads, or you're more interested in pay-per-click services offered through some of the major social media platforms, efficiency and relevancy are the keys to finding success with digital marketing ads.

Customers have to be able to trust that your online advertising is going to match the product/services you can provide for them, the same way our clients know they can always trust Northsail to deliver projects on-time, on-spec, and on-budget.

And just like we won't take on projects that we don't believe we can do to our high standards; customers won't click display campaigns that they don't feel they can trust.

With that in mind, we've put together some tips on how to maximize the efficiency and relevancy of your digital marketing ads, but before we get into that, let's talk about PPC as a form of advertising, the benefits of PPC campaigns, and some digital advertising platforms you can use for cross-promotional or individual campaigns.

What is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising?

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (also often referred to as PPC marketing), refers to any ads that a business pays to have placed in relevant platforms where customers will see it.

Most of the time, these pay-per-click services work on a bidding system, where the advertiser that's paying for the ad bids against other competitors aiming to hit the same target audience, and the business that's willing to pay the most for the space will typically win.

Payments for advertising campaigns are typically divided between clicks and impressions. Clicks are when a customer chooses to click on your ad, which leads to either a website landing page or directly to a product purchasing page.

Conversely, impressions are when the ad is simply displayed on the customer's display network, regardless of whether or not they choose to click the ad. This is part of the reason that effective advertising copy is so important, because without clicks built from impressions we can't achieve conversions (i.e., leads, sales, etc.).

This doesn't mean that you always have to be the highest bidder to make impressions, but a business typically needs to assign a daily budget, which will help determine how often their platform (i.e., Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, etc.) will display ads from their campaign and how close to the top they'll appear.

The Benefits of Having a Paid Advertising Strategy

If increasing your conversion rate is a top priority for your business (which it probably is if you're working in e-commerce), eventually you'll need a paid advertising strategy. Otherwise, long-term scalability will be virtually impossible.

Most markets that exist in the digital, e-commerce spaces are highly competitive, which is why it's more important than ever to maintain some type of ongoing PPC strategy.

Providing customers with some kind of PPC advertising helps your brand stand out against competition, and if you configure your ads correctly, they can also dramatically impact your marketing ROI.

For instance, effective use of Google Ads can help draw in a substantial amount of traffic through organic search queries. Using relevant keywords, you can coerce your target audience to click through to your product when your search ads and their search intent line up.

The only downside to these marketing tools is that your marketing budget needs to be large enough to accommodate customers that will click-through, but don't convert.

Click-through rate doesn't necessarily always translate to conversions, which is why your landing pages or product pages need to match your campaign type. Without a strong volume of conversions, you'll just be wasting your advertising budgets on nice looking product and image ads.

Done effectively, businesses can use target keywords and organic search network traffic to increase sales figures by up to 2x, according to Google Ads statistics.

Pay-Per-Click Service Platforms

There are a number of different social media platforms that provide display ads for businesses to pay for, but just like Google Ads search campaigns, these platforms require a flexible daily budget, as well as a strong digital marketing campaign to remain effective on their display network.

Let's talk about a few of the biggest social media platforms, which have a history of offering unique, successful individual campaigns.


Instagram Ads are more heavily focused on imagery, which is why they often end up being visually appealing image display ads that highly the way products look or showcase customers using them in positive situations.

Less is more with these types of display campaigns, so if you're going to look at adding this to your social media ads, be sure to keep the written content to a minimum and use your visuals to tell your product/brand story.

Consider aiming for brand affinity audiences and encourage them to provide you with user-generated content, through things like promotions and photo contests.

A picture speaks a thousand words, right? A picture of your customers enjoying your products in real-life situations will help draw in other brand affinity audiences that are looking to achieve the same level of happiness themselves.

They’ll trust you more immediately, because you have visual proof of existing customers enjoying your offerings.


Though many people think of LinkedIn as a business social media site, there are plenty of people who would consider checking out your product if your ads appear in their display network.

What you may not realize is that LinkedIn has over 310 million active users monthly. That is a LOT of potential attention for things like social media posts or banner ads.

Even if you only aim for a broad match, with the intention of increasing your clickthrough rate, their display network reaches such a huge volume of professionals, it would be short-sighted not to utilize this space for some of your digital advertising efforts.

One small note: don't ever include misleading statements in any social networks (or any marketing materials really), but especially avoid anything that could be considered shady in your LinkedIn business strategy.

If you lose credibility here, your peers/competition will absolutely take note of it.


Of course, we couldn't talk about product display ads on social media without touching on one of the biggest social networks of them all - Facebook (Meta).

Advertising and activity on Facebook (Meta) is different than on any other social network. There's likely the widest range and largest base of customers for almost every industry on this platform, so if you're going to jump in, you have to do it tactfully.

This is also one of, if not the most common type of pay-per-click service in use among most businesses, other than perhaps Google Ads or ads arranged through the Google Display Network.

If you're having trouble gaining traction or identifying your target audiences’ search intent through Facebook, we'd suggest looking into some similar tactics for your industry in Google Analytics.

While not exactly the same, many of the principles used for success through Google Analytics and Google Ads can be applied relatively easily to the Facebook platform. Even if they aren't an exact match, you're sure to find some useful information you can use to bolster your own direct traffic.

5 Tips for Creating Effective Digital Marketing Ads:

1.) Don't Underestimate the Power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Whether you're going big and aiming for some popular keywords, or you're trying something different and taking advantage of negative keywords, you can't afford to underestimate the power of search engine optimization.

At its core, search engine optimization helps you draw in more traffic from search networks, and as long as you're sticking to relevant keywords, should help improve click-through rates through organic traffic.

If you aren't familiar with using search engine optimization, now is the time to learn about how to apply this SEO strategy to search advertising or social media posts.

Start by researching how keyword match types work, and if you want to avoid using too many popular keywords, you can always source negative keyword lists to utilize for your own marketing materials.

2.) Avoid Broad Search Terms

When you fall into a habit of relying on broad search terms in your product display ads, you have to remember that you're going to reach just as broad a range of customer types.

With broad keyword campaigns, you'll find the same types of problems. You'll hit a wide range of customers, but if those people click-through to your site and then immediately click away, you're no further ahead than you were before (and you'll be wasting the budget for your product ads).

Keep things concise and relevant if you want to maximize the conversions of your digital marketing and product ads. The closer to your ideal customer you reach, the more likely you'll see your sales increase.

Also, by avoiding broad search terms in your product ads, you can improve the efficiency of your search engine optimization by drawing in more high-quality organic traffic.

If you're going to use the marketing funnel approach, aim for the mid-low range target keywords, which don't get as much traffic but are much more likely to convert than extremely popular keywords.

3.) Use Conversion Tracking Software

You can't maximize the efficiency of individual campaigns without conversion tracking software. It's simply not possible.

There are lots of options available for software that will help track this type of information, but it will help give you a more realistic impression of exactly how many of the customers that you reach through their search intent are actually following through all the way to the 'Buy Now' button.

In many cases, you can find app extensions that will track this information for you, so that you don't have to spend a lot of time or energy on that portion of your campaign management, as we often saw in classic advertising.

But without conversion tracking software in place, it will be much harder to identify where you are succeeding and where you're failing in the campaigns you've set up - especially those that you're running through social networks.

4.) Frequently Re-Evaluate Your Search Ads

It's great if search ads are functioning properly at first, but those results won't stay consistent without regular oversight and adjustments.

Popular key terms relating to your industry will change over time. A key term that was relevant 6 months or a year ago, may not remain relevant indefinitely. Popular keywords fall in and out of popularity. Your SEO strategy and campaign management need to evolve alongside these shifting trends.

Your goal should be to take some time and evaluate the effect of your search engine optimization and how much of your organic search traffic is converting, at least once every quarter. If you have the time, once a month is an even better idea.

Search engine marketing is a living, breathing challenge that takes time and effort to manage effectively; otherwise, you could see your most popular keywords stop performing and your dynamic search ads start to lose conversions.

Search term reports are a good way to keep an eye on these shifting elements, and many add-on services will provide you with search reports that you can use to monitor this vital information.

5.) Don't Focus on a Single Search Network

Variety is the spice of life, and the same can be said for paid advertising.

Although it can make your marketing budget feel like it's spread thin sometimes, it's a good idea to diversify the number of places where your PPC displays are present.

Google Ads is great, but if you're already using them, consider branching out into the Google Display Network, where you can expand your organic search radius without having to use a new platform.

The GDN functions very similarly to the Google Ads Editor, so for most, the transition is fairly easy.

The one nice thing for marketers is that while prices vary between different platforms (i.e., Twitter doesn't cost the same to utilize as Google Ads, Amazon PPC, etc.), consumers are using the same keywords to search for products.

So, while there's a difference in execution, the goals and some of the implementations are the same. This means, it may not be as difficult as you think it will be to expand your campaign model to include other platforms.

Northsail's Newest Service Makes It Easy to Implement Paid Advertising Strategies

Maximize Conversions with High-Performance Landing Pages Made in Horizon

With all these tips to improve your paid advertising strategy, you may not want to spend a lot of time and energy focusing on building your next landing pages or customer data collection forms.

Well, we've got good news for you! Our newest service - Horizon - can help you quickly and easily build/customize high-performance landing pages, without the need for a developer’s oversight.

Plus, you can easily create and drop custom forms into any page you design through Horizon. No more struggling with page design or wasted time going back and forth with design teams.

Best of all, you can try Horizon free today for 30 days - no obligation or credit card required. Just sign up for your free trial, and we'll get you started right away.

Are you tired of wasting time, energy, and money on building websites and campaign management? Take back control of your web design and start your free Horizon trial today.

Sign up for early access to Horizon!

We’ll send you important updates about the early access program and your free invite when we are ready.

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