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Back to Basics: What You Need to Know About PPC Going Into 2021

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Whether you’ve proclaimed it yourself or simply observed it in the personal development ether, we’re all at least familiar with the phrase “new year, new me” — a saying that kicks-off a positive change. An individualistic lunge forward in pursuit of growth, health, happiness, and prosperity. While this is a wonderful sentiment and potentially a good caption for your first social media posts of the year, it’s not exclusive to fitness, mindfulness, or other good habits to start up or resume — it can apply to your business, as well.

While there are many moving parts of a business, some could use extra grease more than the others — and digital marketing is an area that can get particularly squeaky if not executed correctly. Today, we’ll dive into one of the most vital parts of your digital marketing efforts — pay-per-click advertising — to see how the campaign landscape is changing, what trends are on the rise, and which best practices are still, well, best. Let’s explore why the mindset “new year, new PPC,” while maybe not quite as catchy, can help propel your business forward in 2021.

PPC: A 2020 Retrospective — and a 2021 Gameplan

Much like taking a personal inventory to better yourself for a new year, it’s imperative for a business to change its trajectory and tweak its marketing strategies based on how efforts have panned out in the year, or years, past. Here are tasks that projected to become even more important in 2021:

Revisiting — and Realigning — Your Budget

First and foremost, taking a look at the balance sheet is going to be of utmost importance. After all, PPC is a funded effort. As opposed to publishing compelling blogs on your website or maintaining professional profiles on free social media platforms, PPC is driven by advertising dollars.

So, when managing your spending, consider eliminating poorly-performing campaigns that have been optimized throughout the year to free up the budget for other campaigns. Competitive metrics should be looked at to determine whether there is additional traffic that can be captured to help grow results for campaigns that are winning.

Trying Out Different Platforms

Testing new platforms undoubtedly requires you to get out of your comfort zone, but it could be well worth it. While this could involve analytics tools that you have to pay for, it may also include social media platforms — including Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc. While being on the frontlines of apps and trending websites is an initiative not bound by a calendar year, it’s more important now than ever to put them on your radar.

Harnessing the Power of First-Party Data

Industry experts have suggested that the way in which data is sourced is about to be disrupted. This has reared its head as a result of restrictions to third-party cookies across browsers and overhauls in global privacy policies. Between this and Google Ads limiting access to search query data, PPC marketers will have to adapt to succeed in the ever-changing environment. A few ways to do this include:

It’s key for those using cookie-based targeting technologies to change course and implement a plan that utilizes first-party data. This will help customize campaigns that meet a wider array of needs and brand objectives.

Automating Paid Advertising

Automation means giving the majority of control to the search engine algorithms, letting them determine where you can best achieve objectives set within campaigns. Most assume this means automatic bidding strategies, but it can be as straightforward as using scripts in the account to save you time when it comes to auditing, optimizations, and reporting.

There are, undoubtedly, limitations to automation in general. Human input is required in an account before any automation to ensure there exists historical data for the algorithms to go off of. Here are some examples to introduce automation:

Responsive search ads: This involves providing Google with several headlines and description variations, permitting the algorithm to rotate and show the best performing ad copies. This will result in seeing what variations deliver the strongest CTR, clicks, and engagement metrics.

Match type changes: In 2019, Google announced they’ll begin rolling out close variants for phrase match and broad match modified keywords. This falls in line with last year’s update that raised some eyebrows in the search marketing sphere — when Google made an “exact match” something of a misnomer.

Automation, and all its hands-off processes, does not mean you set it and forget it. In fact, there are many opportunities, experiments, and testing you can move forward with based on the data of your automation. It’s critical to have an extensive negative keyword list and that you analyze all search terms regularly.

PPC Tips for Specific Industries

The above points are essential to take into consideration — regardless of your industry or vertical. However, there is advice suitable for certain businesses:

PPC for Home Services

When it comes to home service companies — plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, roofers, painters, pool specialists…the list goes on — establishing yourself as the go-to in your community is imperative. While word-of-mouth referrals, maintenance contracts, and repeat customers all feed heavily into the ongoing revenue stream, targeting local keywords in your ad campaigns are going to be imperative in furthering your being a pillar of the community. Also, excluding specific keywords from search ads may prove fruitful, and allocating resources toward a mobile-first era is wise.

Speaking of paid advertising, ensure your Google Local Service Ads (LSAs) are relevant and up-to-date for your home service. LSAs put you at the very top of search results, and shows customers you’re qualified. As opposed to a pay-per-click model, LSAs operate via pay-per-lead — helping lower your costs.

PPC for eCommerce

There’s no getting around it: COVID-19 has ushered in a new era of eCommerce. With everyone turning to the web to order products and generally spending more time at home and on the internet, eCommerce businesses’ target audience has scooted their seat up even closer to the stage — and performing well is imperative in grabbing attention. When it comes to PPC for your eCommerce store, A/B testing is more important now than ever. By contrasting numerous variables and adjusting as needed, you can dial in your strategic business decisions to increase brand awareness, drive conversions, and secure customers for life.

Akin to LSAs, Google Shopping Ads is an effective tool for eCommerce businesses, allowing them to display product images at the top of the SERPs and showcase advantages of different products without requiring the searcher to do the legwork.

PPC for Professional Services

Aside from targeting long-tail keywords and adjusting geolocation settings, ensuring the landing pages you have set up for your professional service is key in not just getting eyes on your site — but getting clients to enlist your services. Whether you work at a healthcare facility, law firm, engineering group, or accounting firm, those who click on your ads will most likely demand quick-glance information about your value propositions. Engaging content, featured testimonials, and originally-produced videos will continue to be paramount.

Make Every Click Count in 2021 With Digital Marketing Experts

Are you ready to fulfill your “new year, new me” goal when it comes to your business’ digital marketing efforts? Turn to our experts! We offer a full suite of digital marketing services that will keep you on the cusp of emerging trends and industry-wide evolutions when it comes to SEO, content marketing, and of course, PPC.

To learn more about how we can take your digital marketing to the next level this year, contact us today!

About the Author:

Spencer Coulton is a Content Editor at 1SEO. When not writing, he can be found strumming his guitar, attempting to brew the perfect cup of coffee, or biking around Philadelphia — sometimes all at once.

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