4 Reasons Why PPC Is The Best Online Marketing Channel

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What’s the number one reason for PPC’s strong growth as an advertising channel? High ROI.

PPC is one of the most profitable advertising and marketing channels. This view is shared by most online marketers, who in 2007, according to Marketing Sherpa, ranked PPC and email marketing as the two channels with the highest ROI.

1. Pay Per Click Yields a High Return on Investment

If you had to choose one, PPC or email, which would it be? Email marketing works best with house (not purchased) lists. Those take time to build, and one major way to build them is via PPC. Unless you have a strong house list and don’t want new customers, PPC is better.

We just went through the year-end agency/client review process of what did and didn’t work in 2008. We assessed the ROI of each marketing channel and helped them plan their 2009 budgets accordingly.

One of our biggest clients is planning a six to seven-figure AdWords spend in 2009. This is because their ROI from AdWords was, on average, five times stronger than other online advertising and marketing channels. In 2008 we helped this company increase its revenues by 36% in a vertical hurt by our recessionary economy.

2. Pay Per Click Gives You Instant Targeted Traffic

We frequently recommend PPC for new websites. SEO has long-term benefits and is a great investment in your site’s future value, but the big bottom-line results take months or years. PPC gets immediate traffic and can help generate significant sales within weeks. We recommend both strategies in parallel because of their complimentary pros and cons.

3. Pay Per Click Helps You Find Problems With Your Offering, Promos, or Website

As soon as you have traffic, you can see what your site does and doesn’t do well. At what rate is it converting sales or leads? If highly targeted traffic converts poorly, you need conversion optimization or a usability reassessment. Sometimes an uncaught programming error or design oversight obstructs critical site functionality. Noticeable lack of conversions or low conversion rate spurs PPC managers to investigate what’s wrong.

The disadvantage of starting a site with SEO but without PPC is that traffic can take months to ramp up to significant levels. If you have a usability or conversion problem in those first three to six months, you may not have enough data to detect it or to fix it quickly with conversion optimization.

4. Pay Per Click Brands Your Company While Selling Its Offerings

Some of our clients occasionally ask about branding with PPC. I won’t belittle branding because it really is an important strategy and discipline.

Sometimes what clients mean by branding is simply increasing their exposure to new prospects. Whenever I hear “We also want to do some branding,” I ask “What do you mean by branding? What are your ultimate goals? Leads? Sales? Email list building?” After three to six months of PPC, if the client doesn’t have the leads or sales that bring in the revenue, branding won’t seem like such a good idea anymore. If you went along just to make them happy or avoid the work of educating them, you won’t look so smart or effective at this point and you may lose the client.

PPC works best with a conversion goal, even if it’s an email signup. Even depth-of-visit or time-on-site are better metrics than just clicks.

The good news is, for all keywords besides your brand name, PPC already exposes your brand’s name and message out to new prospects. PPC “brands” your offerings to the most qualified prospects, not just to everyone. It’s not pure branding, but it is a kind of branding for companies who don’t have Godzilla-sized marketing budgets.

Branding isn’t as easy to measure as direct sales, but we can measure it with the usual PPC metrics:

  • More impressions equal more exposure.
  • Higher click-through rate can mean both good prospect targeting and that the ad holds interest for your prospects.
  • Good conversion rate is more about direct selling success, but could also mean you’ve introduced and sold a new prospect on your brand in one fell swoop.

Again, I’m not at all devaluing the importance of having a brand, knowing your brand, and communicating it consistently. Regardless, most clients need to see tangible results, and you’d better demonstrate them if you want to keep their PPC business.

PPC Is Almost Always A Good Promotional Channel

It’s true that not every offering, website, and target audience is ideal for pay per click. See “8 Ways Clients Can Help Their PPC Agency Succeed” for some of the scenarios that make it less ideal. You can’t always sell directly online but, generating leads or emails for email marketing with PPC is a powerful component of any successful online marketing effort. And you can measure the value of those leads and email lists, you can measure customer lifetime value from those leads and thus you can track their ROI.

Brian Carter is the Director of PPC, SEO, and Social Media for Fuel Interactive and The Brandon Agency. He co-founded TweetROI which is an AdWords-like Twitter advertising service.

Brian Carter
Brian is author of The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money With Facebook and Facebook Marketing: Leveraging Facebook's Features For Your Marketing Campaigns, How to... Read Full Bio
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  • Pete Hollier

    All so true but maybe we need to think about the ethics of PPC providers.

    Google, Yahoo and MSN are all top notch providers of PPC services but what about the others.

    I recently ran a test on a couple of PPC companies using longtail search terms which were highly targeted, the landing pages were crafted to create conversions.

    The results well 99% bounce rate and on checking Google Analytics for keywords used I found numerous non relevant keywords which had not shown up pror to my testing.

    I agree PPC done well with reputable companies is worthwhile, but unethical PPC companies, well be careful.

    Not to mention the cost, bounce rate effects search results, if unethical companies are increasing your web site’s bounce rate you should be worried.


  • Scott Clark

    I especially agree with this post, and specifically using PPC to guide design, marketing, offer, and even product decisions.

    Well designed experiments can be like guideposts in what works and therefore what should be kept vs. scrapped. I just wish more clients would use this kind of methodology and a little less untested, ego-centric cuteness on websites.

  • Brent Haeseker


    Great article. We do a lot of PPC campaigns for our clients and I can say that your points are spot on.



  • Eric Werner

    These are great points Brian and I’m really glad that you wrote this. So many people have opinions about PPC

    It can be frustrating to try to explain all of the value that a PPC campaign can add to someone who says ‘I dunno, I just don’t really click on those.’

    While I run a lot of campaigns that get great return on investment I especially like using PPC as a diagnostic tool as you described in point #3. How else can you determine in a day whether you have the right messaging, how people will respond to a design element, or whether there is any real valuable search volume for a particular phrase?


  • Joe Hall

    Maybe, I will be the outsider here, but I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the word “best” here. I mean everything that you have mentioned above are great reasons to use PPC. But to call it the best is quite a leap.

    I would say that PPC is probably equal with SEO for many reasons. And in the end no one should rely on one set of tactics or strategies alone. But rather combine smart PPC, SEO, Social Media, Email, ect…

  • Jon Rognerud

    Heya, Brian:

    A great post to kick of the New Year – a fresh reminder of simply smart internet marketing strategy.

    I recommend PPC almost by default now. You cannot beat the marketing data and fact finding it (quickly) yields, and it gets you right to the “meat and potatoes”, ie. will your page(s) and keywords work?

    I know it’s not for everyone to grasp, and depending on the marketplace, it could get costly if not done right. However, I’d like to know the winning and losing results earlier, rather than later! 🙂

    Happy New Year – and thanks for all your Twitter posts as well. Rock on in 2009!

    Cheers, Jon Rognerud

  • Dan PPC PROZ

    great post, thanks.

    following you on twitter too.


  • Jon Literfield

    I absolutely agree as long as the ad spend is there. If you have a client that thinks $200/mo. is enough to run a test campaign to prove its effectiveness, you’re going to be in for a headache.

  • John Utz

    I totally agree… However one thing people often overlook (unless they work with a great firm) is balancing cost vs. position. Too often I have seen people get caught up in the I want first place syndrome without think about whether or not the cost and potential ROI justifies buying first place. Its similar to the bid it up phenomenon of online auction sites.

    Here is an article with some additional thoughts on PPC and keyword selection.


  • kulki

    @Jon Literfield
    In my opinion it depend on the niche. If a customer want advertise just in one location for something such unused like iron paiting where a click cost 0.05$ then 200$ is a lot of money.

  • Web Design Company

    I think that pay per click is excellent in short term but in the long run organic SEO has greater benefits. If marketing budgets permit then PPC can be useful to re-inforce your authority in spite of having top ranking for the keywords in organic listings. All in all I personally feel that organic approaches are more beneficial, at least in my opinion.

  • Matthew Loop

    I’ve noticed the high ROI as well. It’s nice to be able to turn on targeted traffic at will. Personally, I feel PPC works better when you are more seasoned as a marketer. When I first started out, I spent about $5,000 testing and tweaking the ad.

    Good post 🙂

  • Glass Pendants

    As a small business, I have been leery of PPC due to the high cost and low (at least in the near term) ROI. I have always focused on my SERPs due to the low cost. If my site ranks from #1 to #5 for my most critical keywords, do I need PPC? My feeling is that money is better spent on improving conversions before getting into PPC (at least that is certainly the case for my glass jewelry business – Trezora).

    ROIhas to be given the greatest consideration. It’s my money you are recommending to spend on PPC campaigns. Would you recommend the same if it was your money? Would you be willing to keep “investing” in PPC if it took a year to start seeing results? I’m willing to spend money to make money but not without clear ROI and goals.

    For a small biz – what steps do you recommend to work your way up to a PPC campaign that will maximize ROI.

  • Guillaume

    I do agree that PPC campaigns can bring amazing results, but don’t you think that these results will be erodes as everyone is putting so much money on it. I mean competition is going to be tougher and at the end minimum bids will get higher.

  • Erdal Gul

    Great article… thanks for sharing !

    I agree that PPC campaigns could bring amazing traffic/results on short term. On longterm i would definitely look to rank in natural listings. Competition is tough in sponsored listings and will get tougher in the future. The more you wait with optimizing your website,the tougher it gets for natural listings (the competitions doesn’t sleep).

  • zafir

    And beware – you are not the only one that uses PPC – so testing is costly in this way.

  • art

    Great article. I find an additional bonus when launching PPC first is that keywords have a conversion ranking which makes it easier for SEO recommendations.

  • China SEO Consultant

    What do you suggest for sites that are not allowed to do PPC marketing?

  • coins

    So, from this I came to knew that PPC plays a very Important role for new sites to get more Traffic.

  • online flowers

    This is great artice about PPC.

  • books

    But, We have spend a lot of money for PPC Campaigns.

  • Dan PPC PROZ

    Glass Pendants, I agree it can be very costly, especially if you allow yourself to get screwed using broad match.

    Yahoo is more affordable and generally has better conversion rates, but use “stand match”, not “advanced match”. Standard is exact and advanced is broad. Go figure.

  • Max

    Branding is one of the best features of PPC. When my clients ask about branding of a new site – I always mention PPC. The key is to creating image based branding. Text links are really a less efficient way of branding than the image based. As humans we are very image / photo driven. Because of this reason we should always have an eye towards making images with respect to branding. The logo and product. The Keys!

    p.s. Still looking for a partner for the seo site.

  • Jack Weinzierl

    As a local business owner, the shift to geo-targeted search is empowering and allows the local business owner to compete on a very targeted level with accountability and tracking vs. print. Thanks for this post and I believe accountability and ROI will determine the winners from the old media dogs.

  • @ppcproz

    Hi Jack,

    I agree re: local geotargeting.

    Read my post about How to prevent your ads from appearing outside your geotarget.

  • Geldexpert

    I do agree with your statement that [… PPC is one of the most profitable advertising and marketing channels. ]

  • Matt Prados

    PPC is the new yellow pages. Thanks for the great post. This is a must for all marketing campaigns.

  • Adults In London

    By doing PPC we get More traffic to a site but it is expensive.

  • Michael Acord

    PPC is the worst! I’ll be the one to admit $5,000 gone on PPC only one sale. I used a “firm” no better off today than when I started.

  • Erdal Fettahoglu

    I am agree with you. PPC is the best way to get more customer.

  • MBClicks

    I believe that PPC is the best way to get the right visitors to you website. But as long you have to pay +1 Dollar for 1 click only, companies will go for a fixed price when they get the chance.

  • Tony Nguyen

    Very well written. PPC has gotten a really unfavorable comparison to SEO but it’s now coming to it’s own because of professionals like yourself breaking it down like this. Thanks.