It’s not just you, the acronyms involved in internet marketing can be daunting. Finding the right combination of PPC (pay-per-click ads) and SEO (search engine optimization), and how it affects your marketing ROI (return on investment), can be time consuming. 

However, with a foundation of knowledge, these programs are not too difficult to manage. 

Pay-per-click ads, or PPC, usually referring to paid ads on Google, Bing and Yahoo, are a leading source of search engine leads for professional service firms. Using paid search on social media networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, targets specific demographics in your area. In this article, I’ll provide you some basics to get started on this proven lead generation tool. 

Paid search for professional services

The act of driving leads to your professional services website by creating content and optimizing your website over long periods of time is called SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is how you position your business to be found by people searching for services. These programs, while a very good long-term strategy, are not known to drive immediate traffic. SEO programs can be intensive and lack the immediacy that some business owners want or need. 

If you want quick turnaround, you will need to organize a paid search campaign. Paid search uses the almighty power of the dollar to position your business favorably among the sea of competitors. Ad placements and methods by which you reach people differ from website to website. 

Example of Google Search Engine Results Page
Google’s search engine results page shows a mix of paid search ads (what we’re talking about here), organic listings (that’s where SEO comes in), and Google Business Profile listings. From our professional services marketing guide, The Download.

The truth is, using only content creation and search engine optimization, you won’t reach the top of Google’s search rankings. Not even with the best website on earth. This is because the top of the page is reserved for Google Ads. You’ll note the small “Ad” tag. Companies target keywords on Google Ads, bidding against one another for the best positions on the results page. 

Google Ads and paid social media advertising contribute to an organization’s paid search campaigns. Both are important cogs in successful marketing programs. Social media advertising offers a unique advantage, one that we’ll get to later. 

Paid search campaigns have assumed a place atop the list of most important marketing tools in 2020. As the marketplace trends more digitally, particularly with the recent pandemic, small businesses find that the costs of advertising online can be both affordable and effective at driving leads. My firm Solutions for Growth manages a large number of these campaigns and has an expertise in driving leads to clients through these managed Google Ads programs.

Google Ads

Each day, Google handles about 5.6 billion search queries. Among them, there are many that could feature your business prominently. Atop Google’s results for any given search, you will find a number of listings with [Ad] showing just beside them. These are paid ads and these businesses are competing against each other for positioning by bidding (and paying) for each internet user that searches their particular terms. 

How much should you spend? That is dependent on a number of factors including the competitiveness of the keyword and your business’s overall marketing budget. 

Most small businesses opt for a monthly paid search advertising budget between $100 and $1,000. The amount you’ll be bidding has much to do with what you are advertising. For example, search terms like “divorce attorney in Manhattan” will have a drastically higher cost-per-click than something like “HVAC maintenance in Camden.” 

There are many tools online that can help you to determine your potential costs using search terms. Google Ads uses its Keyword Planner to assist you in building your pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. 

It’s extremely important to make sure your Google Business Profile listing is up to date regularly. Many ad types on Google will present your contact information or location within the search results window, using your Google Business Profile listing, not your website for reference.

Learn more about claiming and managing your Google Business Profile.

The magic happens when that paid ad drives traffic to your landing pages. This is where your content and your website take center stage. All of the efforts you put into making your web presence robust and attractive to potential clients will be  put to the test. Content shines when qualified leads are driven to your website, where they can find all they are looking for — eliminating their need to look further. 

Because of the complexities involved in these campaigns, where it’s easy to overspend, many companies prefer to work with a full-service marketing agency to help manage their Google Ads campaigns to ensure the most clicks at the lowest cost. 

Paid social media ads

The primary difference between social media ads and Google Ads is frame of mind. Using social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, targeting is focused on demographics rather than search queries. 

For example, using Google Ads, a CPA firm might target keywords like “local accounting firm” or “best cpa firm in Gotham.” Social Media is nearly the opposite.

To recap, the difference between Google Ads and social media ads is:

  • Google Ads: People searching for businesses like yours
  • Social media ads: Your business searching for users that fit your target demographics 

Using demographic targeting rather than keyword targeting allows you to expand your exposure to people that fit your specific target demographic rather than only people who have been searching for similar services. Attracting potential clients via social media advertising provides you an opportunity to reach a new category of prospects, those who do not know they need you yet. 

A Facebook ad might target people over 60 within your immediate area that have expressed an interest in Medicare supplement policies. Presenting yourself when they are not specifically searching will increase their recall of your brand and make it exponentially more likely they will think of you when they are ready to buy, or prompt them to click on the ad to learn more. 

Social media provides you a chance to invite interested parties into your sales funnel via appointment or something less committal, like signing up for your company newsletter or to get a white paper. Once you get that customer into your funnel, it’s your job to communicate consistently and keep yourself top-of-mind. 

Over time, your social media ads will not only drive sales, but will build your social media fanbase. Your social media fanbase is a real asset. Consider it a free advertising channel to thousands of people that have already expressed interest in your business. If you had that, you would use it right? So use it! I’ll show you how in my article on social media marketing for professional services.

No better duo: Google Ads and social media ads

Together, these paid ads provide both an instant influx of traffic to your website, and a way to bring prospective clients into your sales funnel if they are more hesitant to take leaps through their purchase decision. 

Combined with other marketing tools, paid search can serve as a very effective lead generation machine. As we’ve discovered, each provides its own unique targeting approach, which together make for a powerful business development tool. 

Just as Pop-Tart commercials go, this is only part of your complete breakfast. Paid search is only an important gear in the machine that is your marketing strategy. Combined with tools  such as a well-designed website, a complete email marketing program, and a search engine optimization strategy, paid search can round out your program with a powerful presence. 

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