The Importance of PPC Marketing in a Startup

Andrew Hardman

Andrew Hardman is the MD & founder of MyMarketology (providing online marketing courses for digital marketeers) and loves to solve business problems and bike.

As a start-up business you need to shout about yourself as much as possible to drive visitors and engagement. This weeks post is about how we are using Paid Media and PPC Marketing to drive attention whilst our organic positioning and brand awareness builds.

I am hoping with this post other start-ups and business owners can see the difficulties of launching new projects / businesses and the time and effort involved in making the business succeed.

When we launched our beta platform 2 weeks ago no one had heard of MyMarketology outside of our office, even Google hadn’t indexed our website so we weren’t getting any traffic immediately when we made the site live. Organic search positioning takes time and effort to build up trust. The key factors Google indexes on to start getting strong rankings we didn’t have, so we knew we had to invest in traffic to drive visitors and build a viral and outreach marketing process.

Whilst we are waiting for this organic growth, we couldn’t just sit around and hope someone would find us. We had to shout about ourselves to our audience. The best way to do this was a mix of content marketing, supported by paid media.

Our approach was one of splitting our budgets. 90% of the budget was focused on our content that we were generating and 10% focused on encouraging signups. The channels that we focused on for paid search were:

  • Google PPC
  • LinkedIn PPC
  • Facebook PPC
  • YouTube PPC

Each channel had a slightly different approach based on how the channels themselves allowed us to target our audience but they were broken down as follows:

Our Google Search Network:

Examples of some of the hundreds of keywords that we targeted are:

Digital marketing course

Free digital marketing course online

Digital marketing training

Digital marketing qualification

Learn digital marketing skills

Digital marketing education

Where to learn digital marketing

Learn online marketing

Free digital marketing course

Our Facebook Targeting:

Our Linkedin Targeting:

For 10% of the budget we focused this on directly driving user signup to the platform. We produced promotional videos to be used on YouTube advertising and Facebook (such as seen below). These directed users to our landing pages to convert to an live account. We also used banner advertising in LinkedIn. Again this was done to drive traffic via a different medium to the conversion pages.

Our Social Media Promo Video:

Banner Advertising on Linkedin:

We decided the majority of the paid marketing budget would focus on material we knew would be of interest to our audience and therefore encourage conversations and outreach growth. This knowledge comes from our own digital marketing experience and also from conversations with users and current contacts in the industry. Below are the two main content marketing pieces we are focusing on currently:

1) Our Journey to 100,000 users.

This is a weekly blog post focused on our journey to getting 100,000 users on the platform. The aim was to provide an open and honest picture about our journey and the pressures we face weekly to hitting our target.

2) MyMarketology Labs

This was coordinated by our Head Marketologist – Tony. We felt a weekly video based on a topic regarding Digital Marketing would help to build up a community of like minded individuals that would also benefit from our courses. The video would be posted out onto YouTube and our labs blog pages and then shared onto our social channels as well. To boost engagement we then would be promoting and boosting these videos with paid media. As this started very quickly to get a good response we felt we would add shorter FAQ v-blogs which answered common questions our current users had on all areas of marketing and their jobs. These are shorter videos on a specific topic like GDPR and were there to establish brand authority and trust.

Once we had the content generation process in place and topics structured for the forthcoming weeks it was now about getting people to view the material

Our budgets were split accordingly per channel according to our pre-launch plan:

  • Google PPC – 65%
  • LinkedIn PPC – 20%
  • Facebook PPC – 10%
  • YouTube PPC – 5%

However interestingly we found on our analytics that Google PPC was costing a significant amount more per click and producing lower engagement rates than the other channels. We therefore moved the budget around after the first two weeks to focus more heavily on Facebook PPC and LinkedIn PPC as the engagement levels were:

  • Google – 2% average
  • LinkedIn – 0.758% average
  • Facebook – 3% average

We therefore changed our budgets to the following:

  • Google PPC – 20%
  • LinkedIn PPC – 20%
  • Facebook PPC – 40%
  • YouTube PPC – 20%

We also split test our creative over this period to see what content and banners worked most effectively. Below are some of the best and worst performing ads with stats and our reasoning why they performed so well or poorly.

Poor Facebook Ad:

This one had a 0.6% CTR.

The imagery didn’t stand out in the news feed and there is no “call to action” in the body text of the advert or the description/title of the link below it.

Good Facebook Ad:

This advert has 3% CTR and has received more likes than any other post to date. Although likes are only a vanity figure, the content and intention of the post seems to be striking a chord with our audience.

Poor Linkedin Ad:

This advert has a 0.195% CTR on LinkedIn.

The image seemed, at first impression, to be clear in the news feed, but the pastel colours didn’t stand out as strong as we expected.

The layout of the body text also appeared “flat” – We’re now taking body text layout into consideration when posting updates.

 

We also noticed onsite a lot of people would view the footage and then exit the page unlike our direct visitors. This was an issue as it was costing us significantly to drive traffic to the content. We wanted the users to engage with the brand and view other relevant content we had. To support this we made adjustments to our Labs Blog page to have a “topics cloud” and also banners to encourage users to click on. Below was the change we made to the landing pages:

This change increased click through rate and reduced immediate exit on these pages after digesting the content they watched or read.

We also introduced re-targeting into the marketing efforts very early on. I personally believe this is one of the most important parts of our funnel. Visitors very rarely sign up or purchase on their first visit to a website. They need to feel trust and value from the site. Due to our marketing predominantly focusing on content there was also no real direct call to action to sign up. Therefore our re-targeting was key to move the visitor down our funnel to signup for the free course. By using re-targeting banners we could build brand awareness and also follow visitors around the web with useful banners which share other content and information we have available. This supported brand equity and value to the user.

One of our Retargeting Banners Used:

 

One interesting factor we found by following this content marketing approach was that our organic listings are rapidly jumping up. We have Webmaster tools, as one of the systems to track our positioning and it is fantastic to see what is going on in Google’s eyes. When we first launched, as I mentioned we weren’t even indexed in Google. Within the first week of the launch we started to come up for terms that were relevant and useful to our long-term strategy, such as “PPC Marketing Course”. However with such a highly competitive term we were nowhere to be seen at position 400+. However within 2 weeks of running the paid marketing campaigns and driving viral engagement we saw this keyword and similar keywords start to rapidly jump up the search listings. This reinforced our beliefs on Google’s search algorithm that providing useful content that Google believed would be of benefit to the user we would rank quickly for these terms.

We will keep you up to date with this organic growth and positioning in our keywords over the coming weeks but below will show you some of our key terms we are seeing rapid growth in. This also shows how PPC and SEO are so closely intertwined.

Let me know if you have had similar experiences in the comments below.

I look forward to next week sharing with you our experiences as we continue to grow towards our 100,000 user target.

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Join us on our journey of "how" & "why" we successfully implement Digital Marketing Theory into practice & drive 100,000 users to our courses.

Andrew Hardman
Andrew Hardman is the MD & founder of MyMarketology (providing online marketing courses for digital marketeers) and loves to solve business problems and bike.

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