Let’s cut to the chase: great branding is critical to the success of your business.
An emotional response often plays a crucial role in the buyer journey, and the way consumers feel when they hear your company’s name could make or break your customer acquisition and growth trajectory. Let’s take Target, for example: the majority of their products can be found at competing retail chains at an equal or lesser price point, but their ability to brand themselves as a slightly more “upscale” shopping experience has garnered them a wildly loyal customer base.
That being said, it isn’t uncommon to come across a Target ad as you’re scrolling through your social media feed or making a Google search. Why is that? Why buy advertisement space if they have already developed a reputation as a leader amongst their competitors?
The answer is simple: PPC — or pay-per-click — ads enable you to get your business in front of your target audience (no pun intended) before they have an opportunity to check out the competition.
Now, how does branding tie into this? One might think that prioritizing paid ads in your marketing strategy would mean placing less priority on developing an easily identifiable brand identity, but this certainly isn’t the case. This is because your business isn’t the only one utilizing PPC ads – your competitors are as well. If you and a competitor are both running nearly identical ads targeting the same audience on the same platforms with the same marketing budget, consumers will likely click on the ad from a brand with whom they have a more positive initial reaction.
While you can pay to advertise your website, you can’t pay consumers to visit your website. It’s up to you to utilize PPC and branding in tandem to make potential customers eager to do so on their own.
What is PPC?
PPC ads are a form of marketing in which an advertiser mays a fee each time their ad is clicked. In other words, marketers bid on ad placements on high-traffic websites like search engines and social media apps based on the perceived value of a click on that specific platform. This value is determined by the popularity of each platform, the audience(s) they attract and the competitiveness of the keyword for which you are trying to appear in a search.
There’s a common misconception that utilizing PPC ads is an easier, “shortcut” route to generating website traffic compared to doing so organically. While PPC ads might get your website in front of a wider audience quicker than you would through SEO or word-of-mouth marketing, that doesn’t necessarily make it easier.
Along with the time commitment that comes with creating ads, there’s also the obvious financial stakes involved, as well. What works for some audiences might not work for others, so you might want to A/B test several ads at the same time to determine which yields the highest click-through rate. Not only does this double your efforts, but it might double your budget as well. That said, it could very likely also double your successes.
What is Branding?
Before we get into what branding is, let’s talk about what branding isn’t. Your brand isn’t your company, nor is it your products. However, both your company and your products rely on branding to be marketable.
Branding is the process of creating a distinct and easily identifiable image for your business in an attempt to differentiate your marketing efforts from that of your competitors. This could be in the form of a name, slogan, logo, color palette and so on.
For example, let’s compare three sneaker companies: Nike, Adidas and Reebok. All three sell similar products at similar price points, but they’ve each garnered a dedicated customer base because they were able to brand themselves in a way that promised an experience that is unique from anything else on the market.
Now, you might be asking yourself “What does this have to do with PPC ads?” The answer is simple: Everything. If your PPC ads aren’t crafted in a way that reflects your brand, you will almost certainly struggle to attract and convert new customers.
How to Use PPC and Branding
Now that we’ve covered how PPC and branding relate to one another, let’s take a deep dive into how your business can utilize the two to your advantage:
Get to Know Your Competitors
Search for a keyword you’d like to rank for, and see which ads appear at the top of that query. Those are your competitors – the businesses bidding on these terms in a Google Ads auction. There’s no way of knowing the size of their marketing budget to determine if you can out-bid them for that coveted ad placement, but you can find PPC opportunities that they have not yet tapped into by conducting a competitor analysis.
A competitor analysis enables you to determine precisely which marketing strategies your competitors are employing in an effort to improve their online visibility, including which of their SEO keywords are profitable and which ads they are running. While this tells you what they’re doing right, it also unveils what they aren’t doing enough of and where they are leaving gaps in their marketing campaign. You can use this information to bid on less competitive ad placements for keywords that your competitors have yet to break into. This visibility can help give your business the brand name recognition needed to be seen as an expert in your industry.
Establish Your Unique Brand Voice
Now that you’ve checked out the competition, it’s time to figure out what it is that sets your brand apart. The copy you include within your PPC ad may be brief, but it could make the difference between whether a potential customer clicks on your website or goes with a competitor.
Take a look at the language your competitors use in their PPC ads. Are they using this space to list their products and/or services? Is it written with a consistent brand voice in mind, or does it seem to be written specifically to be read by a search engine? Use this information to craft ad copy that differentiates your brand and helps searchers find exactly what they are looking for. This might require running multiple ads at the same time – a strategy called A/B testing – to determine which messaging resonates with your audience the best. Make sure the voice if your ad copy is consistent with the voice used on your website, and consider including relevant keywords that your audience might be searching for where appropriate.
Increase Your Brand Awareness
Your PPC ads might not lead to a swelling new wave of new customers right off the bat, but that doesn’t mean your efforts were unsuccessful. In fact, the long-term benefits of simply getting your company’s name out there could prove to be more sustainable than a quick rush of sales during the duration of your ad. Think about it – how many purchases have you made based on brand name recognition alone?
With this in mind, strive to create PPC ads that are instantly recognizable as belonging to your brand. This could be in the colors you use, photos you choose and/or graphics you create. Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer while you’re creating your ads: Which ads would catch your eye if you were scrolling through your social media feed, and what is it about them that you would remember? Brand awareness is an invaluable element to any marketing campaign, so be sure to put in the effort to make your ads memorable and distinctly yours.
Ready to Boost Your Brand with PPC?
Don’t let the “pay” in “pay-per-click” deter you from integrating PPC into your marketing budget. In fact, there are plenty of ways to boost your brand with PPC without breaking the bank – the key is knowing when, where and how to focus your efforts to get the best bang for your buck.
If the thought of navigating a PPC advertising strategy on your own sounds daunting, it might be time to consider calling in some professional help. Reach out to an experienced team of digital marketing experts (like us!) with the industry insight and top-of-the-line marketing tools needed to help you develop a PPC advertising campaign, strengthen your brand and increase your bottom line.