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Since its inception in the early 2000s, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has grown to be a staple of every major brand’s digital marketing strategy. Paid and organic search traffic have become equally important, and the flexibility offered by paid search results – as opposed to having Google choose your result for you – makes them a powerful tool to any advertiser.

But to a startup putting together its first marketing budget and strategy, is paid really worth it? With everything that must be considered in getting a new brand off the ground, does this channel deserve the sizeable chunk of budget it’ll most likely require?

Our answer – and I’m sure you’re shocked – is a resounding yes. Here are six reasons why.

1. Branding

Want to get your name out there fast? How about putting it on the platform that sees 3.5 billion queries per day? While PPC is a brilliant tactic for increasing direct response, it’s sometimes overlooked by marketers as a tool for branding. But there’s no two ways about it – having your name at the top of Google search results builds familiarity and trust with your brand, both of which pay dividends a lot sooner than you might think. At very least, consumer top-of-mind awareness is estimated to be around 7% higher for brands with an ad in Google search.

2. Getting off the ground quickly

You’re a startup. You don’t have years of name recognition to fall back on, and you need to start generating interest and driving sales now. That means the flexibility and immediacy of digital marketing are of use to you. Quality paid search campaigns can be researched, planned, and built in a matter of days, and they go live immediately. As long as you do everything right, you can start seeing results from day one – and they’ll be easy to measure.

3. Digital media is cost-efficient

Sure, Google charges a premium for ads on its platform, but it also rewards advertisers who build smart, targeted campaigns and ads – meaning you can invest into ad spend knowing you’re paying for results, rather than projections or print costs. Google’s model works – that’s why well over 1 million advertisers use it. And it gets the job done without the guessing games and inevitable waste of tactics like direct mail or advertising in print media. As a startup owner, you need to be lean and effective before anything else – which is why PPC should be an immediate go-to.

4. It’s measurable

This is far and away one of the most important benefits of digital marketing in general, but it’s especially true of paid search. The data available in Google AdWords – especially if you link it with Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics – is invaluable, and it can tell you everything from the moment when a customer clicked on your ad to how long they spent on the product page before purchasing. More data means better and more efficient advertising, and it means you can adapt quickly as you learn more about your customers. Moreover, some kinds of data – such as the keyword searches performed to find your site – are only available via AdWords, and that data can be of crucial importance later. The sooner you start showing ads, the sooner you can find out what’s effective.

5. It can tell you wonders about your website

One of the little-utilized benefits of PPC is that it can reveal a lot, very quickly, about how your customers respond to various user experiences. By A/B testing landing pages with different variables – say, long-form vs. short-form sales copy, or different-sized purchase buttons – you can easily discern what works and what doesn’t. This can and should inform your site’s web design, whether you keep that just to your PPC landing pages or not. While the primary pages on your site probably shouldn’t be identical to the conversion-centered pages showing up for very specific ads, you can still use these insights as general guidelines for how to approach sitewide user experience.

6. Your competitors are doing it

Try typing a few of your most valuable keyword phrases into Google. Does an ad show up? Chances are good the answer is yes, and if so – and it’s not yours – you’re already behind. If not, that means there is easy, easy traffic to be had right from the top of Google search, and you’re not capitalizing on it! There’s the occasional rare industry in which paid might not deliver the most valuable customers, in which case there’s a reason your competitors aren’t spending money on it, and perhaps you shouldn’t either. But in all other cases, if you’re seeing somebody else’s name there, that’s valuable real estate you can and should be controlling – and most times there’s a whole lot of opportunity to do it better. Don’t waste that opportunity!

Own or work at a startup? What are some of your favorite reasons to use paid search? Let us know in the comments below!

About Brendan Silk

Brendan Silk is the lead content strategist at Ethoseo and a regular contributor to the Ethoseo blog. In addition to blogging and copywriting, he's spent the past three years honing his SEO and inbound marketing skills, with an emphasis on link building and social media. In his spare time he can usually be found chasing cats, playing drums, or listening to Phish.You can find more posts by Brendan at his bio page on Ethoseo, or follow him on Google+.

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