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Why Paid Search Isn’t Just For Big Budgets (Plus 9 AdWords Alternatives)

Mike Essex

by Mike Essex on 30th April 2013

I like big budgetsI like big budgets and I cannot lie but when a client walks in with an itty bitty budget I get intrigued. Because paid search isn’t just for huge budgets and nor is it is case that those who spend the most get the best results. So in this slide deck, which I presented at On The Edge, I look at why Paid Search is for any budget not just the big ones.



Summary Of Key Points

One of the most common things we get asked with Paid Search campaigns is what it will cost to compete. Whilst it is true some industries are dominated with high costs per click there are many platforms to consider which may better suit your budget.

So in this talk I ran through 10 tools that cost less than £1 per click on average and three more than were a little bit more expensive but still cheap. The average is taken across industries so if you do find costs work out too much on one platform you can always switch to another.

You should also consider that thanks to items such as Quality Score in AdWords the people at the top of the listings don’t always pay the most. There are also similar mathematical calculations on many of these platforms to determine the cost. So the smarter you use Paid Search the less you’ll spend.

Where Should I Advertise?

Before you choose a platform it’s important to consider what your goal is:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Content Promotion
  • Lead Generation
  • Sales

Whilst we’d all love more sales and leads it’s possible to complete the other two options without destroying all of your budget. In fact if we’re talking about pure cost the most expensive option is generating clicks for sales, then leads, then content and then branding. So actually the more sales focused you get the more it will cost you.

It’s why picking the right platform is essential. Google AdWords search network is great for sales but bad for branding (with one exception) and Facebook is better for branding than sales. So what’s key is to pick the right platform for your goal and that’s what you’ll see in the slides.

Or for a quick summary this is which platform I recommend for each goal and why.

Best Platforms For Brand Awareness

Facebook Advertising
Avg CPC: £0.52 ($0.80)
Avg CTR: 0.051%
Why? The high CTR makes Facebook perfect for maintaing a presence without always being charged. It’s also a cheap way to get real followers for your Facebook page without resorting to cheating and buying fake followers. Those real followers then get frequent touch points with your brand.

Twitter Advertising
Avg CPC: £0.65 ($1)
But: £5,000 minimum spend
Why? As with Facebook, Twitter is a great way to build up your Twitter following and you can also highjack news stories with promoted trends and use promoted accounts/ tweets to place your brand in people’s minds.

Google AdWords Display Network
Avg CPC: £0.12 ($0.19)
Avg CTR: 0.4%
Why? The option to use high quality images to get visibility of your brand across the web is hard to turn down. Especially when you create adverts that push your brand message without always requiring a click, effectively making them free adverts.

Google AdWords Search Network
Avg CPC: £0.54 ($0.84)
Avg CTR: 2.9%
Why? I wouldn’t recommend the search network for general bidding on terms such as “shoes” unless you have a lot of money to burn but it’s important to bid on your brand name to deter others. If you don’t like the thought of spending money on this then use communication extensions to collect email details from users to justify the cost.

YouTube Advertising
Avg CPC: £0.18 ($0.28) In stream Advertising
Why? You only pay when people watch your advert all the way through so if you get your brand across in the few seconds it takes to skip then it’s another free advert. It’s also a great visual format so if your advert is watched you have the opportunity to promote a strong brand message.

Best Platforms For Content Promotion

Outbrain
Avg CPC: £0.10 ($0.15)
Avg CTR: 0.15% – 0.18%
Why? Allows your content to be seen in the “Around the web” or “similar stories” sections on TIME, The Guardian, The Sun, CNN and 100,000 more sites. A great way to attract a new audience to read your content.

Zemanta
Avg CPC: £0.04 ($0.06)
Avg CTR: 6.4%
Cost per link: £3.25 – £16.20 ($5-$25)
Why? Before you suggest I’m recommending buying links Zemanta is actually an ethical way of sourcing links. Your content gets seen by up to 140,000 bloggers when they are writing blog posts. They can then choose to link to your content if it’s relevant to their audience. You can also either pay per link or on a CPC model depending on preference.

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery
Avg CPC: £0.06 ($0.10)
Why? The key with StumbleUpon is to pay for people to see your content and make something so good that the users vote it up. This then creates free stumbles so people see your content without paying. E.g. Hypetree paid $125 for 1,784 stumbles and got 182,000 free stumbles (aka viewers) as a result.

Best Platforms For Lead Generation

Google AdWords Remarketing
Avg CPC: £0.40 ($0.62)
Avg CTR: 0.18%
Why? If people visit your site but don’t buy from you then you should be showing them remarketing adverts relevant to their purchase. You only pay if they click, making it an effective way to keep in their mind. If that doesn’t convince you then remember retargeted customers are 70% more likely to complete a purchase.

LinkedIn Advertising
Avg CPC: £1.80 ($2.78)
Avg CTR: 0.057%
Why? LinkedIn does have adverts but they are quite expensive and in our experience haven’t worked very well. They could work for you but I’d recommend using InMail instead. With a £25.95 per month premium account you can email up to ten people you don’t know on LinkedIn and if they don’t reply you get the credit back to use again. Great for a sales team to do lead generation.

SlideShare
Cost: £19 / $19 per month
Why? Aside from the dubious currency conversion (were they taking lessons from Apple?) if you already put slides on SlideShare you can add a form at the end to collect details. It’s a no brainer if you want to see who likes your slides and give them an easy way to get in touch.

As a side note if you are using paid search for lead gen then you really should learn Conversion Rate Optimisation. Here’s a free guide to get started.

Best Platforms For Sales

Bing Ads
Avg CPC: £0.69 ($1.07)
Avg CTR: 2.5%
Why? Although the average CTR for many verticals is higher on AdWords than on Bing the average CPC for the most competitive niches is lower on Bing. So if you are priced out of competing on AdWords then give Bing a try.

Google AdWords Product Listing Ads
Avg CPC: £0.20 ($0.31)
Why? In Christmas 2012 Google PLA’s drove the most traffic and revenue out of the main price comparison websites. They’re the best way to get seen at the exact moment people are about to make a purchase.

Google AdWords Search Network
Avg CPC: £0.54 ($0.84)
Avg CTR: 2.9%
Why? Despite all of these platforms there’s still a king of the castle for CTR and Conversions and that’s AdWords search network. I could go (and have gone) on for entire posts and slidedecks about why AdWords is awesome (as well as how to save money on it) but this free whitepaper will give you everything you need instead. If you have the budget it’s a necessary platform for sales but just remember for everything else there are many other platforms to try as well.

All CTR / CPC sources are available in the slides.

I also mentioned three tools for spying on competitors if you need inspiration:

Moat.com: Great for looking at display adverts which have run in the US.
SpyFu: Tells you the keyword competitors are using globally.
SpyFu Kombat: Lets you see how much competitor spend and where.

I’d love to hear your experiences on the different platforms and any tips you have for saving money on them in the comments below:

Mike Essex

Mike Essex

Mike Essex specialises in digital marketing and everything search. A recent project of Mike’s was featured on BBC News, Radio 5Live and the Times here in the UK, whilst also featuring on USA Today and ABC News in the US. He will be writing throughout the month about digital marketing and much more...

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