When it comes to online marketing, one way to ensure your business comes out on top is with a strategic campaign that makes use of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. This takes careful planning and care—when done wrong, it can be costly and you may not see the ROI you predicted. So before you jump in headfirst, here’s what you need to know in order to determine whether or not you should use PPC advertising for your business.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising?

Pay-per-click advertising is a form of online advertising that makes use of search engine marketing to generate more website traffic. PPC advertising platforms like Google AdWords and Bing Ads allow businesses to display sponsored ads along the top, side, or bottom of the organic search results list. This means that if someone does an online search on Google or Bing for “highlighter pens”, sponsored ads for highlighter pens will appear on the results page. If this person clicks through on any of the sponsored ads for these pens, they will be taken to a page where they can make a purchase. On the business side of things, anytime someone clicks on an ad that’s part of your campaign, you have to pay a fee. This means that with PPC advertising, you won’t have to wait around until a potential customer discovers your business. You’re paying for quick online exposure that may lead to a sale in the near future.

How to Set Up a Campaign

You can’t just launch a PPC advertising campaign and expect it to do well automatically. Much thought and careful planning go into these campaigns in order to ensure their success. Sit down and consider your advertising budget. Determine how much you are willing to spend daily (we recommend starting low with $5) to run your campaign and start off with manual bidding for clicks. A PPC advertising campaign relies on keywords so you’ll need to think about your business and what your customers want and look for when they are searching for something online. Craft a keyword list with both general and niche keywords that describe your business, and make use of a tool like Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner to help you see how certain keywords will perform.

In addition to the keywords, you will also need to make sure that your ad copy is relevant and persuasive, with a clear call-to-action. No one will want to click on a boring ad, and worse yet is when the ad’s landing page isn’t relevant or appealing. The ideal situation is when a customer clicks on your ad, sees your landing page for a specific product, and makes a purchase. A convincing ad works hand-in-hand with a relevant landing page.

Next, you’ll need to set your campaign up properly. Choose the geographical location you want to target and pick the places you’d like your ads to show up online, whether that’s an entire search network  including search-related websites and apps (like the Google Search Network and Display Network), or search partner sites that are working with a search engine to display ads. You can even determine whether or not you want your ads to appear only in mobile device browsers or on desktop/laptop computers.

It may seem easy to let a campaign run itself once you’ve set it up, but PPC advertising campaigns need to be managed and tracked so that their success can be measured. Pay attention to your keywords, noting which ones are gaining the most traction and which ones are not. PPC advertising platforms have built-in tracking measures and it’s extremely important to make use of them when analyzing the success of your campaign.

Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising Right for Your Business?

Based on what it takes to set up a PPC advertising campaign, it becomes clear that managing this kind of online advertising campaign takes work and proper strategizing, but it can be well worth the effort in the long run. PPC advertising campaigns are quick ways to drive traffic to your website, thus increasing your business’ presence and potentially increasing sales and revenue. Plus, you only pay a fee when someone clicks through an ad. This isn’t like a traditional advertising method where a campaign’s success may not be guaranteed. You can decide how much (or how little) you want to spend, and it’s guaranteed that your ad will reach a customer.

It’s easy to see why many businesses have turned to PPC advertising as a way to boost website traffic and revenue. If you have a little extra money to spare or you have a small advertising budget, give it a try. Remember to experiment, find what works and use that to your advantage.

 Anne Preble is a Volume Nine contributor to the Connectivity blog.