PPC: What is it?
PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click, a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically. Search engine advertising is one of the most popular forms of PPC. (definition from Wordstream)
This form of advertising is commonly implemented in Google AdWords for Search & Display Ads, or by directly placing text-links or banners on an online publisher's website or through social platforms (think for example: LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc) where you set your ad objective as 'traffic to website' for CPC (=Cost- Per- Click).
The PPC Landscape
Looking at a recent report ( Acquiso PPC Report 2017 - 2018 ) specific to the US, it seems that advertisers spend most of their PPC budget on Text Ads Campaigns, with Native, Programmatic and Display Ads been at the ‘end of the tail’.
Based on conversations with clients across 4 African countries - including Ghana: Social Network Ads, along with Display and Native Ads, are taking the bulk of the Ad Spend. These are mostly for brand awareness campaigns not PPC.
What happens to PPC Campaigns in Africa, despite the ever increasing Advertising Budgets on PPC campaigns (to the tune of billions of dollars yearly)?
Below are 4 reasons why we are not maximizing the use of PPC campaigns in Ghana (And many parts of Africa).
Why are PPC Campaigns not effective in Ghana
#1 Incomplete Sales Funnel
PPC campaigns require that users click through to another destination which could be a website, or ecommerce store or Apps landing page for lead generation, a click-to-call extension etc.
Without a complete Sales Funnel, there is little chance of getting ROI from a PPC campaign. Some clients have catalog- based ecommerce websites with no payment integration. Others run Ad campaigns to websites with no dedicated landing page for the offer or a lead generation form. Eventually, there is no other choice than to run a brand awareness campaign, or a failed PPC campaign that will bring the kind of poor results that your clients are not happy about.
Finally, you have the ‘end of the funnel’ where your salesforce and sales-mechanisms might not converting any PPC leads, however few.
#2 Lack of expertise from the 'Digital Experts'
Many Digital Marketers wrongly agree with clients that digital marketing is not a platform for sales conversions, possibly because of their limited exposure to what is possible with Digital Marketing channels.
We should all agree that any form of marketing that does not help a business grow is not worth the investment. Digital Marketing is no exception. It should help organisations to grow with very clear alignment to business objectives.
This is where Digital Marketing channels play a significant role including:
- Digital Display
- Mobile Advertising
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing etc.
#3 Ignoring the powerful iterative nature of Digital Marketing
There is pressure from clients to make Digital Marketing work for them with the smallest of budgets and execution time-frames. It feels like every successful client- pitch is another 'last chance' to prove that Digital Marketing works.
PPC campaigns require a lot of learning and monitoring. Unlike brand awareness campaigns that you can almost 'set and forget', PPC campaigns require testing and close monitoring to ensure the targeting, keywords selected, platforms, bid, copy, landing pages and conversion processes are all working together in sync.
While as experts we have best approaches and practices to run successful campaigns, no one really knows how to optimize a campaign that is yet to run. It is required to run first, and then optimize to deliver results. Both of these require budget and time.
Digital Marketing is iterative, which allows us to make changes and optimize on the go with full flexibility on campaign budget (starting small), platform selection, copy, ad creative.
Common pitfalls with content:
- Content Starts with your PPC Ad- text: if not interesting or badly written, why would you expect that people click on it? Consumers who have clicked before on your ad and encountered bad content, they are unlikely to click again.
- Content of ...Content: sometimes, the content is so bad or boring or of low quality that it becomes ‘forgettable’. Consider having an Editorial Team or copywriter for every PPC campaign.
- Relevancy: irrelevant content -whatever the reason (e.g. you forgot to employ negative keywords), attracts the wrong target audience to your offer.
- Content Testing: you can optimize content by using Analytics to assess content usage, effectiveness, and engagement.
- Is your content aligned with your Consumer/ Customer/ Buyer Journey?
There is a lot more to be said about Content and from several different and distinct viewpoints.
Remember: Content is the King!
What do other colleagues think?
“We have a lot of people who call themselves Digital Marketers just because they have huge followers on social media, meanwhile, they lack the fundamental understanding of the digital space, branding and advertising which informs a good PPC campaign”.
Alex Offei Lartey, Digital Marketing & Communications Consultant at AOL Technologies
"PPC campaigns can be better in Ghana, with the right knowledge and skillset about how to set up effective PPC campaigns and measure results or outcomes. Unfortunately, this is not the case due to the lack of talents today in the digital marketing space.
Content has a role to play again without the right skills and knowledge how can one create engaging content? The limitation I see comes from the expertise and in Ghana in as much as digital is growing, we still have a lot to learn….”
Issifu Aljumah Seidu, Digital Marketing Manager, Roche Sub-Saharan Africa
"I generally feel it has got to do with skill and expertise rather than content quality as it is the root cause of poor content. Everyone is rushing into the digital sphere without acknowledging the complicated nature of the environment as well as the people just as with the dot-com bubble of 2000 waiting to burst. Even larger agencies in Africa and Ghana are getting it wrong too. We have had some of the most impressive PPC campaigns for some companies in Ghana with very low unexpected budgets and I think Skill was the game changer here"
Nicholas Tanye, Cofounder & COO - CliQAfrica and Head of Research, Ghana Social Media Rankings (smrankings.org)
““PPC ads are not as effective in Ghana and broadly the whole of Africa because most digital marketers do not fully comprehend how they work. A digital marketer with little or no experience does not understand that CTAs, content type and a functioning sales funnel make PPC one of the most effective ways to draw new clients and sustain old ones. Why pay about $2.00 for a 1000 impressions from clients who won’t ever purchase anything from your site? How about paying $0.80 for a click from a client who brings a Lifetime Value of over $10,000?”.
Priscilla Korshie-Sherrie, Content Strategist and Digital Storyteller, DreamOVal
"PPC is much less competitive in Ghana and therefore can, and has been, an effective tool for running campaigns, especially cost wise. Strategy-wise, a simple Digital Funnel, utilizing social media, GDN and a well optimized landing page has helped us run campaigns that have brought in quality leads like in the recent Fidelity Bank “10x More” campaign we ran. The trick is to have all parts of your funnel working together and under your control and lastly, a highly targeted ad campaign that speaks to your desired target for a successful call to action.
The difficulty locally is in closing the funnel. You may generate the sales leads but the sales team doesn’t close or the business lacks the necessary digital infrastructure to convert leads in to sales online."
Raeed Helwani, Founding Partner, Ronin Africa
“... Our use is limited mainly to social activity - watching YouTube videos/ movies, connecting with our friends on social media. Until we develop a habit where we're going on Google to find the best supermarket deals or most fitting car insurance packages, it will always be difficult to find the right target audience with PPC. Having said that though, PPC campaigns on Facebook do seem to be effective for certain markets, as there are so many Ghanaians using the platform religiously”.
Yanfo Hackman CEO, Social Ghana
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Effectiveness of PPC Campaigns seem to be a Pan African issue. We looked at 4 possible reasons to help address the problem. We also talked to several Ghanaians that are involved in PPC campaigns.
And it seems that the road to a better set of PPC results, starts with better education (both formal training and hands-on involvement) of the Digital Marketers.
Sure, it is a new profession, standards are being developed and some High Quality Certifications are slowly been put in place (for example DMI in Ireland, CIM in the UK, etc). Btw, the RDM Academy (part of RAPD) offers DMI’s Professional Diploma.
Your PPC campaigns should always be about tying marketing activities to Sales.
Thank you and Good Luck
Spiros Tsaltas and Ibukun Onitiju