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There are different kinds of digital content. There’s evergreen content, of course — the kind that you want to rank well in Google and bring in steady streams of traffic for months or even years to come — but then there’s the type of timely content that has a limited lifespan even in ideal circumstances. Thankfully, PPC can help with either kind.

Got evergreen content you want to serve as the cornerstone of your site? Drum up some visits with some paid ads and get the word out. Once people see how good the content is, they’ll start mentioning it and linking to it, and you’ll start getting organic traffic. Got super-fresh content you need eyes on ASAP? A PPC campaign can start bringing in the clicks as soon as it’s live.

But how can you use PPC to best promote your content? How should you target people, what (if anything) do you need to do with your content before you begin, and what should you do with your ads? Let’s go through it all.

Decide who you want to target

Covering marketing topics often calls for returning to the same well visited thousands of times before, and so it is here, because enough processes begin this way that you might think you already know everything there is to know about your target audience. And that would be true, except it’s all contextual.

I’ll elaborate. Content promotion isn’t always about reaching the people you want to buy your product imminently. It is most of the time, but there are other reasons to reach people with content. Here are just some of them:

  • To earn testimonials from notable experts.
  • To redeem your image with naysayers.
  • To win endorsements from social media influencers.

Before you proceed, you need to decide what exactly you’re trying to achieve with your PPC content promotion.If you’re seeking to achieve all of the above, that’s alright, but you’ll need distinct campaigns to succeed — try to do it all with one set of ads and you’ll dilute the potency.

Until you choose your platforms, you won’t be able to get into the specific parameters, but you can think at length about the types of people you want your ads to reach. What will they know about your brand, if anything? What might appeal to them? What are their pain points?

Choose the most relevant platforms

With the number of social media channels available today, there’s no shortage of PPC avenues to explore.There’s Google Ads, the ever-effective platform for the world’s biggest search engine, but there’s also FacebookAds, Twitter Ads, Snap Ads, Pinterest Ads, Instagram Ads, and numerous others of varying potential.

Which platform (or platforms) you should use will depend on your budget and where you expect to find the people you’re targeting. The typical setup would involve mixing Google Ads (consistent and convenient) with Facebook Ads (exceptionally customizable), using CPC (cost per click) options to ensure that you don’t pay if you don’t get traffic, but that’s not the only way.

Imagine that you’re trying to promote your brand to young people, and your intention is to get as many eyes on it as possible though showing off your visual content. Instagram might bet he perfect platform for that, and you could run a CPM (cost per mille) campaign: you’d be charged regardless of the clickthrough rate, but the impressions would be cheaper.

Then there are more sophisticated types of PPC, such as Facebook Stories. The problem with those is that they require the production of yet more content. If you can handle that demand, then put something together that represents the quality of the content you’re linking to: if you can’t, stick to a simpler form of PPC.

I wouldn’t recommend going for a scattergun approach and using every PPC platform available, because it’s difficult to maintain that level of complex maintenance. If you’re going to use just one, making it Google Ads or Facebook Ads, depending on which is better suited to your needs (if you’re doing anything visual, go with Facebook Ads).

Get your content ready

Before you start promoting your content, you need to be sure it’s ready to accommodate that traffic — and I don’t just mean technically. While your site does of course need to be able to handle the traffic, your content must be suitable landing-page material. Consider the pressure that will be placed on any piece selected as the destination of aPPC ad.

If a searcher sees a PPC ad saying “100 SEO Tips: Free Marketing Ebook” and clicks on it, it’s quite clear what they expect to find the moment they reach the site: a free marketing ebook featuring 100 SEO tips. If there’s a free ebook with just 70 tips, or a 100-tipe book that isn’t free, or even no immediate mention of an ebook whatsoever, they’ll leave the site.

They’ll also have quality expectations. They’ve been good enough to follow your link, so what do you have to offer them? You can technically meet their expectations but still drive them away (with a free 100-tip ebook of remarkably low quality, for instance). It might seem obvious, but your content needs to be exceptional. If it isn’t, no amount of PPC traffic will help you.

Conduct a full review of your content and identify the pieces of highest value. Remember that many pieces of content can be converted for fresh channels: for instance, you can turn a stat-heavy article into a crisp infographic, or use a good ebook creator to aggregate website content into a downloadable resource, or even convert a lengthy piece of actionable content into a series of instructional videos.

When you’re sure your content is ready to take advantage of PPC traffic (including having plenty of social sharing options), you’ll be ready to start configuring your campaigns.

Pick your keywords and user criteria

I won’t linger too long on this step because keyword research is a simple process (even though it can be quite arduous to carry out), but you obviously need to figure out what keywords you want to appear for (for Google Ads, at least — other platforms can figure outplacement for you based solely on your defined parameters).

Using the audience definitions you came up with earlier, note down the relevant terms they’d be searching for.Factor in their preferred tones and their slang terms, as they will vary based on age, profession, location, and countless other things. Do some research on social media to see what people are talking about. Use Google Trends to see how synonyms compare.

You can change your keywords as you go, so don’t worry about this part too much.You can often get by fairly well to begin with using basic keyword recommendations (or none at all). And if you’re using CPC, the worst-case scenario is that you don’t get any clicks at all. Get working on your ad content, and return to this periodically for further review.

Make your ads eye-catching

What you can do to make your ad standout will depend on the platform you’re using, but you’ll always have some options to play with. Google Ads, for example, has various extensions you can experiment with — you can highlight a review, list a feature, provide opening hours, show prices, etc. Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads, meanwhile, allow you to include imagery and offer more room for creativity with your copy.

To make your ads stand out, review the battlefield as it currently stands. Search for the terms you’re targeting and see what ads come up. How do they compare, to one another or to your ad copy? What things stand out? What things blend in? What visuals are people using in Facebook Ads, and how can you outperform them?

Create your ads to stick out very clearly from the pack, even if it requires them to be somewhat unconventional. Adhering to best practices isn’t all that useful when there are seven other ads doing the exact same thing around you. Push the ads live and see how they perform, then revise them accordingly until they’re maxing out your budget.

Keep iterating

Lastly, now that your campaign (or campaigns) are live, you need to keep working on them. Nothing about them is inherently static. You can update targeted parameters, budget allocations, copy, visuals, and keywords whenever you like. Using your website’s CMS, review the analytics of the content you’re promoting. What are visitors doing?

Bring everything back to the goals you initially identified. What constitutes brand success to you? What level of revenue are you hoping for? Know what you expect from the campaigns (based on the budgets you’ve given them) and tweak them as needed. If they’re not working, you can always shut them down and rework them.

And remember the value of seasonal events in trends and search traffic, particularly since we’re nearing BlackFriday. A campaign that doesn’t perform today might perform excellently next week. Take context into consideration, process feedback, and try again: sooner or later, you’ll hit upon a winning formula.

Patrick Foster

Ecommerce Consultant at Ecommerce Tips
Patrick Foster is an editor and consultant from Ecommerce Tips — a up-and-coming ecommerce blog that shares the latest news from the sector, spanning everything from brand growth hacks, to staff development.