Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In the marketing spend budgets of most franchisors, PPC – “pay-per-click” – advertising is a vital part of their overall digital strategy to enhance lead-generation efforts. To the untrained eye, and even a few of the trained ones, PPC can be a study in contradictions. Is it expensive? It can be. Is it effective? Some studies seem to indicate so. Is it a labor-intensive resource? Yes, unless you’re using a digital platform that manages the PPC on your behalf. Is that expensive? Well… you get the picture.
Related: Can’t Rush a Good Thing: Effective Franchise Digital Marketing Takes Time
Two decades ago, the advent of Google AdWords began, introducing online ad campaigns where you only paid for consumer clicks. One of PPC’s early benefits was the ability to closely track and monitor the metrics that defined the campaign’s success rate in converting leads. It’s still much the same today, but the digital landscape has evolved quite considerably since the year 2000.
So where are franchisors headed with PPC in a post-pandemic world?
A competitive bid process means higher prices
The steady increase of brands participating in the PPC craze eventually led to a bid-based system for high-performing keywords. Competition to secure the best placement for your PPC ads has noticeably driven up the cost, but it hasn’t necessarily translated to increased conversion rates. Getting top-paid search placements (and results) has become a hotly contested process.
A short-sighted view
It’s been said that PPC ads give brands a great shot at a one-time customer — not exactly a great long-term acquisition strategy. B2B customers — such as franchisors looking to attract franchisees — often struggle to display the right content to reel in an interested candidate. Unlike consumer brands, the format and limitations of PPC ads offer limited opportunities to close an immediate sale.
Should franchisors ditch pay-per-click advertising altogether? Most digital advertising experts caution patience. For franchisors still engaged in the once tried-and-true PPC space, here are some post-pandemic trends to consider.
Related: These Cost-Management Gurus Practice What They Preach, and It’s Made Them One of the Fastest-Growing Franchises
Automation to the rescue?
With as many intricate details and moving parts as a PPC, it should come as no surprise that digital ad campaigns might be better suited for automation. In an environment rife with data-driven decisions, AI, machine learning and algorithms seem to match up well with successful PPC campaign requirements. For the most part, most brands have left human marketers in charge of these automated smart programs, mainly to oversee the emotional factors of insight and strategy.
Integration means optimization
If marketing mixes were comparable to a basic cable lineup, PPC is still but one channel on the dial. And integrating paid ads to work in concert with other channels such as PR, SEO, social media and organic content development may prove to be a winning strategy. PPC isn’t supposed to be siloed and once these campaigns are integrated across the full spectrum of marketing options, a clearer ROI picture should emerge as to their effectiveness in the future.
In summary, PPC can still be a viable component of any brand’s digital marketing spend. Some studies reveal that people who click on PPC ads are twice as likely to make a purchase as an organic visitor to the site. When compared to the myriad of other marketing channels and their varying rates of effectiveness, any belief that PPC is dying out may still be up for a healthy debate.
Related: Five Franchise Marketing Trends For 2022