How to Set Up a PPC Ad Campaign for Your Certification Course

One of the best ways to get the word out about your certification course is to create a PPC ad campaign. Within hours, you can have an up-and-running ad campaign to promote your certification course. PPC is faster, and often times more reliable, than SEO.

The only problem is that PPC can be confusing for beginners. With so many options, you may not be sure which path to take to get the outcome that you desire. The good news is that we’re devoting this post to help you understand how to set up a PPC ad campaign, even if you’re completely new to the idea of Internet marketing. Let’s get started.

Here’s a free checklist for setting up your PPC ad campaign.

What is PPC marketing?

PPC is short for pay per click marketing. This type of marketing requires a direct response. As inferred in the name, you (the advertiser) will pay whenever someone clicks on your ad.

Pay per click is one of the most popular forms of Internet marketing available. When most people think of PPC, search engine advertising comes to mind. And when you think search engines, you probably think “Google.”

Although Google Adwords is the biggest and most popular PPC ad network, it is not the only option for search engine advertising. Bing is also an important search engine ad platform.

PPC even expands into social media advertising through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and on page displays with options like AdRoll, and BuySellAds, just to name a few. However, for this article, we’ll focus solely on search engine PPC.

PPC Vs. SEO

There’s no doubt that you’ve heard about the benefits of search engine optimization (SEO). You know that tweaking certain elements of your site can improve your search engine rank and your chances of getting found by prospective members. What you may not know is how SEO compares to PPC.

PPC is different from SEO, but they’re not competitors. The two often work together to improve your site’s visibility on search engines.

While SEO is a long-term strategy, often taking months to be effective, PPC can produce results overnight. PPC is a lot faster than SEO. While you should also focus on reaching organic traffic through SEO strategies, you can set up a PPC campaign to build awareness for your certification course. PPC gives you the possibility of making it to the first page of the search engine results without months of tweaking your entire site.

How Does PPC Marketing Work?

Although there are differences depending on the company, most PPC ad networks operate on a bidding system. You’ll bid to receive a special placement for your ad in a sponsored area at the top or the side of a search engine results page.

First, you select a specific group of keywords that are related to your certification course. These keywords should be the same terms that a search engine user would type into the search bar.

Next, you choose a maximum budget that you’re willing to pay for each click.

Keep in mind that, although PPC marketing operates on a bidding system, price is not the only factor in determining whether or not to show your ad. In addition to the bid amount, the ad network also considers ad relevance and ad quality. Even if you’re the highest bidder, your ad may not show because it’s poorly rated in terms of search term match or even landing page quality. This is known as Ad Rank.

The click through history of your ads can also impact your Ad Rank. If your ad has already proven popular with search engine users, it has a greater chance of being promoted in future searches.

How to Create a PPC Campaign From Scratch

So now that you have a simple picture of how PPC marketing works, let’s dive into how to create your own ad campaign from scratch.

Choosing the Right Audience

The first step is to determine the right audience for your ad campaign. Because you’ve come to this post to learn how to set up an ad campaign to promote your certification course, your audience is clear: You want to reach prospective students who will find value in taking your course.

Of course, that’s the baseline, but you should go more specific. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • How old is my target audience?
  • What is their gender?
  • Where are they located?
  • What time of day would they most likely engage on the Internet?
  • What device do they use to search the Internet?
  • What keywords would they likely use to search for information related to my certification course?

Answering these questions can give you a more specific picture of your target audience. You can then reach an audience who’s more receptive to learning about your certification course.

Deciding on a Budget

Settling on the right budget can be tough, but the good news about PPC is that it works with every budget, whether you can spend $5 a day or $1,500 a day.

However, to get the most out of it, you’ll need to think of your PPC ad campaign as an investment. Think about the potential lifetime value of each certification student. How many will you earn when a student enrolls in and successfully completes your course?

Now, let’s look at conversion rates. Your conversion rate is the total number of conversions you’ve received divided by the total number of clicks. For example, if you received 10 conversions for every 100 clicks, you have a conversion rate of 10%.

The average conversion rate is 2%, but you don’t have to accept this as the standard. Here's why: Click To Tweet

The average conversion rate hovers around 2%, but you don’t have to accept this as the standard. Your actual conversion rate may be much higher, and it depends on several factors, such as:

  • The demand for a certification course
  • The search patterns of your target audience
  • Your ability to capture their attention with your ad
  • The persuasiveness of your call to action

To find the right ad budget, you’ll have to perform tests. Doing so will allow you to determine your actual conversion rate. Then, you can create a more realistic ad budget.

Writing Persuasive Copy

You only have a few words but you’ve got to make them count. You don’t have to be a gifted copywriter to come up with an effective ad. Here are a few things you should know:

Use strong words. You only have seconds to capture their attention. Use words that elicit emotion. Choose words like you, join, instantly, now, free, and discover.

Use keywords in your ads. We’ll explore keywords in the next section, but it’s crucial that you include the search engine user’s keywords in your ads. This connects their search with your solution.

Add a strong call to action. Get users to make the next step, which is to click through to your landing page and hopefully sign up for your certification course. Explain what’s in it for the user once they click.

Choosing the Right Keywords

Keywords are the heart and soul of your ad campaign. The bulk of your time will be spent in keyword research. If you don’t get it right, you’ll either suffer from low clicks or high clicks but low conversions.

The best keyword strategy is to choose a long tail keyword that closely (or exactly) matches a user’s query. Go for long tail keywords, which are more specific queries, because it indicates that the user is a better fit for viewing your ad. For example, instead of targeting a short keyword like “interior design,” target a long tail keyword like “interior designer certification course” because the user who searches for this phrase is a better target for your ad.

Be sure to choose the “exact match” option versus the “broad match” option. Broad match gives the ad network too much flexibility in when they may show your ad. Stretch your ad dollars further by creating a list of keywords and choosing to only display your ads when that exact phrase is used.

Also remember to constantly refine your keyword list. It’s not static. Depending on the size of your campaign, you may need to refine your keyword list daily. However, for most businesses, a once a week re-evaluation is sufficient.

You’ll learn as you go that certain keywords are more effective the others. Don’t be afraid to drop low-performing keywords or introduce new ones to your ad campaign. Also, look at the most expensive keywords in your campaign and determine whether these phrases bring in quality clicks.

Finally, make a list of negative keywords so that your ad does not show up in searches with these terms. Creating a negative keyword list reduces ad and audience mismatch and it also reduce the amount of money you’ll spend on your ads.

Creating an Optimized Landing Page

Don’t forget to create a landing page for your ad. A lot of businesses make the mistake of linking their ads to their home page. This is a fatal error because an interested prospect can often get lost when trying to find the information that you presented in the ad. When directed to a generic home page, your prospect may get frustrated and hit the back button. The result? You’ll pay for a click that never converted.

For this reason, you should send prospective customers to a landing page that matches your ad. The landing page should be free of distractions, and lead the prospect to sign up for your certification course, or at least opt in to your email list.

Final Thoughts

PPC ad campaigns can be complicated, but these tips should help. Use the above tips to create an ad campaign for your certification course that increases enrollment numbers.

Don’t forget to download your checklist for setting up a PPC ad campaign here.

Mark is a tech entrepreneur passionate about solving problems through software, and is currently the Marketing Lead at Accredible. If he's not working he's probably running or enjoying craft beer.

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