As a startup, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out the best and most effective ROI on the limited marketing budget.
One of the most natural and spontaneous responses that I have observed in startups is to first resort to unpaid channels such as social media to gain their initial set of customers. There’s nothing wrong with that however, most businesses would agree that trying to gain customers through these channels organically is not that easy or worth the time invested.
When the time and effort on free marketing reaps meager results, the next common step that startups resort to is spending some money on paid promotions on Facebook. While Facebook lends the power to reach thousands of people and is relatively cheaper than Google PPC, some of the common problems that businesses report are:
- Attracting window shoppers/wanderers to site who don’t convert
- Attracting only likes to a business's Facebook Page/Post
- Generating only a small number of enquiries
While there may be exceptions to above, this trend has been observed with most businesses. The limitations can be explained by the way Facebook is built and operates.
- People don’t hang around on Facebook with the intent to purchase
- Facebook doesn’t provide an insight on a person’s buying intent
- Most people hang around on Facebook only to engage with friends and family
- Paid promotions have begun to attract a lot of bots on Facebook that auto-post junk on a business's post/page
- A brand that aims to micro-target a demography on Facebook, will look at profiles based on location, education, interests etc and then publish ads. A lot of people do not update their profiles the way businesses would like them to, which becomes a big challenge for any brand.
So, that means as a startup, should I spend my money on a Google PPC campaign? No, don’t rush unless you understand fully if a Google PPC campaign will make sense for you
And how do you figure that out? A simple thumb rule - PPC spend should be less than or at least equal to the revenue it generates.
However, PPC can be challenging and ineffective for startups who are not clear and specific about their target audience and their own proposition.
Some of the other cases where PPC should NOT be used are:
- When you don't have an upfront business model
- When you are trying to acquire free users ex: a platform model such as a matrimony site or a listings platform
- When you have a product/service that people are not looking to buy. For ex: Not many people look to fund crowdfunding projects on Google. However, quite a few people look to publish their projects on a crowdfunding platform. So, if you are the owner of a crowdfunding platform, then Google PPC will not yield any ROI for you. Because most people clicking on your Ads, would be project owners and not project funders.
PPC for Startups
For startups who know who they are selling to and what they are selling, PPC can be advantageous for the following reasons:
- Almost instantly brings targeted traffic to your site
- Minimizes your wandering time trying to bring the initial set of users
- Along with the benefit mentioned in Point #2, it also becomes a potent source of initial user feedback for your product/service or even your UI/UX
- Gives you the initial leverage that’s required for your product/service
- Gives you a fair idea regarding demand and takers for your product/service
That said, PPC can be a drain on your limited financial resources if not executed as per Google standards and quality requirements. So, if you are planning to run a PPC campaign for your newly launched service/product, make sure you learn the fundamentals or seek someone’s help to execute your PPC campaign.
It’s all about getting your business off the ground. Once it receives a bit of lift, then you can experiment with other channels and slowly move towards building a brand that eventually becomes one of your competitive advantages.
However, just remember that moving randomly in all directions doesn’t create overnight success. A step by step process ensures better ROI and can position you more strongly for your long journey!
PS: If you are a startup and confused between choosing SEO and PPC, feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org