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Choosing the Right Online Advertising Strategy: Social Media, PPC, or Both?

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Jen Holub

When you’re planning your online advertising budget, it can be difficult to know exactly where to invest your money.

Do you focus on advertising in search engines like Google or Bing, or should you pour all your digital marketing resources into popular social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn?

Before making that decision, take a look at what each form of advertising has to offer and how it aligns with your marketing goals.

How Social Media Ads Work

If you’ve ever spent time scrolling through updates and videos on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, you’ve seen a social media ad. These are less obvious sponsored posts that show up right in your feed, as well as the more obvious text and display ads that appear alongside your feed.

Scorpion ad snippet

To ensure you’re reaching your most ideal audiences, you can target your advertising to users based on factors like location, demographics, interests, and online behaviors. So if you have a pet grooming business and you’re looking to target pet owners in your city, do it through their search engines and through their social media platforms.

When does it make sense to use social media ads?

Social media advertising is an excellent way to raise awareness of your business or brand.

With this strategy, you’re able to expose thousands of online users to your business when they aren’t already thinking of you, and you can even get them engaging with your brand through comments and shares. When a user sees your brand enough times or interacts with your business online, they’re more likely to remember you down the road when they need services like yours.

Use social media advertising when you want to spread the word about your business to new audiences, drive engagement, or drive action.

How PPC Ads Work

Paid search ads, commonly called pay-per-click (PPC) ads, appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). You might not be familiar with the term, but you have definitely seen these online ads when you have conducted any standard Google search.

Google PPC ad snippet

​Just like the organic (unpaid) search results, PPC ads are driven by the keywords included in a search query. They can also be targeted to online users based on other factors like location, demographics, past search behaviors, and even past interaction with your website.

When does it make sense to use PPC ads?

PPC advertising is effective for reaching potential clients when they’re close to the point of making a purchasing or hiring decision. The main goals of PPC ads are sales growth, lead generation, and increased recognition of your business. PPC provides easy entry, as well as observable and trackable outcomes.

At this point, the online user is actively searching for services like yours, so they’re more likely to click on your advertisement, whether that be an online ad, social media ad, a display ad, or a digital ad.

To ensure you’re reaching your target audience at the right time, bid on keywords that they’re most likely to use close to the decision making stage, like “Valencia children’s dentist” or “DUI lawyer in Valencia.” You can also use other forms of targeting to further refine your audience and make the most of your marketing efforts.

For example, you can direct content to your target audience within a 5-mile radius of your business who are entering specific keywords between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. You can identify this target audience by identifying buyer personas, finding out where and when your audience is the most active and what social media platforms they interact with the most, and by examining the activity of your competitors.

When defining their demographic, it is important to focus on their age, location, language, spending power, patterns, interests, personal challenges, and their stages of life. Social media is a major resource that allows you to understand and communicate with your audience. You can do more in-depth research by searching existing Facebook groups that you know your customer base is browsing and gauge their activity.

Use PPC advertising when you’re more focused on driving conversions (new calls and inquiries from prospective clients) than building awareness.

Diversifying Your Strategy with Social Media & PPC Ads

If you have the flexibility in your budget, it’s a great idea to use both social media and PPC advertising simultaneously. This allows you to cover all your bases and reach potential clients at different stages of their buying journey, from the search engine to the shopping cart. So, while you’re bringing in warm leads , you’re also filling up your pipeline by getting other online users thinking about your business, even if they’re not ready to use your services just yet.

If the overall digital marketing process seems overwhelming and you’d like to ease yourself in, we recommend starting off with social media ads and a branded PPC campaign (a campaign based on keywords related to your brand). This way, if someone sees one of your social media ads, remembers your business name, and later Googles it, you can ensure your business will appear at the very top of the search results.

This is a great way to keep up with their user journey and ensure that your ads are in front of the right eyes. A few clicks later, you will be well on your way to new business, and your customers won't feel like they were being targeted by an ad campaign.

Even though you do not want your future customers to feel like they are the target of digital advertising, on the backend, it is important to understand their user experience and take strategic steps to meet them where they are. An experienced digital marketing partner can help you create an online advertising strategy with effective ad campaigns that bring you the right level of exposure and new business.

This will create a seamless, positive experience for current and future customers and will keep your flow of business steady. If you are looking to reach your target audience and use your resources effectively, directing your campaigns towards social media and PPC advertising is a great place to start.

Learn about Scorpion’s PPC and social media marketing services!

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