Industry news

12 January 2018 Andy

Is pay-per-click right for membership organisations?

Pay-per-click and membership?

Before we dive into the details, let’s examine what we mean by “pay-per-click” marketing and how it can be used by membership organisations like your own. Pay-per-click (or PPC) is a tool that you can use to place adverts on various websites, often search engines.

The most popular type of PPC is Google Adwords. People who search in Google see the first few results are advertisements, followed by normal search results. Website owners can buy placements at the top of Google for various phrases that people might type in.

We’ll explore why you might use it for your membership association, some common issues, and how your membership organisation can organise their first PPC campaign.

Why should your membership organisation use PPC?

There are many reasons why you could use PPC as a marketing option, but below are some reasons that are attractive to those in the membership sector:

  • Improve presence: Membership associations are always under pressure to attract new members. PPC allows you gain traffic to your website, meaning it is easier to hit your KPIs. You only pay when people visit, you can turn it on or off instantly (unlike normal search) and can set it up for particular campaigns like a conference or renewal period.
  • Control: It is important for any marketer at an association to have control over their marketing efforts. PPC campaigns allow you to set budgets easily, decide when to show adverts and who sees them (amongst many other factors).
  • Highly measurable: PPC allows you to see how your general account is performing overall alongside being able to dive right down into the data to see how particular settings affect the performance. PPC makes it easy to answer the big questions such as “What’s the ROI of our campaigns?” and “How much do we spend per each new member?”
  • Gain insights: PPC is a great tool for gaining insights into your other channels such as social, email and search. You discover insights about your audience such as geography, demographics and actions for instance. These findings can be seen as an opportunity to boost all your marketing efforts.

Reasons against using PPC

  • Cost: Starting with the obvious – PPC does cost money. If you have very little in the way of budget left then a PPC campaign could be hard to justify.
  • Time: Time in two senses. Firstly, although instant, it does take time to make most campaigns work. Tweaking various options over time hones the campaign and makes it more effective. Secondly, it is easy to assume you can just leave a PPC campaign running indefinitely. But it is useful to spend time keeping track of results and tweaking your campaigns based on your findings.
  • Changing world: PPC, like other channels, changes over time. Settings and tools come and go. Different types of campaigns are born. How adverts are displayed changes every so often. So training, either by yourself or formal PPC training, is needed to keep up to date.

Effective use of PPC for membership

So now we know the pros and cons of PPC for membership organisations, let’s look at how you could run a campaign effectively. Clearly there are many ways to do so, but the following is a .

  1. Define your goals: Like any marketing campaign that you run, knowing your goal(s) defines the whole point of the campaign. Without it, you’re lost. (By all means read up on measuring goals). A goal for your organisation might be to get a potential member to join, buying a resource or an event booking.
  2. Ensure tracking is set up: If using Google Adwords, then link it to Google Analytics so you can explore and improve PPC campaigns in the same way as you explore other campaigns.
  3. Explore key-phrases: If you have focused on search in the past, then you may have a list of phrases that you’d like people to find your website for. Normal search phrases can also help identify what some might be. Additionally your own suggestions and Google’s own keyword planner can help you define what phrases you want to pay for. Try to focus them into niche areas via Adwords campaigns – such as events related terms in one campaign, resources in another and membership in a third campaign.
  4. Hone and expand: If instant results are not necessary then improve and learn early on with a small budget. Consider all factors when first setting up your campaign, especially options like locations, devices, schedules and negative terms. Expand once you are more confident with the remaining budget meaning you have more to spend once the campaign is working.
  5. Revise and improve: As alluded to earlier, this step never really ends. You can constantly improve the usage of your budget by learning new techniques, removing roadblocks and through better targeting.

What’s next?

Now if the pros of PPC excite you and the cons don’t put you off, then pay-per-click may be a great channel to start using to grow your membership association. If this article has inspired you to start using PPC campaigns in your marketing efforts then great! If you work for a membership organisation and are little uneasy on deploying a PPC channel then by all means get in touch and we can talk about the options you have.

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