How to Get Started with PPC in 2021

May 22, 2021
5 min read

PPC, the best friend to Growth Agencies and ambitious brands alike. It’s a powerful tool that can make a massive difference to your business success, customer acquisition, and ultimately your bottom line. Unfortunately, Pay-Per-Click doesn’t come as a one size fits all, plug and play solution.

For the uninitiated, navigating PPC can feel like a minefield of keyword bids, A/B tests, ad groups and various other marketing terms that throw up more problems than they solve. However, when used properly, pay-per-click advertising is a powerful tool for growth and shouldn’t be missed out on due to lack of understanding.

By far, the quickest and easiest way to get going with PPC is to speak to the experts (that’s your cue to get in touch), but our guide will help to clarify all things Paid Search, so you’ll at least know what it is, how it works, and why Growthcurve gets unrivalled results for our clients.

What is PPC?

You see those ads that sit at the very top of your Google search- that’s a PPC ad. PPC puts your brand in prime view of your ideal audiences, outranking your competitors. It's used to increase sales, grow brand awareness and generate new leads. Each time the ad is clicked, the brand will pay a small fee.

Let’s take a look at the big hitters first:

Google Ads

It’s no surprise that Google Ads is the most popular PPC ad platform out there. With 3.5 billion searches per day, everyone wants to be at the top of Google’s results page. The platform works by allowing advertisers to place bids on specific keywords.

The bid is the amount they are willing to pay when a customer clicks on the advert, otherwise known as cost-per-click (CPC). When a user searches for the relevant keywords using Google search, a set of ‘winning’ advertisers who are bidding on those words will appear at the top of the search. For instance, if we were to bid on the keywords PPC agency London, our ad could show up at the top of Google when someone searches for those words.

The ‘winners’ are calculated by several varying and complex factors, which is where we advise brands to contact an expert PPC agency to get you to the top.

Facebook Ads

Facebook is another significant player in the game of online ads. The saturation of content on social media has made it increasingly difficult to get in front of customers organically. Facebook Advertising allows businesses to pay to reach wider audiences by featuring their ads on Facebook and Instagram feeds. Brands can create adverts and target specific audiences based on location, demographics, interests and more.

The pros of using Facebook Ads is its massive audience; it has an estimated 1.85 billion users a day, and the inclusion of Instagram ads means that you’re able to advertise on two platforms at once. Paid social is perfect for building brand awareness, promotions and acquiring new customers. We’ve had massive success with FB Ads (even when not combined with other platforms). We’ve seen how our unique targeting methods and strong creative can explode growth for our clients, especially if they are mobile app-based businesses.

Smaller, but by no means insignificant, platforms:

Microsoft Ads, formerly known as Bing, operates in the same way as Google, however, the keyword bids are set to rank at the top of the Bing and Yahoo search engines. It has far fewer users than Google (but still in the millions).


The new kid on the scene, TikTok, has introduced in-feed ads that work on a PPC basis. Like the rest of the platform, the video ads appear on users’ news feeds. This platform is excellent for businesses who are trying to engage with younger audiences.


  • Snapchat

  • Twitter

  • Mobile in-app ads

  • LinkedIn

  • Pinterest

PPC account structure is simply the way that PPC campaigns are organised.

Let’s say that you were using Google Ads to run your PPC ads. You’d be running multiple campaigns and adverts from that account. The account structure will include all the different parts that need managing: the campaigns, ad groups, keywords, audiences and ad copy.

You’ll also notice the A/B testing - it’s crucial so that you can see what’s most effective for customer acquisition. It should look a little something like this:

For clarity, this is what each section means:


Everything sits within a specific campaign. The brand will decide on a campaign for their business goals and budget i.e. promoting a new product, pushing up web traffic or increasing brand awareness. Once they’ve decided what the campaign is for, they can decide on the theme and campaign type (on Google, that could be search campaigns, shopping campaigns, local listings etc).

Ad Groups

Within the campaign are themed subcategories called ad groups. The purpose of ad groups is to create themed ‘containers’ that structure your campaigns. For instance, if a PPC expert created a campaign for ‘shoes’, they could have ad groups such as ‘heels’, ‘trainers’ and so on. Each group would then have a set of PPC keywords to bid on, an audience to target, and it’s own copy for the ad placement.


To have a successful ad campaign, you need to make sure you’re bidding on the right keywords. Your PPC agency will undergo data driven PPC keyword research to find those relevant to your business and the campaign before grouping them into related ‘containers’, aka ad groups.

They might also set negative keywords during this process. Negative keywords are words that you don’t want your ad to display for. If you were selling a luxury beauty product, then you wouldn’t want to appear in a search for budget beauty items. By setting ‘budget beauty’ as a negative keyword, it helps to filter out unwanted clicks.


Audiences are the most critical parts of any campaign. Why? Because it’s the people who you’re trying to target. Get it wrong, and all the efforts of your campaign will be pointless.

PPC platforms will allow you to tailor your audience to target a specific group of users. Google lets you target customers who based on their search terms, while Facebook allows targeting through behaviour, interests and demographics. With more advanced custom audience targeting, you can state specific postcodes and devices by setting a separate bid for mobile devices.

Audience targeting can get complicated, but we’ve found unique ways of reaching your ideal customers in ways that get incredible results. Not just increased paying customers, but a decrease in how much it takes to acquire them. Ask us how we do it.

Once the campaign, ad groups and keywords are set up, brands can create the advert that users will see. Good ad copy and images are vital to any ad performance - users won’t click on ads with low-quality images or poorly-written copy. As mentioned above, A/B testing ads is a common practice for PPC experts. Multiple ad copy variations and images can be trialled to see what has the best click-through rate (CTR).

Ad copy

PPC ad copy has limited character requirements, and each platform has its own copy rules, which means advertisers need to create copy that tells the user precisely what they need to know whilst convincing them to follow your CTA. While platforms will vary, this it’s usually done within a headline, a short description and a URL. Good advertising copy will:

  • Be relevant to the platform you're on (your TOV on Instagram could be more informal than on Google).

  • Speak directly to the person you’re targeting.

  • Include the main keyword that you’re bidding on or targeting.

  • Have a clear CTA (call to action) to let users know what you want them to do.

  • Lead to a relevant and high-converting landing page.

So we’ve covered the basics of PPC - now it’s time to get technical. A PPC campaign doesn’t end once the ad has gone live. Your growth agency will track the campaign, measure the results and your agency will optimise ads. Here are some tools that help manage and monitor a PPC campaign.

Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking is when you track the performance of the landing page that your ad has led to. Let’s say your ad leads to a product that you want to sell - if a user clicks through via an ad and makes a purchase, that’s a conversion. It could also be a newsletter sign-up or an app download - whatever action you hoped would happen as a result of your advert.

Marketers can set up a conversion tracker to measure the effectiveness of their ad or landing page. They can also use that data to see who their customers are and target potential customers even better.

Google Analytics

Track performance, including click-through rate and conversions. It gives insight into website performance, customer behaviour, where customers are coming from, what devices they are using and much more.


Ever browsed a website one evening, only to have adverts for the products you viewed popping up over the next week? That’s remarketing. Businesses can retarget those who have interacted with their website, reminding them of a transaction that they didn’t complete. Setting up remarketing for your PPC ads can be done fairly easily using Google ads and Facebook.


Like any growth marketing strategy, PPC campaigns need a report to overview the ad performance. As well as featuring the data points already discussed, such as click-through rates and conversation rates, it should also include:

  • Cost - the total cost of running the ad campaign.

  • Average CPC - the average amount you’ve paid for each ad click.

  • Overall clicks - the total number of clicks on your ad.

  • Cost per conversion - how much money you spent generating a conversion.

To sum it all up

As you can see, PPC advertising isn’t something that’s done quickly or easily. It takes solid strategy, eye-catching creative, inventive implementation and frequent optimisation to get the best ROI for your business, but if you want your businesses to scale, it’s essential.