Kenyan businesses spend billions on advertising every year. Most of this money is channeled through advertising agencies and ends up with radio and TV networks. Advertising on radio and TV has traditionally been the best way to get the word out about your product or service. Unfortunately, it is also quite expensive and businesses need massive advertising budgets to use these platforms. A 30-second ad on TV will cost a minimum of 30,000/= depending on the TV station and the time of day. Primetime advertisements are the most expensive.
Print media will also set you back a couple thousand bob. A short three-sentence ad in the leading dailies will cost you about 10,000/=. Quarter page adverts cost an average of 45,000/=. Magazine and billboard ads are also out of reach for the average SME.
So, how can you cost-effectively advertise your business? The answer is online advertising. via Google or more specifically, Google AdWords.
What is Google AdWords?
Google AdWords is Google’s online advertising program. This is what propelled the company into one of the most valuable companies in the world. You must have seen the advertisements browsing websites. Businesses pay Google to run ads on sites such as this one. With Google AdWords, you can reach new customers and grow your business on a modest advertising budget.
Introduction to Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing
Google AdWords is run on on a PPC model. Pay-per-click is an advertising model where you only pay for the ad when someone actually clicks or taps on it and visits your website. Depending on how competitive your industry is, you can pay anything from a few pennies to a several thousand bob per click. But, the average PPC cost for most industries in Kenya is less that $0.3 per click (as at May 2014) which is about 25/= at today’s exchange rates. Working with this figure, one can estimate that to bring 100 people to your website every day and view your product offering, you would need to spend an average of 2,500/= every day.
The actual cost of a click is determined by a bidding process where all bidders interested in a specific word, known as a keyword, place bids. The highest bidder gets their ad placed highest on the sponsored section of the Google search results page for a search for that keyword or phrase.
Online Advertising with Google Example
Let’s say, for example, that you own a shoe shop specializing in imported women’s shoes. You will begin by creating a website and have a nice landing page where you will direct your website visitors.
Next, create a Google AdWords account. You will need a Visa or MasterCard Internet enabled debit or credit card in order to pay Google for the ads. Talk to your bank to activate your card for Internet purchases. Alternatively, read my article, how to get an Internet enabled MasterCard in Kenya.
Keyword Research with the Keyword Tool
The next thing you need to do is to carry out some keyword research. In your Google AdWords account, click on the Tools menu and scroll down to Keyword Planner.
Click on Search for new keyword or ad group ideas. In the Product or Service field, enter your keyword phrase to get new keyword ideas which you can bid on. In this example, the keyword phrase is “ladies shoes”. Make sure you select “Kenya” from the list of countries. You can even target a specific city or town. Enter your website’s landing page, product category and sub-category. The landing page is the URL your viewers will arrive at when they click on ads leading to your site. For this example, I chose to use the broad category “footwear” to get a long list of possible keyword ideas. You can experiment with different sub-categories and also specify the date range. In this example, the date range is the last 12 months.
Click “Get Ideas” to begin your search for keyword ideas to bid on. AdWords will return a graph of search volume trends as well as a group of ad group and keyword ideas. An Ad group is a number of closely related keyword ideas. See the result below.
Look for broad keyword ideas using the AD group ideas tab and specific ideas using the Keyword ideas tab. You can sort the results based on any of the columns. For example, to see ideas with the highest number of monthly searches on Google, click on the “Avg monthly searches” column. Ideally, you will be looking for a keyword with a high search volume and medium to low competition. Unless of course, you have a large ad budget in which case you can go after keywords with a high search volume and high competition. Higher competition means there are many advertisers like yourself interested in that same keyword. In my example, the keyword with the highest number of monthly searches in Kenya was “wedding shoes”.
Google suggests that I place a bid of $0.49 (about 40 bob) for this keyword. This suggestion is based on the amount that other advertisers in Kenya have paid on average for this keyword over the last 12 months. The implication is that every time someone clicks on my ad and visits my site, Google will charge me 40 bob. Take note this CPC can vary. It may end being higher or lower based on the bidding results. But, you can specify a maximum CPC and daily spend. For example, you can set your maximum CPC at $0.5 and your daily spend at $5. This allows you to plan your monthly marketing expenditure.
Select a couple of keywords that are a close match to your product and click on the arrows in the Add to plan column. Follow the prompts to begin your marketing campaign. This article is only meant to be a primer on Google AdWords. Full a full tutorial, please see the Google AdWords help page.
Take note that your landing page should contain proper details on how the viewer can purchase your product or service. This could be a call to action such as “Call Us”, “Visit our Shop on Tom Mboya” or you could include an online store where users make payments via Lipa na Mpesa or Debit/Credit card and you then make the delivery.
In addition to Google, Facebook also offers PPC advertising with some major ad targeting differences.
The Advantage of PPC Advertising Over Traditional Advertising
Traditional advertising on print and broadcast media is like a broad spectrum antibiotic. There is no specificity. Ads are broadly targeted with little room to select ad viewers based on demographics, interests and other factors. PPC advertising, on other hand, allows the same features of traditional advertising but with the added advantage of specific targeting and messaging.
PPC also has the advantage of targeting online users. The average Kenyan youth is now spending at least one hour a day on the Internet. This is almost as much time as they spend watching TV or listening to the radio. PPC allows you to put your product/service offering in front of this market at the lowest cost.
Create a Website
If you don’t have a website for your business, then by this point it must have dawned on you that you cannot use Google AdWords before you create a website for your business. There is no escaping this. Please read my article titled, “how to create a website for my business cheaply” for more on website creation.
How to Create a Website for my Business Cheaply
Google AdWords Essential Training from Lynda.com