If you haven’t heard of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising before, it’s the term used for any ad placed online where the way you’re billed is by a set price per number of clicks. For example, you might pay $1 per time that an internet user clicks your ad.

Our foray, here at the Calgary Parking Authority, into the world of PPC advertising generated some good lessons, and here we are to share them with you.

Establish goals. Perhaps what you’re looking for are sales leads. That’s an obvious one, but you might be able to find smaller wins with paid advertising as well. Other suggestions include increasing website traffic, obtaining new social media followers, increasing brand awareness and recognition, or promoting your latest publication.

Create buyer personas. By conducting interviews with real buyers, you’ll be able to gather information on what’s going on in potential clients’ minds. It’s crucial to providing the right message at the right time. If you’re ready to give this a whirl on your own, you can check out Adhere Creative’s buyer persona guide or HubSpot’s buyer persona webinar (a quick Google search will net you these resources). If you want to become an expert, check out the Buyer Persona Institute’s Masterclass.

Make sure you’re on social media. There are so many different ways to promote your business on social media. Create profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or whatever other platforms your target buyers are using. Profiles are a free way to tell people about your offerings. You can take this a step further by paying to promote content you’ve published (typically appears in the regular news feed), or by placing an ad within the site (typically appears on the right as an ad).

Use “long-tail” keywords. The word “parking” can apply to an individual looking for a parking lot nearby, a company trying to purchase a block of monthly passes, a researcher looking to see what the newest technology is, or all sorts of other (often weird) internet searchers. Using multiple words to refine what you’re offering is crucial to getting leads from valid sources, rather than paying for junk. Check out the Google keyword planner (WordStream and Moz have their own versions). Depending on your budget and resources, you can do this yourself at no cost, or pay for an account and have it professionally done.

Set realistic expectations. In this case, you really do get what you pay for; and Google is the reigning monarch of paid advertising. Set yourself a budget, and know that it does take time and effort to reach your goals. Expect to pay $5 to $20 per click on Google if you want your content to appear. If that’s not within your current plan, you can look at what I’ll call the secondary market for less expensive clicks (using tools such as BingAds, BuySellAds, Criteo, Outbrain and dozens of others).

To wrap up, I just want to throw a couple tidbits out there in regard to Google advertising. We used its AdWords Express, and found that we got a lot of keywords that were completely irrelevant to our product and service offerings. Be sure to comb through the list of auto-generated terms carefully and deselect the ones that don’t make sense for your business.

Also, be sure to have Google Analytics in place if you plan to monitor traffic to your website (it’s free).

Finally, make sure your ad is well-worded and relevant. You don’t want to pay for a click where the potential lead has no interest in your product or service and merely landed on your site because of a misunderstanding.

Chelsea Webster, Marketing Specialist with the Calgary Parking Authority’s ParkPlus. You can contact her at

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Chelsea Webster
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