PPC marketing for independent opticians, ultimate guide
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The ultimate guide to ppc marketing for independent opticians

Get all the clients you need to make your opticians practice an undeniable success, starting today

Pay per click (PPC) ads offer a completely controllable way to build your business and should definitely be part of your marketing effort, at the very least as a stability strategy because while search engine optimisation (SEO) is fabulous, you could wake up one morning and find Google has changed the rules and your natural search traffic has disappeared.

Build your practice with PPC ads

Define pay per click

PPC advertisements are paid-for ads on search pages or social media. The price you pay is determined partly by how many other advertisers want the slot (very clever), I'll explain how pay per click works later.

Pay per click ads can be, for example, text, images, video or slideshows and you can choose what outcome to 'bid' for, whether it's a click, awareness, or even sales and most PPC platforms (eg. Google or Facebook) will offer to automatically optimise your ad campaign to achieve your marketing goal. This will only get more effective as artificial intelligence develops.

How does PPC fit in digital marketing?

Traditionally mostly print, TV and billboard advertising was used to attract new customers. Nowadays pay per click marketing does an even better job of that because you can be more specific with your message and targeting, for instance you can exclude current customers from seeing your ads. Also you can ask Facebook to use its artificial intelligence and statistical computation muscle to find and show your PPC ad to new prospects who are similar to your existing best customers (how cool is that?)

But don't let that limit you. Your prospects move along a 'value chain' or sales 'funnel', starting from "I've never heard of you" to becoming a raving fan. Just like dating and marrying there are psychological steps people have to go through. PPC ads can move people through your sales funnel. For instance, you can target just the people who have visited your website but didn't engage but who still fit your target demographics.

You should be sure a prospect is ready to say yes before you ask for the sale

The benefits of PPC advertising

  • PPC is immediate, you can get your ads running today
  • You can switch PPC ads on and off at will
  • You totally control your advertising message
  • You decide where to send people when they click on your ad
  • You can easily test your ads. Wondering which image will work best, or which headline (that's a great thing to do before committing a promotion to print)? Split test your ads
  • PPC is affordable
  • You can start by taking inspiration from your competitors' tested and proven PPC ads


Why use pay per click advertising?

Search for "optician {your location}" (or just search for "optician" if you are already in your target location). At the very top, you'll probably see ads for the national opticians chains. They are siphoning off your business 24/7 with pay per click ads. They are big enough to employ a PPC ad team and top pay per click companies, whereas independent opticians tend not to have the skill or time (or will) in-house, nor budget sufficient to interest those big marketing and advertising companies (that's why I'm suggesting we band together).

The following image shows the search results I see for local opticians on the 21 August 2018. The red dots are accounts I've done SEO work for but you can see that hard-won position is being undermined by PPC ads appearing at the top and taking 50% of the traffic.

Search results for Opticians Scarborough, note PPC ads at the top

This article explains the today's best pay per click thinking so you can run your own sophisticated PPC campaign and build your practice (I'm happy to help or to run your pay per click ads for you if you prefer, more later).

How does pay per click work?

Let's start simple. Search on Google and you'll usually see two ads at the top of what they call the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) (see image above).

If only one or two companies want to run PPC advertising for a search term, they can do so for pence per click.

However if, say, four companies want to run pay per click advertisements against that search phrase, they enter an automated bidding war. The highest bidders get their PPC ad impression (appearance). The others miss that advertising opportunity.

Who 'wins' the advertising slot is decided on the fly, in the moment, by Google.

Most advertisers set an ad budget. Once the day's budget is spent, their ads disappear and others can take the slot.

We all want moneymaking ppc ads

There's also Google's quality score where they assess your ad and landing page and searchers' behaviour and raise your costs if you're not doing a good job of satisfying Google's search clients. More on that later.

The deeper you look, the more complicated it is. Some advertisers are bidding per click, some want their ads optimised for buyers and others just want awareness.

That's pay per click in search, but there's also PPC in social media where users typically aren't searching. The same bidding principles apply, but in this case you can target people by their interests or characteristics (eg. age, income or location). The detail available is phenomenal, we'll get to that later.

Example ads appearing in my Facebook

Pay per click is complex, but all you need to know is how to build your opticians practice using PPC, and that's where this article comes in.

Want to know the truth about PPC? If you can make £10 for everyone who clicks, but your competitor can only make £5, in the long run you will win because you can outbid for ads and you can pay more for better SEO support. Ultimately, success in PPC is about being the best opticians practice, satisfying customers better, and that is definitely within your control.

The two main PPC platforms

While the principles of PPC remain, there are two camps: search and social media.

PPC ads in Google's SERP

In search, you target relevant search terms so your PPC ad appears in the exact moment your prospect wants what you provide. Google Adwords is the main provider but there's also Yahoo! search and Microsoft's Bing.

Alternatively, social media advertising is a different beast: interruption marketing. The ability to target people by their behaviours or characteristics is frankly amazing, so your prospect may welcome your relevant ads as part of their social media experience, but people are not there to buy stuff so you have to be good. Facebook is the main platform here, and they own Instagram. Twitter and LinkedIn also provide pay per click platforms.

Example Facebook ad demographics showing what I used to advertise this page

There is some crossover. Within Google Adwords you can place interruption ads on supporting websites. Google also owns YouTube, so you can place ppc ads there. Facebook also provides search. The key thing is that an interruption ad is very different to a targeted search ad, to interrupt someone is to entice them into the start of your sales funnel with some tempting content with the goal of getting them to give you permission to send more. A search ad needs to get straight to the point and sell.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and adwords

You don't get a better natural search position through advertising with Google's Adwords PPC system.

Of course, the paid search results are at the top of the search engine results page and so if you pay enough, your ad can be there. By the way, maybe half of clicks are going to paid search nowadays1.

Here's how SEO and PPC marketing go together

Because PPC is immediate, the targeting is precise, and you totally control the messaging both in your ad and on your landing page, you can test which search phrases are worth your while spending the time and effort on SEO for.

Different PPC search phrases get different results

Getting a good search position is an ongoing battle with your competitors to be more deserving of Google's respect. It's hard work, it takes a goodly investment of effort, skill and money, so you don't want to do that for waste of time search phrases. Or less bluntly, there's a calculation to be made about the payoff versus the investment and it's good business to know where to draw the line.

PPC gives you the figures you need to be able to make that decision.

Also, given that you are paying per click, you are more likely to work on optimising your sales funnel, the ad, the creative, the offer, the landing page, and the upsells, downsells and follow up. If you can get a few PPC ads to work by optimising all of that, the next step in optimising value from your sales funnel is to pour free traffic into it from SEO.

How to start a PPC campaign using Google Adwords

Most people type what they want, 'opticians' and then having emptied their brain of the most important goal, they think, "ah, I'll have to qualify that with a location", so we get 'opticians {location}' more than 8 times more frequently used than '{location} opticians'. Always 'opticians', not 'optician'.

The SEO world got excited about 'near me' searches recently, seemingly people are entering, say 'opticians near me' into their mobile devices. I see maybe 14% of the traffic for 'opticians {location}' going to 'opticians near me' so IMHO it's still an add-on to the main traffic flow. (Update: I think that was a 'moment', Google's location capability is making 'near me' redundant so we can forget about it.)

On that main 'opticians {location}' search phrase, I'm seeing perhaps 0.25% of a population searching for that per month and so if your click through rate (CTR) (the number of people who click on your search appearance divided by the number of times you appear in search results) is about, say, 5%, then for somewhere like, say Nottingham with round figures 300,000 population you might expect, if you can get to the top with natural search, 750 searches per month leading to 38 clicks to your website, and the same again from search ads.

Those figures aren't large but it is a constant flow, so you can see how important it is to optimise everything. If you can optimise your page title and description and so your appearance in search engine results pages, and so increase your click through rate say to 10%, you just doubled your return on investment (ROI) from PPC. Do the same for your landing page and you've quadrupled your ROI, and doing that sends signals to Google that your quality is high, so it lowers your bid price and makes the whole thing a lot more cost effective (so don't give up too early).

I'm not going to provide a detailed tutorial for Adwords setup because all these things constantly change and it's for them to provide an easy-to-understand on-ramp for you, but here are the key points for your opticians ppc campaign.

And of course, you don't have to bother with any of this if you'd rather I handle it all for you, just get in touch (john@johnallsopp.co.uk.

  • Go to the Adwords page and don't do anything. Go do something else. You might well spot an offer later. I literally have been writing this article over several days looking for these offers and seeing nothing. I went to the Adwords page, came here, went to Facebook and there was a £75 worth of ads offer. Could be co-incidence. If you can stand it, wait a week or more because offers come through the post too. All the ones I've seen are for new users, once you have your account set up you can't use the offer (and I can't use it for you).
  • Just start with search ads. You don't want display, shopping, video or anything else. Be sure to click off the display network and search network, just concentrate on Google search for now.
  • For a goal, I suggest Website Traffic. You could go with 'leads' but the setup is a little more complicated.
  • Target your location. You only want local clicks. Be tight on this, people in your outer reaches will bring down your conversion rates and ROI.
  • For safety, enter a budget so you don't overspend (spend half here, spend the other half on Facebook, see below).
  • For simplicity under 'bidding' I suggest 'clicks'.
  • I would also always set an end date. Just in case you fall ill or forget your password or whatever it stops the campaign going on forever with no-one knowing how to stop it.
  • When it comes to keywords to target, if you just type in opticians scarborough, Google will match you with anything else it thinks is relevant. If you type "opticians scarborough" it will only match with that phrase, but additional words like 'best' or 'cheapest' or 'for men' or 'who understand polish' or whatever are OK. If you type [opticians scarborough] then that's the only match. If you're relaxed about budget, of an exploratory mindset and happy to use Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools and willing to maintain a stoplist of words, you could use the former, but I suggest using the latter, optimising that, getting an ad and funnel that works, and build out from there. (Update: as I said above, Google's location capability is getting really good so it's worth advertising for [opticians] and/or [optician] and setting your radius, increasingly people will become used to not having to enter their location.
  • When writing your ad, try to include the search term probably twice, once in the headline (I get my top performing headline suggestions from Boduch), and again in the main text. It will be highlighted, which makes you stand out and seem relevant, and it improves your quality score (more on that later) so your ads are cheaper.
  • Test two ads and see which works best.

How to start a PPC campaign using Facebook

Your best and simplest place to start is to Boost already successful social media posts. I wouldn't react when Facebook suggests it though or they'll have your wallet on a string, I suggest you have a system and Boost on your terms.

If you don't really have any successful social media posts, you need something like the top 12 Facebook posts by independent opticians or the best Facebook posts by independent opticians, every week.

There's really no point boosting boring Facebook posts. No-one will thank you for it, and Facebook will ramp up your costs.

So once you have already successful social media posts and assuming you are making them to a Facebook Page and that you are an admin on that page, if you navigate to it you should be able to go to insights > posts every now and then, check which posts have 'taken off' (I think 'shares' are most important) and [boost] the best ones.

For targeting, of course you always want to define your geographic catchment area. On top of that, it depends what you want.

Firstly, just because someone likes your Page doesn't mean they've seen your post. By far the majority haven't. So for a competition that you want to reach a lot of people the target 'people who like your Page and their friends' should work quite nicely.

Britney Spears came to Scarborough recently and an optician ran a competition to win tickets. In that case, you might target Britney fans through the 'people you choose through targeting' option.

Through the targeting option, you could boost just to people who DON'T already like your page, in which case you are definitely trying to reach new people.

Boosting is pretty easy because all the creative is already done, you just need to set your budget and your audience.

PPC strategy

What's a strategy?

Based on Rumelt2, strategy is not a shopping list of things you want, it's three very clear steps:

  1. A clear diagnosis of the problem
  2. A solution
  3. A plan

In deciding what the problem is, I would keep asking why so that you can drill back to the root cause.

That's fine for me, marketing is my life, I've decades of experience. How do you, an optometrist or optical advisor, know whether the click through rate (CTR) (defined above) on your search engine results page is high or low compared to other independent opticians? You could be looking at a spectacularly bad CTR, not know it, and spend your time working on something else. Or you could have a good CTR but expect much higher and spend time trying to fix something that's not broken.

So I've decided to make an offer that if you add me as a user on john@johnallsopp.co.uk to your Google Analytics and let me know by email, I'll compare your figures anonymously with other independent opticians and I'll let you know what I see, free of charge.

For digital marketers it can break down into three very simple key performance indicators (KPIs).

  1. Are you getting enough web traffic?
  2. Are enough of your website visitors converting into appointments?
  3. Is your average sale value high enough?

Improving all of those by 25% near doubles your business (because it's cumulative).

If your problem is web traffic, earlier I said that almost 50% of clicks on search engine results are going to paid ads nowadays, so that seems to suggest if you are not doing PPC, you could double your web traffic.

Most people who pay for traffic have a healthy interest in optimising what happens next and PPC provides a clean, steady stream of experimental data (visitors) that you can use to test landing pages, offers, prices, photographs, headlines, layouts, brand values, tone of voice, phone/online booking systems and anything else you fancy. So PPC helps with point two.

And perhaps not directly, but since you are looking at numbers, the amount you spend on PPC ads will naturally be set against what you got back in sales, so there's also a push down on PPC costs and up on average sale value, so I'm going to claim PPC helps with all three of those KPIs.

Just to finish off the strategy definition which ends with 'a plan', a plan is a set of steps with timings and resources.

What's a PPC campaign?

An advertising campaign is a series of messages that share a single idea and theme and are aimed at an identified audience.

Here, consider the value journey. There are people wandering around your town or city with perfect eyesight who have never heard of you because they don't need your services. Eventually presbyopia begins, it starts gently but the realisation slowly dawns that they are going to need an eye test at some point.

They might be interested to read your article on the subject. If you speak their language and explain the symptoms they are experiencing, they may trust what you are saying and perhaps follow you on their favourite social media platform as a sort of bookmark for the future (see also pixelling below).

Eventually the day comes that they decide to have an eye test and hopefully they will remember you, be able to find you, not see anything that puts them off, and be able easily to book their eye test.

Once they are in your practice, over to you, but there are those (I did this) who are not ready to buy glasses and walk out of the test room to mull things over.

So, it may be PPC that puts your article on presbyopia in front of them and gains their initial trust.

It may be PPC that boosts already successful social media posts to keep your practice in front of their mind and make dealing with you desirable.

It may be PPC that puts your practice at the top of search when they go looking.

PPC can bring back some of those who didn't buy after having their eye test.

What about all the people who come to your website and don't take action? You can select the best of them by their demographics and retarget them by the interest they showed on your website (see the pixel below) .. this really works well.

It may even be PPC that encourages happy clients to recommend you to their friends.

I would call those separate campaigns since the targeting is different. Of course, they will all use materials that look like they come from you and are consistent with your branding, but from a practical, control and results measurement point of view, I say these are separate campaigns.

The Facebook/Google pixel

If you install the appropriate tracking codes, you can re-advertise to people who visit your website. If they read about sunglasses, you can automatically send them a series of ads about sunglasses. Even better (without wishing to pigeonhole people by gender) you can send women visitors ads about women's sunglasses, and men ads about men's sunglasses. Or you could divide them by budget, try an ad about super-expensive designer sunglasses and those who click that might be interested in high end products and services so long as they don't also click on your other ad about cheapy cheap sunglasses.

Few people want to sign up to mailing lists nowadays. Most people are becoming wary of social media and tighter with their follows, curating their attention environment. Pixelling allows you to continue the conversation with someone after they have visited your website, even though you don't yet know who they are, and yes, you can select further so you're not advertising to competitors or suppliers.

With the pixel, you can build out and optimise a flowchart of marketing messages to people depending on their behaviour.

And no it's not creepy. It's great. It means I never have to see the Shake n Vac ad ever again, in this new world I'll only see ads about stuff that interests me.

So what's Adwords promotion?

In Kotler's key text The Principles of Marketing3 'promotion' takes up one half of a chapter, and there are twenty chapters so it's definitely not the main thing marketers do. It's basically a relatively short term activity like a sale or special offer, something to motivate the sale and get people to take action now. For it to work well, it has to stand on the shoulders of all the strategic marketing preparation work.

It's just my personal opinion but I'm not a massive fan tbh. You don't see Tesla doing half price sales. And I did a lot of work for an American software company selling into Europe where there was always a promotion, and so no-one ever bought anything at full price. But, I get it intellectually and grudgingly accept it fiscally, I would just say use it sparingly. I mean, obviously all independent opticians have standing offers, 2 for 1 and so on. I do get it and don't suggest you switch those off. I just .. would rather trade on quality of care and high service value.

On the specific matter of, for instance, doing PPC for Black Friday promotions .. your cost per click is going to go through the roof and into outer space on that day so I say resist!

Instead, be playful (or at least unpredictable) in your offers. Have maybe one or max three one day specials dotted yes randomly through the year, maybe tied to events where you get in a particular rep, or if you take the idea of moving away from heavy promotion days seriously, there's fun to be had from having a promotion on International Rabbit Day or .. let's check what today is as I write (7 August 2018): oh hey it's exam results day .. plenty to go at there. (I mention how I approach event promotion later in this article.)

(Note to self, since events diaries are often US-centric and/or lead magnets for marketing services, and since you spend all day on Twitter, Allsopp, start to keep a note of trending days so in a year's time you have a full collection to plan to.

Check surgemarketing.co.uk for that in due course (or perhaps more likely amilliontweaks.co.uk.)

Everything matters

The thing is, everything matters. I'll build a calculator here for you to play with, but for now let's say you get 100 visitors to your website each month, 5 of whom book appointments and your average value per appointment is £250 and their lifetime value is £2,500, so that's £1,250 per month cash and £12,500 of goodwill added to your business per month.

Imagine your PPC doubles your website traffic and because we can test and we work at it, we can .. well maybe we can double your conversion too. And we won't be advertising to poor people, right? We'll aim upwards, so maybe we can get the average value per appointment to £350. So now you've got 200 x 10% x £350 = £7,000 cash per month and £70,000 of goodwill added.

The more people you satisfy, the more reviews you get, the more word of mouth recommendations you enjoy so PPC can be a crucial part of a virtuous circle that transforms your business.

Pay per click tracking

How well are your PPC ads doing? The first place to look is the platform you are using, Google Adwords, Facebook or whatever. They will be able to tell you how many times people have seen your ads (impressions), how many clicks you got and your click through rate (CTR) (clicks/impressions) and so if you are (and you should be) testing one ad against another, or one keyphrase or demographic against another, once you have sufficient quantity you can determine a 'winner' (I use Split Test Calculator). It is important to have enough numbers to have statistical confidence in a winner, otherwise you're at great risk of closing off options that would have won in the end and your PPC campaign failing as a result.

On the Google Adwords platform there's also their quality score (you may have to customise your columns to see this) which measures your relevance and how well you seem to be satisfying searchers. The price you pay is tied to this, so that's important. It should also tell you in what position your ad is appearing so you know to bid higher if you want the top position and aren't getting it, or lower if that makes financial sense.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics measures what happens on your website to the clicks you send. It's free, and either you or your web developer can add the required code to your website if it's not already there.

Using it, you can see how long people spend on your site and where they go, and you can compare the quality of traffic from various sources.

Possibly most excitingly it offers 'Goals'. For example, you might want people to book an appointment online, to click your [call us] button, or to fill out your form. You can set up Analytics to spot when those events happen, and then you can designate them a goal and even attribute a value to them.

Once Analytics Goals are set up, you can then look back at your traffic sources and see which make you the most money and optimise for that.

Google's URL builder

The other thing to do right from the start is to set up your PPC ad destination URLs (the web address you are sending people to when they click) using Google's URL builder which lets you add parameters on the end of your destination URL so that later in Analytics, and with Goals set up, you can spot the winners among your different campaigns, sources and specific ads.

Webmaster Tools

As a little aside, while you're here, make sure you have Webmaster Tools set up too.

That helps you spot any problems with your website (which you should fix) and it tells you for what search terms you are appearing in natural search results along with your position and click through rate. It's nothing to do with PPC, but you might spot opportunities to run ads on alternative search terms, or you might get inspiration to write some great content that you can then turn into a social media post to reach out to those in the early part of your sales funnel.

Your sales funnel

A sales funnel is just a description of the journey people take from not having a need for you, and never having heard of you, to being enthusiastic advocates of what you do. I refer to it above also as the value journey.

An afternoon could be usefully spent thinking about and mapping out your main customer groups .. 40 year old newly presbyopic, diabetics, parents of young children, longstanding customers .. and working out the touch points you have with those groups, the outcome you want at each point, what the offer is to get people to take that action, how you measure it and so on. Probably the funnel you are most interested in is where you get a new client. I outlined much of that above, but it's relevant to pay-per-click tracking because ideally you need to tie ads to the funnel and understand the detail.

So you could place a Facebook ad targeted at 40-50 year old people who are local to you and are neither customers nor 'likers' of your Facebook Page, educating them in an engaging way about presbyopia and what to expect and inviting them to like your Page, come in for an eye test, sign up for your newsletter, pop in to the practice or even come to an event. That's step one in that funnel, and so those outcomes can be set as goals and you can monitor how well you are doing at that step and if you think you can do better, work out an improvement and set up a split test.

A split test, by the way, is available in all platforms and also on your website, and it means that you create two ads, or two website landing pages and at random visitors are shown one or the other. You measure the results and when one wins convincingly, you go with that option (and perhaps move on to test something else). Common things to test are the offer, the headline, the photograph and the 'approach' (eg. video vs photograph & text). It's a great way to defuse arguments in the practice about this ad or that. Test them, the loser buys cake.

What gets measured gets done

That phrase is often used as a reason to measure things, but I take it as a cautionary tale. Measurement is distortion. Rather like quantum physics, once you measure it it's changed.

So I just want to say don't get confused, and don't measure everything. Start with simple stats and be sure that what you are measuring is what you really want. For instance, do you really want traffic to your website? You want potential customers not just anyone. How about appointments, do you want those? Well .. yes, but frankly it would be good to find people who are willing to spend on their eyecare. So should you be measuring how many new customers you got from PPC and what is their average first spend? That sounds better, to me so long as we understand that we are not capturing everyone. Some, possibly many, might become aware of your practice through your PPC ads, never click on anything, and turn in to your practice as they walk past, seemingly on a whim, but actually because PPC has set that up. We will never capture that with Analytics, Webmaster Tools or anything else. So if you start a PPC campaign, watch also the general practice figures and give it some of that credit too. All of the other figures are there for when you need to dive in and ask 'why?', but I wouldn't set up a monthly traffic report because .. 'what gets measured gets done' and if you measure and push you may well end up with meaningless traffic.

Bear in mind also natural variation. I don't really like monthly reports either, it's too short a time span. If you measure new clients from PPC and their average spend, well, you might only get 3 in a month, and their spend is going to vary a lot, so you can assume precisely nothing from getting 3, average £350 in one month followed by 5, average £450 the next. You need to know about standard deviation and be able to judge if something has really changed. Quarters are better. Years better still. But if that business is in addition to what you were getting, and if your PPC average value is higher than your overall average (so you're bringing in better customers), and if everyone's wages are getting paid .. celebrate. Enjoy it. It's a people business not a maths class. Drive your car where you want to go, don't worry about the fuel/air mixture in the combustion chamber unless you have to.

Optimising your PPC ads for sales

Most PPC advertising platforms allow you to set up campaigns that are optimised for sales, in your case probably bookings. To achieve that, you usually have to install a bit of software on your booking confirmation page so that Facebook or Adwords can see when a booking has happened, and when you've enough results their statistical / artificial intelligence engine gets to work trying to profile those who have booked and to find more people like them to show your ads to. It's pretty cool if you can get it to work but also it's good to just take a little care and oversight .. you can imagine automated systems like this ramping up in the case of kind but elderly people slowly losing their grip and giving more and more of their money to charities. Whether it optimises for loose purses or genuinely finds you new customers with needs you can help with is for you to watch over.

Pay per click advertising jobs

If you are thinking "I'll learn about PPC and get into digital marketing and make a fortune" .. I don't want to rain on your parade but I have this to offer from experience: everything is as difficult as it's humanly possible for it to be. In other words, wherever you work and whatever you do, you'll still have to be better than most at it in order to get real success. So follow your heart and do what you want to do, but don't think "I'm going to be rich". I see PPC executive jobs in, for instance Leeds, for "up to £25k" and OK, Optical Assistant jobs for maybe £17-18k, so yes that's better .. just choose the life you want. But hey, adding PPC skills to your CV will absolutely be an asset to whatever you want to do next and it will definitely add to your value to your current practice when you next pop upstairs for your annual appraisal. If your practice ends up wanting you to run its PPC advertising, that is a part of the job you could do from home so that also gives you some flexibility.

If it's your practice and you are wondering whether to train up someone in-house to do PPC or to outsource it to a service like mine, you will already have wrestled and come to terms with the issue of training up people who then leave to work at other practices. I would simply say that IMHO PPC advertising can play a big part in making your practice vibrant, up and coming and a great place to work and that is likely to keep and attract good people.

Pay per click advertising costs

Pay Per Click Advertising is one of the most controllable of marketing methods. You can set an overall budget that the system will never exceed. And you can set a budget per day so it's steady. Of course, you can also switch ads on and off as you wish. Basically, you are entirely in control of costs.

With regard to typical cost per click, as an example for an opticians practice that I've not particularly optimised, I'm paying 67p per click in Facebook, and 47p in Adwords with a CTR of about 6%. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Quality score, Adwords

This is important!

How does Google ensure only relevant ads are served? It imposes a quality score.

Every ad is given a quality score, and if your quality score is low your costs will be sky high and you will not be able to make a profit from your ad. The route to saving money on your PPC marketing and getting low ad costs is to cultivate a high quality score. Here's how it works:

  1. Google wants to see the search term in the ad
  2. and also in the landing page.
  3. It wants to see people clicking on the ad ..
  4. .. and not coming back to click something else

Basically, Google prices-out spammy ads.

Cheap PPC

So to get a high quality score and low ad costs, you need high keyword relevance and to actually solve the problem people have when they search for the term you are advertising to.

People want fast and good answers to their search queries, Google wants to provide that as their competitive advantage, and you want to get in there as the answer to that searcher's prayers. It's what everyone wants and Google rewards you with cheap PPC costs.

This is why PPC ad campaigns look like massive spreadsheets. An ad for 'opticians wolverhampton' must contain that phrase and point people to a relevant page. You can't cost-effectively add 'sunglasses wolverhampton' as a target search phrase for that ad, you have to write another ad that includes that phrase, and point that to a different, relevant landing page on your website. Both those ads and landing pages need to be tested and optimised, so that's at least two ads each, so we already have a screen containing four sets of results and, perhaps less so in the opticians space but certainly in most businesses, there are very often hundreds if not thousands of potentially profitable search terms. The life of a PPC manager mostly involves screens full of numbers.

Pay per click management

You can run your own Pay Per Click ad campaigns or outsource to a PPC company, either way I'm here to help if you would like me to.

Later I list some training routes you can take if you would like to learn the detail and embrace running your own PPC campaigns in-house. I can help by mentoring, perhaps just setting aside half an hour a week on the phone to make sure you actually do it (and do it right).

Of course as a digital marketer I do offer PPC management services in which I will take your independent opticians practice through everything I've explained here, provide continual sales funnel and PPC optimisation, bid management and more and since I do that for a number of independent opticians (while of course I will never share information between you) I can set benchmarks and share what works, even internationally. It's efficient because I'll keep on top of ppc developments and implement advertising best practice for everyone in my care.

Get in touch to discuss whichever of those options suits you best (john@johnallsopp.co.uk.

PPC software and tools

In short, I don't really use any. I just use Google Adwords and Facebook Business Manager direct (although you might be better from Facebook on the desktop and assuming you are an admin of your page, drop down the arrow top right and choose create ads or manage ads).

If you do use Facebook Business Manager, though, and assuming you have enough followers on your Facebook Page, Audience Insights gives you a really fabulous insight into the profile of those people, be sure to choose 'People Connected To' and choose your Page, and change the country too (otherwise you're just looking at the profile of all American Facebook users). To be honest, I just tried it for a sub 500 fans page and got nothing, and again for one with nearly 2,000 fans and got good data so the threshold is somewhere in there.

I think my university training (Internet Computing) taught me to go straight to the source. Back as a youngster I drove my Triumph Toledo into a garage on the way home from work because the steering felt approximate and they wouldn't let me drive it off again, they said it was too dangerous. Software inbetween me and 'it' always feels like that to me, like I'm not really in control, like I'm learning the software not actually 'Adwords' and so if I were to go and work elsewhere and they used different software I'd be knackered. If something goes wrong between me and Adwords, it's either me or it's Adwords. But with the software inbetween everyone can just point at everyone else. And the professional management software is several hundred pounds a month and as a marketer I know they'll lock me in. So maybe if I were a bigger agency I'd see the need, but my advice to you is just to deal direct. It's in Facebook and Google's interest to provide you a usable interface so I'd just go with that.

If you want to explore which search phrases to advertise to, mostly it's "opticians {location}" but there are more. From within your Adwords account (you can run it from outside but you don't get all the data), go to Tools, Keyword Planner (or you can just Google it) and you can enter a core search phrase and it will tell you a load of other possibilities along with how much people are bidding and so on. That's a good measure of whether a search phrase is a money-making phrase. If people are paying to advertise to it, they are making money. If no-one is paying to advertise to it, it's a research phrase. Check the traffic volume and also check the strength of competition, strong competition means you are bidding with lots of others for a popular, presumably money-making phrase, low competition means no-one else is bothered about it (and perhaps you shouldn't be, also).

I did create a video a little while ago to demonstrate the keyword tool for SEO purposes, so if you fancy watching me do spreadsheets for 17 minutes, be my guest:

I also use Webmaster Tools a lot. So, let's see. The keyword tool tells you about the search environment, regardless of your website. Webmaster Tools tells you for which search phrases your website is being displayed and whether people click or not, so that tells you what Google thinks your website is about and whether people agree, taking into account your competitors. Your PPC interfaces tell you about your ad performance, and Analytics tells you what people are doing when they arrive on your website. You need all of those.

You'll need a spreadsheet too. I'm a Linux user (it's a free alternative to Windows and Mac, this isn't the version I use but if you wanted to install it on a spare machine I'd try Ubuntu or even Ubuntu Studio), so I use (you can use too) Libre Office as an alternative to the standard, and while we're here The Gimp and Inkscape for photo editing and graphics and kdenlive for video editing. Totally non-standard, you won't get any jobs for knowing how to use them, but free of charge and free as in freedom.

With regard to alerts and so on .. relax. For most independent opticians once things are settled you are not going to need to check ads any more often than daily. Mostly you'll be monitoring split tests (one ad versus another) and so you might check, find you've not enough data to make a decision, and have to come back another day. So again, don't be a slave to it, just check every now and then and so long as your budgets are in place so you are safe from runaway costs, it'll be fine.

I would say be culturally aware. When Space Shuttle Challenger exploded killing all crew in 1986, it was pre Internet and I was working in industrial PR. We watched lots of expensive ads appear in the monthly tech magazines showing engineering components companies lauding their reliability in front of pictures of the space shuttle which was now triggering PTSD across America.

Things are a little faster nowadays, so if something bad happens in the news that affects your ads, you do need the ability to switch your ads off. A national tragedy like a terrorist attack or a celebrity death can make your ads look inappropriate. So I would recommend keeping your password with you and maybe loading the apps so you can switch everything off temporarily if needs be.

News isn't all bad, there's opportunity too, keep an eye on Oreo Cookies for inspiration, they use current news and trends to spark their creativity and playfulness. Who wouldn't love that job!

PPC training and courses

Well hey, back when I ran a 17 person PR and direct marketing company I took us through Investors in People so I know something about this too!

Everyone has their own learning style. So don't just jump into a training course, decide for yourself how you want to learn. Buy a book. Find a mentor (me?). Yes go on a course if that works for you. Create a local cabal of fellow learners and jump into it together.

Some people prefer the theory. Others just need to do it. Some want to watch others do it first, and still others need to see it be successful before they get it. I've heard one trainer say that everyone needs to be pushed into all of those experiences to really 'get' it, if left to their own devices most people will just hang around in their comfort zone.

If I were to learn PPC marketing, I would do online courses. For Facebook, Facebook Ads University worked for me, as did Broad Targeting Formula (seems to be closed now).

For Adwords, Google runs its own Academy for Ads (Adwords is now called Google Ads) and through that you can learn how to do ppc and become Google Ads Certified, for free, which would look pretty cool on your CV.

Digital Marketer is excellent, I'm increasingly impressed, I've just gone through their paid traffic course and learned some good stuff.

Perry Marshall's 80/20 Sales and Marketing and Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords are fabulous too.

I use Great Headlines Instantly every day.

If you are launching something .. an event, new premises, a new facility, a new range, then I'm a Jeff Walker fan and student, he's the online launch king and I can run your event promotions in his style.

Frank Kern is so good he's dangerous, he'll completely empty your wallet for you and he does everything with PPC, doesn't bother with anything like SEO.

So, yeah, this simple web page is beginning to seem like a course (it's ended up nearly 10,000 words). If you would actually take a PPC course specifically designed for independent opticians like you if I created one, you'd best let me know. If there's demand, I'll do it.

Pay per click affiliate marketing

It's probably not super-relevant but you should know this world exists: affiliate marketing.

Marketers who just want to be marketers can sell all sorts of things for a cut, often as large as 50%. From the marketers' point of view, they don't have to mess around with production or customer service or fulfilment, they can just do marketing. It's a great way to hone your marketing skills against world class players.

The vendor gets a regular flow of sales without having to worry about how or provide any up-front investment. The software to manage affiliates is well established. Each marketer is given a unique web address and all the sales they generate get allocated to their account and a payment is made usually monthly.

This could be relevant to you in a number of ways.

You could set it up for yourself. I'm not recommending that, I'm just saying you could. Let me know if you do, though.

Often opticians partner up with audiologists. I don't know what the usual arrangement is, but one possibility is that you set up an affiliate system and publicise it to local audiologists, and they set one up so that when you refer to them you get paid.

If you want to support a local charity or football club or whatever (I suggest checking out Twitter Growbot for popular other organisations that are already in the minds of your followers), you could set up an affiliate link for them and then they could use that link wherever they fancy and your support for them is their cut of any business you get.

But the main reason I wanted to bring this world to your attention is that the perhaps more attention grabbing stories in the eyecare world are probably linked to affiliate marketing. I'm not saying Enchroma markets this way, a 2 minute search hasn't revealed any affiliate system to me so maybe not, but it's the sort of disruptive product or service that might take advantage of affiliate marketing.

Here's one that definitely is an affiliate product: Eye Floaters No More. If you buy that product from that link, I'll get maybe $17 or $20. That sits in a space where you, as a professional, tell people there's not a lot they can do about floaters.

So, two things. Firstly, your clients don't live in a clean bubble, they receive marketing messages from you and from other people. So you are doing battle with affiliate marketers and traditional competitors for the headspace of your customers.

Secondly, affiliate products are often used as an upsell. Having got your client worth £350, if you can say "oh, you might also be interested in (these other things we've tried and we know they work), here's a link" you might be able to raise your average client worth, and that means you can market more.

They could even be a downsell. If a client is going to walk and give you nothing, at least if you say "well, if you want cheap, here's an online place we work with and we think their quality is OK so take this link and get in touch with them .. " you might make £25 out of someone who was going to give you nothing and that again improves your business.

Finally, I mentioned those Enchroma glasses to an optician and they just laughed. Eye Floaters No More .. hands up if you believe that works? Yeah, no-one. But if you bought it, for $37 would that be so bad, and then reviewed it. If it works, you have an upsell. If it kinda works, you probably learned some advice you can give. If it didn't work you can rail against it. Whatever, you got an interesting blog entry out of it.

Ultimately I just want you to know this world exists, it was (ahem) an eye opener to me.

PPC websites

If you are searching for PPC websites, stop. You're on the cusp of a world of pain. Turn back, do what I've been talking about. There are no tricks. No cheap alternatives. No secret ways to do this. You have not found some back door I don't know about, and neither are you or I cleverer than Google.

There are some mass advertising systems, but I don't think they are right for the independent opticians market.

Top tips from other PPC experts

"Don't forget to look at channels beyond Google such as Bing and social media. In my experience the ROI can be better. Also make sure you retarget people who have already visited your website." Sarah Fenwick, Digital Marketing Specialist at Atom Retro (retargeting is a targeting option, basically you have to install pixel code for the platform you want to use, and then details are stored there of the people who visit your website and later you can send ads to them (retarget them), you can even target different visitors depending on which of your pages they looked at.)

"Know when to stop
Ok, so you've done all the work; researched keywords, created ad variations and landing pages but people aren't still converting. That's ok, that's valuable; it feeds into your testing but know when to stop, take stock and try something new. Proceeding with something that you've spent so much time on is tempting, no one wants to feel like they've "wasted" time, but you haven't trust me....maybe it's better to waste a bit of time than continuing to waste money." Richard Askew, Managing Director, Askew Brook

"Once you have a following of a few hundred people, use the results from your unpaid posts to decide what to boost. Promoting the best performing content can see your cost per click tumble as people share it on, like it or comme nt. This is because the social networks reward content that people engage with by ranking it far higher in their algorithms. We've seen the best posts outperform average posts by 10x-100x for similar levels of spending." Frank Fenten, Digital Director, Dinosaur.

and in conclusion ..

OK that's it, you've got everything I have to offer. Use your new powers wisely, and get in touch if you want my help. It's OK, I'm not expensive and seriously I'm not going to use marketing woo woo to get you to buy stuff against your will .. whoever wanted reluctant clients? I'm not going to tie you into anything either, come and go as you please. I want you to see the power in PPC marketing to transform your practice and to work with me to make it happen. Try it. Hey, it might even work. Alternatively if you would rather keep it in-house, I get that, so we can do mentoring. If neither, I sincerely hope you enjoyed the read and I wish you all the best in your battle against the majors.

I kinda want to do the girl power sign now for some reason, I mean, I know you might be a guy and .. me too but still:


I do cost-effective digital marketing for independent opticians because you have enough to do, so get in touch: email, no obligation. You may prefer to

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