Simple Analogies to Use When Clients Ask About PPC

Building a lasting client-agency relationship is all about communication. The more your clients feel in the picture, the more secure they’ll feel about working with you.

Apparently, you’re spending their money and with that you get a lot of questions. But how do you best answer various aspects of PPC to a layman? My advice is: use analogies.

Analogies are easy to understand. As multiple studies show, our brains are wired to process stories, examples and analogies better. Here are some of my favorites:

1. The Auction system

Quality score is not the easiest thing to explain. Often if I try to explain that it has got something to do with landing page relevance, expected CTR, historical CTR, ad relevance, your bids, your competitors bids and their quality score.

Kind of sounds then like pulling the wool over their eyes doesn’t it?

To make things worse, we then try to explain that PPC on Google, Bing & whatever works on an ‘auction’ system! Imagine you were the client? What type of snake oil auction system is this so called ‘Adwords’?

An auction is an auction. Silent, eBay, Real Estate or Car, the highest bidder wins right? Well.. hmm.. kind of but no. Let’s explain this bad boy:
Relevancy analogy:

So what do I say? Well in this case I try to get the client to think about what motivates a search engine like Google to provide such an elaborate advertising system.

I focus on WHY they are the biggest and most successful search engine out there and WHY they have in most countries well over 90% of search engine market share. I call this the Relevancy Addiction.

Hang in there with this one. I put this one first, so you are fresh when you read it. Trust me on this one.

We are all relevancy addicts. Relevancy is addictive, and Google knows that. Google knows that if it provides the most relevant results, it leads to the best user experience, driving people back over and over again.

So much so that if they have a question, they just ask Google. It becomes too easy, super convenience and yes, ultra addictive.

Why is McDonalds is so addictive? It’s convenient. It’s also easy to eat, and it’s cheap.

What about Google? Well, I can be sitting with a friend having an argument about some fact, I quickly ask Google, and I get an answer. Instantly.

It’s convenient, easy to use and best of all, Free. Google does this better than any other search engine in the world. It is great for building a tribe of followers who expect relevancy.

They have millions of millions of users receiving fast, relevant and cheap information 24/7, 365 days a week.

This leads to high levels of engaged traffic, traffic that is attractive to Advertisers. As a result, they pay the top dollar to get a regular traffic. Needless to say, this means more money for Google.


It all goes back to relevance. Without it the results the users have become addicted to, no longer meet their desire so they will go somewhere else. Keep this relevancy, and then the traffic and revenue keeps coming.

Understanding this, you need to think about how relevant your ad is and how relevant your user experience is. It needs to be addictive. You need to provide someone with the information they want quickly and easily.

If you can do this, Google will look after you. If you don’t provide relevancy and user experience, then you are detrimental to their business. So why should they play nice?

Let’s now put it in the context. If someone searches for “animal books” and you send them to a page about “cooking books” then that doesn’t provide a good user experience does it?

What if you just send them to your landing page simply about books, is that relevant? Kind of, but then again, it’s certainly not 100% relevant.

If this happens over and over again, people will ultimately look for another search engine to get results that are relevant to them. Naturally, this works against Google.

So in essence Google will reward you for relevancy by giving you cheaper clicks at a higher position. Combine this is a high max CPC you are willing to spend then you are set for an excellent result… and so is Google.

2. Can I bid on my competitors?

This is always a ‘you can, but I wouldn’t’ type of response. You can in that Google allow you, but you will pay a fortune for it, and chances are its profitability is debatable.

You have those that are for it and those which are against it. But that is not the point of this article. Here is a good example of someone looking at both sides of the spectrum. I recommend you read it for a good list of pros and cons.

Now let’s address the client in a way that they will understand.

I tend to go back to the Relevancy Addiction analogy. Remember, relevant + easy wins. When someone searches for your competitors, and they end up on your website, what type of user experience is that? Is it relevant? Do they get what they want quickly and easily?

They didn’t exactly get what they want did they? I’m not saying this won’t be effective as it is 100% contextual, but 100% contextual is not 100% relevant.

3. Why doesn’t my ad show all the time?

Simple answer! Give us more budget and you will show! But, of course, it’s not that simple. The type of analogy you give depends on why the ad isn’t showing.

There are two reasons that need a different analogy for each.

Analogy #1: budget

This one is the easiest to explain. Your ad doesn’t show because your budget isn’t high enough. I find the easiest way to do this Analogy is to finish it off with how often the ad doesn’t show.

The most common analogy I use is that of the finance industry, more specifically home loads. It’s a high demand, high competition market.

If you only have $100 a day to spend and you are paying $10 a click, then that means you can only get about ten clicks per day.

Since there are thousands of people searching for home loans a day, if your budget was shown every time someone searched a home load related term then your budget would be exhausted in minutes.

To stop this happening and to spread your clicks throughout the day, Google needs to show your ad intermittently. Your ad many only be showing 10% of the time which means it will only show in 1 in 10 searches. To put that into perspective, your ad doesn’t show 90% of the time.

Analogy #2: quality score

Again you can go back to relevancy. I always find its good to start conversations with a potential client or a current client focusing on relevancy.

This way you can easily lead to answering this question by ‘flipping’ the rewards Google gives you for a highly relevant ad and user experience into what it does when you ad is not so relevant.

If you haven’t discussed relevancy, then it’s a good idea to go back and have the ‘Why Google is so successful’ chat to explain the importance of relevancy.


From there it’s quite simple, Google does the opposite when you have a low-quality score. It will show your ad less as a type of ‘penalty’ to reduce a negative user experience. Improving relevancy should reverse the trend.

4. Why don’t I appear as number 1 when I type in <enter generic term>,

Bidding and driving traffic for super broad terms can lead to disaster, but one of the hardest things to do is convince the client that it doesn’t work like that.

It boils down to what their goals for the campaign are and most importantly at what stage of the buying cycle they want to engage the consumer.

For the majority of clients this no doubt to get someone to buy, submit a lead request or call a number. In most cases, we want to try to get users who are deep into the buying process and ready to make a decision.

Used car sale analogy

I like to use my “used car sale” analysis to explain why we pick the keywords we do.

If you were looking for a car and types in the word ‘used car’, at what stage of the buying cycle would you be? Most likely right at the beginning.. you don’t even know where to start other than you want to buy a used car.

Let’s take it one step further and assume you typed in “used Toyota”. At what stage would you be in then? You would be somewhere further along the process but would you be prepared to take real action act that point? Most likely not.

Now let’s say you searched “Used Toyota Corolla 2005″. You are now a buyer at the stage where you want to take action. If I was a car dealer and I had a used Toyota Corolla 2005, I would pay top dollar for you to come check out my site where I am selling the exact car you are after.

5. Why are my clicks so expensive?

Ever worked with a client in the finance industry? Software solutions? What about a locksmith?

Where CPCs are quite high, regardless of the type of industry you are competing in, you can always go back to these two main reasons why.

Locksmith analogy

Plumbers and Locksmiths fall right into the heart of this. Advertisers only really get one chance to engage and get a customer. The click to conversions rates are extremely high, and so is the potential revenue from the single sale.

If you have locked yourself out and need a locksmith, the journey from having a need to making a decision is extremely short, often within a few minutes.


Advertisers know the importance of being in front of a consumer when such a need arises, even with super high CPC’s the conversion rates are so high that CPC’s over $50 can be quite profitable.

6. Why are the management fees on-going?

Most PPC and search companies that I know use a retainer or % of spend based model. To us, we know that a campaign is a living, breathing and the dynamic thing that we need to nurture and optimize as time goes on.

The industry changes, external factors affect performance, and it is already dangerous to assume that what worked in the past will continue to work into the future. It simply doesn’t work like that and, therefore, the Client to agency relationship needs to be strong and full of communication.

General, lifestyle and direct analogy

There are several analogies we tend to use, just depends on the client and how the conversion is going and also the context.

The general analogy: Running a good campaign is not too dissimilar to running a good business. You can’t simply set it up and then just let it run.

You need to be active; you need to fight fires, find the good, the bed, improve systems and processes so that over time you have a successful company.

It won’t work if us as an agency simply sets it up and runs off. We need to be considered as partners to help you run your business in terms of digital marketing so that you can focus on other areas.

The lifestyle analogy: If you wanted to improve your health and get fit would you consider it a one-off thing? Its something you need to work on day in day out.

If you stop, over time, things will eventually return to how they were and you will be right back where you all started.

Direct analogy: This is probably the best one to use as it can be directly related to their business meaning they will relate to it more than the general ones mentioned above. Try to work out their industry and where you see possibly ups and downs.

For this to have the best effect, this should be prepared before the meeting. The direct analogy is simply using their industry as an example, and I have added a few below:

  • Taxation: End of the financial year would need different setup and approach compared to an evergreen or always running the campaign.
  • Retail: Peak buying periods need to be addressed and optimized accordingly
  • Hospitality: Nearby events, holidays, mothers day, day of the week, hour of the day for the most bookings?
  • Outdoor Cleaning: weather dependent.
  • eCommerce: day of the week and hour of the day will have an impact on sales and so will external factors such as industry trends and, of course, the competition.

7. I don’t trust Google

I find it quite alarming how often I hear clients and potential clients say this. They don’t trust Google. Google is evil. They charge for clicks that I never get. My competitors are the only ones that click my ads… and so on.

We can easily go on and on about fraud detection, invalid clicks, and refunds, but they are skeptical right?

Analogy as a response

Google makes the majority of its earnings ($32.2 billion. roughly.. give or take a few billion). It relies on advertisers for this revenue and it’s smart enough to know that it needs to keep its advertisers happy.


To the point. Can your customers trust you? What are your options? More business or no business?

8. What is a good conversion cost?

I find it kind of odd when clients ask this, mainly because I think they should already know what an acceptable conversion cost would be! The problem is many clients don’t know how much it costs to service a customer whether it be a hard cost or not.

Analogy Ask Questions

Be careful with this analogy because the last thing you want to do it make a client feel inadequate or undermined by the advertising dude trying to tell them how to run their business. In this situation, it’s best to work through the numbers from the point they get a customer.

Questions to ask:

  • What is the average sale amount?
  • What is your % profit margin per sale?
  • What is the average lifecycle of a client?
  • Average order size?

Work through the numbers with the client, learn their business model and work backward.

To reiterate my point, our brains are wired to better understand examples, stories and analogies. We fear what we don’t understand, thus making your clients understand the nature of your work forms the basis of a lasting relationship.

Moreover, the better you can make your client understand how you spend their money, the happier they’ll feel. So use analogies.

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