When you ask a simple question like “how much does pay per click cost,” you’d expect a simple answer.

The reality is this: pay per click costs vary depending on the platform that you choose to advertise on, your industry and target audience, your bidding strategy, and how you choose to develop, manage and optimize your campaign.

To get a better understanding of what pay per click will really cost you and your organization, follow the three step process below:

Estimate your raw advertising costs

Per WordStream, the average cost per click in AdWords across all industries is $2.32 for search and $0.58 for display.

Additional studies found that highly competitive, broad set keywords like insurance, loans, mortgage, and attorney can cost big bucks, all over $45.00 per click.

When it comes to pay per click campaigns on search networks, you can get a general idea of what your keywords will cost pretty easily. Both Google and Bing, for example, provide Keyword Planners that provide useful insights such as volume of searches, competition, and suggested bids. These are helpful for estimating your raw advertising costs so you can properly set a daily, weekly, or monthly budget.

Note: It is not a mandate that you should always use the suggested bids, it is totally your decision to use it or not. If you do not wish for your cost per click to go beyond a certain threshold, you can optimize your bids using your findings from actively running the campaign.

Calculate set-up time and expenses

Do you have an existing website and optimized landing pages geared for conversions?

If not, you have some more work cut out for you, and additional expenses. A website can cost as little as $1000, up to and over $5000 depending on many different factors. Check out our infographic for more info: How much does a website cost?

Have you researched and segmented all of your keywords into hyper-targeted ad groups? Did you write effective copy for your ads to create action? Was conversion tracking set-up properly so you can measure cost per acquisition?

It takes less time to do something right, than it does to explain why you did it wrong.

The costs associated with setting up your pay per click campaign properly are some of the most important.

As the old saying goes: You get what you pay for.

Make sure that your website loads fast. Create focus groups to evaluate your value proposition. Confirm that there are no bugs in your system. Your preceding web development, quality assurance , and campaign setup create the backbone of your pay per click campaigns.

Note: Carry a certain degree of “enough is enough” when it comes to set-up time. Man would have never made it to the moon if the people at NASA did not set a launch date. And there were many follow-up trips to the moon post launch, each with a specific mission geared by knowledge acquired from the past.

Explore pay per click management services

You’re live. Now what?

As we’ve explored in the past, the “set it and forget it” mindset is a dangerous one to carry when it comes to pay per click.

Ultimately, you will need to make a determination of whether or not you are going to manage your pay per click campaigns in-house, or rely on a pay per click management agency or consultant.

Many businesses choose to say yes to less stress and hire an outside pay per click expert. In return, they receive years of experience, creative strategy and insights, access to premium resources, and the sometimes undervalued fresh perspective.

This creates a cost and operations efficiency, which boils down to the one thing that really matters: increased profitability.

Pay per click agencies do more than just help you pick your keywords and watch your spend. They continuously test ads and landing pages, develop new market segment strategies, and provide invaluable consultation. They are supposed to be profitability partners for your organization.

Note: Pay per click agency and consultant rates vary. There are different models including hourly retainers for optimizations, and fixed percentages based on total advertising spend. Make sure you carefully vet your agency or consultant prior to signing a contract that’s hard to squeeze your way out of. Agencies should be flexible. Don’t feel pressured or assume that you need to get locked in to something crazy. The one sole goal of a pay per click agency is to deliver quality leads and a return on your investment. If they are not doing that, then why should you continue to pay for their services?