The most common question we hear from first-time advertisers is: “How many clicks can I get for my budget?”
And it’s a good question. If you bought a carton of eggs or a pack of socks, you’d expect to know the exact quantity you’re getting. But with advertising, it’s a very difficult question to answer. A $100 budget could get you 300 clicks, or it could get you just one.
Today, we’ll go over why the cost of a click can vary so dramatically, why it’s not (always) a bad thing to have more expensive clicks, and a few tips and benchmarks for the industries we see the most of.
First things first: What is CPC?
Cost Per Click (CPC) is a measurement of how much it costs advertisers each time someone clicks on their ad. As we saw in our first-time advertiser budgeting guide, it’s an invaluable metric when it comes to forecasting your results: Divide your total budget by your average CPC, and you’ll be left with an estimate of how many clicks you can expect.
One dollar bid, now two, now two, will ya give me two?
While CPC is a simple enough concept, the rules behind how it’s calculated are not.
Think of online advertising as a live auction.
It’s the profit-driven network’s (perhaps Google or Facebook) role to sell each auction item—limited real estate for an advertisement—to the highest bidder.
The buyers each place a ‘bid’ for how much they’re willing to pay for that online real estate. If you’re in an industry with a lot of competition, there will be several bidders that ultimately drive up the price. If your market share is relatively uncontested, there will be little competition and you can win the auction with a low bid.
The highest bidder will then nab the most prominent real estate (say, the first position on Google), while the next highest bidder will get the second position, and so on and so on.
This is what the advertising world refers to as the AdWords Auction (Google Ads Auction).
And it works even if you don’t manually set a bid, as the networks will automatically bid on your behalf with an algorithm designed to maximize your clicks.
What makes a CPC cheap or expensive?
As we demonstrated, competitive auctions lead to higher CPCs.
There are many factors that make an auction competitive, including:
Location: Generally speaking, marketers in urban areas will face higher CPCs as there are bound to be more gyms/restaurants/lawyers/everything In New York, New York than there are in Cody, Wyoming. We used nationwide averages for all of the benchmarks in this post, but assume they’ll be slightly more expensive if you’re in a densely populated area and slightly cheaper if you’re someplace more suburban or rural.
Scarcity: Given the millions of dollars a single settlement can yield, law firms all over the country are looking for more medical malpractice cases. Yet, there’s a relatively small number of clients. As a result, these law firms are likely willing to pay a steep premium to get in front of these cases when they do come through Google. (And in fact, securing a spot on the top of the first page for ‘medical malpractice’ searches in Google will set you back a staggering $200.)
Click-through rate: Google and Facebook make money every time someone clicks on an ad, and you better bet they’re looking to get as many clicks as possible by playing favorites to ads that see a higher click-through rate (CTR). If you have an engaging and highly relevant ad with a high CTR, you’ll be rewarded with a lower CPC as the networks see more value in selling a spot for $2 to a popular ad than $4 to an ad that’s unlikely to get clicks.
Network choice: Last but not least, some networks are just generally cheaper than others. Google Search has a reputation for being expensive than display or social channels, like Google Display or Facebook. This is all explained by the same auction metaphor: If Google is more expensive than Facebook, it means more advertisers in your industry are flocking to Google because it (presumably) converts better.
Okay, okay, so what sort of CPC can I expect for my industry?
To see what the average Cost Per Click looks like for your industry, select the industry below that best matches your business type:
To compute these benchmarks, we took the most popular keywords for 29 major industries and found a nationwide (U.S.) average for what businesses paid in 2018. These metrics are specific to Google search campaigns, but other networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) generally follow a similar trend.
What’s a good CPC for bars?
The average Google CPC for bars and nightclubs in the United States is $2.07.
The competition, however, may come less from other bars and more from furniture stores selling home bars. If you’re able to filter out this competition with negative keywords like furniture, home, and buy, you may be able to get a much better CPC.
What’s a good CPC for coffee shops?
The average CPC for coffee shops is $1.59, which is 32% below the median CPC across all industries.
What’s a good CPC for food trucks?
Food trucks and pop-up restaurants see an average CPC of $0.64, which is cheaper than all but one of the other industries on this list (book stores).
What’s a good CPC for restaurants?
Anything below the average CPC of $2.12 is considered good for restaurants in the United States. However, high-end restaurants with greater profit margins typically see more competition in the advertising world, and thus higher costs for specific search phrases (luxury restaurants, best restaurants).
What’s a good CPC for apparel stores?
What’s a good CPC for auto dealerships?
Anything below the average CPC of $1.72 is considered great for the typical auto dealer. If you’re in a densely competitive area, such as an auto mall, this figure may be significantly higher due to multiple dealers targeting the same lots.
Our guide to geo-conquesting, a favorite strategy for auto dealers looking to steal market share from their competitors
What’s a good CPC for bookstores?
What’s a good CPC for convenience stores?
What’s a good CPC for electronic stores?
Anything above an average CPC of $1.28 is considered great for electronic stores in the U.S. However, this average does show significant discrepancy by location, with electronic stores in rural areas seeing a CPC closer to $0.60 and electronic stores in more urban areas seeing an average CPC as high as $3.00.
What’s a good CPC for grocery stores?
Grocery stores clock in at an average CPC of $2.53, which we thought was surprisingly high, but still just a fraction of the average customer transaction value of $35 for grocery stores.
What’s a good CPC for jewelry stores?
What’s a good CPC for retailers (general)?
If you don’t see your specific retail store type on this list, you can assume an average CPC right around $0.93. If you’re in a particularly competitive market, add $0.50. If your market share is more or less uncontested, subtract $0.30.
The Consumer & Professional Services Industry
What’s a good CPC for accommodations and hotels?
Hotels, resorts, and other accommodations see an average CPC of $1.44 for a position somewhere on the first page of a search engine result. If you’re looking to nab that coveted top spot, however, you’re looking at something closer to $2.96.
What’s a good CPC for accountants, tax professionals, financial advisors, and wealth managers?
What’s a good CPC for auto insurance agents?
In the auto insurance industry, anything below $5.19 is considered a good CPC. However, insurance is among the most competitive industries on Google Ads and costs can average as much as $76.54 for the first position on Google. (Don’t worry though - our customers have seen great results targeting much more affordable lower positions.)
What’s a good CPC for barbershops and hair salons?
What’s a good CPC for beauty and nail salons?
What’s a good CPC for childcare and daycare services?
What’s a good CPC for clinicians and healthcare professionals?
What’s a good CPC for dentists and orthodontists?
Dentists see one of the higher average CPCs on this list, coming in at $5.34. Similar to what we saw in healthcare, cosmetic services (like teeth whitening) tend to be more expensive, while generic searches for ‘dentists’ average out to $2.78.
What’s a good CPC for schools and education?
Schools and educational services face an average CPC of $3.25. This number is heavily inflated by the highly competitive for-profit and online education industry, which sees keyword costs climb as high as $34.36 for a prominent position. Traditional schools and universities will see CPCs closer to $1.50-$2.50.
What’s a good CPC for fitness centers, gyms, and personal trainers?
The fitness industry tends to see heavy competition on Google Ads, yet CPCs aren’t affecting nearly as much as most of the other competitive industries on this list. In general, anything below $3.21 is considered good.
What’s a good CPC for home insurance agents?
As we saw with auto insurance, the home insurance industry tends to be highly competitive, with CPCs averaging $5.30. This is roughly double the average CPC across all industries, but still a bargain when it comes to the lifetime value of an insured customer.
What’s a good CPC for landscapers and lawn care specialists?
Lawn care professionals maintain an average CPC of $4.17 in the United States. Specialized services like patio construction and water features tend to be on the higher end, while basic lawn mowing and fertilization services see CPCs averaging closer to $2.
What’s a good CPC for law firms?
The legal industry sees some of the greatest discrepancies in keyword costs. While the average click will set you back $5.27, searches for cases that can potentially yield seven-figure settlements will have a lot more bidders to drive up the price. Securing the coveted top spot for searches like ‘auto accident lawyers’ or ‘medical malpractice attorneys’ will typically cost over $200 in most competitive, urban markets.
What’s a good CPC for photographers?
In the photography industry, anything below $2.73 is considered a good CPC on Google Ads (Search). Wedding photographers can expect to pay slightly more, due to heightened competition, especially in peak wedding season.
What’s a good CPC for plumbers and HVAC services?
Plumbers, HVAC experts, garage repair specialists, and other home service businesses see an average CPC of $4.85. While this may seem high, Google Ads remains the most effective channel for home services for a reason — 97% of consumers turn to Google after spotting a leaky pipe or in a time of need.
What’s a good CPC for real estate agents?
What’s a good CPC for videographers?
With high competition for a limited market, videographers see an average CPC of $4.38. Like what we saw with photographers, this figure is inflated by wedding photographers, while everyone else can expect clicks to be a little cheaper.
Stretch your budget further
Not happy with your CPC? Feel like you’re not getting enough sales from your clicks? You’re not alone.
Search engine marketing takes minutes to set up and a lifetime to master. Getting to a profitable CPC can take months of testing. Fortunately, we’ve accelerated the process with our self-serve advertising software that predicts your most probable customers to focus your clicks on those most likely to convert into paying customers. We’ll guide you through each step of the way and optimize your targeting based on your campaign’s performance.