PPC is Like Fishing – ENVY Digital Solutions, LLC

PPC is Like Fishing

Image of a man fly fishing in a German forest lake.

By Joe Sayles, Jr.

Estimated Read Time: 5-7 minutes


One recent morning while I was waiting for my oatmeal to heat up in the microwave, I had an epiphany, a flash thought – “PPC is like Fishing!”

This thought came to me on the heels of another thought that led me to write an article about 5 Reasons Why Digital Marketing is Like a Bicycle.

You see for the past few years, I have spent time after time trying to explain all that I do as an online marketer. You’ve probably been there too. So when I have a great thought, one that really makes it easy to understand, I write it down to share with others.

During this morning daydream, I came up with a doozy that I could share!

Back to my daydream, while standing near the microwave my thoughts had drifted into the best ways to describe my search engine marketing work to one of my clients. I thought if I can describe Search Engine Marketing (aka paid search, SEM or PPC) to my parents and in-laws in a manner they understand, then I have a great description. Since they are all from a different generation, one that exists in the real world, I would need an analogy that they could easily understand.

Because my work has become work that exists while staring at a video monitor, typing away on a keyboard, and sitting with headphones on my head, it can be difficult for my parents, in-laws, their generation and even many in my generation to see and comprehend. But I thought, I can quickly make them understand what I do with a good correlation that they can understand.

When the microwave bell dinged and I came out of my minute long daydream, I could clearly see a direct correlation between my PPC activities and the activities of a fisherman.  This correlation was simple; I realized that as an SEM, I am essentially a digital fisherman!

I quickly took my bowl of oatmeal to my computer desk and began typing.  As I wrote down my thoughts, it became clearer to me how I wanted to explain this idea.  While fishing, you would fish for a specific type of fish with the right bait, in the best location of fish, and the best repeating source of fish.  Suddenly, I realized paid marketing was no different.

To make my point, I created this cloze (fill in the blank) paragraph below to see if substituting terms could work in a descriptive manner. In it, I first entered fishing terms and the paragraph looked as follows:

The toughest part of FISHING

is finding out where the FISH are in the LAKE/OCEAN.

Once you decide where in the LAKE/OCEAN to FISH

Your task becomes all about finding

the right BAIT,

the right LINE,

and the right HOOK.

Next, I substituted PPC terms into this “fill in the blank” statement and this is what I came up with.

The toughest part of SEM-PPC

is finding where the LEADS are (on) the INTERNET.

Once you decide where (on) the INTERNET to FIND LEADS

Your task becomes all about finding

the right AD

the right CALL TO ACTION

and the right LANDING PAGE!

The substitution worked well.  My statement “PPC is like fishing” would stand up to the substitution test.

It quickly became apparent, that the strength in being the SEM is knowing which type of fish (LEAD) will be found in which part of the sea (the INTERNET). Deciding on what fish you are targeting like targeting a bottom dweller, top, or mid-water fish is like which audience (who you want to target). Where in the water you can find them is like which platform to find the audience (Search, Display, Native, Social, Programmatic Ads), and it can also be related to where are the target audience is in the buying cycle (awareness, interest, decision, action: ready to purchase, etc).

The strength in being a good fisherman is also about understanding timing just as it is for an SEM. Time of day, is just as important in fishing as in PPC. As with fishing when you might consider whether it is time for a fish to find a meal, in SEM you must identify when your target is most likely to be available to take action.

In PPC as with fishing, your bait is another important factor. You might need worms to land a smaller fish, or a small fish to land a bigger fish. In PPC you might want a display ad in a native network to make a potential lead aware of your product, whereas you might require a text ad in a search campaign to find a potential customer who is ready to buy – deeper in the sales funnel.

With bait, you also must decide whether you want the best, expensive bait or if any basic bait will do. You must decide how much bait to buy and how much bait to use in the water over any given period of time. With bait, when the fish aren’t biting you must also decide when to stop wasting bait and pull your line out of the water.

With PPC, you must also decide if you will target the most competitive and expensive keywords or the less competitive and less expensive long-tail keywords. You must decide how much budget you want to spend, and whether or not to pause your ads for the day if you are not collecting your targeted number of leads.

Like fishing in a lake or the sea, there are top feeding, middle feeding, and bottom feeding fish.  Similarly, in Search Engine Marketing there are leads in different phases of the buying cycle. Image of the Purchase FunnelThere are those who are high in the funnel, those deeper in the funnel, and those ready to buy immediately. As with fishing, in PPC when you are targeting the right audience, and you measure the right key performance indicators (KPIs), your chances of landing the right lead will have the best opportunities for success.

So in a daydream over a bowl of oatmeal, I have found a correlation between fishing and paid advertising. This correlation makes it easier to understand what I do as a search marketer for those who are unfamiliar with the work.

Do you find that you have difficulty explaining what you do? What kinds of correlations have you used to define your work?  Let us know and we will share them.

For your PPC/paid advertising/search engine marketing/SEM needs visit us at

Purchase Funnel Resouce: https://www.mailmunch.co/blog/sales-funnel/

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