By Samantha Stratton

Search engine platforms make setting up and running a Pay Per Click campaign look as simple as 1, 2, 3. However, the number of PPC accounts that we analyse and review each day that have been set up initially in a way that will never be profitable is unbelievable!

Our objective as a digital marketing agency is to take PPC accounts and optimise, expand and manage them to ensure that our clients are getting the most for their money and are not wasting money on irrelevant traffic. Platforms such as Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter pigeonhole advertisers into setting up campaigns in a way that will make the search engines the most amount of money. This article has been written to help advertisers get the most out of their PPC account and only give the search engines money for traffic that you should be able to convert.

In my mind there are key steps that everyone should follow when a Pay Per Click campaign is being created. Whether you are new to PPC or an experienced Digital Marketing Executive, we all need guidelines to ensure we keep on track.

There are many different ways to ensure you get the most out of your PPC campaign – such as Google AdWords Editor, Speed PPC and Keywords Pro - and we all have different tools that we use to get us there. However, the end goal is remains the same: to create a well-structured campaign that achieves good results and a positive ROI.

Following these steps should give you a good foundation for creating a targeted campaign:

Understand your Audience

Review your main online competitors and what they are saying in their ads

Make a list of your USPs

Why should people buy from you?

Research your Keywords

Get a clear understanding of what you are going to advertise; a product or a service?

Start to think about what your target audience would be searching for online to find you

Use some of the many free keyword research tools to delve deep into researching the terms. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is the most widely used tool but I would also recommend Wordtracker and SpyFu.

Use all the above as a basis to commence your keyword research and expand as you uncover new phrases

Familiarise yourself with Keyword Match Types

The default match type in a PPC campaign is broad match and this is the match type that will drive the most impressions and clicks and cost you a large proportion of your daily budget

My recommendation is to run with Phrase and Exact match for the start of a campaign and move over to Broad match once you are happy with your account performance and that you have backfilled your campaign with sufficient negative keywords

Defining your Campaign Structure

The structure of the campaign is one of the most important elements to get right

You need to group your keywords into small, tightly themed ad groups

Keep the number of keywords in an ad group to a minimum
If you end up with lots of ad groups, it would work better to split them out into two or more separate campaigns

Set your Budget

Choose a daily budget that is comfortable for you, DO NOT just go with what the search engine recommends

Set up conversion tracking in AdWords and adCenter and goals in Google Analytics

Conversion tracking will record sales/downloads/contact form submissions etc depending on what your desired goal is which will give you a clearer understanding of what phrases and ads convert

Utilise the Goal Funnel in Google Analytics to track where you visitors may be falling out of your conversion path

Write your Ad Text

You should have already reviewed what your competitors are saying in their ads and now is the time to utilise this to produce your own ads

Making your ads stand out from the competition is key at this point. When writing the ads think about what would make you click that ad over another

The ad copy needs to be relevant to the keywords in the group. For example, if your keywords contain variations of ‘blue widgets’, ‘buy blue widgets’ etc the ad text should also be talking about ‘blue widgets’

Try to run at least two ads alongside each other to ascertain the better performer and use the results to continuously optimise the ad text to get better and better

Set your Bids

How much are you prepared to bid up to for a click on one of your adverts?

A good gauge to work this out is working back from a 1% conversion rate (e.g. 100 clicks generating one sale)
Set your maximum Cost per Click (CPC) bids and be prepared to adjust after the campaign has launched to achieve your desired ad positions

Add your Negative Keywords

These are words that you would not like your ads to appear for and should be given the same amount of research time as for your positive keywords. They are just as important and should not be overlooked

For example using the word ‘free’ as a negative can save a lot of money if you don’t have a free version of your product.

AdWords allows you to have up to 10,000 negative keywords in a campaign, use them!

Update your Campaign Settings

Review the campaign settings and you should be prepared to change the default settings to suit your requirements
Set-up location targeting selecting either an entire country, an individual town/city or a specific area within a certain radius of your post code to ensure your ads are showing to the most relevant searchers who are most likely to convert

Change the Ad Rotation setting to ‘Rotate: Show ads more evenly’ which will allow you to make the decision over which ad text to pause when split testing rather than allowing the search engine to decide for you

If using Google AdWords, you need to select which networks you want the ads to show on (Google, Search Partners and/or Display Network)

Separate your campaigns so one campaign is targeting mobile devices whilst the other is targeting desktop computers to give you visibility over which converts best

Launch your Campaign

Try to avoid launching a new campaign on a Friday unless you will be monitoring it over the weekend

Monday mornings are our preferred launch day as we can closely monitor the performance throughout the entire week

Review, Review, Review

Keep track of the average position your ads are showing in and if affordable, aim to be in the top three results by increasing the cost per click

Continue to monitor the campaign and make adjustments where required

Use the Search Query Report in AdWords to see what keywords are driving clicks on your ads and continuously add negative keywords as a result of this

Split test ad text once each ad in an ad group has received at least 100 visits

So there you have it, my guide to getting the most out of your PPC account. This is not exhaustive and managing an AdWords campaign can be very time consuming. Don’t start a campaign if you don’t have the time to monitor and optimise. This is where the real danger lies and you may find yourself spending money on traffic that is never going to convert. Take the time to understand what you are doing before taking the leap.

Samantha Stratton is the Digital Marketing Director at Koozai, www.koozai.com , a UK Digital Marketing Agency.

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