5 Useful Tips for PPC Newbies
Several years ago, search marketing and social media was relatively new and somewhat experimental. Back then, we were still trying to get our heads around 25/35/35 character limits on ads and how to use social media for more than just customer service.
Everyone has to start somewhere. I had my trusted 1st Edition copy of Search Marketing Inc in hand, learning about PPC on the go. Inevitably, I hit some pretty hard lessons along the way. With the benefit of hindsight, are there things that I would have done differently, wised up to quicker, or just avoided like the plague?
Here are just some of the things on my list:
1. Spend time up front to do proper keyword research
Speaking to company product experts is a necessary step in order to build up an initial keyword list. But don’t just stop there. Sometimes, when people have worked for a company for a long time, views can be very insular, and strong – sometimes unfounded – opinions run riot.
In addition to speaking with product experts, make use of keyword tools to find search volumes and related words that may be more in tune with customer vocabulary. Always run regular tests to compare keyword performance and weed out the words that just don’t perform. Don’t hang on to expensive words that don’t convert, just because someone thinks it is important. At the end of the day, customers will tell you what keywords work, through the data you collect. This leads us nicely into…
2. Do everything you can to get your tracking right from the start
You don’t know how good (or bad) you are doing unless you are measuring it, and measuring the right things. Ask yourself, do front end metrics like impressions, clicks and cost per click really tell me if I am spending my money wisely? Figure out what the key conversions are on your site and track them. Understand what actions are most likely to lead to sale and track them. Look wider into your company’s systems to see if there is the capability to track sales/orders, both online (through e-commerce) and offline.
By taking the time to understand this, not only will you see how much your program is really delivering to the business (making discussions and negotiations with executives much more meaningful), but you will also get consistent historic data to show how much your program has improved over time.
3. Develop a program structure that is built for return and efficiency
Having a well thought-out PPC program structure in place at the start will improve your performance and save lengthy “restructuring” projects later on. Don’t just think about campaigns built around major product categories, but consider campaigns built around intent, conversion and efficiency. Some examples include:
Brand Campaigns – Build out a brand campaign that includes company name misspellings. Brand campaigns convert well and efficiently because these people already know that they are looking for you. Despite arguments around keyword cannibalization, data shows that having a presence in both paid and organic provides incremental traffic (and conversions) to your site.
Priority Keywords – Priority keywords are those keywords that are important to your business and provide high return. Identify priority keywords (no more than five) within each product category and keep these well funded by separating them out into their own campaign. Doing this also helps you to better control funding to these words which is critical if you are working within tight budgets.
Conversion Events – If you know what key conversions most likely result in a lead or a sale, then build a campaign and adgroups around these specific conversion events.
Searcher Intent – Build campaigns around different stages of searcher intent. For example, you may consider building a campaign based on the marketing (Learn/Buy/Use) funnel. Doing this allows better control over how you fill the funnel and where to focus budget within the different stages.
4. Understand that PPC ad copy takes practice and constant revision
With a limited number of characters to work with, there is no room for waffle. This is a good thing because you have to make every word count. Twitter is a great channel to practice sharpening up your micro-messages.
As with any good ad, you need a call to action. Give people a reason to click on your ad. I’ve been surprised as to how often a call to action is missed out.
When you have your adcopy, don’t just leave it be. Run multiple ad variations, weed out the weakest performing and replace them with new variations, over and over.
5. Don’t wait until the end of the month to see whether you hit your targets
If you have monthly targets, don’t wait until the end of each month to see whether you managed to reach your goal or not.
Keep on top of things by setting up weekly run-rate reports to provide a regular health check of how your program is performing to plan. Your weekly reports will help to flag when you are falling behind, giving you plenty of time before the end of the month to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.