If you run a business that relies on online marketing then you will be aware of Pay-Per-Click marketing (PPC). For those who don’t or those who are not sure, this is the platform that allows you to target users based on how they search online and you only pay if the user completes an action, be it a click on to your website or a view of your video for example.
Pay-Per-Click marketing and PPC management are highly specialized skills. The most popular paid search platform is Google’s AdWords which allows you to show up in Google’s search results pages (also called SERPS). To give you an example of how specialized this can be, Google for example has five exams to take all relating to different aspects of paid search marketing using their tools. Then there is actually using the Google AdWords interface, which again has literally hundreds of options and facets to it.
Ideally you would look to hire skilled professionals to help you with your pay per click marketing while you sit back and watch the results come in. But for those of you who haven’t got the necessary budget to bring in expert help or for those of you who are nervous of outsourcing something so critical to your business you might want to fly solo with your PPC management.
Word to the wise. Pay per click done wrong can quickly swallow money and a lack of proper optimization can lead to unprofitable search campaigns. So for those of you who are determined to go it alone, Cathal Saunders, Operations Director of converted.co.uk (A digital agency who specializes in PPC Management) has put together a list of 8 top tips for managing your own PPC campaigns.
1. Know Your Audience and Your Objectives
Before you start spending make sure you have considered these two points. It sounds obvious but the amount of people who do not even know what their target is, or their ROI objective is, is frankly frightening. Make sure you are clear on what your sales targets are, your cost per sale or cost per lead and then your ‘break even’ ROI.
Once you know exactly what you need to achieve from your PPC campaign, then make sure you take time to think about your customer’s online behavior. You may think to target a set of industry terms only to realize customers actually search completely differently and its other businesses like yourself that search using those terms. Think about what stage someone is in the buying process.
For example: You are an online shoe retailer. You have the latest trendiest shoes on the block. The Dynamo bevelled brogues in the colours ‘Kangaroo -coat’ and ‘coal mine dark’ (completely made up before you look for them).
Now would the user be looking for Dynamo bevelled brogues in coal mine dark? Would they know that much about the product?
Then consider what level you want to start engaging with the customer? Is it when they start their search? So terms like ‘Shoes.’ ‘Black Shoes’ – or is it much further down the line such as ‘black brogues in size 11?’
Take time to consider the targeting of your paid search activity and AdWords account before you switch it on.
Unsurprising this has made the list. You need to know what works and what doesn’t as a minimum requirement.
Setting up AdWords tracking either on the website or using Google’s tag manager does require you or a developer adding a little bit of code to the relevant pages on your website.
Even if it means paying a bit of money to get someone to do this properly we cannot stress how important this is. Without it you will have to rely on lady luck to make your PPC a success. In such a data driven industry as PPC not tracking properly is like betting in a card game without seeing your cards. Exciting, but ultimately unwise.
3. Start Specific
When you’re building out your keyword list then we recommend starting quite focused. Exact match keywords are a great way of controlling exactly what you appear for and what you don’t. It also means you have no wasted spend initially.
When you add keywords to your AdWords account to make them exact match add these symbol around each side [ ]
Example: [size 11 brogues]
Not having anything around the keyword means it is automatically set to broad match. This creates lots of unique searches which you’re then included in. With this you WILL create waste. The positive being you will also show for more unique searches that are/could be relevant.
4. Build it Properly
We’ve lost count of the times we have seen an account with one AdWords campaign, with one ad group and a hundred keywords in it.
If you have one campaign then all your keywords share the same budget. Not wise if you have one search term that has high search volume each month and spends most of your budget, but takes it all away from other keywords that perform better. If budget is limited then thinking about where the budget goes is even more important.
Also having only one ad group for all your keywords means the same that the same advert is shown to all those different web searchers. So using our shoe example, let’s say your one ad group has an advert that reads:
Buy Black Bevelled Brogues
Sizes 6-11 From £50
Buy Online Today.
Then because you had only one ad group, with this one advert a user would see the same ad copy whether they typed in ‘black brogues. woman’s brogues, or leather brogues. All are after brogues, but all after different things. Meaning different ads are needed.
5. Test Everything
The key to making the most of AdWords is through a rigid programme of testing. Here’s a few examples:
Testing different ad copy – Which gets the most engagement?
Testing bid positions – Which average position gives you the best ROI?
Device Testing – How does adjusting bids based on mobile Vs desktop devices change your results?
Setting up AdWords is the easiest part. What comes next is where PPC agency’s like Converted.co.uk earn their money. The ongoing process of optimization and improvement.
6. Don’t Do Too Much At Once
While we encourage testing there is a caveat. Try to change too much at once and you will not track what works and what does not. You might get lucky, or you might cause decline in performance. Mass change might lead to a muddying of the waters.
7. Use The Search Term Report
The keywords are what you are bidding on. The search terms are what the customer has actually types in. This is a great way of eliminating waste and identifying new opportunities. Simply go to the keywords tab and look for the search terms option.
Once in you will be able to look at what the actual converting search terms are and where you might be triggering searches with a low chance of converting. This latter allows you to then look at using negative keywords to block out waste.
8. Analyze Regularly
Do not neglect your account. Sitting back and leaving it WILL result in performance decline. Whether it’s within a week, a month or longer.
Using the dimensions tab in AdWords is a quick and easy way to all manner of data from all manner of time periods. Don’t forget to add columns using the column tab, to see all the relevant data, as some of the key columns do not appear on the standard ‘new AdWords account’ layout.
If you’re not sure what you are looking at then feel free to look at this glossary of terms provided by Google HERE.
It is important to do the basics right, before you even consider testing some of the more advanced features of AdWords, such as Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), Retargeting, Display, Video & more.
With this guide you will at least have a great starting point and framework to build your own AdWords account and understand the ROI of what you are doing.
The reality is in most cases using a specialist agency will improve your performance, but only you can weigh up the benefit of freeing up your time and getting expert support Vs the cost that incurs.
If you choose against an agency then seriously consider if you have followed or are following all the steps above.