Google “PPC optimization,” and you’ll get a whopping 2,320,000 results. That’s quite a lot of information to go through.
And there are countless variations on the theme: “PPC optimization techniques,” “PPC optimization strategies,” and so on.
Still, in Ben Franklin’s words: “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”
You can spend hundreds of hours optimizing a PPC advertising campaign, but if you haven’t laid down the groundwork correctly, you’re just wasting time and money. This is true no matter what type of ads you’re running: Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, or retargeting campaigns.
Here are the rules you must follow in any PPC advertising campaign to make sure you’re on to a good start.
1. Outline Your Advertising Goal
Cheshire, the cat, was right: “If you don’t know where you want to go, any road will take you there.“
Those wise words can also be applied to PPC advertising. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, anything will do, right?
But that’s not the way it goes, and we know that. How many times did you start an ad campaign, for your own company or for a client and say, a few days in: “These results are perfect, the CTR and the number of conversions are both good, it’s exactly what I (vaguely) had in mind.”
That doesn’t happen very often.
Being able to measure how you’re doing against your objectives is one of the best parts of PPC advertising and digital marketing in general. Why not take full advantage of it?
Start planning your PPC campaign by outlining what you want to achieve. Do you want to increase the number of subscribers to your blog? Do you want to increase sales by 10%, or will a 2% be more realistic?
2. Define Your Budget
The most popular PPC advertising platforms (Google Adwords, Facebook ads) ask for a daily budget. That can trick you into spending a lot of money before you know it.
But if you define an overall budget for your PPC campaigns, it’s easier to keep costs under control. And you won’t be surprised that you’ve spent more than you can afford.
Consider how much you can afford to spend on advertising per month and split it across campaigns (search, display, retargeting) or across ad networks (Adwords, Facebook Ads, Linkedin, Twitter, or others). Next, take the ad campaign or ad network budget and divide it by 30,4 (the average number of days in a month). And that’s your correct daily budget.
You should also establish an approximate maximum cost per conversion – how much you can spend to get a new customer. This will help you see if you’re breaking even on your campaign. If the amount of money you paid to get a new customer is lower than what you make, on average, from that customer, your campaign is running a loss.
3. Structure Your Campaigns According to Theme
Avoid the temptation to create a single PPC advertising campaign that targets a vast audience and promotes everything there is about your business, product, or service.
The nice thing about PPC is that you control who sees your ad and create different ads according to the theme. There’s more than one benefit if you stick to this rule.
It helps you stay on top of things, keeping your campaigns organized and easier to manage. It also allows you to create highly relevant ads and, in turn, with a higher chance of a conversion.
What’s more, structuring makes it easier to track and control costs. It enables you to see which product categories or audiences bring in a return on investment.
4. Use A Dedicated Landing Page
If you want to take a chance and direct users that click your ads to your homepage, by all means, do.
But you should know that PPC advertising campaigns that use dedicated landing pages see a conversion rate improvement of at least 25% (source).
That’s because the human brain is wired to look for consistency. Visitors should locate easily on the landing page what they saw in your search text ad or in your banner ad. If they don’t find it quickly, they leave right then and there.
If you direct visitors to your homepage, you’re making them think: “What do I need to click here? Where do I find what I saw in the ad?”
By contrast, a dedicated landing page gets visitors one step closer to conversion. It filters out the number of unnecessary clicks. The more consistent your landing page is with your banner ad or your search engine text ad, the higher the chances of conversion.
5. Consider Your Audience
Your audience plays a central role in your PPC advertising campaign. Capturing their interest is crucial.
If your audience is not even remotely interested in your ads, you’re just throwing money out the window. Think about it – would you click on something that fails to attract your attention?
When you’re planning your PPC advertising campaign, take a moment (read 4-5-6 hours) and think about your trying to reach the audience. Who are they? What do they do? What are they afraid of? What do they want? How can your product or service come in to solve their problems or fulfill their needs?
Empathy is a great way to establish a connection and attract your audience’s attention. Create your ads and your landing page around your users’ needs and wants, and you’re on the right path.
6. Use a (Strong) Call to Action
This is one of the basic yet often overlooked rules in PPC advertising. If you don’t tell your audience what to do next, they won’t do it. Without a (strong) call to action, people won’t feel compelled to take the next step.
The perceptual set theory explains why.
According to the theory, the mind perceives objects through an active process of selection, inference, and interpretation. We naturally form expectations when we see a landing page or a banner ad and our brain somehow knows what to expect next.
The call to action bridges the gap between expectations and taking that next step.
To be effective, the call to action should fit in naturally with your copy. Pay attention to context and align your CTA with the rest of your messaging.
For example, don’t advertise a 10% discount for books and use a call to action that says “submit.” Go for something that would go naturally with your landing page or PPC ad copy: “Shop now” or “Buy now.”
7. Install Conversion Tracking
Most advertising networks provide conversion tracking, yet only a few marketers use it. According to Wordstream, only 48% of the Google Adwords accounts have conversion tracking enabled (source).
If you’ve set your PPC advertising objectives and an approximate maximum CPA, you know what you want to measure.
Here is where conversion tracking comes in.
It allows you to see what users do on your website after they have clicked your ad. It also enables you to know if you’re getting a return on investment from your campaigns. Without it, you don’t know if your campaigns bring in a profit or are running a loss.
Before starting a PPC advertising campaign, make sure you install conversion tracking and set up your conversions.
8. Monitor Your Campaign
Even if you’ve done all the prep work correctly, even if you’ve set up your PPC advertising campaign correctly, your job does not stop there.
Don’t just set it and leave it – that’s somewhat of a recipe for disaster.
Monitor your campaign to see that everything’s going according to plan. Yes, there will be adjustments, and there is a learning phase in which you experiment with different settings until you find the ones that bring in conversions. But that requires monitoring and attention.
Google Adwords allows you to set up alerts, and you can customize what you want to get messages and notifications. With Creatopy Ad Campaigns, an account manager will monitor your ad campaigns for you.
9. Assess Performance Correctly
Unless you’re in the media or publishing business, there’s no way in the world that a 20% increase in CTR could be your actual PPC advertising goal.
No one advertises for the sake of high CTR or low CPCs. The goal is either leads, sales, or traffic.
And it’s essential to keep that in mind when assessing campaign performance. I’m not saying that a low CPC and a high CTR don’t count. On the contrary, they’re ideal.
But it’s more important to look at meaningful metrics such as engagement or conversions.
Engagement can be defined in many ways. For content marketers, engagement is a combination of time on page with social media shares. For website owners, engagement is a combination of metrics such as bounce rate, pages per session, and average session duration. Creatopy Ad Campaigns engagements show you exactly how many of the users that clicked your ad interact with your landing page after.
Also, don’t discard view through conversions – those matter as well and might be assisting your users back on the path to conversion.
Additionally, look outside your ad campaign to get a full view of the effect. For a display advertising campaign, there might not be an increase in conversions or leads, but there might be an increase in organic traffic for your company.
Applying PPC optimization techniques is a lot easier when you’ve planned and set up your PPC campaign correctly.
Now, back to you. Are there any rules or best practices you think should be followed no matter what in planning a PPC advertising campaign?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.