Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are nothing new. Nowadays, they’re an integral part of most marketing programs. But just because you’ve been doing something for a while, doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. Keep reading to learn tips for improving your current PPC campaigns and getting the biggest bang for your buck.
Set up your PPC program for success
There’s no magic formula that can be applied to all PPC campaigns. Managing an effective campaign consists of continuous monitoring and ongoing optimization to get it just right.
1. Set goals and track progress but embrace change
When starting a PPC campaign, it’s important for you (and your agency) to understand what success looks like. Are you trying to get exposure for your brand? Looking for new leads? Define your goals and establish meaningful KPIs and a measurement plan.
Once launched, set an appropriate reporting schedule to track progress and measure performance. Do you like the results you’re seeing? Great—increase your budget or expand into a new platform. And if something isn’t working, change it.
2. Get departmental feedback
Be transparent about your business goals and make sure that your PPC strategy is in alignment with them. Your PPC campaigns should reflect your product launches and focus areas. Because sales and product specialists interact with customers daily, have them review the strategy and provide feedback.
3. Keep it fresh
Is there a new development in your field? Something in your area of expertise that’s being covered by major news outlets? Be prepared to capitalize on that by setting aside a budget specifically for news-worthy campaigns. If competition is high, the keywords may be more expensive, but it’ll be worth it to get your company or product in front of new leads.
4. Look at the bigger picture
While PPC campaigns are an important component of the digital marketing equation, they are not the be-all and end-all. Integrating and coordinating search engine optimization, content marketing, email and social media will maximize online marketing effectiveness and efficiency, allowing you to better capitalize on digital opportunities.
Smart Strategies to Grow Your PPC Program
Now that you have the foundation in place, it’s time to grow the program. As an integral mix in most marketing efforts, experienced professionals know PPC budget planning requires looking at existing opportunities in your current program and evaluating expansion into new channels and/or strategies.
1. Current account expansion
The most obvious place to start is to evaluate your current SEM efforts. If you feel like some campaigns are capping out due to budget restrictions, look at YOY, QOQ and/or MOM data by campaign, paying close attention to KPIs (CPAs/CPC). If available or known, keep in mind seasonal trends, as not all timeframes can be fairly compared.
Once you’ve established a time range, review which campaigns are budget-capped that have been consistently hitting or exceeding your target KPIs and see where you can expand. Both Google and Bing offer built-in functionality that allows you to view traffic for potential increases based on daily budget increases. If you’re looking at keyword expansions, utilizing the keyword planner tools can give you traffic and cost-per-click estimates to project cost ranges by keyword.
Other factors to consider include overall industry and audience growth trends. Using annual estimates from a source such as Forrester Research can be helpful in gauging a rough number, as sources like this provide yearly projection growth trends.
2. Expand to new channels
While paid search is a proven method for capturing user intent, feeding the top funnel of your marketing mix (potential users before they’ve started searching online) is important for success.
Social networks accrue massive amounts of user information and have an increasing array of targeting options and reach, allowing you to expand beyond the standard demographic and geodata with behavioral, interest and lookalike targeting. Therefore, pairing search with social can result in a powerful mix that hits the full funnel.
3. Add promotional strategies
If your business has a presence at trade shows or conferences, then advertising around these events can be an effective way to increase awareness for your brand. While traffic estimates can vary by event, competitor presence, etc., setting a budget range with the expectation that costs will steadily rise as the event draws closer is a solid start. Consider a strategy generating awareness (display/social) further out from the show and getting more targeted (paid search/remarketing) as time draws closer to the event.
As expansion strategies are evaluated, keep in mind that budget forecasts—based on historical performance or projections—should be taken as estimates only.
How to control your budget as you expand
Now that you’ve expanded your PPC strategy, controlling costs becomes critical for success. Ideally, your business has a large enough marketing budget to enlist the support of a professional advertising agency that can manage paid media for you. But if you’re navigating the complex and evolving world of PPC with a limited budget on your own, consider these tips to save time and headaches:
- Set a budget that is large enough to support your channels, keywords and desired geographic target.
- Segment your campaigns to better analyze performance such as by network, branded vs unbranded, audience or device.
- Measure effectiveness by setting up conversation tracking and aligning campaigns with your business objectives.
This is just a quick snapshot, but you can read our article “You CAN afford pay-per-click advertising” where we go more in-depth into these three cost-effective PPC strategies.
The digital marketing landscape is constantly changing with external factors out of our control, including everything from search engine result page changes to competitors entering or leaving the space. These tips will help you fine-tune your strategy by taking a critical look at both past performance and potential growth opportunities.