Maximise PPC campaigns - learn how to bid

How to Maximise PPC Campaigns
PPC can be an amazingly effective marketing channel, giving you access to a potentially massive audience at the exact point they are looking for what you offer. It can also be an amazingly good way to eat up your marketing budget for minimal return if you don’t know what you are doing. In this article we go into detail about some of the things you need to think about if you are running a PPC campaign.

Know Who You’re Targeting and What You’re Trying to Achieve
This may sound obvious but a lot of people start bidding on terms without having a clear idea of what people they are trying to reach and what they want this traffic to provide. Is it simply brand awareness that drives more traffic to your site or do you have specific conversion points such as download registrations, trial requests, sales leads or direct sales – or a combination of the above.

Each of these goals could have very different target terms, ad messaging, landing pages and bid strategies so you need to ensure you know what the aim is before you start.
Another thing you need to ascertain from the start is the value of a conversion – this is easy when it’s a sale with an actual monetary value but what value do you place on capturing someone’s details when they download your whitepaper or request a trial of your product? Try and ensure you have a figure in mind so you can assess the performance and success of your campaigns accordingly. Remember – if you don’t set up proper conversion tracking you’ll never know.

Spend Time on the Account Structure
Have you got a drawer at home where you dump everything and anything in? It’s a nightmare to find the things you need easily isn’t it. The same is true with PPC – if you just dump keywords into an account without any thought then it makes it much harder to monitor and manage.
Take time to break your PPC account into separate campaigns (as many as appropriate) that each focus on a main product category. Within each of these categories you can then break it out into multiple Adgroups that each focus on a specific product, service or keyword theme.
How you structure this will depend on the scale or complexity of what your offering is (you may need to introduce country specific campaigns for example) but it is essential that you do this so you can easily understand where things are working or not working and adapt accordingly.

Match Types Matter
Broad match, phrase match, modified broad match or exact match…all options available to help you ensure your keywords target the right people. Pick the wrong one and you are opening the flood gates to a lot of irrelevant clicks that waste your budget.
I would suggest that you stay away from Broad match and instead focus on a combination of Exact Match (for key terms you know you need to show for), Phrase Match (more scope for appearing but still limiting your reach slightly) and, my favourite, Modified Broad Match, (which keep a tight rein on what you appear for but gives you much more flexibility to show up for multiple long-tail terms).

It pays to be Negative
There was one keyword match type that I omitted above and that was Negative match. If there is one thing that is going to save you money on wasted clicks it is this so give it the attention it deserves.
Run a Search Query Report on a regular basis (daily if you can) to identify any irrelevant searches that you can then block from appearing for in the future. You’ll be amazed how, when you think you’ve blocked every single possible irrelevant variant, you’ll check the report and see a whole raft of new ones you’d not considered. Block, block, block and save, save, save.

Be Creative
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Try and stand out from the other PPC ads by thinking a little more creatively and focus on what your audience want. Free kids places / great kids club / safe shallow seas / short flights and transfers are what parents with young kids are scanning for.
There is also a whole raft of things you can add to adverts these days such as telephone numbers, rating stars, sitelinks, extra descriptions – all of which can increase the information you give and the chance of being selected.

Testing, testing…1, 2, 3
Unless you’re incredibly lucky you’re not going to strike gold with the perfectly converting PPC ad every time – and even if you did, how what you know if was the best unless you were comparing against other ads. When you set up your campaigns you should always have a few (around 3 or 4) ads running per Adgroup that give a different message to the audience – that way you can see which ones get the best CTR and conversion rates.
Google can rotate these ads evenly and then over time give a bias towards the one that is performing the best. This is great, but you also want to be monitoring which message is working too so that you can pause the ones that aren’t and create new test ads that all vary slightly around the best performer – can you make the best ever better?

Optimise the Landing page
You can build the most amazing PPC campaign but it is still going to fail epically if you have not put just as much thought into the page you are sending people to. It’s also a key element in Google’s Quality Score so even more reason not to ignore it.
Make sure that it is relevant to the search query the user has just done, provides all the information they were looking for and has an obvious conversion point. Many companies will build dedicated PPC pages so that they can tailor the page content exactly. It also means that the visitor only sees the conversion point you want them to engage without getting distracted by all the other navigation and content options showing on the main site.
As with the ads – it is definitely worth spending time testing different versions of your page to refine it down to one that really converts.

Location, Location, Location
If you have a company that can only serve customers in London and the South East then you would not be putting ads in newspapers in Manchester or Scotland would you…and the same is true for your PPC adverts. If you only have a specific area that you can target then make sure that your adverts only appear to these people. Location targeting is extremely flexible, allowing to you select by countries, regions, towns, a radius around a point or even an area you draw yourself.
The more specific you get the less exposure you are naturally going to get but at least you’ll know all of it is for people you can work with.

Desktop versus Mobile Bidding
Desktop and mobile audiences can have significantly different content requirements or conversion rates. If you find from looking at your analytics that mobile is significantly under performing compared to desktop then consider reducing the budget you spend on it and move it over.
It’s all about……………….timing

There’s a joke that doesn’t transfer well to paper but in all seriousness there are times when your target audience are more likely to be online than others; have more chance of doing searches for your terms and have more inclination to complete a conversion. You may for example find that people are looking for your products in their lunch hours, in the evenings or at weekends.

You may already have a good idea of when this is but after your campaigns have been running a while you can check out the Dimensions section in Google Adwords and see exactly what days (and specific times of those days) are seeing the best returns.
With this data in hand you can utilise the Ad Scheduling option to either turn off your campaigns at certain times or to raise your CPC maximum bids when you know it has the greatest potential to give an ROI and lower it during other less popular times.  Expand on what works – remove what doesn’t!

After a while you’ll have built up enough click data that you can hopefully see what is working and what is not. Once you know this get ruthless with the campaigns that are not performing and cull the keywords not driving anything and the ads that under-perform so that all you are left with is a much smaller, but highly effective account.
By only leaving things in your account that drive decent ROI you can a) expand and improve upon them to gain even better responses or b) separate out your best driving terms into new campaigns so you can allocate more budget to them and test new keyword or ad variants.

If you are appearing in position 1 then you could also test lowering your bids slightly to appear in position 2 and 3. They will often get just as good conversion rates (especially if you have compelling ads) but can save a significant amount of your budget.

Finally - Don’t forget Bing!
With its dominance in the UK, when you think of PPC your mind probably turns to Google – and that’s the problem. With everyone bidding for terms on Google the competition can push the price of a click uncomfortably high. Bing still has a significant user base in the UK so it is worth replicating your most effective campaigns on Bing and you’ll typically find that your get good results at a much lower cost.

There is also the Google display network and remarketing options available that can give you even more potential return and these will be discussed in future posts.


Related articles: 8 steps to successful SEO , PPC V SEO - the perfect pairing , Google backlinks


Author: Matt Lester,  SEO Manager at Fidelity International

Disclaimer: Please note that this blog only contains general information and insights about legal matters. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.