A Process for Setting PPC Goals

By Sarah Stemen | @runnerkik | Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

While the topic and importance of PPC goal setting is not new among fellow PPC Hero bloggers, the purpose of this post is to cover my style and approach to goal setting with clients.


The first time I meet with a client I have a list of questions. While most of the questions vary, I always ask about goals. I have learned to phrase this question in a deliberate way, because it is crucial to unpack the true goals. It is also imperative that this be done on day one, before a strategy is delivered.


Most clients comprehend that Pay-Per-Click is capable of directing a significant quantity of traffic to their website. The client assumes that this traffic will equal more revenue, and unfortunately there is not always a 1 to 1 ratio. Rest assured that if there is little to no return on investment for the client, your strategy will come into question faster than a prairie fire with a tail wind.


Example of PPC as largest driver of traffic
Example of PPC as largest driver of traffic


Do yourself a favor – inform your clients that PPC goals are critical, and do not proceed without a solid goal(s) and client sign off.


So how do you set these goals? Great question.


Step 1 – Ask The Right Question


I prefer to ask, what is your number one goal this year? I used to ask the simple question of what are your goals and I was often times met with a few conflicting goals. Asking about the number one goal sets priority.


Often clients will want to grow revenue but not budget. If revenue growth is the first priority my strategy will focus on high volume keywords and testing new opportunities, which sacrifices efficiency and can increase budget short term. If the client’s first priority is to spend efficiently, account focus will be less on new opportunities and more on refining the existing campaigns to eliminate wasted spend. Asking about priority sets a solid order of operations and allows you as an account manger to prioritize tasks.


Step 2 – Gauge The Tolerance For Movement


If a client wants to grow revenue by 30%, but cannot afford to spend money on new initiatives, there is a misalignment. Get a feeling of the client’s tolerance by providing basic projections for each tactic. These can be estimates and by using analytics data, we can look at past performance and make an informed prediction.


Step 3 – Define How Your Goal Will Be Measured


For example, are you going to use the data out of Google Analytics, or Google AdWords? Are you going to measure revenue growth month over month or year over year? Growing revenue from October to December by 50% may seem amazing until you consider that the client is a gift-shop and December is a prime month. Do yourself a favor, define and document your sources, targets, and baseline.


Step 4 – Set A Timeframe


If you consider the client who wants to grown revenue by 30%, the timeframe can shift the aggressiveness considerably. If the client wants this growth over a 12-month span you can build out and test slowly, however if the client wants to do this ASAP, you need to be considerably more aggressive in your tactics.


Step 5 – Review Goals Weekly


In certain circumstances, you may have to fine-tune some goals based on your client’s progress and long-term intentions. Continuously be organized so you can discuss achievements as well as struggles in the account. You must identify what factors are helping to meet goals and then identify areas of opportunity in the account.


Final Thoughts


Help your clients develop their tools related to the goals they set. Recording and presenting goal alignment demonstrates agency value. While all account managers want to deliver insanely great results, clients appreciate trustworthiness and learning. If you can confidently say these tactics are what we are doing to meet goals, and you can tie the tactics together for the client, everyone will win. As Sam Walton says, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Do yourself and your agency a favor – set solid goals upfront and document both successes and failures and present these scenarios for the client.