Rev Up Your PPC Strategy!

By Hayley Cummings | @Hanapin | Associate Director of Paid Search at Hanapin Marketing

Agency readers, have you ever had a client say ‘I need more strategy’? And, in-house readers have you ever asked this question of your agency? I think we have all had to stop in our tracks and take a look at what is actually driving the actions we are taking.


For me, it happened very early in my career. However, since that point, there have been a number of accounts that I have worked on who lack a certain formula for success that most clients deserve. Once an account is down the path of tactical implementation, is can be very difficult to ‘reset’.


What’s The Solution?


First, understanding what brought you to this point today. Are you new to the account, or have you been working with the agency/client for some time? Have you ever had a conversation about goals? If so, what are the goals and how are they determined? If you have set a goal for your PPC account that is something like, CPL of $50 or conversion volume of 250, these may not tell the full story.


The goal should be to understand what the overarching goal is for the company. This goal would ideally be for the year, understanding what the shareholders or Managing Directors expect when the year’s work is done. Likely it is some sign of revenue growth. Whether in a percentage for actual dollar amount, this number is something that all channels should be working towards.


I compare this thinking to the finish line at the end of the track. You can see it down the road, and you now have to make plans to get there. There are a number of ways we can affect revenue in PPC. It is important to understand what part PPC plays in the overall marketing effort for the year. Is PPC the only way media dollars are being spent or are their offline and display buys happening as well?


If there are other channels also working towards this goal, take the time to align. Understand when they are pushing so you can be ready to capture the additional interest. Understand when they are dark, so you can prepare for slower brand traffic. Once you have mapped out a flight calendar that takes into account all of these things you will be ready for the next step.


Map Out Your Strategy


Now that you know what to expect, you can begin to map out your strategy. I consider the strategy the actions of the driver behind the wheel. Knowing what to expect down the road and understanding your own limitation and advantages you can move through series of strategies each with the purpose of eventually reaching the finish line.


Plans that are made in advance may need to change depending upon your competition and the car can be by month or by quarter. Personally, I prefer by quarter, and this is only because if you plan your strategy in this way, you will feel more confident in allowing each quarter to focus on one specific area. If you have done all these steps and still feel like you want a strategy for each month that works too. Just remember, the purpose is to really take that time to focus your efforts in that designated area so that you can move forward with the confidence that it has been optimized and structured for success.


This thinking doesn’t mean you neglect the rest of the campaign, or never touch that component again, but eliminate the ‘noise’ so you can focus on the areas that matter most. The key is to end the time period feeling confident that the time spent has yielded the most return from that strategy.


For example, if the account were still running with -100% bid modifiers and your goal is to increase revenue, mobile would be a great place to start. Knowing that we still have some control over mobile, and can still count on it as a method of driving qualified leads, if the keywords denote a high level ‘intent to purchase’. While the bid modifiers seem like an easy to implement change, this is still something that can be honed and optimized for a quarter as a strategy on the path to the arching goal.




Finally, and most importantly, we reach the tactics. This is considered the ‘pit crew’ or mechanics of the beast. Once you have a good idea of what you want to achieve and the best way to get there, it’s time to pop the hood and take a look inside. How do you make the strategy come to life? Strategy without implementation is worthless. This is the place where it all becomes real.


For example, your mobile strategy will require you to find the appropriate mobile bid modifier through testing. It will require mobile preferred ads and sitelinks. It may require a restructure in order to support only certain keywords. These are the tactics.


Final Thoughts


Overall, a good PPC strategy is one that is working toward the right goal, with the right strategies in place and the ability to activate them. Giving your team (in-house or agency) the breathing room to set this level of foresight is immensely helpful for both sides. Try it on a piece of your business for a quarter and let me know how it works for you!