We spend a lot of time writing about the do’s, don’ts, and how to’s of PPC but I thought it would be a good opportunity to write about the bigger picture.  All marketing plans have to start somewhere and it certainly isn’t without research and loads of planning. This article is aimed at helping you to understand and devise a strategy for your pay per click accounts.  Without further adieu let’s begin by discussing the differences in goals, strategy, and tactics.

Goals vs. Strategy vs. Tactics

Goals are what you are working toward.   Each brand should have a clear, measurable goal.  If you don’t have a goal it is hard to determine what you should be doing long-term to further the account.

To develop a goal, answer these questions:

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • By what time do you want this to happen?
  • Is this attainable? (Seriously, it’s great to have high goals but don’t hurt yourself by making impossible goals.  If your goal is impossible, it will throw off all of your benchmarks.)
  • On that note, what are your benchmarks?  (Create objective checkpoints that you can measure your progress with.)

Write down your goals and share them with the team.  If the goal isn’t easily understood, it may need to be revised.  Above all, make sure that the whole team is clear on the account goals.

Once you have a clear goal, you need to devise a strategy.  Your strategy should be an idea that addresses the goal.  Sit down with your team and brainstorm ways to achieve your goal, consider as many ideas as possible before deciding on one.

Lastly, tactics are the day-to-day activities that are taken to execute the strategy.   Without a clear strategy, tactics are sometimes used as quick fixes, instead of as part of a greater plan.  We all use tactics to optimize and maintain our accounts but without a strategy, the account will not progress.  At best, it will maintain its performance.

As an example, your goal might be to generate 100 more leads in May.  To meet that goal, your strategy might be to create more campaigns, such as Display network, Retargeting, and another product campaign.  Some of your tactics regarding the new product campaign might be to do keyword research surrounding the product, create landing pages, and write ads.  You’d also want to add to your retargeting tactical plan: create audience targeting, determine which pages to retarget, place the code on those pages, create the retargeting campaign, and write the ads for the retargeting campaign.  Lastly, for the display network campaign, your tactics might be to do keyword research, break the keywords up into ad groups, do market research on images and copy, develop image ads, create landing pages, and implement the campaign.

To devise the best strategy there are some things to review:

  • Understand the brand
    • What services or products do they offer?
    • Do an analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (S.W.O.T.)
      • What are they known for? (Positive or negative)
      • What do they pride themselves on?
      • How are they already marketing themselves?
  • Understand the competition
    • Who are they?
    • What are they doing?
    • How are they different?
  • Know your target market
    • Who are they?
    • What do they want to achieve?
    • What matters to them?
    • Use the above questions to develop an avatar of your target customer and create a scenario such as:
      • (Insert name here [male or female?]) is trying to do this____________.
      • (He/She) wants to accomplish ____________.
      • (Name) values ________________.
      • (Name) (has/hasn’t) heard of the brand.
      • (He/She) enjoys ___________ and likes to look online for ideas.
      • (He/She) (is/isn’t) afraid to make purchases online and (is/isn’t) internet savvy.
      • (Name) may be concerned about ______________ this.  The implications these concerns will have on our marketing are ___________, ____________, and ______________.
      • May sacrifice (price/quality/quantity/____________) for the sake of (convenience/time/money/brand trust/__________).

Remember that SEO and PPC aren’t the entirety of the marketing plan (most likely), so it’s important to assess an overarching strategy for all mediums before developing a strategy for pay per click.   How are the other mediums working and how can you work together to achieve a common goal?  If the other mediums aren’t working, what can you do with PPC and SEO to fill the gap?