Developing a winning paid search program is a large and complex undertaking. There are many questions to answer and things to consider, such as goals, budgets, and best tactics to employ. Let’s explore a couple questions you should ask or consider when building out a pay-per-click program.
Question #1: What are my goals?
One of the most important questions to ask as a paid search manager, or person responsible for the program, is defining success and what it should look like. Search engines and social media companies deliberately make it very simple to get an account live so money can be quickly spent with them. As a result, many advertisers start right in setting up campaigns without thinking through their goals.
Why is it so important to have clearly established goals?
3 main benefits of goal setting for PPC:
- Direction: Setting clear performance goals provide the foundation for success. Creating winning strategies and defining tactics to support those strategies is not possible without knowing what the intended outcome should be.
- Focus: Goals provide the focus advertisers need to zero in on the things directly relating to what they need in order to achieve success. For example, a lead generation advertiser may not need to upload a shopping feed. Setting goals will keeps things on track and moving in a positive direction.
- Accountability: Often, lack of goals equates to lack of accountability. If we don’t know what we’re shooting for, success cannot be measured. Simply put, stating a goal and writing it down holds everyone involved accountable for reaching those goals. If goals are not met, a clear discussion of why things are off track can be held and adjustments made to ensure that things get back on track as quickly as possible.
Establishing and managing towards specific goals are the backbone of a successful paid search program. Goal setting should be the most important aspect of your planning process. Successfully answering the question “What do I want my paid search program to do and how do I get there?” will put you on the road to success.
Question # 2: How much do I want or am I willing to spend on PPC?
Once goals have been established, the next question is to ask “How much do I want or am I willing to spend on PPC?” Often, the answer is uncapped so long as PPC is profitable. As an advertiser, that’s a very tempting and exciting strategy. After all, who wouldn’t want to have an unlimited budget to work with?
However, pay per click advertising can be very volatile. Ask anyone that’s managed a display campaign for any length of time. Therefore, it is imperative to establish a budget to keep controls on advertising dollars. Not having a budget in place opens up the possibility of unforeseen surprises. For instance, a new publisher could enter the Google Display Network. Ads appear on the new publisher’s site and get a tremendous amount of clicks. Those clicks don’t convert, and a lot of money has been wasted. Having a budget in place protects against the possibility of runaway spend.
There are numerous ways to go about budgeting PPC accounts.
Some example methods are:
- Establishing an Overall Program Budget: This method is simply establishing a maximum amount that’s willing to be spent on PPC across all products, services, platforms, & networks. This creates a ceiling for how much is going to be spent within a defined time frame.
- Budget by Product or Service: A common tactic is to have a paid search program emulate the organization’s business model. In this instance, more budget may be allocated to higher value products and services. Not all products are created equal. Factor this into the budgeting process to make sure each campaign representing those products and services are budgeted in accordance with the importance each product or service deserves.
- Budgeting by Ad Platform: Is Google Adwords a more successful platform for your business than say LinkedIn? Budgeting by platform ensures money is spent in places most likely to provide positive outcomes for your business.
- Budgeting by Network: Most paid search accounts contain a search network (People actively searching for an entity’s products or services), or display, which is a form of ‘push marketing’. Depending on which channel is most successful, budget accordingly to take advantage of the networks that are best suited for your organization.
While it’s important to establish spend parameters, PPC provides unique opportunities due to the dynamic nature of user behavior. Creating budget flexibility allows you to take advantage of increased traffic, which is key to not missing out on