A Beginner’s Guide To Creating Successful PPC Campaigns

New to Google Ads? Then, let’s start with the basics. Google launched Google Ads in 2000 to allow people to find relevant ads based on keyword searches. Businesses, in turn, bid to have their ads…

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New to Google Ads? Then, let’s start with the basics. Google launched Google Ads in 2000 to allow people to find relevant ads based on keyword searches. Businesses, in turn, bid to have their ads shown when people search on particular keywords using the Google Search network. Google will present your ad to searchers based on your keyword bid, the click-through-rate (CTR) of your ad, and the quality score Google assigns to your ad.

Pay-per-click (PPC) allows Google to keep advertisers striving to increase their bids against each other, while improving the quality of their ad copy and offers. This system works so well that advertisers in 2020 spent $147 billion per year with Google, which now commands 29% of global ad spending.

A key benefit? Incredibly accurate targeting options. You can target specific keywords or phrases, focus your ads on Google’s search page, their partner search pages, or thousands of other sites that show Google ads. You can also target based on geography, language, and a variety of other demographic characteristics.

Push vs. Pull Marketing

Pushing it out

Traditional marketing techniques target users based on demographics alone. So-called “push” or direct marketing means you’re pushing your message in front of an audience that may or may not be interested. Think television commercials, radio ads, magazine ads, or website placements.

Pulling it home

In contrast, people searching on Google are actively looking for something. If an ad helps answer their question, then it’s natural for them to respond to the ad to learn more. For example, if you are a college recruiter and you advertise in a magazine or website focused on young women, you are presenting your ads to the right audience, but at a time when they are reading about fashion or some other topic.

The power of Google Ads is that you are presenting your ad to searchers the moment they type in the query. For example, if someone searches on “nursing programs Cleveland, Ohio” this makes your ad not only much more relevant, but very timely. You can fulfill the searcher’s need immediately with more information faster than you could with any print or traditional media. This is known as “pull” or “inbound” marketing, as you are pulling in an audience that has already — through their Google search — expressed an interest in your offering.

Reading your customers’ mind

Targeting ads based on what people are thinking and actually searching for is very powerful and can result in a cost per lead or cost per sale that is lower than almost any other type of paid media. The key to making the program work is to align all of the variables available to you in order to achieve your business goals. The main variables available to the advertiser are:

  • Keywords
  • Ad Copy
  • Banner Ad Design and Copy
  • Offers
  • Landing Page Design
  • Bids
  • Budget
  • Geographic Targeting
  • Website Targeting

Testing is the way to go

Google Ads lets you run multiple ads featuring multiple offers on thousands of keywords at the same time, and make changes instantly to improve your results. These campaigns can be created and taken down very rapidly. You can start very small and grow campaigns to be very large.

In each of these categories, you can create and test many options to give you the best results. For example, a campaign may contain 500 keyword variations grouped into 10 ad groups, testing 35 text ads and eight banner (graphical) ads, that leverage five offers supported by dozens of very specific landing pages, showing ads in 16 countries across three continents. All of this can be managed through one user interface where changes can be made very quickly and easily.

This flexibility serves the needs of international corporations, local businesses, and everyone in between. Compared to any traditional media, it is easier to get started, less expensive to run and manage, easier to get results faster, and more conducive to testing and optimizing.

Not working?

Because there are many variables that you can arrange in order to make a campaign work, sometimes people say they tried Google Ads, but it didn’t work for them. Most of the time, disappointing results can be traced back to poorly used tools and lack of optimization of the key variables.

What you need to to consider when developing your PPC marketing strategy.

Setting PPC goals

An effective campaign has clear goals and expectations, a strong offer or series of offers, and well designed landing pages. It is optimized continually through testing, targeting and optimization.

Several of the goals used for a Google campaign are:

  • Brand Impressions. Some companies simply want to be seen. Since Google presents your ad for free and only charges when someone clicks on your ad with CPC bidding, it can be very inexpensive to create ad impressions. In one of our recent campaigns we got over 1 million impressions for less than $1,000.
  • Clicks to your website. Since Google is primarily a pay-per-click system, they charge you based on the number of clicks you get to your website or landing page. This can be a great way to generate traffic to your site at an attractive cost per click.
  • Conversions. Most companies don’t simply want impressions; they want leads or a sale, usually referred to as a “conversion.” When Google Ads aligns all of the variables properly, you can optimize the program to drive the most conversions at the lowest cost per conversion.
  • Sales. If you are a B2B marketer, you are often driving leads that don’t turn into sales instantly. Google Ads integrates with popular CRM systems such as Salesforce.com which allows you to track a sale back to the keyword or ad that drove the lead, even if the sale was made months or years after it was first generated.

A central benefit of Google Ads is that it lets you focus on more than one goal. For example, you may want to make sure your company or product name is at the top of the search results page to drive visibility. You can put your brand keywords in a campaign with a specific budget, and get the most impressions possible without disrupting your core lead generation campaigns.

The offer

Many companies violate a basic principle of direct marketing and use Google Ads to direct traffic to their website’s home page. The offer may sound something like, “We’re great — check us out.” In test after test, we’ve discovered that ads are more effective when there is a strong offer and a specific call to action.

Instead of just saying you are ”great,” it’s more effective to offer “20% off” or a “Free eBook,” for example. These types of valuable offers deliver value to the user and drive higher click through rates than other, more self-focused ads. The power of Google Ads is that you don’t need to use just one offer. You can feature a different offer for every keyword group to make offers more relevant. We’ve run campaigns with dozens of different offers. The more relevant the offer is to the keyword you are advertising, the higher your click through- and conversion rates.

Landing pages

Once you have your offer strategy developed, you can create landing pages. Again, many companies make the mistake of taking their Google Ads traffic directly back to the home page of their website. But your homepage may not be relevant to the search. Your home page also offers many navigation choices, and if your goal is to drive leads or a sale, the user will be distracted and less likely to do what you want them to do.

A landing page fulfills the goal of the searcher. When someone uses a keyword and clicks on a specific ad, they expect to go to a place that fulfills their needs. If they don’t see it within seconds, they will abandon your page and continue searching.

Making it easy on the searcher

A well designed landing page makes it easy for the searcher to get what they want, while allowing you to get what you want. If your goal is to drive leads, then you want to make it easy for them to give you their contact information with a simple form that’s easily visible when they arrive on the page. You’ll also want to make it easy for the searcher to understand the offer by providing a clear headline with short copy and a picture of the offer. The call to action should be clear and simple so that the searcher can give you their contact information within seconds.

Good landing pages can make a significant impact on a campaign. We’ve seen a 500% improvement in results by creating a dedicated landing page instead of using the home page. We’ve also seen a 700% improvement in results by creating a well-designed landing page instead of a rambling, multi-page website. These improvements in conversion rates can create a dramatic improvement in the ROI of a campaign.

Testing with Google Ads

Google Ads is a powerful testing platform. You can use it to create and manage simple A/B tests or complex multivariate tests to get statistically significant results. And since it’s easy, fast, and relatively inexpensive to get many impressions on a campaign, many companies use Google to test ads, messages and landing pages, and then roll out the winners to less flexible media.

Targeting and optimization

Once you create a Google Ads campaign with well-designed offers, landing pages, keywords and Ad groups, your work has just begun.

The Google Ads marketplace is always changing, with companies constantly competing on keyword bids in a live auction environment in response to searches by individuals every day. Because of this dynamic, campaign results can change rapidly when your competitors adjust their budgets, bids, or keywords. It’s very important to constantly monitor your campaigns to make sure that the elements that were working last week are still working this week.

Key performance indicators

Google Ads campaigns can produce a lot of data, but it’s important to monitor the most important variables to keep a campaign in line. When we manage a campaign, the most important variables we focus on are the:

  • campaign budget
  • number of conversion (leads)
  • cost per conversion

In other words, are we spending enough money, driving enough leads or sales, and doing it at an acceptable cost per lead. If we achieve these goals, the rest of the campaign will be in line. It’s important to do this review at not only the account level, but also at the campaign, ad group or even keyword level. By doing this, you can tell if each of your campaigns are effective.

Let’s wrap up

An effective Paid Search marketing campaign will deliver winning results in a predictable and consistent way at a reasonable cost per conversion. The smart marketer will use all of the levers in the campaign to drive the best results possible.

Is your paid search marketing campaign leaving much to be desired? We can help. Contact us today to get the conversation started.

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