How to Manage a PPC Campaign

PPC Management

PPC Management

I read earlier this week that spend on Pay Per Click (PPC) search engine advertising is set to continue to grow in 2015, and this isn’t too surprising.  The quest to get onto page one of Google’s results page for your most important keywords is a difficult and time-consuming one if you go down the Search Engine Optimisation route – PPC will get you to the very top of that page in no time at all.

Not only that, but one of the criticisms of traditional advertising is that it doesn’t segment the audience – PPC audiences segment themselves through their search terms, so you know the audience is showing interest.

But effective PPC is more than just setting up your account, hitting ‘go’ and sitting back waiting for the cash to roll in: this method will result in a lot of money being wasted very quickly.  So, how do you manage a PPC campaign?  Here is my six step process:

1) Set-up Multiple Campaigns
Campaigns are an important part of the structure of PPC campaigns – within these you can select different groups of keywords, and try different types of creative.  Campaign-level is a good way of looking at your top-line results, so make sure that the campaigns are easily distinguishable.

2) Choose the URL
You need to choose the URL which the advert will send people to, but the landing page is often forgotten as part of the PPC campaign process.  The landing page should give the viewer the option (or options) to do what most people do on your website – whether that is a buy-now button or a contact form.  You can track the success of your landing page through your analytics package.  In terms of the URL itself, you should make it trackable so that you can tell the keyword which has referred it – I find Google’s URL builder really easy to use and it ties in with Google Analytics.  You should also test different landing pages to optimise the advert’s effectiveness once they arrive on your site.

3) Select Keywords
Selecting keywords is not as easy as you would think!  If you know the business that you are working for, you should have an idea of where to start: asking some customers what terms they would use is also a good starting point.  You should also use Google’s Keyword Tool for some inspiration, but don’t get too carried away – if your landing page does not relate to the search term, this will count against you.

4) Write the Advert
You are limited by the number of characters in your advert, so all you budding Don Drapers may already start feeling a little restricted.  Your title should be punchy and to the point, with the rest of the advert explaining why your advert is the one that the customer should click on – what is different about your business?   The domain is also restricted to just 35 characters, so it is unlikely that you will be able to use the actual destination URL: your domain needs to be the same as the destination URL, but you can release some (short) creativity with the page name.

5) Time for Extensions?
On top of a standard PPC advert, there are a number of extensions that you can add to make your advert more eye-catching, and some great ways of honing your advert.  But I recommend that you don’t start looking at this until your feel comfortable with the basics of PPC management.  You can tailor your advert in the following ways:

  • Bidding by day of week
  • Bidding by time of day
  • Click to call (i.e. your phone number on your advert)
  • Seller ratings (useful for building trust)
  • Site links (showing a range of pages which should help to entice people to click on your advert)

6) Keep Reviewing:
PPC campaign management is not just a one-off task – the campaigns with the best ROI are monitored and tweaked on a continual basis.  So, you should become very familiar with the PPC metrics:

  • Impressions – the number of times that your ad has been shown
  • Clicks – the number of times that your advert has been clicked on (you can calculate your Click Through Rate [CTR] by dividing clicks by impressions)
  • Average Position – where your advert is shown on page, so the lower the better
  • Cost Per Click – self-explanatory!
  • Quality Score – this has a blog all of its own!
  • Conversions / Cost per Conversion – use conversion tracking codes when linking through to your site to be able to track the consumer through to conversion

Do you manage your PPC campaigns, or is it managed by an agency?  Do you have any top tips?

Pay Per Click Best Practice

PPC screenshot

PPC screenshot

The challenge of gaining insight from Search Engine Optimisation is going to be increasingly difficult with the rise of ‘not provided’ search terms, so organisations may turn to Pay Per Click to deliver search marketing insight. 

PPC can be a fantastic tool for delivering good quality traffic to your site, but it can also be a long and expensive learning curve if you don’t approach it right, so here are some of my favourite PPC tips:

1) Make sure you can measure:

Before you start your PPC campaign, ensure that you can measure what the results will be.  Assuming that you are using Google Adwords (although Bing is a very un-tapped opportunity!), the quality of reporting is fairly high, but it will not be able to see how engaged a user is according to the keyword that they have used to get to your site.  This means that you will need to link up your Google Analytics (or other analytics tool) to your Pay Per Click activity.  Without this, you may be spending money without knowing if it’s money well spent.

2) What is a conversion?  

It is unlikely that every visitor to your website from PPC will complete the objective that you would like them to (e.g. to purchase).  So, you need to have an understanding of what success looks like. What value for the company would a sale deliver, and what value would a completed enquiry form deliver?  What about if the user searches, goes to your site and calls your phone number?  Can you measure this user moving from online to offline with a unique phone number?

3) Test your ads:  

One of the benefits of digital is that you can often quickly track if something is working or not.  So, release your creativity by testing different wording on your ads.  The number of characters that you can use per line is limited, but you could try a different copy to see which works best for your users, e.g. is a ‘hard-sell’ or ‘soft-sell’ the most effective approach?

4) Know how to enhance your campaigns:  

There are a number of ways that you can fine-tune your campaigns to make them more efficient or effective.  You can insert the words that users search with into your ads through dynamic advertising; you can show different messages to mobile or desktop users; you can show different messages to users who have or haven’t been on your site before; you can even alter your bidding strategy by day of week or time of day.

5) PPC is only half the story:  

You can spend a fortune of driving great quality traffic to your site but if your landing page or website is a poor experience, your money will be wasted.  Always bear in mind that PPC is only half of the story of success – your website should have a great landing page and user journey to accompany your campaign. 

Enhanced PPC Campaigns



One of the key trends for 2013 is mobile.  Internet users are moving away from traditional devices, such as desktop computers and lap tops and onto mobile devices such as phones and tablets – indeed, half of all searches are made on a mobile device.

Investment in mobile optimised sites is increasing to reflect this change, and businesses are starting to see the changes in consumer / customer behaviour when they are using mobile devices.

As you would expect, this is something that Google is more than aware of, and they are looking to reflect the move to mobile in their product offering, particularly AdWords.  So, Google is introducing Enhanced Pay Per Click campaigns.

What is an Enhanced Pay Per Click Campaign?

Enhanced PPC allows more flexibility in your PPC campaigns.

Mobile campaigns are nothing new to AdWords.  They have been available for some time now, but they would need to be set up separately and would actually be very time consuming.  With enhanced campaigns, mobile campaigns are integrated into your standard PPC campaigns.  You will be able to target users with different messages by location, device and time of day. 

Is this good or bad news?

Well, it is both good and bad news – kind of depends on who you are! 

The good news first – you will be able to increase bids by the user’s location (e.g. if you run a pizza restaurant), or time of day / day of week.  If managed well, you should be able to make your PPC campaigns more cost efficient. 

The bad news is that Google is treating a tablet as a desk-top / lap-top device, not a mobile one.  This means that you cannot just target tablets anymore. 

So, I think small and medium sized business will see one campaign for mobile and traditional instead of two –this should make management of the PPC campaign easier.  However, for bigger businesses and agencies, there is actually less flexibility in device targeting, a step backwards.  And with all of this attention on mobile you can expect to see your mobile CPCs increase significantly over the course of the Q3 2013.

You can change to Enhanced PPC right now (a button will appear on your AdWords home screen), but you can delay it until June if you want – then Google will change it anyway, whether you are ready or not.

Will be interesting to keep an eye on how this develops and if marketers and businesses see this as an embracing of mobile or a step backwards in flexibility.