This is the first post in a four-part series that my business partner, Jason Nuss, and I will be writing on pay-per-click (PPC) best practices. This first post will cover the importance of setting campaign goals and objectives. We’ll then share thoughts and insights on:

  • The best way to set up a PPC campaign – what to consider and how to start
  • Tips and tricks for getting the most out of your PPC campaign
  • Ongoing optimization – how to steadily improve results over time

So let’s start by covering campaign goals and objectives…

Our competitors are all over page one of Google and we need to be too!

We need more leads and more site traffic ASAP!

These are fairly common client requests and I’m sure other agencies can attest, but before diving into an Adwords or PPC endeavor we recommend a more strategic discussion over campaign goals and objectives. There are many ways to use Google Adwords to meet a host of marketing goals, so before diving in it’s a good idea to step back and try and determine the best way forward.

Ask yourself a few important questions…

What is your number one goal with your PPC campaign? Is it driving traffic to your site? Is it driving leads or form fills? Is it just a branding or awareness effort?

Each of these goals requires focus on a different metric, as well as requiring some unique campaign needs, so it’s important to know. You also need to have a good handle on what your monthly budget will be, since different keywords have different costs-per-click, which can affect your targeting. Let’s break this all down.

If you want to drive more traffic to your site, then you’ll want to focus on ad click-through-rate (CTR). While a key metric for any PPC campaign, for driving traffic (or clicks) it by name is paramount. Normally, we’d recommend marketing landing pages optimized for conversion as well, but in the case of increasing traffic to your site we recommend optimizing your site for conversion. Sites typically won’t convert as well as targeted landing pages, but that’s irrelevant when you just want traffic to your site.  Maximizing your campaign CTR requires a smart balance between keyword usage and delivering smart ads that engage people. You need to have a good balance of keywords as well – from broad (tend to be more expensive) to longer tail (tend to cost less and drive more relevant traffic, but get fewer clicks). This requires ongoing testing; something we’ll cover in a subsequent post on PPC best practices.

As part of writing ad copy, like any direct response tactic you’ll want a good offer. This can be a whitepaper, discount, or giveaway. It could simply be a smart headline that draws engagement. Whatever your ‘hook’ is you’ll want to test it against others to maximize ad performance.

If your campaign goal is to drive leads and form fills then you’ll want to focus on conversions as your key metric. To improve conversions you need to focus on your landing page environment. Follow landing page best practices to make sure people aren’t bouncing, and keep responders laser-focused on completing the form.

If you campaign goal is awareness, then you’ll want to focus on a couple of metrics, including impressions and ad position. Of course ad position is important across the board, but if you’re only focused on awareness where your ad appears is paramount. You may also want to consider the Google display network, where your ads appear as text ads across Google’s vast network of websites. These ads tend to convert less and generate fewer clicks, but they get a ton of impressions, which is what awareness is all about.

We’ll cover some best practices, tips and tactics to help you optimize for each of these metrics in subsequent posts, so come back soon. The bottom line, however, is that you need to establish your campaign goals and then develop a plan to meet those goals. Like any marketing channel, PPC and Adwords can play a leading role, a supporting role, or perhaps no role at all. Which role depends ultimately on your campaign objectives and goals.