There are many so called 'PPC experts' or 'Paid search specialists' out there claiming to know what they are doing when in reality they don't. By reading this we hope to give you an insight into our world and show you how Receptional mange client campaigns. It is easy to run a poor PPC campaign and it can be very tricky to run an efficient, well-refined account that maximises your ROI and reduces your CPA. Additionally, it can be difficult to recover from a poor campaign with historical account performance directly impacting quality scores that determine your keyword bid prices and therefore campaign cost. In other words- Good PPC account managers are worth their weight in gold and keeping on top off new features, tools, reports as well as maximizing ROI whilst controlling the CPA really is a full time job. Let us show you why...
We see there as being 5 stages to PPC management:
In setting up any new PPC accounts, we go through the following processes, asking the following questions as we see this as best practice and know it ultimately delivers great results.
Stage 1- Initial Research (a.k.a The Discovery Stage.)
We need to find out as much as possible about a client, their industry and market, budget, expectations, objectives, etc in order to create the best possible campaigns and to manage their expectations. This involves researching and finding out the following:
- How much does the client know about Paid search? Educate them and dispel any myths.
- Defining and understanding the goals of using paid search.
- What other advertising campaigns are running both offline and online?
- What sort of budgets is the client looking to spend on the main search engines?
- What traffic levels is the site currently experiencing and what volume of sales/conversions?
- What customer data does the site capture/collect e.g. email addresses, contact form submissions, leads, purchases, etc...?
- For retail based clients- what is an acceptable cost per acquisition (CPA) and/or return on investment (ROI)?
- For service based clients- what is an acceptable cost per lead (CPL)?
- Who are the clients competitors both on and offline?
- What trademarks does the client currently own?
- What are their unique selling points and what differentiates the company from their competition?
- What are their best and worst selling products or services?
- What seasonal trends are most important to their business?
- Do they take orders/enquiries by telephone from the website? If so, what is the percentage split between telephone and other sales.
- What is the lifetime value of a client?
Stage 2- PPC Planning & Strategy
Once we have completed our initial research, we then start to plan the campaigns and build a strategy that is unique to the client based on their answers, and the information available from our initial research. This involves:
- Reviewing the PPC budget against historical, forecast and seasonal data available.
- Planning the campaign, ad group and keyword structure, by using the company website as an initial hierarchy.
- Undertaking keyword research for every campaign and ad group to expand the keyword targeting and to identify initial negative keywords.
- The production of example creatives for each ad group using a mixture of messages, calls-to-action, and USP's.
- Reviewal of the campaign structure and keywords from a colleague and then a client's perspective in order to sanity check the proposed account.
- The establishment of KPI's and the setting of both short and long term targets.
- Producing a client time-line of events to help one of the most vital aspects of PPC effectiveness- the management of expectations!
Stage 3- Deployment and Execution
Once the plans have been drawn up and approved, it is then time to develop and upload the account. This involves:
- Constructing the actual campaigns based on the approved structure and hierarchy.
- The initial production of 3-4 creative's per ad group using a mixture of tactics in order to determine their effectiveness.
- The installation of tracking code (if need be) and the validation of this tracking code by carrying out test/dummy transactions.
- Uploading or activating your PPC campaigns(depending on how you manage your campaigns!) We prefer to use AdWords Editor to setup accounts offline and make large volumes of changes before uploading them to save time.
- Closely monitoring the account after the initial upload to identify any red flags such as disapproved ads, low keyword bids, quality score issues etc, which we can then respond accordingly to.
Stage 4- Reviewal & Optimisation
It is imperative to use the multitude of reports available in both AdWords itself and from the tracking systems to analyse and improve paid search targeting and performance. These reports can be used to:
- Review the structure and hierarchy of the account and better granulate everything into more tightly themed, well-organised campaigns and ad groups that allow for better targeting and help to increase quality scores. They also help to Identify the best performing campaigns, ad groups and keywords.
- Schedule reports that arrive via email showing top-level KPI data. Scheduled reports can also act an early warning system highlighting campaign problems or issues which may need urgent attention.
- Expand the keyword base through the use of search query reports. These reports are also invaluable for identifying further negative keywords based on actual user search phrases and can ultimately help to reduce the flow of irrelevant traffic to your site.
- Identify visitors/conversions by location and allow for more effective targeting with unexpected or initially overlooked markets being highlighted.
- Help us place Ads in their optimal positionsbased on keyword and Ad performance data in the analytics system.
- Assist our decision making in constantly testing new creatives against one another and ultimately helping us to optimize to show the best converting Ads, not necessarily the best by click-through rate - something often overlooked by many in paid search (Read more on this here).
- Identify conversion rate trends relating to the days and times of conversions. This information can be used in conjunction with impression share data to determine if Ad scheduling may be appropriate in order to display Ads on peak conversion days and at certain times of the day.
Reports are also customizable with good quality tracking systems such as Google analytics and Yahoo! Analytics (formerly known as Indextools). We recommend scheduling customised reports to arrive at your inbox on a regular basis in order to remain on top of the account.
Some other important best practice tasks include:
- Writing new ad copy on a regular basis. Ad testing should be an ongoing process and not just be used to improve the worst performing ads but also to raise the overall benchmark. We must continually strive to produce better ads as the higher the click through rate, the higher the quality score is likely to be, making this is an investment of time that will pay dividends in the form of lower CPC bids.
- Regularly checking keyword bids to ensure that money is not being wasted on keywords that haven't converted for some time, or even at all. It is also important to adjust bids at keyword level and not just ad group level in order to get the tightest possible control over spend.
- Using the content network to its full potential (where applicable). The content network often delivers mixed and often unexpected results varying heavily by industry and product or service offering. Whilst using the content network can be viewed as a bit of a risk due to its unpredictability, this risk can be minimized by selecting 'Relevant pages only on the placements I target' to choose certain sites based on your offering and target demographic.
- Using the multitude of free, and other paid tools available, to improve PPC accounts. External, free tools such as Google Trends and Insights for Searchare both highly useful for looking at seasonality, trend and search data on the web. These can and should be used at all phases of PPC management in researching a client's industry/market, determining initial budgets and targeting options, and in analysing performance statistics and justifying the methodology used.
- Using our search engine representatives as that's what they are there for! They also offer optimisation suggestions to help increase click-through rates or conversions and will only ever make suggestions, asking your permission before making any changes to the campaigns.
- Use analytics software to judge landing page effectiveness by looking at metrics such as bounce rates, average time on pages, etc. Such key indicators help to suggest whether the page is engaging enough or whether it is not fulfilling its potential and guide us in making improvements to aspects such as content and its organisation, calls-to-action, etc.
- Monitoring the competition and looking at what they are and aren't they doing that we are. We can then play to our strengths and make our offering stand out.
Stage 5- You
Your feedback and input on all aspects of our PPC management and performance is integral to the overall success of the account. We believe in being open, honest and transparent at all stages so that you know exactly what we are doing and why.
It is all too common for this to effectively become an automated process that doesn't really tell the reader anything they don't already know. We believe reports should be a bespoke document, with pre-agreed information and key performance indicators. It needs to be an analysis of the performance in relation to other months and if available (and where relevant) other years. It should highlight problems and looks at solutions, providing a roadmap to success and this is what we provide as it is central to our best practice policy. The framework for performance reporting is based on the following format:
Reports based on these fundamental questions enable us to log performance and show how we have added value to the campaigns.
Key components of our monthly performance reports show:
- Overall traffic from Organic, paid, direct access/bookmark and referral sources.
- Performance Analysis data- including sales or other conversions be they contact from submissions or leads, ROI %, CPA and/or margin data.
- Paid Search Analysis- showing top Campaigns, Adgroups, adverts and Keywords as well as the worst performers.
- Identification of problem areas and solutions looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
We look at all of the above, and more client specific information, in comparison to previous months so that we can look for trends and benchmark progress.
Our best practice policy combined with our 9 years experience in paid search account management means we now mange a range of accounts from SME's to blue-chip multi-nationals. We pride ourselves on our openness and transparency and work closely with our clients to make sure your pay per click campaigns reflect the overall goals and objectives of your business.
Interested in Professional PPC Services?
If you are interested in PPC Consulting and would like to talk to one of our PPC consultants about ongoing pay per click management, a one-off pay per click audit, or a PPC campaign setup, you can get in touch via telephone on 01525 715520 or Contact us here.