How to Set Up a PPC Campaign (Part One)

how to set up a pay per click (ppc) campaignIf you have tried Pay Per Click (PPC) search advertising, you know how deceptively simple it appears at first. Google AdWords is so well designed and user friendly that you can create ads and start a campaign within an hour. Boom. Up and running, right? Not likely, unless your business is in a unique industry without competition (does that even exist?). You may have found that it’s just not that simple to properly manage your ad spend and ensure you are getting the return on your investment. You can’t just set up a PPC account and let it go. Here are a few tips that may help you set up a solid PPC program on Google AdWords or Microsoft Bing Ads.

Set Up Conversion Tracking and Reporting

One of the worst things a small business owner can do is to run a PPC campaign totally blind, that is, without taking the time initially to configure conversion tracking and analytics. You need to make sure you do the following, before you start spending money on PPC.

  • Define what a conversion or transaction is for you. If you are an ecommerce site, that is probably a product sale and in that case your conversion would be defined as a transaction.
  • Create the proper conversion tracking tag.  This is simple to do in both Google AdWords and/or Bing. The only work is the installation into your ecommerce site. If you have a good developer, it’s also pretty easy to modify those conversion scripts to also track revenue for each transaction.
  • Test the tracking, set up a test campaign and click on the test ad and make a purchase.  Do you get the expected results? If so, you are ready to go.

Set Up Account Structure

Think about how to organize your campaigns.  One quick, easy way to organize an account is to mimic the structure of your website product categories. Create one campaign for each top-level category and then create ad groups for each subcategory.  For example, if you are selling furniture and you have subcategories organized by brand and type of furniture, you could set up one campaign as follows:

Campaign Name: Furniture_Campaign

  • Ad Group 1 Name: Ashley Furniture
  • Ad Group 2 Name: Serta Mattresses
  • Ad Group 3 Name: Dining Room Furniture
  • Ad Group 4: Living Room Furniture
  • Define Keywords

When you set up campaigns and ad groups, you also have to associate those ad groups with landing pages on your ecommerce site. To conduct keyword research for those ad groups, you can simply cut and paste those URLs into keyword research tools that both Google and Bing provide. The system will then present you with keyword ideas based on their analysis of your landing page content. After selecting keywords that seem relevant to those ad groups, you then need to define their match types. Avoid broad keyword matching and stick with phrase or exact match. If you are not getting the traffic you want, expand the keyword to “modified broad” match.

Write Engaging Text Ads

Look at your competitors’ ads and think about what makes your brand unique, such as a special offer. There is a lot of noise in search results so you need to make your ad stand out. Consider testing two versions of an ad in each ad group. You can also use the same text ad but different landing pages. In this case you are testing which landing page performs better rather than testing the creative.

By employing these strategies, you should be in good shape to launch a PPC program. Once your PPC program is launched, you’ll need to manage it. Stay tuned for an upcoming article on managing campaigns.

Jay Wilner is managing partner at Out of Bounds Communications, a digital marketing agency specializing in ecommerce marketing for small and medium sized online retailers. Jay has helped numerous companies grow their online businesses with strategically designed digital marketing programs. He previously started and ran a venture capital backed ecommerce agency, partnering closely with IBM and other large companies on ecommerce projects during the 1990?s dot com boom. Jay has an MBA from the University of Kansas and an M.S. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Missouri. Follow Jay and Out of Bounds on Twitter, Facebook, and the company’s digital marketing blog.