A Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign is a quick-yet-risky way for attracting targeted prospects to a web site: with poor planning and management you could end up spending a fortune without any results other than a futile peak in your page analytics. So you need to follow best practices to tap the appropriate market segment and ensure a healthy return on investment from your search engine advertising efforts.
Here are the foundations to build a strong and effective PPC campaign:
1) Goal Definition
Clear, quantifiable short or mid-term objectives are the core of any successful marketing initiative. They could be something obvious, as increasing inquiries, direct sales, downloads, sign-ups or other types of conversions, or less tangible, like building up brand awareness. But it must be measurable somehow, for you to be able to track the results and determine the level of success of your efforts.
So even before you start, you must think about exactly what you want to achieve from your campaign.
2) Keyword Research
Exhaustive investigation to come up with the search phrases you will be bidding on is crucial. Forget about internal buzz words and technical jargon, and put yourself in the shoes of the potential customer searching for what you offer. Keyword research for Search Engine Marketing is not about how you want to be seen, but about how prospects refer to your products and services. Moreover, it is often related to drivers and benefits instead of functionalities and specifications.
Try some search phrase variations yourself and look at the results. Find out who your competitors are and what their value proposition and calls to action look like, and define a counterstrategy. Better yet, shift towards narrow, niche search phrases; long-tail keywords cost less, add up to account for the majority of search-driven traffic and yield more qualified leads with higher conversion rates.
3) Landing Pages
Linking every ad to the website’s homepage is one of the most common mistakes in PPC campaigns. Instead, you should direct traffic to a page that makes sense to each type of user, one that is relevant to his original search inquiry and consistent with the triggering display message, and where he can take the desired action directly without additional steps or distractions.
So create unique landing pages with concise and compelling calls to action, in order to accomplish the goals that you set on step 1.
4) Tracking and Optimization
PPC is not a single-shot effort but rather a constant cycle of measuring and tweaking. To ensure high ROI from it, you must monitor closely and frequently the performance of each campaign, testing and adjusting keywords, bids, budget, targeting, ad and landing page copy, etc.
Moreover, a successful PPC campaign is the one that produces a greater conversion rate, not higher click-through-rates (CTR), so special attention should be given to effective copywriting to increase that first metric, which in the end is the basis for calculating your ROI.