Getting ready to start on fresh campaigns in AdWords? This checklist takes Google AdWords' new Enhanced Campaigns changes into consideration. A good place to start for beginners and some are nice reminders for the "regulars."
1. Ensure each campaign has clear goals. PPC accomplishes a number of goals; how we reach the goals (conversions) defines the success - i.e., how many sales, leads generated, brochures downloaded, event registration, etc. Many advertisers have several goals in one account. This will determine the networks targeted, the type of keywords, ad copy, and many other campaign components. A branding goal is very different from a sales goal, so the approach to the account is determined by its goal. For ideas to help with goal setting, look here.
2. Choose your networks. Want to advertise in search, display, YouTube video, or a combination of them all? Review your goals and determine the best way to accomplish them via the available networks. For conversion goals, the search network is the strongest channel, while the display network is branding winner.
3. Consider multi-screen and mobile devices. In new Enhanced Campaigns, ads will show on all types of devices by default. Here on ClickZ, Kevin Lee wrote about switching to Enhanced Campaigns and considerations in doing so. Are mobile and tablet users visiting your site and converting? Tablet users will be included in desktop targeting, so it will be important to research and test this segment to optimize accordingly. Mobile will be a bit different because of the limited capabilities of the smaller screen. If mobile is not right for you right now, you can "opt out" of mobile by setting bid adjustment to -100 percent in the settings tab under devices.
4. Best budget. You can estimate traffic and CPCs in the Traffic Estimator tool. Simply enter in your keywords and AdWords will estimate the average cost-per-click (CPC), number of clicks, and cost-per-day. This isn't guaranteed or the final word, but this data can be used directionally to determine a budget.
5. Ad extensions. There are a variety of ad extensions that help to pump up your results with "extras" such as additional links, phone numbers, product, social with Google+, etc. If you are not sure which extension is appropriate or how they can help, opt out when first starting out and add to the to-do list to research them. You can always add them in later.
6. Messaging for ads. Match up the messaging to meet your goals. What are the key features and benefits? How does your offering solve a problem? Consider how the keywords will be incorporated into the messaging, from a technical standpoint, branding, and goal meeting. Mobile ad preference can be selected in the upgraded campaigns so that mobile-optimized text ads and extensions are given preference on mobile devices. This enables you to customize ad texts with mobile-specific messaging, specials or discounts, mobile display URL, and landing page. For more technical details and creative, read about PPC ad fundamentals here.
7. Landing page strategy. The most overlooked of the checkpoints for new PPC campaigns is the landing page. If you can drive prospective customers to your site, but they don't convert because of a poor landing page, you will be very disappointed. Besides the best practices, there are a few new considerations as they relate to the Enhanced Campaigns. In the new Enhanced Campaigns, tablet users will be going to the same landing pages as desktop users so it will be critical to optimize for both platforms. For mobile users, since it's possible to specify a mobile ad preference, it's possible to denote a mobile landing page. This may require tweaks to accommodate tablets or possibly a different strategy for mobile ads.
8. Bidding options. A great way to control costs and ROI is to increase/decrease bids based on what is performing better in the AdWords account. The new Enhanced Campaigns allow you to bid more or less (by percentage )than your max CPC based on criteria like location, device, and ad scheduling. If you are not sure, leave this setting for later, watch performance for test period, and then adjust based on results.
There are so many considerations in a new AdWords campaign, and now it has become even more complicated with the release of the Enhanced Campaigns. It can be easy to forget to plan for some of the new changes, especially where mobile is concerned. Share what your checklist looks like in the comments.
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Lisa Raehsler is the founder and principal strategist at Big Click Co., an online advertising company and Google AdWords Certified Partner, specializing in strategy and management of SEM and PPC for search engines, display, retargeting, and social media ad campaigns. Lisa has led strategy on dozens of PPC accounts and puts her experience into practice every day as a thought leader in integrating clients' search campaigns with ecommerce websites, behavioral targeting strategies, and web analytics. She has participated extensively in the local interactive community, as well as at national search engine marketing conferences. Lisa's recent speaking engagements include SES, OMS, MIMA, HeroConf, and SMX conferences, as well as numerous private and public training engagements. As a columnist for ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, she writes on the topic of paid search. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRocksSEM.
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