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How to Make a Winning PPC Campaign With $1,000 and 3 Hours of Work

  |  March 12, 2014   |  Comments

While I would generally not advocate creating a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign without strategy, research, and planning, sometimes a quick solution is in order. Whether for a small business or a special promo, it may just make sense to get something up and running - and fast!

Paid search on Google and Bing has the advantage of being a quick, effective, marketing tactic. While I would generally not advocate creating a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign without strategy, research, and planning, sometimes a quick solution is in order. Whether for a small business or a special promo, it may just make sense to get something up and running - and fast! Take this $1,000 PPC challenge for a quick start and gather data for future PPC initiatives.

Quick Plan and Set-Up
Develop a quick plan of attack, starting with what the goal of the campaign will be and best keyword themes and messaging to accomplish the goals. Review campaign settings and geo-targeting that will be used. Set up conversion tracking for the goal.

Relevant Keywords
With the example budget of $1,000, try two simple keyword themes in no more than two campaigns. Focus on keyword themes that are closest to the type of searches likely to convert for your goal. For example, if the goal is a whitepaper download, focus on keywords that demonstrate interest in information, like "how to" or "trends." Next, organize keywords into the tightly themed groups, avoiding any one-word keywords or very high cost per click keywords. Use match types such as modified broad match or phrase match to laser focus relevancy. Limit the number of Adgroups in the two campaigns because this is a very small budget and too many Adgroups will spread the budget too thin.

Compelling Ad Copy
Create three to four text ad copy versions. Include keywords from each Adgroup in the ads in that Adgroup. It's ok to use the same base ad across the account and customize it per Adgroup. This post on ClickZ is an oldie but goodie, about ad copy writing tips.

Landing Pages That Convert
Landing pages can be one of the most challenging aspects for an advertiser because it may include extra budget to get a landing page created. For the purposes of our $1,000 initiative, we want to use an existing Web page on the site that is the most relevant to the keywords and closest opportunity for the person clicking to convert. This can be a page with a contact form or the page with the whitepaper example. If possible, invest in getting one created because it can be used for other advertising channels as well. Minimally, edit the landing page copy to contain keywords from the account in headlines and body copy and convey the same message or offer contained in the ad copy.

Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are always critical, because they prevent the ads from showing on keyword terms that are not related to the goals. They will be even more important with our $1,000 challenge. Run keywords again, this time looking for the ones that are not related to campaigns and ad them as negatives. Also review the original keyword research for terms that were excluded, since they may make great negative keywords.

Budget Management
With the limited budget, run the campaigns for approximately two to four weeks. Start out simply by dividing the budget in half for the campaigns until they run live and additional data is gathered. For example, $1,000 for the month equals $33 a day, then $16 per campaign.

Ready to Launch
Once all of the pieces are in place, the campaigns are ready to launch. As performance stats come in, check query reports to find keywords that can be used as negatives. Adjust budget to the campaigns that are converting more frequently or at the desired cost-per-conversion. Pause ads that have lowest click-through rates. Pause keywords that are low performers, for example, high impression and low clicks. Pause Adgroups or campaigns that are performing poorly.

Evaluating Results
At the end of the $1,000 challenge, look at the keywords and ads that resonated the most with audiences with higher click-through rates and conversions. How can this be applied and expanded to a higher budget? Check query reports for converting keywords, too, to gather insights as to what was performing and what fell flat. Can what was learned in this exercise be expanded to create the next winning PPC campaign?


Lisa Raehsler

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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