Are You Following PPC Best Practices?

Most of us probably use several checklists every day, from workplace to-do lists to grocery lists to “things I need to pick up on my way home from work.” Checklists are especially helpful in PPC management. Even experienced PPC managers need reminders that will help ensure the best possible results from their campaigns. This PPC campaign checklist will help PPC managers at all levels of experience get the best results from their campaigns.

Do your campaign settings make sense and match your campaign strategy and goals?
Goal setting is a crucial first step for any PPC campaign. Keep goals in mind as you plan your campaigns, and make sure that your settings match them. An awareness campaign, for example, should have a broad reach, while a strict conversion-focused campaign may have constraints to maximize conversions.

Have you separated search and display campaigns?
This is a basic best practice, and yet it’s still not unusual to see search and display in the same campaign. The fact that this is Google’s default doesn’t help matters.

Is ad rotation set the way you want it?
Both Google and Bing offer the option to optimize for clicks, or to rotate ads more evenly. Although it’s common for PPC pros to recommend even rotation, the ultimate decision should be based on your campaign goals. If your goal is conversions, then even rotation makes sense; if your goal is traffic generation, then optimizing for clicks is the better option.

Are geographic locations correct?
Choosing the right geography seems like a no-brainer, and yet it’s common to see campaigns set to “all locations worldwide.” If you choose that option, make certain that you can actually service the entire world! And even if you do sell worldwide, it’s better to separate campaigns by country or at least by continent and region, as keywords and ad copy perform very differently from country to country.

What about your campaign budget? Do shared budgets make sense for you?
The rule of thumb for campaign budgets is to set them to an amount you’re comfortable spending. For some advertisers, that’s $15 per day; for others, it could be $1,000 per day or more. Become familiar with Google’s new shared budgets option. Shared budgets allow advertisers to set one budget across multiple campaigns, thereby reducing the amount of daily budget tweaking that many PPC managers previously had to perform.

What about dayparting?
If you’re in the B2B space, take a long look at dayparting. Are your customers searching for you after hours or on weekends? Are you getting traffic and conversions during off hours? Like many aspects of PPC, there is no one right answer to this question. Use actual data to determine whether you should limit ad serving to normal business hours. And if you’re not in the B2B space, you still may want to daypart, based on results. Many e-commerce advertisers find that their fraudulent orders increase dramatically after midnight, for example.

Mobile and Tablet Evaluation

Are your results different by device?
If so, consider separating campaigns by device. It’s a good idea to do this even if results aren’t different, because mobile campaigns have unique features, such as click-to-call, that may work very well in mobile but don’t apply to desktop campaigns.

Should you use a different message in ads?
Mobile searchers’ goals may be very different from those of desktop searchers. Mobile users need an answer right away. It’s unlikely that someone would research an expensive B2B software product on a mobile device, but they might use mobile to find a phone number. Think about testing different calls-to-action, offers, and even landing pages for your mobile and tablet campaigns.

Are you taking advantage of the right features?
Sending mobile traffic to a mobile-optimized landing page is pretty obvious. But did you know that you can target specific mobile operating systems? While not every advertiser will want to segment by OS, there are many instances where this makes sense. Mobile app vendors, for example, should target their iPhone app ads to iPhone users, and their Android apps to Android users. An advertiser selling mobile phones could also use this tactic: “Tired of your old Android device? Upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy SIII Today!”

Is something failing?
This is a good question to ask in relation to just about every PPC campaign aspect, but especially mobile campaigns. Let’s look at a real-life example. We had a client who was advertising B2B services on tablets. On the surface, the demographic made sense to them, but their ads were appearing on iPad kids’ games! The players of these games are definitely the wrong target audience, and it’s likely that the clicks on the client’s ad were accidental clicks by little kids trying to play a steering wheel game. Needless to say, this campaign didn’t perform as well as it should have.

Use this checklist for both new and existing PPC campaigns, and watch your results improve!

PPC image on home page via Shutterstock.

This article was originally published in SES Magazine – Chicago in November 2012.

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