In the world of search engine marketing (SEM), more and more marketers are buying into PPC campaigns. Google Ads specifically has increased its revenue from year to year. In 2018, it was reported that the service was generating 84% of Alphabet's revenue.
Marketers know that properly investing in PPC can result in nearly guaranteed ad placement in search engine result pages. They also know that this placement can help generate leads. If your ads tool is tightly integrated with your CRM, you can even leverage ads data to nurture these leads across their buyer's journey.
As you prepare to create a PPC campaign, it's important to get a rundown of what a successful campaign entails, and identify management missteps that you'll want to avoid.
PPC stands for "pay-per-click." PPC campaigns are a form of search engine marketing (SEM) where a company builds an ad with targeted keywords and then pays for it by the click. These campaigns are often built using Google Ads.
The key to building a successful PPC campaign is to follow these steps:
- Determine your PPC campaign structure.
- Identify, build, or refine your campaign's landing pages.
- Build a keyword strategy based on your research.
- Create ads based on what you've determined in the above steps.
- Share your campaign plan with decision makers.
The problem is, many marketers suffer from poor PPC campaign management, which ends up costing them way more money than they need to spend and delivering underwhelming lead generation results.
Here are a few ways marketers could go wrong with PPC management:
- Coming up with keywords on the fly without doing prior research.
- Only building one basic campaign without utilizing Google Ads' AdGroups tool.
- Attaching un-engaging landing pages -- or a homepage that generates no leads -- to the campaign.
- Not adding "negative keywords" or monitoring campaigns to avoid wasted spend.
- Creating campaigns, setting budget caps, and going live without telling key decision makers at your company or a client's company.
So, how do you do PPC properly so you actually get leads at a reasonable cost? It comes down to intelligent campaign structure.
How do you master intelligent campaign structure? You use a template!
PPC Plan Template
We've created a free PPC campaign management template that will help you and your clients set up a full-funnel campaign structure that follows PPC best practices. Once you do that, you'll be better positioned to maximize the return on your PPC investment.
We're going to show you how to use that PPC template in this blog post -- so download it now and follow along.
If you're running PPC campaigns for someone who doesn't understand the importance of good campaign structure, this template will also act as a deliverable that will enlighten your boss or clients.
Tips for Using This Template
Before we get started, let's go over a few tips that'll make using this template even easier:
- You will want to clear out the example data I have in the template such as keywords, campaign and AdGroup names, ads, and destination URLs. Unless, of course, you're running a fruit stand named after me.
- Be careful not to erase columns E, G, and I. They contain formulas that will help you in subsequent steps.
- Click on the red markers in the top corners of the cells. They contain helpful tips and FAQs. If you ever forget what a cell is used for, those are good reminders.
Step 1: Understand PPC Campaign Structure
Before we actually do anything with this template, it's important we're all on the same page about PPC campaign structure. Far too many marketers will just set up an account, create an ad, direct the ad to their home page, pick some keywords and hit go. This is not the way to do things.
With Google Ads, you have the opportunity to create multiple campaigns. Each campaign may contain several AdGroups, and each AdGroup may contain a few ads and multiple, similar keywords.
It's wise to create multiple campaigns because you can set daily budget caps, day-parting, and select geo-targeted regions at the campaign level. If you're bidding on generic keywords and branded keywords, you'll want to put these in separate campaigns because the economics around these two types of keywords will likely be very different.
As you can see, your template reflects these best practices, providing space for several different campaigns, AdGroups, and ad variations within those AdGroups.Download this Template Free
Step 2: Identify Your Landing Pages
The "Destination URL" is the place on your website where you want the PPC traffic to end up. Because there is a marginal cost associated with each PPC visitor you attract, I recommend you choose a landing page URL as your destination URL.
Do not drive them to your home page or a blog in hopes that they will stumble upon a lead generation form. That's the job of organic search. Drive them to a landing page with a form on it. Don't forget to put in a tracking token so you know where these leads are coming from.
Major, well-known companies don't always follow this rule, but they also have millions of dollars in budget that needs to be used by the end of the month. Make it easy on yourself and let your landing pages define your AdGroups.
You will notice that the Destination URL within the AdGroup is the same regardless of the keyword or ad. If you really want to drive a keyword to a different landing page, then create another AdGroup. If you want to get even more specific, create another campaign for that keyword.
You should also keep your sales funnel in mind when you identify these landing pages. Think about which part of the sales funnel each landing page and offer speaks to.
For example, an educational PDF about an industry concept would be appropriate for a top-of-the-funnel offer, while a coupon or a demo would be at the bottom of the funnel.
Manage and create separate campaigns for each part of the funnel. If you scroll down in your template, you'll see that there's dedicated space allotted for campaigns in all of these funnel stages.
Step 3: Build Your Keyword Strategy
Next, select the keywords that are relevant to the landing page and offer. Make sure to keep them as relevant as possible to increase the chance that each visitor you pay for completes the form on the landing page.
Yes, it would be nice to rank for certain keywords, but if the landing page doesn't answer the keyword queried, think twice. Or better yet, create another offer and landing page that speaks more directly to the keyword.
If you're running short on inspiration, these tools can help you think of other keywords to include in your campaign. You should always consider the costs of those suggested keywords and keep your economic interests in mind.
If this is your first time managing a PPC campaign, it would be wise to read up on how to design a killer keyword strategy. In the case of Google Ads, you might also want to learn more about keyword quality score.
Step 4: Create Your Ads
This is the fun part! Both Google and Bing allow you to create more than one ad for each AdGroup (hence the "group" terminology). The service will rotate them until it notices that one appears to drive a higher clickthrough rate (CTR). This is how A/B (and C and D) testing works. While it's optional, you should take advantage of the ability to create more than one ad.
Writing an ad is a bit like writing a haiku. There are character limits for each part, and it can be a little aggravating figuring out how to best complete the ad.
You are allotted 25 characters for the title, 35 characters for the display URL -- the URL that's displayed in the ad, not to be confused with the destination URL -- and 35 characters for each line of copy. But if you're using this template, don't worry about keeping track.
The cell to the right of each ad component will count characters and turn red when you have gone over the limit. Handy, right?
In my observation, the title has the greatest influence on an ad's CTR. It's wise to include a keyword in the headline to draw a user's attention to your ad. An even better practice would be to use dynamic keyword insertion.
I find the copy to be less important, but you certainly can't just put gibberish in there. Search engines have editorial policies for what you can and cannot put in an ad. These policies also change frequently, so it's your job to stay up to date on them.
A good rule of thumb is to simply try to provide a congruous experience for searchers -- from seeing your ad in the search engine results to completing the form on your landing page.
Finally, there's the tricky matter of the display URL. You're only allowed 35 characters here, but it's unlikely that your destination URL, the actual URL for your landing page, will be that short. So the search engines allow you to create a display URL, which may not even be an actual URL on your website. It's critical that the domain in your display URL be the same as the domain in your destination URL.
Step 5: Share the Completed Template With a Decision Maker
Whether you're doing PPC for your business or a client, your completed template will ensure you're aligning the decision-maker's expectations with the realities of a productive PPC campaign. If you're the decision maker, this template will help you think about what you're doing with the money you're spending on PPC.
The end result is that you'll have created the sort of congruous user experience that search engines like to see. That can benefit you in terms of your positioning in the SERPs and, ultimately, your costs. It will also grant you the agility you need to swiftly reallocate and modify budget as you respond to changes in the marketplace, and the drive to maximize the return on your PPC spend.
PPC Campaign Management
Understanding where your audience is spending most of their time online is key, in addition to figuring what kind of ads work best for your business. While Google is a powerhouse tool for PPC campaign management, there are other notable platforms that can yield positive results for your business.
It’s imperative to familiarize yourself with the different platforms available to run your PPC campaigns. Let’s continue by looking at some of the most prominent online ad platforms: Bing, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Since Bing was built for Microsoft’s three major long-standing search engines, AOL, Yahoo, and Bing, “with a single Bing ad buy, you can reach 162 million unique searchers using Microsoft and Yahoo sites.”
That’s no small number, which means there’s definitely an opportunity to create campaigns targeting your ideal audience. Overall, Bing Ads works very similarly to Google Ads. However, here are a few tips that can help get the most out of your PPC campaign strategy for Bing Ads.
Bing Keyword Suggestions
If the bulk of your PPC efforts lives in Google Ads and you decide to start bidding on Bing Ads it may seem like the best way to start is to use the exact same keywords that you’re already bidding on in Google. The issue here is that Google and Bing are different search engines and it’s possible that your Google keywords won’t see the same search volume in Bing.
Bing’s keyword research and suggestion tool will give you more accurate search volume for your keywords. You can still use your original list of keywords from Google to start with, but utilize this tool to verify whether you should be bidding on the same keywords, or something similar that yields more traffic.
Ad bids can end up being quite costly for a business so many marketers are constantly working to decrease ad spend. “Bing’s average CPC is 33% lower than what we see on Google”, and since bidding on Bing Ads is less competitive in comparison to Google, it’s very likely that you won’t end up spending as much.
So if you’re able to find the sweetest keyword to bid on there’s a good chance that you’ll see a positive shift in your return on investment. This may be especially true for specific industries. The table below shows the average industry CPC according to Bing Ads.
For a deeper dive into BingAds check out this tutorial.
Some of the most popular ads you can incorporate into your Facebook campaigns are:
Stories are thriving on social media platforms, so why not develop a few ads to meet your audience where they’re already at?
Stories are only posted for a 24-hour period so these types of ads are best to use when you have a specific promotion occurring. Like a personal story the ad can be a video with a link or a series of still photos that lead the viewer to take a specific action.
Gamification is always an innovative way to catch a lead’s attention. Facebook’s playable ads allow you to create a brief interactive version of a game or app so users can get a feel for what your product is like.
You’ll want to keep the functionality as simple as possible, so you won’t deter any potential customers, and of course, make it fun!
If you’ve ever used Facebook’s messenger tool, it’s likely that you’ve seen an ad appear among your conversations. The great thing about this is a potential customer could choose to instantly connect with your business directly from their messages.
So, if you have a sales customer service team that connects with people via chat this is a great way to establish an instant connection.You also have the ability to send a lead to your site or a specific landing page from the ad.
To start building your own ad campaign on Facebook check out HubSpot’s Facebook Ads Training Course.
Twitter Ads Manager makes it easy to plan the ad you’d like to run on Twitter while providing reporting on campaign performance.
People spend 26% more time viewing ads on Twitter than on any other leading platforms, so you’ll want your ads to be catchy enough to stop someone mid-scroll. Some of the types of ads you can include in your Twitter campaign are:
The only difference between a regular tweet and a promoted tweet is that you’re spending money for the promoted tweet to appear in the feeds of people who aren’t following your business. This gives your business the opportunity to convert users, or simply gain new followers which will help with your brand’s awareness
Twitter moments are several tweets that focus on a specific topic or event. Essentially you want this collection of tweets to communicate a story for your audience. These are great for more fun or trendy topics since Moments includes categories such as trending, sports, entertainment, and more.
If you’re someone that loves seeing what’s trending on twitter you may want to experiment with promoting a trend for your target audience to interact with. This will be displayed in the timeline, the explore tab, and the “Trends for you section.”
Once someone clicks on the promoted trend they’ll see various search results for the specific trend or topic and your brand’s promoted Tweet. If your business has identified an engaged Twitter audience you may be sitting on an untapped goldmine.
Learn more about Twitter Ads Manager for your business and get to tweeting!
Including YouTube in your ad campaign strategies is a must. If your business is able to create something catchy enough to convince someone not to click ‘skip,’ you’re already winning.
Part of Google Display Network, YouTube has become a core part of marketer’s ad strategies. With over a billion active users and the ability to be accessed in 76 languages, there’s no denying that YouTube is reaching a massive amount of people on a daily basis.
Let’s take a look at some of the different types of Youtube ads.
Skippable In-Stream Ads
These are probably the ads that you’re most familiar with already because we’ve all clicked that magical little button that says “skip ads” to start viewing what we searched for as soon as possible.
The ads can play before the ad even begins, which means the viewer never sees it, or they’ll have to wait five seconds before they can skip. Five seconds isn’t much time to convince some not to hit skip, so make sure the hook of your ad is immediately enticing. The good thing about this is that if they skip within those first five seconds, you don’t have to pay for the ad.
Non-Skippable In-Stream Ads (Including Bumper Ads)
Since so many people opt to skip ad on YouTube, advertisers have the option to create non-skippable ads. If you’ve developed a strong creative as you feel will resonate with your target audience this may be the option for you.
However, make sure that you’re avidly measuring results to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for. If the results aren’t in your favor, you may want to revert to a skippable ad instead.
Video Discovery Ads (Formerly Known as In-Display Ads)
Discovery ads are what users see in the search results. Remember, YouTube is the second largest search engine and “feeds over 1 billion hours of video each day to users” – so you’ll want those ads appearing in search results too!
These ads will include a thumbnail and a few lines of text as a description. Since many people prefer visuals over text this is an opportunity to get someone to view your video instead of reading a competitor’s textual resource.
If your business is new to adopting video marketing check out HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to YouTube Marketing.
PPC management is all about researching, budgeting, testing, reporting, and doing it over until you get the results you need. Make sure you get started with this template to develop a PPC strategy that will work for your business.
Originally published May 30, 2019 4:31:00 PM, updated August 25 2021