As a PPC management company, we are often called upon to "fix" PPC campaigns that are not performing at an acceptable level (or are not performing, period). What we often discover is that these campaigns cannot be "tweaked" into success, because they were not built on a solid foundation from the outset. Without taking the time to craft a clear PPC strategy before you even log in to Google AdWords or Bing for the first time, you are putting yourself at a severe disadvantage.
Below are some important initial considerations that are often missing from the PPC campaigns our company encounters.
What is your Point-of-Action (POA)?
This seems simple enough. What is it that you want people to do when they arrive at your site or your dedicated landing pages? Do you want them to fill out a contact form or would you prefer they pick up the phone and call your business? Do you have an online demo that you’d like people to try? POAs can take many forms, and there can be more than one desirable action that people can take once you have their attention. But which is the most desirable? Which is the most likely to lead to a sale?
A recent client of ours was sending PPC traffic to their website hoping to increase business, but the most prominent POA on their website steered visitors to sign up for their newsletter. Upon investigation, we discovered that this was actually only the fourth most desirable action – less important than persuading visitors to complete a contact form, call the business and download product specifications. Addressing these simple changes had a huge positive impact on the client’s PPC campaigns; however, thousands of dollars were wasted in the meantime.
Know Your Acceptable Cost-Per-Action (CPA)
A PPC management company is often asked to "rescue" PPC campaigns that have not established an acceptable cost-per-action. This is extremely difficult to do, except in the most basic "branding"-style campaigns. People are often deterred from coming up with an acceptable cost-per-action because the formula to determine it can be so complex and requires a great deal of data. What is the average sale? What is the internal sales conversion rate? What is the internal cost of the product or service? What is the desired profit margin?
However, it doesn’t have to be so complicated. If these numbers are not readily available, a quality PPC management company can help you come up with reasonable approximations that should give you a starting point. At this point, you can begin to collect the actual data required for a sophisticated analysis while knowing that your cost-per-action will not go through the roof. As the data begins to pour in, the cost-per-action figure can be honed according to the realities of the campaign, and you will save a great deal of money in the process.
Know Your Differentiators
Any quality PPC management company makes it a point to ask every new client this question prior to working on their campaigns: If you don’t know why people should choose your company, how will they know why they should choose your company? Whether you are sending people to your website or (often preferably) designated landing pages, you have a very short window of opportunity to explain to people why they should do business with you and not your competitors, who are only a few clicks away.
And when you are considering your differentiators, it’s important to consider what actually resonates with your clients, not what you assume should resonate with them. Our company recently held a discovery meeting with a new client, and we noted that the primary differentiator emphasized on the client’s landing pages and website was the fact that they had been in business for more than 25 years. When we asked if this was what really "sold" the company to potential clients, our client sat back and said, "You know, come to think of it - I don’t think our clients care about that at all. What really sells them is the ease of integration with our product." Again, a few simple changes in approach paid huge dividends in their PPC campaigns.
Establish Your Budget
This tip seems like a no-brainer, but a good PPC management company will always ask you whether your goal is to get as many people to take the point-of-action using a fixed budget or if the budget is flexible as long as you are achieving a specific cost-per-action. The importance of this question cannot be overstated, because it calls for two distinct approaches in managing your PPC campaigns.
For instance, Client A may have a fixed budget of $10,000 per month, and this budget will not change in the foreseeable future. In this case, our company will try to get as many prospects as possible to take the POA at an increasingly lower cost for each - in other words, to "squeeze" as much out of that budget as possible. On the other hand, Client B may have a starting budget of $10,000 per month, but is willing to increase that budget substantially, as long as they are achieving their acceptable cost-per-action. The approach to these types of PPC campaigns is decidedly different - we are trying to dramatically increase the volume of prospects while maintaining an acceptable cost-per-action for each.
The common thread with each of the discussion points above is that they should all be considered and resolved before your company spends a single dime on its PPC campaigns. They will fundamentally shape your campaign and set it on a solid foundation geared for long-term success. This approach may take a bit longer to get the ball rolling, but when it starts rolling, it will almost certainly be in the right direction.