What’s Your PPC Strategy?

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There’s one more question to answer before you plunge into actually advertising: What do you want to accomplish with your PPC campaigns?

To many, the answer will seem simple: “More-profitable sales!” But at any given time, an organization can have objectives that change in priority, and it’s important to acknowledge these when setting performance expectations.

Companies and organizations are usually focused on one of the following business objectives more so than the others:

Sales volume: Growing revenue.
Profitability: Wider profit margins.
Expense control: Limiting or diminishing expenses.
Market share: Capturing a larger portion of the target market. Unless the market
is growing quickly, this usually requires increasing sales volume by taking
business away from competitors.

If you’re a sole proprietor, you can probably state your company’s priorities quickly and with conviction. If you’re part of a bigger organization, whether you’re the owner, CEO, or part of the marketing team, you may be surprised at how many different opinions you get when you ask what the organization’s top objectives should be.

It’s important to form consensus around the organization’s top objectives, because the strategies for your PPC advertising efforts will depend heavily on them.

For example, if the organization’s chief objective is to capture more market share, that implies a strategy that closely examines competitor PPC activities, and making sure you are reaching at least the same prospective customers—preferably extending your reach far beyond your competitors’.

If, on the other hand, your organization is focused on profitability, it makes sense to restrict your campaign’s scope to advertise just the products that are most profitable, and narrowing your campaign’s scope to those customers who are close to the end of the buying cycle.

A similar strategy would be appropriate for organizations that are primarily concerned with cutting costs. They would want to focus more on the “sure bets” rather than devote the advertising budget to more-speculative keywords and sites.

Some companies want or need to adopt a very prudent approach. They can’t afford to spend advertising dollars without reasonable assurance that there will be an acceptable return on the advertising investment as early as possible.

Other advertisers want to hit the ground running—to immediately start chipping away at competitor market share, for example. They are willing to spend “test money” to accelerate the test phase and get to the ramp phase more quickly.

Now take a minute to record your business objectives. To do this, you can use a Microsoft Word document helpfully provided by the authors of Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day, 2nd Edition (Sybex, 2008). You can download this worksheet at no charge from http://is.gd/SZVq.

The worksheet has room at the top for you to record your business objectives. If your organization has more than one objective, such as market share and profitability, list both—with the most important one ranked first. The second section is a worksheet that was created to let site owners begin identifying the elements of their site that may require work to help the site rank highly in the search engine listings. Although such work, called search engine optimization (SEO), is not the focus of this book, go ahead and complete the Website Features section of the worksheet. That will help you visualize and enumerate your site’s conversion goals in the Conversions column of the worksheet.

Most sites have one primary conversion goal, and one or more secondary goals. For example, the primary goal of an e-commerce site might be to generate revenue through sales. Secondary goals might be to collect subscribers to a newsletter or to have visitors register for a discussion forum.

Likewise, the primary goal of a B2B site might be to collect sales leads via a submitted form, while its secondary goal might be to persuade visitors to download one or more white papers.

You’ll see in future chapters that this exercise is crucial in determining the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns. We’ll describe how to decide on a value for each conversion type, which may prove surprisingly difficult for nonrevenue objectives. We’ll also describe how to set up Google AdWords and Google Analytics conversion tracking so you’ll always know the number and value of the conversions being generated by your PPC campaigns.