8-MINUTE READ · By Misty Faucheux
Paid search is an important part of nearly everyone’s marketing strategy, but doing it correctly requires careful planning and a willingness to do more than set it up and forget about it. But what are the steps involved in creating a PPC marketing plan? In this article we’ll outline a simple six-step process digital marketers can use to create an effective PPC marketing plan.
Why do you need PPC?
PPC marketing is an important part of your overall digital marketing plan – especially if you’re in a very competitive market or you’ve just started out. While many companies would like to eventually reduce their PPC spend and focus on less expensive channels like organic or email, paid search is a great way to capture a new audience for your service or product.
Plus, PPC is highly profitable and it can get you immediate traffic to your website as well as potentially improve your sales – it can also increase your overall market share and reach your target market. The latter is especially important since if you’re launching a new company or product, you won’t have brand awareness, which paid search is especially good at expanding. Finally, it works well with any type of budget so if you only have a few hundreds of dollars each month to spend, you can still leverage this channel.
1. Ask yourself “why”
It all starts with knowing what you want to achieve. While there are many benefits to paid search, before you jump headfirst into setting up a campaign, you must create a PPC marketing plan. And, the top of the list involves determining the following two items
- What are your goals and objectives: Like every type of marketing strategy, a PPC marketing plan requires setting up goals and objectives. These must be clearly outlined right from the beginning. For example, one objective might be introducing a new product to your existing customer base or, perhaps, building brand awareness for your new retail store.
- What do you hope to achieve: While this should be reflected in the above, it’s worth stopping a second and really thinking about what you want to do with paid search campaigns. Do you want leads, form fills, sales, newsletter signups, etc.? Basically, what key performance indicators mean the most to you? All of these will require a little bit of a different strategy. Assuming that your paid search plan is a one-size-fit-all setup would be a mistake. This will also affect which metrics will mean the most to you. If you’re looking at form fills, then form starts are going to be more important than clicks. But if you’re just trying to build brand awareness for your site, then maybe clicks and on-page engagement will matter. So, before doing anything, really think about what you want to get out of your campaign.
Psst! For more inspiration and tips on putting your plan on paper, check out these project plan templates from Venngage.
2. Do your research
Even if you’ve run paid search campaigns in the past, it’s worth doing some research – especially considering how often the paid search platforms make updates. The Google Ads and Facebook Ads platforms are a far cry from what they were even two years ago.
Beyond the logistics of setting up a campaign, it will help give your campaign focus. Now, let’s go back to our goals. As mentioned, it will affect every portion of your campaign setup. How? Well, take this example. You created this great piece of content, and you want to use it to attract top-of-the-funnel potential customers. So, you automatically select a search campaign because it’s what you know.
Yet, this content ad might actually do better on a social advertising platform like LinkedIn or even a display campaign. Yet, you didn’t even consider this because you’ve only ever run search campaigns. A little bit of research would have shown you that these two types of campaign would be more effective.
The point of this little example is to drive you to spend some time looking at the below items:
- Types of campaign – Take a moment to compare different advertising platforms (Google Ads, social advertising, media buys, etc.) to understand what your options are.
- Keyword research – Even if you think you know which keywords will work best for your campaign, there might be others that are less competitive or have higher search volumes that would be better for your industry, product, etc.
- Competitive Landscape – Some industries are more competitive than others, which means that you need to figure out if you’re budget can even compete for the inventory that’s available to you. If not, then you might be able to rank for longer tail keywords and niche audiences. Don’t try to go after saturated markets unless you are sure you can afford the clicks. Take the time to look at what your competitors are doing. Where are they spending money? Is it working for them? Sites like Spyfu.com can provide this data, some of it for free. Look at the different platforms available to you. Read the research on them. Some platforms are known for reaching certain audiences more effectively than others. For example, LinkedIn is a great way to connect with professionals within certain industries while Facebook Ads can find attendees for local events. Narrow down which platforms you want to with, and put others on the backburner for now.
3. Create a PPC budget
The number one gripe that most advertisers have when it comes to setting up a paid search campaign is determining the budget. Yet, it’s one of the most important parts of your PPC marketing plan. We all have a marketing budget, so you need to determine where paid search fits into this. You always want to be doing a mix of marketing tactics, especially in the beginning, to ensure that you’re finding your target audience no matter where they live on the web.
So, creating a budget that is too high will consume your entire marketing budget, but one that’s too low might be leaving potential clicks and conversions on the table. Go back to your research on the different platforms. All platforms have ways to investigate how much clicks will cost for different strategies or keywords. Google’s Keyword Planner not only provides you with potential keywords; it also provides you with the estimated costs per click to get you in the top position. For all the keywords that you want to target, you’ll have to get the average CPC.
A good rule of thumb is to throw out the highest and lowest CPCs, and look at the averages for most of the keywords. If you do want to target those higher cost ones, then factor those in as well. You might even want to make a couple of budgets: one for the average costs and one for more competitive keywords.
The rule of thumb is to take all this keyword or click research and leverage it to create your budget. Another rule is to determine how much will it cost to get on average 10 clicks per day. You might want more, but this is a good start.
For example, if you have 25 keywords, and most of those are between $2.00 and $5.00 per click. The average for this would be about $3.00. So, for 10 clicks a day, that would be $30 per day.
Now, you also need to consider how you plan on managing your budget. The typical way to do it is monthly or an “overall” budget. Google Ads will adjust spending on its own to reach your monthly budget, but you will still have to monitor it. Other platforms like Facebook allow you to do a total budget for the total length of time that you’d like to run the campaign. The platform will automatically adjust the daily budget to ensure that the budget is spent before the end of the time frame. Or, you can just let it run for a flat fee per day if you don’t have definitive amount that must be spent.
If you’re doing a monthly budget, using the above example, you’d take the daily budget and multiply it by 30.5. Most months have either 30 or 31 days, so this is a good average. Now, your total budget would be $915 per month.
Based on all of this, determine if you can feasibly do the recommended budget. If not, then you might want to go back to those niche keywords or audiences so you can create a more realistic budget.
4. Launch your PPC campaign
Now that you have your budget in place and know what type of campaign you’re starting with, you can launch your campaign. If you’re like most advertisers, you probably have some research on your customers, including buyer personas. Leverage these to write effective copy that directly targets your customers wants, needs and pain points.
You also need to create ad groups. This is where most people go overboard. To begin with, try to only have two or three ad groups unless you have a wide variety of products. Ad groups should be broken out by themes, services or products. If you have too many ad groups, however, you might spread your budget too thin.
The ads should reflect the themes of the ad groups as well as the keywords. Responsive ads are a good way to test many different messages and/or images to see what’s effective.
Be sure to include negative keywords. These are words for which you don’t want your ads to show. For example, if you’re a dealership that sells new cars, you may not want to rank for “car parts” or “used cars”. So, you’ll want to add these to a negative keyword list since you don’t want to waste the cost of a click on them. Now, you’re ready to officially launch your campaign.
5. Monitor results
While you might think it’s time to just sit back and relax, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. You need to constantly monitor your results to determine how well your campaign is doing. This means building reports to showcase to your stakeholders the results as well as being able to gain actionable insights to tweak your campaign if it’s not performing.
Luckily, you no longer have to create manual reports. Third-party reporting tools like Supermetrics can integrate with Google Ads, Analytics, or Data Studio to allow you to quickly build easy-to-understand and insightful reports. These can be run as often as you need them to be and can be delivered to your inbox so you don’t have to constantly check the dashboard.
In the beginning, you should be monitoring your campaign results on a daily basis to make sure that the budget is pacing correctly and to see what types of results you’re receiving. Are they quality clicks and leads? What types of people are visiting your ads? Do they match up with your target audience?
Next, leverage this data to further refine your keywords and ads – even eliminating ones that aren’t providing good results. But let the campaign run for at lest six to eight weeks before pulling the trigger to change things unless the results are really terrible. It takes some time to gather data.
Finally, once you do have good insights, you can use this information to better refine your existing campaigns and even build new ones. A PPC marketing plan should also include future steps and what you’d like to achieve with your next campaigns. Luckily, with paid search’s immediate results, you can quickly add, change or scale campaigns.
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About Misty Faucheux
Misty Faucheux is an Integrated Online Marketing Specialist at Faucheux Enterprises and a guest writer for Supermetrics. She is a digital marketer, specializing in SEO, SEM, content marketing/writing and social ads. Misty helps companies develop a cohesive online marketing strategy that directly addresses their overall business goals and objectives. You can find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Flickr.