A paid ad campaign – also known as PPC, or Pay Per Click – is a great way of using some of your marketing budget to reach a wider audience. It can help boost both sales and awareness of your brand, introducing potential long-term customers to your company.
You might be worried about trying out paid ads: many people are. Perhaps you’re concerned that you won’t see a return on your investment. Or maybe you’ve tried before and didn’t get the results you hoped for.
It’s true that PPC is not the easiest form of marketing, but with a little bit of knowledge and planning, the results can be fantastic. Here are some beginner campaign strategies to help you make the most of your paid ads.
If you’re completely new to Google Ads, make sure you take a look at my Beginner’s Guide to Google Ads first.
1. Plan your Campaign Structure
Planning is the key to success when in comes to your Google Ads Campaign strategy. Before you do anything else, you should fully understand the structure of campaigns in Google, and make sure yours is set up correctly.
Campaign Structure is the foundation of your advertising, so it needs to be right. Spending time to plan ahead in the beginning can save you a lot of headaches in the future.
A campaign is made up of four levels:
- The Account is for your whole business andholds everything to do with your Google ads including your billing details and login credentials.
- Campaigns are where you set your budget and where you choose the locations your ads will show.
- Ad groups is where you set your keywords, usually grouped into categories for a highly targeted ad experience.
- Ads are the actual advertisements that show to users through various formats such as image and text-only.
While there is no hard and fast rule about how you should structure your campaign, you should take into consideration location of you and your audience, budget, types of product, keywords, sales funnel, and your availability to manage the accounts.
If you have a well structured website, you can use this as a basis for your campaign structure.
For example, a gardening business may have one campaign for furniture and plants. These could then be broken down into ad groups such as benches, BBQs and dining sets, or shrubs, trees and flowers.
You could, alternatively, use your sales funnel to guide your campaign structure. For example, the Campaigns could be cold audience (who don’t know who you are at all), a warm audience (those who know you a little) and a hot audience (those who know you, like you, and have perhaps already purchased from you). The Ad Groups could then be based on different pain points of your audience, or similar products to those they’ve bought in the past.
2. Target your own branded keywords
When a user searches for a branded keyword, it means they are already aware of your business and are looking for you specifically. They would search something like Katie’s Kitchen online or Dogs R Us collars.
While it may seem pointless to serve ads to people who are already looking for you, there are a number of good reasons to do so:
- Your competitors might be targeting your branded keywords and taking a prominent position in the search results with their ads. You don’t want your established audience going elsewhere because they saw your competitor first.
- Depending on their stage in the sales funnel, potential customers may be interested in your product, but not yet committed to buying. If they’re open to competitors, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to buy from you by showing up in the places they’re searching.
- Showing up for both ads and organic results in search helps you dominate the page, giving your competitors less room to squeeze in and steal valuable space.
3. Target competitor branded keywords
If we take the above tactic and switch it on its head, you can sometimes gain more customers by making yourself known to your competitor’s audience.
If a user is searching for one of your competitor’s branded items or services, you already know they’re in the market for something that you’re also selling. If they’ve not yet come to the decision to buy from your competitor, you can swoop in and offer your own services or products to entice them.
The advantage of this technique is that, if they’re searching for branded terms, the user is already a good way along the sales funnel, so a lot of the hard work has already been done to engage them. The difficult part now is changing their mind about their preferred supplier.
For this strategy, you need to make sure your ads effectively highlighting your Unique Selling Point (USP). Why should the user choose you instead of your competitor? What are you providing that offers more value than another supplier?
4. Test your ad copy
Once you’ve set up your ads, don’t just let them roll on forever. Run several ads with slightly different ad copy (text) and analyse which works better. Research has found that even the smallest of changes can make a big difference to your results.
By constantly testing your ad copy, you can discover which text works best for your audience and encourage more click-throughs and goal completions. Regular monitoring and tweaking can also help you adjust to changing trends in search.
You don’t have to test lots of different ads at once, but keep a track of your tests and, when you’ve finished one, run another.
5. Make use of remarketing
I’ve already spoken a little about warm and hot audiences – those who are aware of your business and may have already purchased. Remarketing allows you to closely target these audiences so that you can encourage further sales or bring them back to an abandoned cart.
A remarketing audience will be smaller than others in your campaigns but, by focusing down like this, they are likely to be more cost-effective.
Do be aware that Google Ads requires you to have a minimum audience size in order to make use of remarketing. This is to help protect the identities of users.
6. Use audience targeting
You may be keen to reach as many people as possible with your ads, but this can actually be detrimental to your results. The more niche you can be with your audience, the more cost-effective your ads are likely to be. By really drilling down into who your audience is, you can create ads that will serve them more effectively.
Depending on the type of ad you use, you can target audiences based on different features including intent, life events, demographics, and interests.
For example, if someone is planning a wedding (a life event), and their demographics indicate they like the finer things in life, your ads can tell them about luxury honeymoons in the Maldives. The ad will introduce them to your independent travel agency and, once they visit your site, you can retarget them to keep reminding them you’re there. When they’re ready to purchase, you will be front of mind because they’re now very aware of your brand.
7. Identify your target spends
I know you don’t have money to just throw away on ads, so you want to make sure that your budget is working for you.
Google allows you to set a Cost Per Acquisitions (CPA) and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). It can then automatically optimise your ads to hit these figures, taking a lot of the grunt work out for you.
To work out your CPA and ROAS, you need to understand the full customer journey and your business finances:
- How long it takes them to convert
- How much you have to spend to get a conversion
- What your profit margins are
- How much lifetime value a converted customer will bring to your business
This will then help you identify how much you can reasonably spend on ads while still making them worthwhile.
ROAS and CPAs can be hard to work out and aren’t precise measurements, but they will help your budget and prevent you from overspending on your ads.
8. Look beyond Google Ads
Despite it’s popularity, Google isn’t the only company out there providing PPC services. Other less popular companies such as Microsoft Ads can see better returns exactly because they’re not as highly utilised. If there’s less competition for ad space, then the cost of that ad space goes down. You may also find that your audience is more likely to use a Microsoft product such as Bing rather than Google.
Take a look at my guide to Microsoft Advertising for more information on this option.
Advertising with Google doesn’t have to be daunting or expensive. Careful structure of your campaigns and a good understanding of your audience and sales funnels can really help you improve your ROI and make the most of PPC.