Nov 15 2023
Eric Nelson

5 Simple Steps to Develop an Effective PPC Campaign Strategy


You’ve just landed your dream job as an SEM professional, and your boss is asking you to deliver your “PPC campaign strategy”—you know, that brilliant, air-tight plan you put together to help your brand or client not only meet, but exceed their business objectives?

There's just one small problem: You don't have a strategy. In fact, while you may know a lot about PPC, you’ve never actually sat down and documented how you make PPC magic happen. Where do you start? There’s so much to cover and so little time, especially given the fact that developing a competitive PPC campaign strategy isn’t as easy as it used to be. Advertisers now have a number of ways to target their audiences, which makes distributing ad spend a challenge.

Don’t worry—we’ve not only organized the process of developing a PPC strategy into an easy framework, but we’ve also created a quick PPC strategy checklist to ensure the strategy you do eventually develop is an effective one.

In short, our five-step framework for an effective PPC strategy involves selecting the right platforms, targeting features, and ad types to deliver your message, and balancing your investment in each. If you’re ready to develop a more advanced PPC campaign strategy for your business, these 5 steps can help you get a head start. Let’s dig in!

Step 1: Define Your PPC Strategy's Goals

Defining what you want to achieve with PPC is the most important part of building an effective campaign strategy. Getting clear on your goals will help you choose the platforms and ad types that are best suited for your marketing needs.

Consider these common PPC goals:

  • Increase site traffic
  • Generate leads
  • Drive sales

If your main goal is brand awareness, then social media and display ads are ideal for your strategy. If your priority is to generate leads, then you can explore Facebook’s lead capture ads. If your main goal is to drive sales, then most of your PPC investment should be in search or product listing ads (PLA).

Sophisticated PPC strategies use a combination of ad types and platforms to target their audience. First, determine your main goals and prioritize them. Then, use this information to decide which platforms and ad types you should invest in.

Step 2: Audience Targeting

Next, let’s review how to target your audience with Google Ads PPC. The kind of audience you target and their point in the sales funnel will also tell you which advertising options you should invest in.

The key to success with Google Ads audience targeting is not targeting the most relevant keywords related to your business, but targeting based on intent. The keywords you bid for, the ads you display, and the landing pages you send people to all need to match the position individuals are at in your sales funnel.

There are three main categories of search intent keywords:

  • Transactional: Searchers want to make a purchase
  • Informational: Searchers want to learn more about something
  • Navigational: Searchers want to get to a certain page or resource

Now, most businesses can’t and shouldn’t target all these categories of keywords for PPC. The ones you focus on should depend on your business type and other marketing strategies. For example:

  • An e-commerce business should invest largely in transactional keywords to encourage conversions.
  • A service-based business may invest more in informational keywords to boost its content marketing strategy.
  • A SaaS or app developer could invest more in navigational keywords to improve user experience.

Of course, search isn’t the only PPC channel you can optimize for. There are several other types of audiences you can target on the Display Network, YouTube, and Gmail, such as:

  • Affinity segments: Raise brand awareness and drive consideration with your video ads by reaching people who already have a strong interest in relevant topics.
  • Custom affinity segments: With custom affinity segments, you can create audiences that are more tailored to your brand or brands, compared to broad, TV-like affinity segments. For example, rather than reaching sports fans, a running shoe company may want to reach avid marathon runners instead.
  • Life events: Reach potential customers on YouTube and Gmail when purchase behavior shifts and brand preferences change during life milestones like moving, graduating from college, or getting married.
  • In-market segments: Select from these audiences to find customers who are researching products and actively considering buying a service or product like yours.
  • Custom segments: Built with performance advertisers in mind, custom segments allow you to reach viewers as they’re making a purchase decision based on the keywords they’ve recently searched on
  • Remarketing: Reach more viewers across YouTube and Google video partners based on their past interactions with your videos, video ads, or YouTube channel after linking your YouTube channel to your Google Ads account. You can also show ads to people who’ve interacted with your website or mobile app.
  • Customer Match: Customer Match lets you use your online and offline first-party data to reach and re-engage with your customers across YouTube and Google video partners.

Step 3: Optimize Your Landing Pages

When targeting large amounts of keywords, creating unique optimized landing pages for your ads can be a challenge. However, directing visitors to generic product pages or landing pages equates to wasted ad spend. Not only are site visitors less likely to convert, but their on-site behavior can also lead to lower Quality Scores, making reaching them through PPC even more challenging.

The most effective PPC managers draw a strong link between audience targeting and landing page optimization. The more relevant a landing page is to the initial search intent or audience demographic interest, the more likely it is that site visitors will click through, sign up, make a purchase, or otherwise take action.

Here’s an example of thoughtfully optimizing landing pages based on initial search intent: You searched for “freelance accounting software” and found an ad for Xero:

A screenshot of a search for "freelance accounting software" and the ad that appears at the top of the results.

You click through and their landing page copy focuses on their value proposition for on-the-move freelancers, not business owners as a whole:

A screenshot of a landing page with copy that's been tailored to the user's search query.

That level of message match—from the intent of the search query, to the carefully crafted ad copy, to the optimized landing page verbiage—provides a valuable user experience with high relevance that’s more likely to result in the user taking your desired action.

Step 4: Create Your Ads

Once your audience targeting is set up and you’ve created your relevant landing pages, you’re ready to create and optimize your ads.

Your ads serve as the link between search intent/audience interest and the landing pages you’ve already optimized. The goal is to briefly illustrate your unique selling proposition and offer value. You’ll want to experiment using different copy, visual media, extensions, and other elements to optimize your ads.

For search campaigns, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) make it easy to include a variety of headlines and description lines that Google will mix and match to create an ad that’s targeted toward what it knows about the user. The key is to include variety, so your headlines and description lines should have varied calls to action and value propositions. You can’t just rewrite the same headline and make it slightly different. Try to include as many keywords in your ad as possible and match it to your landing page content. You want the user to have a seamless experience from keyword to ad to landing page. Google will automatically show the top-performing ad creative the most often.

Beyond ad copy, elements like sitelinks, callouts, phone numbers, reviews, and location extensions are great ways to include more information in your ad and take up more room on the top of the page. At the same time, this will push your competitors further down in the results.

When you have enough data to make decisions, swap out the lower-performing ad assets (the headlines, description lines, and extensions) for new variants. Over time, you’ll improve your ad quality and your account performance.

Step 5: Analyze and Optimize Your PPC Campaign Strategy

As we discussed above, ad content optimization integrates better into the ad creation process when you use the right tools. The real focus of your analysis is identifying what keywords and targeting features help drive your campaign goals.

Here are some important metrics to consider for search, display, and/or social ads (depending on your campaign goals):

  • Click-through rate (CTR): Can help to determine how relevant the content of your ads is to your keyword or audience targeting for social or display.
  • Conversion rate: A low conversion rate could be an indication that your ad spend is better suited for higher-performing keywords.
  • Cost per click (CPC): How much are you willing to pay to get the attention of a member of your audience? That would be your ideal CPC. However, if you’re optimizing to a ROAS or CPA goal, CPC isn’t important! If you pay higher CPCs to get higher quality users, that’s generally better than paying less for users who won’t convert. Don’t get hung up on CPCs to the detriment of your campaigns.
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA): This can indicate how competitive your keyword is, and whether it’s worthwhile to invest in it given the profit margin from conversions.
  • Quality Score (For Adwords): This metric is an aggregate of the effectiveness of a variety of factors, including ad relevance, landing page relevance, and click-through rate.
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS): This is a bottom-line metric that evaluates the effectiveness of ad spend overall at driving financial goals.

If your goal is lead nurturing, you may also want to take on-site engagement metrics, such as number of page views or new or returning visitors, into consideration.

Keeping track of key metrics can help you evaluate the relevance and effectiveness of your advertising elements (ad copy, targeting, landing pages, etc.). It can also help you understand which keywords and audience targeting strategies are most valuable for your unique business.

There are a lot of ways to optimize your PPC ads for conversions using data science. Once you have a good understanding of the best keywords and audience targeting, you can use those insights to implement advanced targeting strategies to improve your ROAS even more. Using query segmentation to prioritize revenue-driving keywords is one example of an advanced bid optimization strategy you can implement manually.

Your PPC Campaign Strategy Checklist

PPC strategy optimization is an ongoing process. Here’s a quick checklist to recap the steps you need to take to optimize your strategy.

  1. Define your goals: Clearly state what you want to achieve, determine your goals, and prioritize them, all to inform the remaining steps.
  2. Audience targeting: Understand your searchers’ intent, target keywords to match that intent, and know your searchers’ demographics, affinities, and more for targeting across related channels.
  3. Optimize your landing pages: Ensure there’s a direct connection from searchers’ queries to your keywords, your ad copy, and your landing page content.
  4. Create your ads: Illustrate your value, experiment with copy through Responsive Search Ads, and plan to optimize toward (and iterate based on) higher-performing headlines, descriptions, and extensions.
  5. Analyze and optimize your strategy: Identify your KPIs (based on your objectives), evaluate your campaign elements (keywords, creative, targeting, etc.) based on performance, and lean into what’s working.

Wrapping Up

These five steps are foundational to developing a competitive PPC strategy. The key is to identify at what points in the sales funnel you want to target your audience, choose the right platforms and ads to accomplish that, and then optimize your PPC advertising material. Over time, you’ll identify what elements of your strategy deserve the most investment to improve your ROAS.

Want to level up your PPC strategy even further? Our team of experts can help. Connect with us to learn more!

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