It’s quite a surprise to me that recently, I have come across not one but two instances of SEM agencies supplying PPC to *very* high profile companies on a ‘volume’ basis. That is to say, all reporting, ROI justification and general attitude to PPC management is that it is for driving up visitor numbers. Where the PPC visitor’s land is an afterthought – something for the client to worry about – as long as they make it to the domain, and onto the invoice.

However, maybe there are reasons why some of  the biggest SEM agencies out there still act this way. I can see that in a client’s organisation with a global media budget, it no doubt helps an invoice to sail through sign-off if it is just for ‘SEM media’. It does seem though in many large organisations, PPC slips through the net in terms of responsibilities within the ranks. They would do well to learn from lean, resource and cash starved SME’s, where a poor stint of PPC performance can be disastrous, crippling profits and handing growth over to competitors on a plate.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is the most important strategy in digital marketing. Any marketing, for that matter. It allows for all steps of the aquisition process to be connected via cause and effect. For example, bothering to split test small PPC ads is for some, too much. After all, its just a tiny couple of lines, not really a ‘creative’ endevour. Yet, following a successfull ad theme  through to full landing page workouts really does open the pipe on conversions.

It’s been said a lot of times that the PPC model is ‘not what it was’, but whenever I hear this it’s usually an admission that people are not getting the return for a minimal effort. This is because their PPC thinking comes from the days when any list of keywords against an ad produced visitors.

Giving up or not exploring your company’s most lucrative keywords is suicide. If there are people prepared to meet you half way through their search habits, then you should be going the extra mile to ensure the rest of their journey is a no brainer. So, if you were to sit down today and plan a PPC campaign from scratch, I would advise on the following:

1. Your top 10 keywords should be campaigns in thier own right.

The keyword should be the theme of the campaign. Long tail is always required, but most businesses find the Pareto Principle governs which keywords generate the most traffic. By addressing this at a campaign level, keywords can have budgets applied, languages, geography, scheduling – in fact everything needing to fine tune and optimise.

2. The Adgroups are the keyword varients

With a campaigns mentioned above, Adgroups will be the subtle varients around the keyword, and that allows for small groups of 2 – 3 keywords against an ongoing program of precisly targeted split tested ads.

3. Design and manage your website for PPC, not vice versa

Think landing pages, not home pages and other add ons. Remember that finely tuned PPC vistors are committed shoppers looking to see product, price, delivery details. Or, they are B2B visitors looking for the USP and value in your offerings. Think this way, write this way, and your also making great strides for your SEO too. Your landing page template should be ready to satisfy any new PPC keywords you are addressing – always design a new chain of keyword, ads, landing page.

4. Don’t give up at the first negative result

If you have a keyword that for all logical reasons should be converting, keep refining your chain of keyword, ads and landing page until it works. The good thing about segmenting campaigns down to this level is that budgets can be smaller. You have the finance to stick with it, because not only will it be worth it in the end, you’ll be denying your closest competitors the traffic as well.

5. Once working, lockdown and move on.

When you have found the right combination of keyword/ ad text/ landing page, you can start major work on other keywords without disrupting the winning formula. When changes in CTR/ CPA happen (and they will), fault finding and correction is all the easier rather than taking bulk pot-shot changes at long keyword lists.

I hope readers find this useful. And if we at Goldladder can help get you started down this road, do not hesitate to get in touch.