Six Steps to an Effective AdWords Program

Sometimes us agency folks get so used to doing what we do that we lose perspective on what others are (or are not) doing.  I was recently presenting some ideas to a prospective client and included a Google AdWords program to help them expand their reach beyond their traditional customers into competing technologies.  As I went further, it became apparent they weren’t at all familiar with how a pay-per-click (PPC) program works.  So, for their benefit and perhaps yours, here are six quick steps to integrating PPC into your marcom mix.  

Step One: Keyword Research

Naturally, you can’t work toward optimizing your search results (organic or paid) until you know which words and phrases your customers are using to research your products and services.  If you’ve done keyword research for your Web site, great!  Start there.  If you haven’t, brainstorm a list and use Google’s keyword tool to project search activity against your words and suggest others.  This analysis will also provide estimated costs-per-click (CPC) for each word/phrase so you can begin to consider how much budget to assign to the program.  Determining which words and phrases to focus on will depend on your objectives for the program.  

Step Two:  Create Your Ad Groups

Ad groups contain one or more ads that target a set of keywords and/or placements.  They allow you to manage your overall program by adjusting your cost per click (CPC) bids for each group, and keyword within.  Keep your ad groups tightly focused on keyword themes so that the ad copy can stay highly targeted to the theme of keywords in that group.  This will help the ad perform better for you.

Step Three:  Review Your Campaign Settings

Google offers a variety of settings that allow you to target your campaigns as broadly or narrowly as you like, so review your budget, network and bidding options and establish any regional targeting that makes sense.  Eventually you will see different click-through and conversion metrics based off of the settings you choice, which will continually allow for bid optimization.   

Step Four:  Write Your Ad Units

With rather limited character counts for your headline and two lines of text, creating an ad that defines your product or service offering within the context of the keyword being searched can be a challenge, but honestly, it’s also kinda fun.  Try to make use of the ad group keyword theme in your copy. After writing some of these, developing an elevator speech will be a breeze!

Step Five:  Use Your Ads as a Research Tool

Because Google automatically serves your best-performing ads more frequently, your AdWords program can double as a great research tool, allowing you to test different copy phrasing and offer strategies.  Try running a minimum of three different versions of ad copy and pay attention to the ones that produce the highest click-through rate over time.  These ads will actually begin to cost you less per click, and can potentially achieve higher ad position over time.

Step Six: Monitor, Measure and Adjust

By continually measuring and tweaking your AdWords program, you’ll see consistent performance improvements, first via higher click thru rates and lower CPCs, and then, if you tie your AdWord analytics to your site analytics, you’ll be able to track KPIs and gain real ROI performance data. It’s your site performance that will truly determine your PPC success. As the site performs (drives leads, acquires sign ups, triggers downloads, etc…), you will be able to assign metric value to the money being spent to drive the traffic to your site in the first place.

Does it all seem overwhelming?  That’s not uncommon.  Learning how a car’s engine works doesn’t always foster the desire to build your own engine.  That’s why most folks will reach out to a professional mechanic to ensure top performance under the hood.  Drop us a line—our mechanics are always here to talk shop.


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