Whether you use Google’s AdWords, Facebook Ads, or any other platform, integrating a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign as part of your overall online marketing strategy can help you supplement – or even replace – your traditional advertising strategy. Implemented correctly, PPC can be an extremely effective tool to help bring qualified, targeted traffic directly to your website. The problem, however, is that companies are often eager to jump onboard with PPC campaigns – but once they’re set up, they don’t know how to keep them running smoothly, efficiently and effectively.
The following steps outline a cycle that can help you keep your PPC campaign running at peak performance. Following this cycle on a regular basis serves as a sort of maintenance plan for your PPC campaign, helping it to continue getting better and better results as time goes on. How often this cycle should take place depends on your budget, but it’s generally recommended after the first 100-200 clicks, and then at the same regular intervals for the life of the campaign.
1. Identify and Pause Keywords that Under-Perform
The key to successful PPC campaigns is one that’s universal across almost every aspect of online marketing: carefully tracking and monitoring performance and analytics to find out what works and what needs to change. Start by examining Google Analytics to pinpoint the keywords that spent little time on the site. A good rule of thumb is to pause keywords that result in less than 10 to 15 seconds on the site with more than 50 visits.
2. Perform A/B Testing on Your Ads
A/B testing – or split testing – is a classic and effective testing method that compares two versions of a sample that contain one specific difference in an otherwise identical environment – and is an excellent way of gauging effectiveness in PPC campaigns. By creating a second similar version of your best performing ad, you can determine whether changing a specific part of the ad results in better click-through rates or conversions. However, if none of your ads are currently performing well, you may be better off scrapping your current ads and creating two completely different ads to test.
So what exactly should you be testing? Generally, A/B testing for PPC campaigns focuses on adjustments in the message content, including the headline, body copy, and call to action.
3. Research and Add New Keywords
For a PPC campaign to reach its true potential, keyword adjustment must be an ongoing part of the process. Continue to perform additional keyword research to add more – and better performing – keywords to your existing ad group and your new ad groups. Various trend tools such as Google Insights, Google Trends and even Twitter Search can help you discover new keywords that can help drive more traffic and increase conversions.
4. Adjust Your Bid Strategy As Needed
When your research has helped you to discover new keywords, and your analytics have told you what your best performers have been, it may be time to adjust your bids in order to stay competitive and realize the best results. Keep in mind that the best results for your campaign may not mean reaching for the top position; sometimes slightly lower positions – second through fourth position – are attainable at a significantly lower cost without sacrificing results.
5. Test Results with Optimized Landing Pages
With your ad copy, keywords and bidding strategy optimized for top performance, the next consideration should be a landing page that drives results. This is another instance where A/B testing can help you compare two versions of similar test subjects to determine which is more effective. With landing page testing and optimization, you might try adjusting a specific paragraph of the landing page content, text sizing, image choice, color schemes, or even the location of links and submission forms. When testing landing pages, as with all A/B tests, remember to only change one item at a time so you know what drove any difference in responses. Google’s Website Optimizer can be an excellent tool to help run and track these tests for your landing pages.