The title of this article is extremely provocative and with specific intent. There was a reason why I selected such context and it wasn’t for a self-endorsement by any means but rather to emphasize upon the importance of a strategic approach to PPC advertising. An outcome of a recent discussion regarding PPC tactics that really got me thinking. According to a recent report published in Q1 of 2014 Bing PPC spend grew by 60% Y-O-Y while Google spend rose 29%. Quite an exponential growth when you consider the millions or maybe even billions of dollars spent on Google AdWords or Yahoo|Bing Ads Network. If you’re considering a digital strategy, PPC should be a companion within your online marketing initiatives.

Recently I gave a guest lecture on PPC to a group of students and marketing professionals. It was intended to be an overview of Pay-Per-Click marketing, elaboration upon the fundamentals of building a proper campaign, and discussion of best practices on strategic campaign development. The first 15-20 minutes into the lecture were smooth sailing. Everyone was being attentive with their eyes and ears peeled so things were moving along quite well. Right on! Then, suddenly things took an unexpected turn in diverting the attention of the audience into a completely different direction. Judging by the body language and participation it nearly felt like each and every single attendee developed a sudden case of A.D.D. No, really! Like the stroke of midnight on a clock it nearly happened in such fashion. That was the breaker where I lost the attention of my audience.

So, with the change in winds I quickly came to the realization of a couple of a things that have been on mind recently in terms of PPC strategy.

PPC Is Not Entertaining, Fun, or Comedic (Sadly!)

For example, unlike social media marketing, PPC unfortunately is a boring advertising medium to discuss unless you’re a statistician, data analyst, or simply an analytical individual. If you think about it, from a human nature perspective, we enjoy things that make us laugh, entertain us, and are humorous in some way or form. Those core human principles trickle into the business world. Well, discussing Pay-Per-Click marketing and getting deep into strategic keyword research, competitor analysis, and market research simply does not sound too appealing.

Strategize for Success & Longevity in Your PPC Campaign

Anything worthwhile in the digital world started with a strategy. For example, if you think about wealth management and planning for retirement. While acquiring a savings account may give you a jumpstart on retirement savings and help you save a few bucks in the short-term, for the long-term you need a path to success. A strategy for long-term savings and wealth accumulation is essential to ensure that in the end it’s worthwhile the investment. With PPC initiatives you can definitely make a quick buck if you have a remote understanding of how to put together a quick campaign but in the end you’ll spend your budget much quicker. So, before diving both feet in the water, here’s a couple of things to consider before pouring all your budget down the drain:

  • Define your goals and objectives for a PPC campaign. Are you seeking more traffic, sales, phone calls, conversions?
  • Perform market research to gain a clear understanding of the current landscape.
  • Asses your competition and gain better clarity on their existing PPC initiatives. Consider the top 3 direct competitors as a starting point.
  • Project anticipated time frame for campaign brainstorming, setup, implementation, and deployment.
  • Identify appropriate resources for the development of a holistic PPC campaign.

Hire Someone Who Knows What They’re Doing with PPC

As I stated above in this article, self-endorsement was unintended, but rather to assist those who are interested or considering PPC as a viable avenue of advertising. Hiring someone who offers seasoned expertise in the PPC area will serve in the best interest of overall campaign success. For example, if your car or truck requires maintenance, then a DIY approach may seem feasible for the time being but in the long-run far more time consuming and costly. “How do you figure that out?, you ask.

By the time you identify the issue, entertain a potential solution, acquire necessary essentials for implementing the solution, and then finally executing upon it, you’d have spent more time and resources on such endeavor instead of scheduling an appointment with the dealership and dropping vehicle off for diagnosis. The punch line here is that while you can strategize, learn, research, setup, implement, and execute a PPC campaign, by the time you’re finished with each of those steps of the process, chances are you’ll be overwhelmed, mentally exhausted, frustrated, and most likely dissatisfied. In the end results will vary most likely not as favorable as you anticipated.

Patience Is a Virtue!

When it comes to PPC, most people expect an instant ROI without any recollection of the ramifications in running a successful campaign. It doesn’t quite work that way unfortunately! It takes approximately 3 months for the average new PPC campaign to fully mature. Consider this a growing up phase as an infant to a toddler. One thing to also keep into consideration especially with Google is that the 3 month maturity phase I mentioned above is also utilized as likability measure. Google’s main objective is ensuring a succinct user experience when each end-user interacts with its platform. Therefore, the new campaign you’ve just created requires some time for adjustment and development of unique user perception.

Attention to Detail Helps Generate Results

One of the most tedious components of running a PPC campaign is the extensive attention to detail that factors into each individual campaign. Small campaigns require lesser attention to detail than larger ones. However, even the smallest of campaigns require some type of ongoing proactive management to ensure proper upkeep. Platforms such as Google AdWords are versatile enough providing advanced capabilities for advertisers to assist with somewhat of an autonomous approach. For example, the ability to create segmented bidding strategies allowing you to automate certain campaigns to allow more time for directing your attention elsewhere.

Budget Intelligently, Compensate Accordingly

Budgeting for a targeted traffic initiative is a hard pill to swallow. Not only for a CEO, CFO, but even a CMO. The analogy is “Spend less, get more” but unfortunately in the PPC world that can quite commonly be a false perception. Budget projects for a PPC strategy always tangles things up and creates plenty of headaches for all parties involved. Precisely another reason why working with a seasoned PPC professional will ensure a strategic and efficient approach to budgeting for such endeavor.

Here’s a quick formula to utilize in determining a suitable budget for a potential PPC account:

Monthly Budget / Avg. CPC x Conversion Rate (~ 1.5%) x Avg. Sale Amount = Net Revenue

The above formula only indicates the anticipated Net Revenue though and excludes any expenses such as production costs. Now, let’s refine those numbers by utilizing a different formula to identify the projected Gross Profit.

Net Revenue x 65% (Product revenue after production costs) – Click Charges – Management Fees = Gross Profit

Here’s the kicker though. In my nearly 10 years experience in the PPC world, I’m yet to work with a client who positively perceives the outcome of any of the above formulas. Net Revenue at times may be pleasing but Gross Profit is always dissatisfying. If you’re intending on running a PPC account in a heavily competitive industry then you better dig deep in your pockets for a hefty budget. For example, the automotive industry Average CPC nears $200 therefore it’s most definitely a playground for big dogs.

What are your PPC struggles? I’d love to hear more about them.