Your Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns are creatures whose lives are constantly evolving. Factors such as seasonality, consumer trends, competition, demand and supply, and a multitude of other issues can mean that the environment your campaigns found themselves in last month is vastly different from the environment they find themselves in today.
In order to accommodate the perpetual changes in the lives of your PPC advertising, it is important to continually evaluate your performance and optimize for continued success.
So how do you give your PPC the TLC it deserves?
1). Define Goals – Before launching your campaigns, it is imperative to define clear goals. Ultimately, your PPC goals should closely align with your overall business objectives – whether your desired goals are based around sales and growth, efficiency, or brand exposure, these goals will ultimately govern how you run your campaigns. Make sure your goals are realistic and attainable.
2). Create a Strategy – Creating and implementing a strategy is an essential part of the planning process, and critical to executing a successful PPC campaign. Strategy will determine campaign components such as targeting relevant geographic areas, keyword selection, messaging that differentiates your business, and what search engines you will advertise on.
3). Evaluate Performance – Look at the metrics that are relevant to your goal(s). Remember that it does take a bit of time for your campaigns to gain momentum. PPC is a dynamic environment, so make sure you give them a chance to develop (we recommend 30-90 days) before coming to conclusions – previously a specific keyword might have incurred clicks but no conversions (thus looking completely ineffective), but that specific keyword might be one of the best converting keywords over the past 30 days.
4). Optimize – The key to any PPC advertising is optimization, which is crucial for campaigns that are performing poorly AND campaigns that are performing well (there truly is no finite end game in the world of PPC, so there is always room for improvement). Poorly performing campaigns may benefit from increased targeting, cost-per-click (CPC) bid changes, and keyword refinement, all of which should increase efficiency and profitability. Campaigns that are performing well might warrant budget increases, expansion of your geographic targeting to a larger audience, being parsed down further into more specific additional campaigns, or advertising in new channels, all of which will increase exposure and volume.
5). Revisit – It is also vital to revisit your goals seasonally – you may have a lot full of new vehicles in March, but come October you’ve got a ton of pre-owned vehicles on hand, and your goal has switched from pushing new vehicles to pre-owned. The strategy for marketing new vehicles is quite different than the strategy for marketing pre-owned vehicles; as your goals change for whatever reason, you will need to tweak your strategies in order for your campaigns to deliver the best return on investment (ROI).
A good (but a bit out of the ordinary) example of the importance of accommodating changes in the lives of campaigns occurred in March of this year when the earthquake in Japan halted production for several auto makers. With few new vehicles in stock, many dealers changed their goals and strategies – no longer did it make sense to devote a large portion of their PPC budget to new vehicles when inventory was scarce. They had to redefine and re-strategize to make it work; those that didn’t probably saw a large dip in their account performance.
Sure your campaigns will continue to run and possibly convert if you just “set it and forget it.” But they won’t be performing anywhere near to the best of their ability if content grows stale and online and offline strategies aren’t synchronized. Maximizing ROI should be every business’/advertiser’s goal, so remember the importance of actively managing your campaign performance. With an advertising medium as dynamic as paid search, making changes is easy, and a strategically-driven analysis will find any areas for improvement or re-alignment.
By Lori Waldman, Search Engine Marketing Analyst at Dealer.com