7 Ways to Improve Your PPC Campaign

If you’re a regular ETR reader, you probably know that the quickest way to start getting quality search engine traffic to your website is by launching a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. You also probably know that, executed correctly, a PPC campaign can be a great way to rev up sales for your online business.

Whether you’re experienced in PPC advertising or just getting ready to launch your first campaign, there are several performance-boosting strategies I want to let you in on today. Some of these techniques may seem pretty basic to those of you who are not new to PPC. But, trust me, it’s always good to take a second look at certain areas – no matter how much you already know. And don’t worry, I’m throwing in a couple of real juicy tips you may not have tried yet that are sure to quench your thirst for PPC performance.

Everything I cover below can be put to work whether you have a large or a small budget. So don’t be afraid to start testing.

2 Blockbuster Basics of PPC

* Keyword Selection

Several tools are available to help you choose keywords for your campaigns. These include WordTracker and Keyword Discovery, which you pay to use, and a free tool from Google. To use these tools, you simply enter a keyword or phrase that you’d like to target. The tool spits out a list of related terms and the volume of searches that each keyword has received in a 30-90 day timeframe.

Depending on your goals and your budget, you want to choose a combination of high-volume keywords and lower-volume, but more targeted, long-tail keywords. For instance, if you are in the health food industry, your high-volume keyword may be “health food” and a more targeted long-tail keyword could be “natural health food store.”

Refine and target even further by including negative keywords. If you run a health food store but you don’t deliver, you could add “delivery” as a negative keyword. That way, your PPC ad won’t show up for searches that include that word. By spending a little more time on research and keyword selection, you can vastly improve the number of sales you make, while controlling your budget.

* Refining Your Ad Copy

Now that you’ve spent that extra time targeting the right customers, be sure to capture their attention with compelling ad copy. Study your competitors’ ads. What do they have in common? What can you do to stand out amongst them?

To increase the clicks on your ad, be sure to include your targeted keywords in the copy. A quick and easy way to do this with Google AdWords is to use their Dynamic Keyword Insertion tool. Another option is to write a custom ad for each keyword. Try using quirky or funny language in your ad, experiment with punctuation, and, most important, include a call to action (“Get all the details here!”). The key to success is always to be testing.

Enough with the basics. Now… on to the cool stuff!

5 Little-Known-but-Powerful PPC Tactics

* Location Targeting

Most PPC campaign platforms offer a variety of location targeting options. Google AdWords is the most robust. Depending on what kind of business you’re running and in what part of the world you’re running it, the ability to laser-focus your campaign can make a big difference in its performance. Consider targeting by Country, Region, State, Zip Code, or even a radius around particular streets (which could be particularly useful if you have a local delivery business – a pizzeria, flower shop, or even a courier service).

Several factors may come into play when deciding where to target your PPC ads. Assuming no problem with your country’s business laws, potential language barriers, and your willingness to ship internationally, you may even choose to target worldwide. The important thing is to make sure you can successfully do business in the location(s) you target.

* Seasonal or Holiday Campaigns

If you have a tight budget, turning your PPC campaigns on and off based on seasons or holidays could be a great strategy for maximizing your ROI (return on investment).

Let’s say you run an online sporting goods store. In that case, you may want a campaign for summer sports and another one for winter sports. You’d turn on your ads for bathing suits and water skis in April and turn them off in August, when you’d turn on your snowboard ads.

Or let’s say you run a tiny print shop and sell custom greeting cards online. In that case, you could create targeted campaigns around Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas, and turn those campaigns on only for those big holidays. Again, the key is testing. Find out which holiday gets you the most bang for your buck.

* Dayparting

A close cousin to the seasonal campaign, dayparting is a fancy term for showing your ads during certain times of the day. Dayparting can play a pivotal role in making sure your ads appear during peak business hours and make the best use of your budget. Again, this could be particularly useful if you are running a local delivery service.

Dayparting can also be helpful when used in conjunction with analytics data. If, for example, you notice that your target customers tend to search for your keywords between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and noon, you may want to schedule your ads to run only during that time. A little tweak to your campaign using dayparting may just make a big difference in sales.

* Placement Targeting

Once called Site Targeting, Placement Targeting is specific to Google AdWords. Creating a Placement Targeted campaign will allow you to run ads on Google’s Content Network, but on a smaller scale. Placement Targeting allows you to choose which websites – or even which sections of a site – you want your ads to show on.

Placement Targeting is particularly useful if you are launching a new product that people aren’t yet searching for, or if you are in an industry that doesn’t receive a lot of search traffic. Perhaps you know what kinds of sites your audience visits. If those sites are in Google’s Content Network, you will be able to target them, without having to waste impressions on other underperforming sites in the network.

Placement Targeting is also a great strategy for testing out advertising on a site that has a rate card beyond your current budget.

* Multi-Channel Marketing

Finally, to really make your PPC campaigns sizzle, make them part of your larger synchronized marketing effort. Wendy Montes de Oca wrote about the importance of multi-channel marketing earlier this year, and her advice is as important now as ever.

By synchronizing the message you push in your PPC ads with the message in your PR, online media buys, and print advertising, you increase your company’s presence and solidify name recognition, branding, and trust. This increases the chance that searchers will recognize your products and company name and, therefore, see your PPC ad as coming from a viable company to do business with.

Whether you are just thinking about starting your first PPC campaign or have been managing one for a while, the above tips can really amp up clicks and sales while maximizing your allotted budget.

Just remember… to determine which PPC strategy is best for your online business, keep testing.

[Ed. Note: Alexis’s top-notch search engine marketing tips aren’t much use to you if you don’t have an Internet business. But you’re in luck! You can build your own Internet business from the ground up in 5 days. Learn how here.]

After graduating from Florida State University in 1997, Alexis got started in the golden age of the Internet marketing industry working agency-side where she performed everything from search engine optimization (SEO) to web analytics to media buying for several clients. She then took her expertise client-side managing SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) efforts, as well as other print and interactive marketing initiatives for companies in the financial and software industries.