PPC campaigns take a great deal of planning before the ad goes live. If you thought it’s possible just to wing it and hope for the best, I must inform you otherwise. There are many steps to planning a successful PPC strategy, but many newcomers to the PPC arena – small business owners especially – simply don’t know what they don’t know.

And what you don’t know can hurt you. Small businesses typically have very limited marketing budgets (you do have a budget, right?) and need to make every penny count. The whole point of digital marketing is to ultimately grow revenues and increase profitability, two things that are impossible without a solid marketing strategy. Let’s take a closer look at the steps required to competently launch your very first PPC marketing campaign.

1. Identify Target Market Segments

Not unlike creating website content, the very first step, surprisingly, is not scouring Google for keywords. Instead, the very first thing you should do is identify your target audience, and you should be as specific as possible. Paying for PPC ads without knowing who to target is a fool’s errand.

Craft marketing personas so you can drill down and know exactly who you’re aiming for. Only after you know who you’re trying to reach can you then create PPC ads and copy. Otherwise, it’s unlikely you’ll succeed. Sure, a blind monkey finds a peanut every once in a while, but when it comes to digital marketing, you need to see what you’re aiming at.

2. Keyword Research

Only after you know who you’re aiming for can you then start to mine relevant keywords, but simply finding them in the Google keyword planner isn’t enough. Measure and judge each keyword you’re considering bidding on by its competition, and don’t assume the shortest keywords are best – because the competition is fierce.

Instead of bidding for keywords that are only two words long (with very few exceptions), try to find keywords that aren’t saturated with ads. Use a longtail keyword generator to find keywords that weren’t immediately obvious. Furthermore, you need to expend time and energy actually querying Google for the keywords you intend to use to scope out the competition.

3. Organize Keywords in a Spreadsheet

Keyword research can go off the rails and wander down dark alleys in an instant. It’s tough staying focused on your intended keywords and remembering which keywords you’re targeting for the duration of a campaign, so keep them sorted and organized in a spreadsheet. More specifically, create a spreadsheet with columns labeled, from left to right, as follows: exact match keyword, keyword variants, related keywords, competition strength, number of ads (as evidenced by your manual queries), top advertising competitor, and suggested bid.

Really dig deep and try to find the most effective keywords for your campaign, as long as they match up with your target audience(s) needs. The most effective keywords will not be immediately obvious, but doing your homework (and showing your work in a spreadsheet) will help identify opportunities that are more potent than short-tail generic keywords.

4. Carve Out Negative Keywords that Match User Intent

Did you know you can omit search results from Google’s SERPs by using the “-” symbol followed by keywords you wish to omit? For instance, if I wanted to search for products and omit all results from Amazon, I could issue the following query:

  • red leather boots -amazon

In this query, “-amazon” essentially acts as a negative keyword. With regards to PPC campaigns, a negative keyword signifies user-generated queries in which your ad will not appear. Basically, negative keywords act as a refinement tool, which is a godsend for filtering out unqualified leads.

The goal is to align negative keywords with user intent, specifically users who don’t want to take action – as qualified by their keywords. For instance, if you were creating ads to sell VPN subscriptions, would you really want your ads to appear in SERP’s for keywords like “free VPN tunnel?” Of course not, because the user’s intent is obviously to find something for free instead of seeking to find a quality subscription.

5. Compare Prospected Adwords Keywords with Your Budget

Set a budget, or be predestined for failure. Without accurate accounting and adequate planning, it’s darn near impossible to have an effective PPC marketing campaign. If you don’t know your numbers, calculating ROI is futile at best. Ask yourself a few questions. Is it feasible to bid for the most expensive adwords? What is your customer acquisition cost? Are you losing leads to the big dogs in your industry after a prospect bounces because your expensive adwords are littered with competition?

6. Yet Again, Query Manually and Write Ad Copy

Now that your campaign is solidified with a clear road map, it’s time to craft rock star ad copy. Query your keywords and snoop around to see what your competitors are doing with their ads, and look for ways to make your ad copy better.

Look for ways to boost credibility by tooting your own horn. If your business was featured in a credible and revered media source, magazine, or television, let your prospective leads know about it!

Most importantly, however, try to match your ad copy to user intent. Try to respond to their needs, and to help them feel better.

Instead of writing an alienating ad description, such as, “Click here to rid yourself of hideous belly fat,” write something that resonates with your audience, such as, “You’re not alone, weight loss is difficult for everyone. Get a free consultation today.” To create concise ad copy, I recommend using an adwords length tool.

7. Tailor a Landing Page for Your Audience

The next step is designing a landing page for your leads to visit. It’s a massive mistake and waste of money to direct them to the home page of your website.

Also, note that your landing page should have a clearly defined goal, and guide the leads to take a specific action of your choosing. Your landing page should be continually optimized to maximize the ROI of your PPC ad cost.

8. Constantly Readjust

You should always strive to make your PPC campaign more efficient – whether you’re running a relatively small or large campaign. Perform A/B testing as much as possible and see what works best. Rewrite ad copy, revise button content, and strive to optimize even the little things. To the newbies, PPC ad campaigns, after designed and written, seem like static entities – but it isn’t so.

Final Thoughts

If you want to advertise your business online but don’t know the best ways to efficiently market your business, reach out for the help of a qualified marketing professional with years of experience. Designing websites, PPC marketing campaigns, and social media marketing campaigns takes a lot of time and energy – two resources small business owners need to use running their business.