If you’re reading this, then the chances are you already know that PPC marketing can be a very effective way to get the name of your business in front of potential new customers at precisely the right time.

However, to be successful, your search engine marketing campaign needs to target user search queries with relevant ads and relevant landing pages.

Background to article
This 7-step guide to success is built on our belief that a strong connection between a user’s search intent and ad copy, continuing through to the landing page is key. In achieving this connection, search marketers can help develop the connection users have to the brand by fulfilling their needs.

This diagram shows how a well-connected PPC user journey results in heightened brand awareness and brand engagement.

Follow these seven simple steps to ensure your ads get top positions within Google and Bing, while keeping the cost per click as low as possible.

Generate relevant keyword lists

Put yourself in the mind of your target audience – what words and phrases would they search for?

You need realistic terms that not only reflect what users might search for, but also reflect the contents of your site.  It’s about matching the objective you want to achieve with the intention of the user and choosing keywords that bridge the two.  Use the Google Keyword Planner to research the best keywords.

In the table below we have explained this using example keywords to choose and avoid for some hypothetical scenarios.

The Google Autocomplete feature is also useful. Using our luxury holiday agency as an example, if you type ‘luxury cruise’ into the Google search box, it automatically shows you a selection of similar phrases people have searched for, such as search terms that include place names, the year or specific months. You may also see terms you might want to exclude as negative keywords (see below).

Google Autocomplete result for “luxury cruises”.

Identify your negative keywords

As well as targeting the right keywords, it’s important to exclude keywords that are not useful (negative keywords), so your ads do not show to the wrong audience. This can improve the quality of your ads, keep your ad account healthy, and enable good performance.

Negative keywords largely fall in to two groups:
1. Terms that apply to most businesses, including terms related to unsuitable material, where you want to guarantee your ad will not appear, such as swear words. Generic lists of these can be found online.
2. Terms specific to your product or industry which could have a general association with your business, but that are irrelevant to your campaign. See some examples in the table below.

Calculate the size of the opportunity, so you can target all relevant searches.

To ensure prospective customers can find you, you need to appear against all relevant search queries. To do this, you’ll need to understand the size of the opportunity and then set an appropriate budget.

This sounds like a daunting task. But thankfully, Google’s Keyword Planner once again has the tools to help. Begin by entering your keywords and negative keywords in to the keyword “volume data” and “forecasts” sections of the tool.  You can also enter the locations you want your ads to show in and the date ranges over which you want forecasts (see below).

The search volume results can be downloaded to Excel. You may want to adjust the data to factor in your anticipated approach. For instance, you may want to adopt an aggressive position on strategy with your ads, and therefore anticipate higher click-through rates and costs-per-click than through output by the keyword planner. By understanding the scale of the opportunity up front, you can ensure you have enough budget available before you begin. It’s also a good idea to apply themes / campaigns to the lists of keywords, so you can understand how the opportunity is broken down. See below.

Create a granular account structure

Create campaigns that reflect your site structure or main product/service lines.
Within those campaigns, create sub-divisions, known as ‘ad groups’, to further segment your target audiences.

Ads in each of your ad groups can then be tailored to users’ search queries and intentions, so your ads match the user query.

Write effective ad copy

Ad copy ties everything together. It is the link between your well-targeted ads and your website.

Top tips for writing good ad copy:
• Use keywords from the search query in one of the headlines
• Use elements of the keywords in path 1 or path 2 (fields that belong to the display URL)
• Promote key benefits to using your company, such as current offers or discounts
• Ensure your ad copy ties back to your underlying objective
• Stay within the search engine’s ad policy to prevent your ad from being disapproved.
For example, avoid words such as ‘click’ and don’t use emoticon/emoji language, repetition or excessive punctuation.

You could also use ad extensions to increase the effectiveness of your ad.
Ad extensions for a luxury travel agency could include:

• A location extension to show where the nearest branch is
• A phone number extension – particularly useful for mobile users
• Sitelinks to specific pages of the site, such as ‘current deals’ and ‘popular right now’
• Structured snippets to show different types of holiday sold

Choose relevant landing pages

The landing page your ad links to needs to be the most relevant landing page for that user’s search query.
In the example below, you would send the user to the Mediterranean cruises page:

Ensure you can collect and analyse search data. And be prepared to use it!

Creating a seamless user experience, from search query through to advert and landing page, can be refined over time. By monitoring the data analytics for your campaign – how many people are clicking your ad, which search terms are generating most clicks, which landing pages are people spending most time on, for example, you can tailor your strategy to focus even more precisely on your target audiences.

Three key ways to arm yourself with data around which you can refine your campaign are:
1. Use more than one – and preferably three – variations of ad copy per ad group.
2. Upload audience lists to your Adwords account and apply them against each campaign. For example, users who visited our travel site over 90 days ago but never purchased, users who purchased over 11 months ago, users who spent more than five minutes in the Mediterranean Cruise section.
3. Test different landing pages.

The data you gain is incredibly useful for honing your campaigns, like knowing which ad copy leads to a higher click-through rate than others. You may find that users who have visited your site several times in the past week are twice as likely to book a holiday, so you may double the amount you spend on this audience list. Other useful data could include performance by device, time of week or user location, for example.

You can use these six types of data to target your spend towards the most lucrative areas. This will not only help you, but it will also help the users most suited to your business find you. It’s all about matching: helping users that match your business find the products or services you offer that match their needs. After all, that’s what marketing is all about!

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