By Kent Lewis
The good news: you can setup and manage a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising program on Google, Yahoo! or MSN within minutes.
The bad news: you can setup and manage a PPC advertising program within minutes. That means anyone can set up a PPC program, which has led to higher overall cost, lower click-through rates and conversions. There is hope, however.
Developing and refining a PPC advertising management process is essential. It enables a company or individual to train, automate and scale a PPC program, compounding the ROI. There are four key components of a winning PPC advertising program: explore, evaluate, expand and enhance. By following the 4E process, you can virtually guarantee an ROI on your PPC advertising program.
The exploration phase requires information gathering and assessment, which includes historical PPC account data, internal Web analytics data and peripheral research on customers and competitors. Determining the amount of additional keyword and competitive market research depends on the quality and quantity of information collected in the initial research phase. The desired goal is to formulate a PPC advertising program test campaign that runs anywhere from two to four weeks in duration.
The evaluation phase consists of implementing the PPC program test strategy (keywords, text ads and associated landing pages) and monitoring performance. In this phase, the goal is to determine which keyword phrases, ad copy, landing pages and bid strategies have the greatest potential, and will serve as the foundation for the ongoing PPC advertising program.
The expansion phase focuses on leveraging insights from the evaluation phase to increase the number of keyword phrases in the overall PPC advertising program to generate the desired quantity of leads or sales without sacrificing conversion performance. For example, a test campaign may incorporate 50 keyword phrases, while the expanded campaign may include 500.
The enhancement phase involves constant tuning and tweaking of keyword phrases, text ad copy, landing page elements and bid strategies. Typically, this phase incorporates A/B or multivariate testing to ensure optimal PPC program performance. Developing a highly successful PPC advertising program is an iterative process that is never fully-optimized due to changes in the technology, industry and competitive landscape. As such, it is often necessary to cycle back to the exploration phase and test peripheral keywords, ad copy and landing page creative.
Once you’ve mastered the “4E process” concept for PPC advertising, the next step is to apply it to the core PPC advertising campaign elements: keywords, structure, copy, landing page, bid strategies and testing. Each of the following campaign elements are incorporated into each phase of the 4E process.
There are an abundance of tools and techniques for identifying possible keyword phrases. While compiling your list of keywords for testing in the evaluation phase, don’t forget to explore “tail” terms, which are typically 4 to 6 keywords in length and are highly focused. Although they generate less traffic, they are often more qualified, less expensive and have a higher conversion rate. Always look at your competitor’s sites and PPC advertising campaigns to enlighten your overall PPC strategy.
About the Author:
Kent Lewis is President of Anvil Media, Inc., a search engine marketing firm based on Portland, Oregon. He speaks regularly at industry conferences and covers emarketing-related topics for a variety of industry publications. Lewis is an adjunct professor at Portland State University and received Portland Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 Award in 2004.