How to make your first AdWords PPC campaign a success

Phil Vallender avatar
Phil Vallender

Mar 28, 2017

How to make your first AdWords PPC campaign a success feature image

Most business owners try Google AdWords Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising at some point.

PPC is a powerful tactic and can be a valuable component of an inbound strategy.

But if your first campaign isn't a success, it can leave a negative impression of PPC, closing the door on the results it can offer.

Making that first campaign a success is crucial to your enjoyment of PPC's benefits.

The trouble is that nearly every PPC campaign we see suffers from the same set of basic problems that limit performance and prevent success.

If you're about to give PPC a try for the first time, follow these simple guidelines for the best chance of achieving good results and a sound reason to pursue PPC in the long term.

Read our Introduction to B2B Inbound Marketing here and learn all about this  powerful approach to generating leads and sales.

These recommendations are organised in the order they should be addressed, not necessarily in terms of greatest impact. For the best results, follow them all.

Set up a shared budget

Budgeting is one of the first problems that makes new PPC advertisers stumble.

You probably have a total monthly budget in mind - which has to be converted into a daily budget for AdWords purposes. If you then go and create multiple AdWords campaigns, you now have to decide how to divide your budget between them, with no idea how each is going to perform.

Splitting your budget evenly or arbitrarily can leave high performing campaigns underfunded while poorly performing ones consume too much. This should be avoided until you have data to inform the setting of individual budgets

The solution is to create a shared budget – a single pot of money that can be assigned to multiple campaigns.

This allows you to invest your intended budget while giving all campaigns the opportunity to share their potential.

Campaigns that perform well will consume more of your budget than those that don't – which is exactly what you want.

To create a shared budget in AdWords:

  • Click on Shared Library in the left hand menu
  • Click on Budgets in the menu that appears
  • Click the '+ budget' button
  • Give your new budget a name and a daily budget amount
  • Click Save

To apply your shared budget, when creating a campaign or in campaign settings:

  • In the budget section select Apply a Budget from the Shared library
  • Select your shared budget by name
  • Click Save

Full instructions for creating and managing your shared budgets here.

Only separate campaigns if you need to

Having multiple campaigns introduces duplicate settings that need to be configured and monitored and that can affect performance positively or negatively. Limit yourself to as few campaigns as possible initially.

You don’t need separate campaigns to target different groups of keywords, run a range of different ads or even send traffic to different web pages - this can all be done at the adgroup level.

You will want to create separate campaigns if:

  • You have multiple budgets that you need to allocate separately
  • You want to separate reporting for different products, services, business lines, etc.
  • You need different campaign settings to achieve a goal

Examples of settings that have to be made at the campaign level include geographic targeting, ad rotation settings and bid strategies.

Make your adgroups smaller

It’s a common misconception that adgroups need to have a large number of keywords in them to work.

The assumption is that each adgroup needs a high total search volume so that its ads have a high chance of being seen and clicked.

But the opposite is true.

Creating larger adgroups forces you to include keywords that, while being related to the theme of the adgroup, are not similar to it.

These keywords are less likely to be a good match with the text ads in the group, which should feature the core keywords. This negatively affects quality scores, worsening ad positions and reducing the click through rate.

Your adgroups should be small, with only a few closely related and very similar keywords in them.

Adgroups with five keywords are just fine. Heck, even adgroups with one keyword are fine. As long as the keywords in your adgroup have some search volume.

You do not need thousands of potential monthly searches in order to spend your entire daily budget on good quality clicks.

Don’t use broad match

Lots of campaigns are launched with large numbers (see above) of broad match keywords.

Broad match means that almost any search query similar to or containing one of your keywords can trigger your ads.

A broad match approach will get you a lot of impressions, and possibly a lot of clicks, but the click through rate and the quality of those clicks will be horrible.

For the time being, make all your keywords phrase match.

By making your keywords phrase match, you ensure that a search query must contain your entire keyword phrase, in the order you specify, to trigger your advert to show.

A phrase match approach will result in higher click through rates and better quality clicks.

Exact match provides even greater control but is too strict for most campaigns initially as you don't know exactly what search terms are going to result in impressions and clicks for your ads.

To make your keywords phrase match, make sure each one is surrounded by quote marks.

Use negative keywords

While phrase match gives the best balance of range and control for most campaigns initially, it can still show your ads for searches that you probably do not want to pay for clicks from.

At campaign level, so that they apply to all adgoups, add negative keywords such as:

  • Free
  • Cheap
  • Download
  • Jobs
  • Careers

And any others that are relevant to your business.

Track conversions, not just clicks

Following the recommendations above you will build a better PPC campaign, that generates a better click-through rate and higher quality clicks.

Conversions, however, are more valuable than simple clicks. So it makes good sense to monitor lead generation on your website from PPC and to optimise campaigns around this data.

Conversion tracking in Google AdWords can be used to automate some aspects of campaign optimisation, but it is anonymous and a little tricky to set up.

Full instructions for setting up conversion tracking in Google AdWords can be found in the Track Sales and Other Conversions section of the Google AdWords help.

Setting up conversion tracking in Google AdWords requires you to:

  • Create conversions events in Tools > Conversions in Google AdWords
  • Add conversion tracking codes to web pages that represent conversions, such as thank you pages
  • Edit campaign settings, if you wish, to adapt campaign performance based on conversion data

If you use HubSpot, you can use the Ads Add-on to track PPC clicks through to the creation of individual contacts, with ease.

This will let you optimise your campaigns around the most valuable leads, albeit more manually than with Google AdWords conversion tracking.

Final thoughts

The recommendations presented here will ensure that your first Google AdWords campaigns give you meaningful results and a positive impression of the medium.

The next step is to continually monitor and refine your campaigns.
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