An Essential PPC Marketing Checklist

Keyword advertising on Google, Yahoo and other search engines is paid media. But I think new advertisers often fail to plan for this expense, particularly if they’re planning to spend less than $1000/month. But even $50/month adds up – that’s $600 after a year! (hooray for grade school math!!)

Why give Google any money at all if you don’t plan to maximize your investment in the traffic you’re paying for?

This is a classic case of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” It’s really easy to launch a paid search campaign, but NOW is not always the right time to do it.

So to ensure you’re not just wasting money (and fattening up our Google overloards in the process) here’s an essential list of ducks you should have in a row BEFORE launching your PPC campaign.

  1. Have a decent landing page (and I don’t mean your home page!).

    Look, I’m not criticizing your home page. I’m sure it’s beautiful and well-thought out. Really – I’m not just saying that! But your home page isn’t always the most appropriate place to link your ads to. Take some time to figure out the best place to link your ads so that the pages support the keywords you’re bidding on AND the ad copy. It will make both Google and your potential customers happy.

  2. Prepare your site, your staff and yourself for the potential onslaught of new traffic.

    Think about it. If you planned on dropping $1500 on a newspaper ad promoting a sale at one of your bricks and mortar retail locations, you’d prepare for the ad by ensuring that the sale was actually taking place. You’d likely put up signs throughout the store which promoted the sale and perhaps used the same images and language as your ad. You’d educate your sales people about the sale to make sure they were ready to help potential customers. You should absolutely take this approach when running PPC ads. Make sure that your web site reinforces whatever the ads are promoting. Make sure that the keywords you’re buying (and people are using to find your site) appear on the landing page because this helps searchers realize they’re in the right place. Educate your customer service folks (or receptionists or sales people) that there may be people coming in from the online ads that have questions. Otherwise you’ll likely have more drop off than you want and that’s just no way to maximize your ad dollars.

  3. Figure out how you’re going to track campaign results BEFORE you launch the campaign, then implement and test the tracking prior to launch.

    Google offers free conversion tracking to all advertisers – it’s a simple piece of Javascript that can be placed on any page of your site (but true conversion tracking means the code is placed on the confirmation page a visitor receives after making a purchase, registering or filling out a form.) If you’re already using analytics software, there’s usually an easy way to track online campaigns – look into it and implement it. Otherwise you’ll be operating your campaign in the dark.

  4. Figure out what you’re going to do with all that traffic.

    Okay, what I mean by this is that it’s important to understand what your campaign goals are – whether leads, sales, sign ups or a combination of all three. Don’t just throw a campaign up and hope for the best – really think about what you want to gain from this campaign. Traffic without a clear conversion goal is just an unnecessary expense. If you don’t do something with that traffic, you’re going to become discouraged with paid search and assume that it’s failed. If you’re selling something complicated or high ticket (e.g., $2000 training seminars, $3500 software packages, $10,000 vacation getaways), consider using search to generate leads and get people into the sales funnel, rather than to generate direct sales. Most people want to speak with someone before spending that kind of money. If you’re selling lower cost items (e.g, an e-book, children’s clothing, a DVD on knitting, etc.), then make sure your landing page communicates the value of your offering before flipping the switch to your campaign.

  5. Well, that was kind of a short checklist. I may add to it, but for now I think if you can cross off all of the above before you launch, then you’re in a great position to truly monetize your paid search advertising dollars. For more details about how to launch a campaign, visit my shiny new site