The 4 Pillars of a Successful PPC Campaign

The web is full of great articles covering the myriad of advanced PPC techniques and features. I’ve written a few myself.

Every now and then, though, we all need to remember the basics that are the framework behind every successful PPC campaign. And if you’re new to PPC, step away from the AdWords interface now and take a look at these mainstays before you do another thing with PPC.

Pillar 1: Goal Setting

Setting goals is the cornerstone for your PPC campaign. Without clear, measurable goals, your campaign will be built on quicksand.

Before logging in to AdWords, take the time to think about what you want to accomplish with PPC. Is it selling products, generating leads, increasing awareness, or something else? The point: don’t skip this step, or your whole campaign may collapse on your head.

Pillar 2: Keywords

Much has been written about keyword research. Yet new PPC advertisers still slip up when it comes to this pillar of a campaign.

Building Block 1: Match Types

Educate yourself on the various match type options. A lot of new advertisers struggle with the mechanics of keyword match types and how they affect ad serving, and their campaigns are either too restrictive (all exact match) or too broad (all broad match). This isn’t a “one size fits all” thing, either – just like a builder uses different nails on the roof than they do on the finish carpentry, PPC advertisers need to use all match types.

Building Block 2: Negative Keywords

OK, technically this is also a match type, but it’s so critical that it gets its own building block. I can always tell when a campaign was set up by an inexperienced advertiser, because the campaign is using all broad match, and has no negative keywords.

Here’s a simple example: you’re selling something online, and are using PPC to promote it. At a minimum, you’ll need one negative keyword: “free.” Without this negative, your ad will show up on searches for “free {whatever it is you’re selling}.” How do you think that will perform? Like a house built out of plywood, maybe?

Pillar 3: Ad Copy

Most keywords will be relevant for a decent number of advertisers; even branded terms often have competitors bidding on them. How do you set yourself apart from the pack? Simple: write good ad copy.

Building Block 1: Unique Selling Proposition

The best way to set yourself apart from the competition is to include your USP in your ad copy. This alone should make you stand out from the pack, as long as it’s really a USP and not a slogan (which a lot of people confuse for a USP).

Building Block 2: Call to Action

Anyone who’s taken Sales Training 101 will tell you that you won’t close many sales if you don’t ask for the order. PPC is no different – for your ads to be truly successful, they need a call to action.

Below are a few examples of ads on a search for “air purifiers.” The first two ads have the call to action “Buy Now!” But the third ad has no call to action – only a few uninteresting facts about the product.


Pillar 4: Landing Page

All the advertising in the world, of any type, isn’t going to increase conversions if you can’t deliver the goods. In a brick-and-mortar store, facets like merchandise display, store layout, and sales staff skill will affect your sales.

Online, your landing page does the merchandising, layout, and selling. Therefore, it’s crucial to send your PPC traffic to a page that makes sense to the user – a page where they can take the desired action with few distractions.

Building Block 1: Relevance

First and foremost, the landing page must be relevant. If I searched for air purifiers, don’t send me to the QVC homepage where I have to perform a few more searches to find what I already searched for once. Send me to a page where I can buy an air purifier!

Building Block 2: Call to Action

Yes, like 2x4s in home construction, the call to action has multiple places in the PPC process. Not only does ad copy need a CTA, but the landing page does too. You’ve already paid for the visitor to get to your website – don’t squander the opportunity to close the sale by forgetting a call to action!

Building Block 3: Tracking

All the pillars I’ve mentioned so far are useless without accurate conversion tracking. Leaving off this critical building block is like building a house without a roof – all the best construction and finishing in the world is going to go to waste if it gets ruined after the first hard rain. Same thing with your PPC campaigns – if you can’t tell what’s working and what isn’t, don’t even bother!

Make sure you have conversion tracking in place before you pay for the first click on an ad. There are lots of great analytics packages out there, and some of them are free. At a minimum, install the free conversion tracking scripts offered by the PPC engines.

With the proper pillars in place, you’re ready to launch your campaign! Happy selling!

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