Quite often I see various online campaigns that we should “optimize” because they do not achieve the results as they should or what they owners was hoping for. You could say that there is always the problem of maximizing the impact of the adwords campaign. In most cases the solution to this problem is, in theory, quite simple but at the same time it is quite tricky to apply in reality.
Depending on type of campaign(s), how many targeted countries there are, what is the budget for each of the markets (country) or for a particular product, if the budget is limited, do we have outlined an investment plan… – so much will be a different plan of optimization for PPC campaign. Every optimization has a few simple stages.
But first things first. Let’s say you are starting your first campaign. What’s the first thing you should do? Even before you put your first word or an ad in the AdWords system? Research and planning. This is so simple and above all a very important stage/phase which many of other agencies do not implement properly or in a correct way.
Research for PPC campaigns
Market research is the most basic stage before the “construction” of our campaign. At my lectures I always use a very simple comparison. What would you say if I asked you what is the most important “part” in the case of construction of the house? Many have responded to this question with “concrete walls”, “roof that does not leak”, “wife’s kitchen” and so on.
Although some of these parts of the house are very important (especially in the case of wife’s kitchen) many have not remembered that the most important part of the house is its foundations. The foundations are the ones to which everything else binds. If the foundations are not well-built then even if you have the best concrete walls in the world your house will look crocked. And we certainly do not wish for our wife to constantly complains about the inclined walls in her kitchen, do we?
We could say that, in the case of a online campaigns, research is of very great importance. For example, if you did not well explored all keywords that are being searched on the search engines and that are relevant for your “offer” – you can totally miss targeting of your adwords (PPC) campaigns. And if you miss the target of your campaigns – you threw money in totally wrong direction.
Sometimes this stage can take a lot of time. The research is not just about keyword research but also about deals offered on the (client) website. Sometimes it is important to be “familiar” with the services and products offered on the website. If you know them, then you will know what kind of person would want to buy such offer/product. If you made enough effort on this stage and made research as it should be – then all the subsequent steps will be a lot easier.
Planning the online campaign
Based on the results that we get during the research phase we are making the advertising plan. This plan consists of several separate parts, where each one of them, in its own way, affects the final results of the campaign. Of course, one should be aware that sometimes we do not have enough information on which we could, with certainty, correctly predict what will happen.
In other words, sometimes the planning of advertising must be done with so-called “Best educated guess” – these are not predictions based on data that was not researched (because there are none), but based on our experience and knowledge in the field of marketing that we have collected over the past years. It should be noted that this predictions in most cases are quite accurate, but there are also times when they are not.
However, one should know that the planning phase is cyclically repeating in the process of optimization of digital campaigns – look at the last image in this post. Even in cases where our initial predictions were not entirely correct, we can use the specific data from active campaigns and use that data as basis on which we shall subsequently change plan of advertising.
Planning stage may consist of planning the advertising time (day time, week, month…), what kind of campaign we shall use (search, video, mobile, display…), the structure of the campaign, projected advertising budget (taking into account competition and average price per click), provided budget for targeted markets (countries), deciding which metrics to be measured and so on…
Remember – no matter how it is made, it is still true that any plan is better than the plan that does not exist!
In the case of “wife’s kitchen” we could say that only wife knows the full plan which is changed at regular intervals (every week when she looks at the latest TV shows about house arrangement) and therefore it is the best (and easiest) to let the wife do all the planning.
Creating PPC campaign
Based on our plan we are starting with construction of the campaigns and their structures. This stage in the process is quite complicated and time consuming. However, it is time consuming only during this first set-up. If it is properly made by following some basic rules, such as the naming of campaigns, ad groups and ads, any subsequent changes are very easy and fast.
Here we can say that the basic concept is to make the best we can in the beginning only that we could later have the simpler job. Unfortunately, many at this stage “skip” those things for which they knew it would be good to do.
If the creation of campaign is not done in correct way then the whole campaign will suffer from inadequate performance but also from its subsequent optimization. Because optimization is greatly hampered if even the author of campaign can not navigate in the sea of information, campaigns, ads and targeted phrases. This case is more evident if there was no plan (or proper research) during the initial setup of the campaign.
If we worked according to plan then even our wife can not say anything if we, for example, set the tiles with floral pattern in her kitchen (according to her plan) but since then she has changed that plan and now she requires the tiles with the modern pattern.
The next stage is actually quite simple and relatively easy, provided that all the previous stages are made according to the rules. In this stage we are collecting information from active campaigns. This data is not limited only to data from campaigns but we also look at the data from statistical tools – tools with which you are monitoring your website (Google analytics).
It is very important to constant monitor how the campaigns are “acting” at this stage. Sometimes it can happen that we see totally unexpected behavior and results of the campaigns – at that moment it is important to immediately react and make changes to the campaign itself.
For example, depending on how loudly (and often) our wife complains about the tiling – we will immediately remove all the tiles with floral patterns.
Data analysis of online campaigns
Based on these data we are making conclusions as to whether the campaign was successful, what worked, what could be better and so on. At this stage, we try to pay attention to all “components” of the campaign. From targeted words & phrases through actual queries that have occurred to cost per conversion and return on investment.
Sometimes we reach certain results that were not in line with our expectations. If we do not see a real reason for that results then it is very important to re-examine all campaign settings and the plan itself. Sometimes it happens that we failed to notice certain facts during research stage.
Analysis, if the initial stages (research, planning, development) are made according to some basic rules, is very simple. Otherwise, our analysis can come to all the wrong conclusions. Erroneous conclusions on which we must make decisions for future advertising.
We can say that only at this stage the real optimization is starting. However, one should bear in mind that optimization simply would not be possible without all the previous stages. For example, if you just recently took over PPC campaign (which was managed by some other agency) it was very important to first go through all the previous stages in order to see if the campaign was well made (planned) from start.
Based on data analysis we are making decisions for future advertising – and for changes that needs to be done to campaigns. For example, if wife stopped to complain about the tiles in the kitchen (which we removed the day before) but now began to complain of too high ceiling for exactly 5 inches – then we know what to do next (optimize) 🙂
The whole process is repeating. Research, provided that it was properly done at the beginning, is not part of this process in the same sense. The research is still done but we might say that it is now part of the planning and preparation/changing (of the campaigns) stage.
For example, it is necessary to investigate (research) all queries for which our ads have triggered and then to exclude those that are not relevant to our offer. Or, let’s say that in the case of limited budgets we need to research what keywords are bringing/leading to conversions and then separate them to specific campaigns.
After we have changed the campaign according to plan (which was based on an analysis of data) we continue to gather new data from now optimized campaigns. All stages are now cyclic continuing over time.
In short, we could say that the whole concept of PPC campaign optimization is very simple, and that it could be summed up in just a few words:
Test – Analyse – Application – Test again
Although many will recognize this concept, unfortunately, many did not even try to apply it to their campaigns. Is it due to lack of time (personnel) or simply laziness – I do not know. But I do know that often happens that our customers ask us questions on just how we were able to raise revenue for the 20, 30 or more than 100%.
The answer is simple, you just have to know how to apply in the real world.
If you are interested in additional information about optimizing your campaign – feel free to contact us.