PPC Presence – 28 Hard Learned Tips

12 tips for Brands, 12 tips for Non-brands, and 4 bonus tips for Both

This isn’t a post for PPC newbies. I’m not going to include an entry list of what you should do to get started in PPC, I’m just going to dive straight into a few things that I’ve learned over the years… Please bear in mind post is aimed at single businesses, not multi-site affiliates, though you never know…

If you have a well known brand name – 12 Thoughts:

  1. Your brand terms need to be matched with branded and verifiable adcopy, throw in those ® and ™ symbols, and make use of the word ‘Official’.
  2. Advertise on all possible spelling variations. I know of one variation that cost a company 37c for the year and generated over $1K in PPC based revenue.
  3. Use any relevant claims you can verify on-page in your adcopy: ‘76% of Americans Prefer our Blinds…’; ‘#1 Rated Kids Learning Craft in the US’; etc…
  4. Test these claims against more audience targeted ad copy, against more keyword rich adcopy, and against more ‘sensationalist’ adcopy.
  5. Have a targeted landing page for each adcopy variation. Test them all against the same landing page, one page after another.
  6. Take the top two performers and test again.
  7. If the results are significant in terms of difference, use the winner and start optimization and conversion testing on the winning page and adcopy.
  8. Don’t only work to ROAS, especially in a big brand where you have a budget and reallocation may not be so easy. Clearly spending $2m and making $4m is better in terms of pure profit than spending $0.5m and making $2m, but the ROAS for the latter is better (4:1 vs 2:1). IF you can efficiently and effectively reallocate the $1.5m spend difference to other marketing spend opportunities that provide a return of greater than 2:1, you are positively contributing to the company’s bottom line. But If you have to spend it all, then focus on both ROAS and profit. I’ve experienced both situations, and eventually try to work towards reallocation as it’s better for the business as a whole.
  9. Dedicate adgroups to each product line and product type – from the highest to the lowest level, assuming your site is structured in a relevantly hierarchical way. So have a campaign for ‘cameras’, and adgroups for (non-exhaustive iullustrative list) ‘digital cameras’, ‘video cameras’, ‘digital video cameras’, ‘nikon digital camera’, ‘canon digital camera’, ‘compare digital cameras’ etc. Use phrase and exact match more as you get more specified. Keep the broader terms to the top level, but be very careful with broad terms and watch their ROAS in particular. I cut a particularly relevant term that was broad, phrase and exact matched by our previous agency after checking the data for the past 12 months. With an ROAS of 27cents on the dollar, there was no point in continuing with that term.
  10. Unless you have money to burn, or a dedicated budget to ‘blow’ on brand awareness or for a specified non-return campaign, aim for a minimum ROAS of $1:$1.
  11. Try to keep brand terms for which you organically rank between 1 and 5 at a PPC rank of 1-3.
  12. Be wary of competitor brand names unless you have a clear competitive advantage or selling point like a free trial, free product or special offer, and watch what they do on your brand terms.

If you do NOT have a well known brand – 12 Thoughts:

  1. My personal experience has leant me to believe that PPC ‘brand awareness campaigns’ are not usually worth the effort or cost as a stand-alone endeavour.
  2. Don’t target the brand names of the big-players in your space. You will get burned.
  3. Targeting generic keywords can be a great investment, but your adcopy must speak to your keywords, which must actually match your target market’s search query intent.
  4. Driving heaps of traffic is pointless, and costly, if they are not converting. With the masses of media bombarding your average Joe today, your PPC ad that you worked so hard on to get ‘just-right’ will be forgotten as quickly as that toothbrush ad you saw this morning – unless they bookmark your site. But they have to click before they can do that, and if you don’t have an effective traffic attribution tool, you’ll never know if it was your PPC ad anyway. That may seem jaded, but if you have to prove returns, you better be able to PROVE returns, or kiss your budget goodbye.
  5. Be very strategic and tactical with your big traffic generics, watch them carefully.
  6. Dedicated PPC pages usually (in my experience) perform better than your usual web pages.
  7. Minimize your navigation on these dedicated pages. Use numerous, well-placed calls-to action.
  8. Play with colors, button sizes and text and focus on conversion rates. Refine and optimize your pages as much as possible and on an ongoing basis making use of usability studies.
  9. Usability studies can be tests using crazyegg, or panel based. If you’re going for a panel and it’s too expensive to conduct via testing experts, screen family and friends of randomly selected staff members who choose to participate. Stress the fact that you want to hear their thoughts, both bad and good. Many informal studies have skewed results because that is not communicated, and the panels incorrectly assume they need to be ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ instead of neutral in their response.
  10. Generic keywords are in many cases very expensive to rank in the top 3, so make use of bid management tools and test what works in terms of clicks, CTR, conversion and ROAS. You may find that your revenue at position 5 is as high as your revenue at position 2, but with a far lower cost (higher ROAS).
  11. Respond to market changes in search behaviour using tools like Google Insights, and focus on geographic markets that work. As your brand becomes better known you can expand.
  12. Try out AdLinks. In my limited experience (they’re pretty new) they work, and I’m not the only one to think so!


For both – 4 More Thoughts…

  1. Make sure you are inline and in-communication with other on and offline marketing initiatives to make sure you target tag-lines in dedicated pages.
  2. Watch your spend and keep in contact with other MMs to see if there is additional budget for you, or if you can apply excess budget to other performing programs/initiatives.
  3. Don’t be shy about trying other comparison shopping sites.
  4. Be careful of content.

I know there’s tons more, but for this post I reckon that’s a good chunk to deal with. I admit, I’m a PPC and organic junkie, and I love my job! Follow me on twitter for random PPC/organic and just plain me tid-bits @lauracallow!


Usual disclaimer – These are my personal thoughts on my blog. Nothing to do with my employers – current or past. My thoughts and opinions are my own. You can see my experience on LinkedIn and you’re welcome to join my network!

Spread the word:

We'd be honored if you'd help support SEMI by Stumbling us or voting for us on Sphinn.

Stumble it!

1 Comment so far... perhaps you would like to leave one?

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.