One Size Does Not Fit All

9/28/2009

- Gerard Tollefsen, Client Strategist

When it comes to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing one size does not fit all. Your industry, your product or service, your budget and your ability to manage the campaign every day will dictate the breadth of your campaign.  A campaign with 75 keywords could easily outperform a campaign with 1000 keywords, even though they are built to attract the same type of visitor.  This concept can be difficult for businesses to understand when they first start a PPC campaign.  Their first instinct may be to bid on every possible keyword variation, key phrase, and misspelling. However, that strategy often fails when the campaign is built as if all keywords have the same value to the business. This is simply not the case because keywords are NOT created equal, no matter the industry, product or service you are promoting online.  Some keywords will convert and others will not, regardless of the amount of money you allocate to your campaign.  Too often, businesses throw good money after bad because they run campaigns with no structure to highlight their top performing keywords. This is just one of many mistakes I come across when speaking with companies who manage their own PPC campaigns.

Daily management, testing, and optimization are much more important factors than simply having the most keywords. Your campaign structure plays a large role in this process, since you cannot efficiently test and optimize a flawed campaign. The fact of the matter is, not all keywords will be successful in your campaign despite how relevant you believe they are to your business.  The more you test and optimize your keywords and ad copy, the easier it will be to identify your best keywords (in addition to recognizing the keywords you need to avoid).  I was recently speaking with a potential client who mentioned they had a huge campaign with thousands of keywords and “all their bases” were covered.  When I asked about his greatest challenge with the campaign he said that too often he hits his daily budget and his ads stop running. I inquired further and found that he had one large campaign running all his keywords.  While he knew certain keywords generated the lion’s share of his conversions, he still treated all his keywords the same.  All his keywords were under one campaign with many adgroups but that campaign had only one daily budget.  In Google AdWords, you set your daily budget at the campaign level not the adgroup level and 1000 keywords under one campaign must adhere to the same budget limitations. If you have all your keywords under one campaign, you run the risk of your best performing keywords being pulled down (and out of the search results) because poor performing keywords cannibalize your overall budget. Understanding and identifying your best keywords is only half the battle.  The structure of your campaign should be created to leverage your best keywords and give you flexibility for testing new keywords, but this cannot be achieved with a “one size fits all” campaign.

For this particular example, think about ways to structure your campaign to maximize the exposure of your best keywords. One optimization strategy is to pull out your top performing keywords and create a new campaign, with new ad adgroups, and new ad copy focused on these keywords.  You can set a separate daily budget just for this campaign and the better they perform the more flexibility you have to re-allocate your overall budget.  The important thing to understand here is that you must create a new campaign, not just another adgroup under your current campaign. Think of your overall PPC marketing initiative as having multiple smaller campaigns with tightly focused adgroups and ad copy. Each of these smaller campaigns have their own daily budget. With this structure you can maximize the coverage of your top performing keywords by granting that campaign a higher daily budget. At the same time, you can test and revise suspect keywords in separate campaigns, allotting a smaller amount of your overall budget to limit your liability on non-performing keywords you may decide to stop bidding on.

There is no better way to optimize your campaigns than by analyzing real time statistics of your visitors.  They will tell you which keywords and ad copy are working and which ones need to be revised or removed.  But one size does not fit all and you need to break out your top performers, so their budgets are not compromised by keywords that have high traffic volume and click-through rates (CTR) with little or no conversions. Your campaign structure can either limit you or give you the ability to optimize properly. Keep that in mind the next time you are reviewing your campaign and wondering how to get the most for your advertising dollar.

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