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How to Craft the Perfect PPC Marketing Plan

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To succeed in PPC marketing, you need a well-crafted plan. Without a plan, you’ll likely waste time and money on campaigns that don’t reach their full potential or that let you achieve goals that are not relevant to your business. In this blog post, we’ll explore the steps of creating a successful PPC marketing plan. We’ll start with defining and understanding your business’s current competitive situation, so you know where you’re at. We’ll then cover how to set the right goals that define where you want to go, and then we’ll move on to devising a strategy to get you there. Finally, we’ll go over the steps for setting up and managing your campaigns. Follow these steps, and you’re on your way to PPC success.

Step #1: Current Situation Analysis

The first step in creating a successful PPC marketing plan is to take an honest look at your current business situation. This includes analyzing your target audience, defining your competitive space (understanding your competition), and defining your current competitive situation based on these two factors.

Market Segmentation – Define your PPC Campaign’s Target Audience

If you’re running an established business, you already have a good idea of what your typical customer is like. Depending on your business model, this could be a particular consumer market or business sector. A PPC campaign’s success starts with having a clear idea about who it should target, so that’s where the PPC marketing plan has to start.

When it comes to segmenting the market for your PPC campaign, the typical types of segmentation still apply:

  1. Geographic location: This means targeting people or companies in a certain continent, region, country, city, or area.
  2. Demographics: This includes factors such as age, gender, income, occupation, level of education, nationality, etc.
  3. Psychographics: This includes measures of consumer behavior such as lifestyle, interests, and attitudes.
  4. Behavior: This includes past purchase behavior (including website visits) and intent to purchase (including research behaviors).

Define your Competitive Space

Now that you know your target market, you need to consider who your competition is. Even if you’re starting a new business, you still have competition, and it’s important to understand who they are and how they’re affecting your business.

One way to do this is by using Porter’s Five Competitive Forces model, which looks at the industry as a whole and helps to identify the key factors that influence competition.

The threat of new entrants: This is the threat posed by new companies entering the market with similar solutions to yours. To assess how big this threat is, you need to analyze your industry’s entry barriers, which is something you should know about, considering you already jumped them all. There are five major entry barriers, which are:

  1. Capital requirements: The amount of money it takes to start and operate a business in the industry.
  2. Switching costs: The cost (including time, money, and effort) that customers incur when switching from your product or service to a competitor’s.
  3. Economies of scale: The benefits that larger companies have in terms of lower costs per unit due to their size.
  4. Brand loyalty: The degree to which customers are loyal to a particular brand and are less likely to switch to a competitor.
  5. Regulatory barriers: This refers to government policies and regulations that make it difficult for new companies to enter the market.
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A good example of an entry barrier is when you’re in an industry that requires jumping through multiple legal hoops, like certain financial services heavily regulated by the SEC and other institutions.

The threat of substitutes: This is the threat posed by products or services that can satisfy the same needs as your product/service but may be cheaper or better. A good example of a substitute is when a new technology comes along and threatens to disrupt your industry, like how the iPhone disrupted the cellular phone market.

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Buyers’ bargaining power: This is the power buyers have in negotiating lower prices, demanding higher quality, or switching to a competitor’s product or service. Buyers have a high bargaining power when:

  • They buy large volumes or represent a significant portion of your company’s sales.
  • Your products are standard or undifferentiated.
  • There’s a risk of backward integration, which means the buyer can produce the product or service themselves.

For example, Apple has high bargaining power over its suppliers because it’s a huge customer, and losing Apple could jeopardize the supplier’s entire operation.

Suppliers’ bargaining power: This is the power suppliers have in negotiating higher prices, demanding better payment terms, or threatening to stop supplying you with goods or services.

In the world of PPC, the landscape is dominated by only a couple of companies (mostly Google and Facebook), so businesses have little choice regarding where to place their ads. This is an example of a supplier with high bargaining power.

Competitive rivalry: This is what most people think of when they hear about competition. Competitive rivalry is the intensity of competition within the industry, determined by factors such as the number of competitors, how evenly matched they are with your products and services, how much they’re spending on marketing and how aggressive they are.

Analyzing your competition is one of the most important things to consider before launching your PPC campaign. It means studying what your competitors are doing, what’s working for them, and what isn’t. This will let you learn from their success and their mistakes and identify key weaknesses in their businesses that you can take advantage of.

The key factors in competitor analysis for PPC marketing you should prioritize are:

  • The keywords they’re targeting through SEO
  • The keywords they’re targeting with their PPC campaigns
  • What types of ads do they have running?
  • What is the landing page for each ad like?
  • What assets are they using?
  • What PPC platforms are they using?

By understanding your competition, you can develop a strategy that sets you apart and beats them at their own game.

Define your Current Competitive Situation

After completing the above steps, you’ll have a good idea of where you stand in the competitive landscape. You’ll know if you’re competing in a market with perfect competition, if you’re in a monopolistic market, in an oligopoly, or a monopoly.

You’ll also be able to determine your position relative to other competitors. In other words, whether you’re a leader, a contender, or a follower. Each particular situation calls for a particular set of logical short-term and long-term objectives and strategies.

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Now it’s time to define your own company’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to these competitors. This is where the next step comes in handy.

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Step #2: SWOT analysis for PPC marketing

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that helps you identify and understand the internal and external factors that can positively and negatively affect your business.

SWOT analysis picks up from the previous step. By identifying what’s working for your competition that you’re not doing, you’re identifying your key weaknesses. For example, you may notice that your main competitors are all ranking for a keyword you’re not even trying to rank for, therefore taking a chunk of the market for themselves.

By identifying your competitor’s weaknesses, you’re also identifying opportunities for yourself. For example, you may discover that an important part of your target audience is currently looking for blockchain-based solutions to integrate their business with the emerging metaverses, but you notice that nobody is targeting that need, therefore representing an opportunity for you.

Define your Unique Value Proposition or competitive advantage

Based on your strengths and the opportunities the market offers, you should have a clear picture of your unique value proposition. In other words, you should know what sets your business apart from all the rest in a way that is attractive to your target audience.

Why is This Important for PPC?

Because it will guide you when crafting the copy for each ad. Having clarity about what you can offer each user that other companies don’t, they’re more likely to click on your ad and eventually convert into sales.

Step #3: Set SMART goals for your PPC campaign

The previous steps will help you set data-driven, realistic goals for your PPC campaign. They make it easier to grasp what you want to accomplish with your business and what you can expect to accomplish with your PPC campaign, so now it’s time to put it all in black and white. When writing down goals, you need to make them SMART.

What are SMART goals, and how to set them?

SMART goals are goals which are:

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  1. Specific. Goals can’t be vague; they must be clear and focused on one thing at a time.
  2. Measurable, to make sure you can assess your progress over time by measuring performance and know with absolute certainty whether or not you’ve achieved them. You can make your PPC goals measurable by setting them in terms of PPC key performance indicators.
  3. Achievable, to ensure you’re not wasting time and energy on something that will not happen. You can assess this by looking at your present performance and at what successful companies have achieved in the past.
  4. Relevant, so that it’s worth pursuing.
  5. Time-bound, to give each goal a sense of urgency that propels you to work hard on them. This comes down to setting a well-defined timeline for your marketing plan.
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Examples of SMART goals for PPC marketing campaigns

Here are three examples of SMART goal PPC marketing campaign:

  1. Increasing website traffic from PPC ads by 100% in the next quarter.
  2. Increase leads from PPC campaigns by 25% by the end of the year.
  3. Increase conversions from PPC-generated leads by 25% in the next six months.

Step #4: Define your PPC strategy

Now that you have your goals set, it’s time to plan how to reach them. This is where your competitive analysis comes in handy once again. By understanding what keywords and platforms your competitors use and knowing what works for them and what doesn’t, you’re better suited to craft the best PPC campaign in your industry.

The strategy will also depend on your particular goals since it’s not the same to want to increase brand awareness than to seek to increase conversions.

How to Define your Strategy Based on Your Goals

If your goal is to increase website traffic, you’ll want to focus on increasing your CTR and lowering your CPC. You can do this by identifying the right keywords for your campaign and creating more attractive ads for users.

If you’re looking to increase leads, you’ll want to target high intent keywords and create landing pages specifically for capturing leads. You’ll also want to use retargeting as a way of keeping top of mind with people who have already visited your website.

If conversions are your goal, you’ll need to ensure that the user experience on your landing pages is as smooth as possible. You’ll also want to bid more aggressively.

Step #5: Set a budget for your PPC campaign

Many businesses make the mistake of not setting a budget for their PPC campaigns, which can lead to runaway costs and little return on investment. It’s important to be realistic about how much you’re willing to spend on your PPC campaign and to set limits on what you’re willing to spend in each area. This implies defining three separate budgets:

  • Daily budget
  • Total budget
  • Budget per click

How to Determine Your PPC Budget

The amount you’ll want to spend on your PPC campaign will depend on a few factors, such as the size of your business, the industry you’re in, and how competitive it is. You’ll also want to take into account your goals for the campaign.

Three different models you can use to set budgets for your PPC campaign are:

  • Prior-year-based budget: The budget is set at a certain ratio of the previous year’s total sales or the average amount sold over the last few years.
  • Industry-standard budget: The PPC marketing budget is determined following industry or competition standards and benchmarks.
  • Goals- and task-based budget: PPC budgeting is determined based on the planned marketing and advertising efforts.

Step #6: Define a timeline for execution, evaluation, and adjustment

Like any other marketing plan, your PPC campaign will require constant tracking and periodic evaluation to ensure that it’s on track and achieving the desired results. This means setting up a schedule for regular reviews and making adjustments as needed.





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PPC

The Art and Science of PPC Account Structures

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The Art and Science of PPC Account Structures


With the rise of machine learning and the relentless march toward large-scale automation, digital marketers are now finding themselves in the middle of a perfect storm where they have less control over their campaigns, higher costs, and lousy results. 

To state the obvious, Google’s goals are not your goals.  

Source: Google

Over the last few years, Google introduced and pushed PPC automation while also removing many of the controls marketers typically used to prevent wasted spend. 

Here’s just a small list of what they’ve done:

  1. They killed off match types – As a result, keywords are no longer granular enough and Google’s understanding of “close” variants and “similar” intent fluctuates between terrible and horrific.
  2. They Added Audiences – Google has made significant efforts over the past few years to replace keywords as the primary PPC control lever; audiences (+ the derivatives thereof) have been the most successful of these so far.
  3. They introduced and pushed “smart” features – Google’s “optimization score” and “smart shopping campaigns” were the first major efforts; now, we have Performance MAX, the end of ETAs, and much more on the horizon. 
  4. They introduced auto-applied campaign changes – because who doesn’t want a Roomba running their account?
  5. They removed the majority of search term data – of course, the claim was that this was for “privacy”…but does anyone believe that? 

As a result, CPCs and CACs are spiking across the board and we’re left with the perfect recipe to waste a LOT of money.

The pace of change has left many PPCers wondering how to adapt to this brave new world, with a few approaches becoming more and more pervasive: 

  1. Lean Into The Automation – give the machines what they want – control and volume! Consolidate everything into a couple of campaigns, turn on Broad Match, and away we go. 
  2. Old School – focus on keeping granular control with a rigid, EM-based structure and negatives everywhere. 
  3. Shanty Town – some weird fusion of the two – where there are some EM campaigns, some full broad, maybe some audiences or DSAs sprinkled in…, and a heaping helping of confusion. 
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Unfortunately, the automation approach will have you wasting money, the old school approach will have you going crazy trying to maintain control in the face of RSAs, bidding strategy, and match type changes, and the Shanty Town delivers the worst of both worlds. 

The only thing that HAS stayed the same is the desire to find the right account structure that balances scale with control, spending with results, and predictability with discovery. Too much to ask for? No! 

Source: Google

Six Things to Keep in Mind When Setting Up PPC Campaigns

Automation is here to stay. The increasing role of automation will have an impact on PPC account structures, and this isn’t good or bad – it just is. Our job as marketers is to set the machines up for success and defend against their flaws.

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The structure is about people. Campaign structure is the “how” you connect your organization’s marketing to the people you want to target. Keep your audience in mind when you structure your PPC campaign and put yourself in the mind of the audience.

Better Data = Higher Probability of Good Outcomes. Don’t focus only on conversion data.  Make sure that each platform you use (not just Google, Microsoft, and Facebook) has the business and financial data it needs to maximize your chances of a good outcome. In short, efficiently leverage your data and help the machines be smarter!

Exclusions are more important than inclusions. Be liberal in your campaign exclusions to ensure machines focus on what you want (and don’t make bad inferences that blow your budget).

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Be Machine Learning-friendly. Resist the urge to hyper-segment everything. Build a structure that is ML-friendly while still being sufficiently refined. You might end up with fewer ad groups, but that’s ok! 

Be brilliant at the basics. Do the little things extremely well – align your ads to the intent of the user, deliver a relevant message and have a delightful on-page experience. 

Want to learn more? I’ll be speaking at HeroConf London on July 18 at 10:15 am on the Main Stage. During my session, “The Art and Science of PPC Structures,” I’ll dive deep into the essential account and targeting structures and how they can be used to prevent automation from running wild.





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