Like many marketing tactics PPC is a daunting prospect when you delve into it for the first time. The fact we’re running this Inside PPC series – just to look at the basics – says something about how overwhelming it can be to first-timers.
But today is the day where everything starts to become clearer, because we’re going to put together your first PPC strategy over the next few posts in this series. By the time we’re done you’ll have a much better understanding of how PPC works, why you have to make certain decisions and how to get started with your first campaign.

Get started the right way, set measurable goals
Every campaign you run will be unique and the first stage of any strategy is to sit down and establish your goals. The question here is what are you trying to achieve? And the answer isn’t anything vague, like improve sales of our latest underperforming product.

No, goals need to be specific and measurable – let’s say increase your traffic by 100% within the first six months. How realistic this goal is depends on how much traffic you already have (plus a number of other variables), but you need specific goals and a time-frame before you can measure success.

You can have multiple goals too (and you should), as well as short-term, long-term and however many you feel necessary in between. Once you double your incoming traffic you may want to increase conversions and later reduce the cost per conversion – just make sure you know what you’re trying to achieve before you start planning your approach.

Research your way to a killer PPC strategy
With your goals set in place you’re ready to start thinking about approach – but it’s not a good idea to dive right in and start bidding. If you want to make PPC work then research is about to become your new best friend and it’s something you’ll need to do time and time again as your campaigns expand.

First of all you need to know three things inside out: your own brand, the competition and your audience. You want to be brutally honest when it comes to assessing your own brand and there may be some hard truths to swallow – but you need to know your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOTs) before you can get the most from your brand.

Next up you have to learn everything about your competition, with a focus on how they leverage PPC, but also their wider brand. What do they do well? What could they do better? And how can you combine these answers to get ahead of them?
Finally, we come to audience research and this should be the most time-consuming part of your PPC planning. You can never know too much about your target audience, who they are, what they want and how to be first in line to offer it. You want to be specific here too and create user profiles (gender, age, location and anything else relevant) – not only for initial clicks, but also a remarketing strategy to target previous visitors who didn’t convert.

Next up, a closer look at keyword research
In our next Inside PPC post we’ll run through the keyword planning stage and you’ll start to see how important audience research will be throughout your PPC campaigns.