How to run an effective PPC marketing campaign

How to run an effective PPC marketing campaign

Updated 15 November 2022

Planning, building and launching a successful PPC campaign is a very satisfying feeling, especially when you see those first few conversions come through and you know you’re onto a winner.

Going from a brand new, empty ads account to having a well-optimised, structured and successful campaign pumping out quality conversions for a great CPA is a process and not an event – it takes time to research and build. We’ll have a walk through what this process looks like and how you can build out an effective PPC marketing campaign. This guide will be based on everyone's favourite PPC platform: Google Ads.

Clarify the goals and objectives of your new campaign

Building a successful campaign begins with having a deep understanding of the product or service that you’re marketing. You need to do your research, maybe speak to your stakeholders and know your business offering and customer profile in detail, as well as gather an understanding of what has been done in the past. When onboarding a new client for a service business, we at Honest Fox generally ask them a long list of questions including the following:

  • What service do you want to push the most?

  • Which service generates the most profit for you?

  • Out of every 10 leads you receive, how many turn into a sale?

  • How is business going right now? Are you looking to expand and grow, or just to maintain your current size?

  • Have you run Google Ads before? How did this work for you?

  • What revenue does the average sale generate? (can be used to estimate acceptable CPA’s)

  • Do you have a budget in mind? (budgets should reflect the needs and also risk tolerance)

Before you do any building – or even planning an account structure – you need to be clear on all of the above as there’s no point in building out an amazing campaign without knowing what will provide the most value. Knowing where you are coming from, where you are currently and where you want to go is a very important first step.

At this point, you should also check your website and see which pages would be suitable for paid traffic (easy to read, clear selling points, good imagery, good call to action, etc.) and start brainstorming the sorts of keywords and ad copy you could use.

Developing the right PPC strategy

Now you are in a good position to begin planning your campaign strategy. The number and size of your campaigns will largely depend on the size of the budget. A small budget will mean you need to focus on the main services only and not try to do too much, whereas a larger budget will mean a larger campaign is possible that has more keywords, more services and possibly more locations.

Depending on the service or product, you might want to split your build into several campaigns or keep everything in one campaign. If you have specific budgets for different services or different locations, these would be good reasons to create multiple campaigns. Our default build will generally include a generic campaign (various service keywords sorted into ad groups), and then a location campaign (main service + suburb). It’s essential that your ad groups are tightly defined and contain only relevant keywords, this will ensure that your ad copy is also highly relevant, in turn getting you a higher CTR, a higher quality score and a lower CPC.

It’s also very important to identify what user actions you want to track and optimise towards, which you’ll use to set up your conversion tracking. If you’re a service-based business then you may want more phone calls or form submissions, so you should be tracking every time a Google Ads click turns into one of these. This helps you see which parts of your campaign are sending you real customers and which parts are wasting your budget and generating no return. You can then optimise and improve the campaign to generate more of these conversions for a better ROI.

Keyword research

Your keyword research is one of the most important aspects of the campaign build out process. If your ads and landing page are in front of the wrong people it’s not going to convert no matter how well the rest of the campaign is set up.

Keyword research can be quite basic but also get quite complex depending on how large your campaign needs to be. A big key to keyword research is putting yourself in the mind of the searcher. Ask yourself, what would you type into Google if you required your customer’s service? This can be a great place to start as other people will no doubt search the same keywords. It’s also a good idea to see what other variations you can come up with. Common keyword ‘recipes’ if you will, include.

  • “Keyword + near me”

  • “Keyword + suburb/city”

  • “Keyword + company”

  • “Emergency + keyword”

Google Keyword planner is also a good place to get ideas from, however, take search volumes they report with a grain of salt. You can also generate some unique ideas by opening a new Google search, start typing your main keyword and see what Google suggests. Generally, these suggestions will be phrases people are searching for. Also the bottom of the results page will be ‘related searches’ which can be another source of ideas.

The good thing about keywords is, you can have as many as you like, as you only pay for clicks. So if a keyword generates no clicks, you don’t pay.

Keywords should be grouped into tightly defined groups so that your ad groups are highly related and relevant to your ad copy.

During your keyword research it’s also a good idea to start creating a negative keyword list. This is a list of words that if someone searches for alongside one of your keywords, Google won’t show your ad. For example, if you’re running ads for a plumber, you want your ad to show up when someone searches “plumber near me”, but you might not want your ad showing when someone searches for “free plumber near me”, so you would add ‘free’ as a negative keyword. You can create an initial negative keyword list but this is something you should add to over time.

Read more: Learn the basics of PPC Marketing

Ad copy

Having your campaign structure and your keywords ready, you can now look at creating your ad copy. This is something you should take your time with because it’s very important and if you do it well then you’re giving the campaign the best chance of success – and you won’t need to come back to review it later on if that campaign ends up having issues.

A good place to start is to have a look through your website to get some ideas. Do you have any special offers you can promote in the ad copy? Are there any fixed prices you can use? Prices in ad copy are great at qualifying the click – people won’t click if the price is too high, so the only people who land on your site should be happy with that price.

As Google has well and truly removed Expanded Text Ads (RIP) when it comes to creating ad copy most marketers will be working with Responsive Search Ads. Whilst Google would prefer users to supply them a series of headlines and let Google decide how they are displayed, we have seen some atrocious combinations that make zero sense, so as a good habit it’s better to designate which headline position (1, 2 or 3) each headline should be. 

Here is a good ad copy template to use:

  • Headline 1 – Product or service. Make it clear so there’s no confusion. E.g. “Emergency plumber Melbourne”

  • Headline 2 – Unique selling point or current special. Use this second headline to stand out from the competition with something that you do differently. E.g. “Guaranteed 1 hour service”

  • Headline 3 – A strong call to action. Tell people what to do next. E.g. “Call now for a free quote”.

This basic ad structure makes it very clear about what service you offer, why they should choose you and what steps to take next. Take your time with ad copy and if you can inject some personality into it but make sure that the offer is clear and try to stand out from your competition (in a good way).

The launch

The majority of your build is now complete including your campaign (or several) with ad groups containing relevant keywords and ad copy. Now it’s time to add the finishing touches. The main features and settings to check and adjust before launch include:

  • Ad extensions

  • Location targeting (tell Google where you want your ads to show)

  • Ad schedule (tell Google what hours of the day/week you want your ads to show)

  • Budget (how much you want to spend daily/monthly)

  • Bidding strategy (telling Google how you want your bids managed)

    Always take the time to double check the important things, such as your conversion tracking setup, daily budget and location targeting, as they can be easy to overlook but will cause you serious issues after launching.

Congratulations, you’re now ready to launch your Google Ads campaign!

An effective Google Ads (PPC) campaign isn’t simply built, it’s created over time. After launching a new campaign it’s important to give it at least two weeks to settle and gather data. From here you can make some data-driven optimisations and decisions because until you’ve spent some budget and received some traffic, you have no idea how the campaign will perform.

This process continues for the life of the campaign. Gather data, and then optimise off this data to improve the campaign performance. Some campaigns will perform well early on and convert profitably straight away, others will need a lot more work, persistence and patience to find a winning strategy.

Or get in touch if you want us to help you set up and manage ad campaigns for you.

Written by

Chris Rogers

Paid Search Specialist

Chris is a digital marketer who enjoys all things Google Ads, direct response marketing and digital marketing strategy. Generating a solid ROI on all ad spend is what brings him the most satisfaction. He has several years of agency experience as well as many more of side hustling and self education in the online marketing space.