Searching Beyond the Paid

Friday, May 13, 2011

A 5-Point Checklist for Successful PPC Campaign Settings

I love checklists. I use them for everything, even things I do every day. Not only do I get the satisfaction of checking things off as I complete them, but I make sure I don’t forget something important. It may seem silly to use a checklist for things you do every day, but when you’re as busy as I am, it’s easy to forget even the most mundane tasks.

Checklists are great for PPC too – even for us old pros who’ve been doing this for a long time. Checklists help you make sure you’ve set up your campaigns for success right away, which is the name of the game – and campaign settings can make or break your PPC success.

Point 1: Change ad rotation from Optimize to Rotate.

Google recently added an option to the ad rotation arsenal: optimize for conversions. While this is cool, I don’t use it – especially for brand new campaigns. The very first thing I always do after posting a new campaign to Adwords is to set everything to Rotate. It’s the fastest way to get good ad testing data to build on for future optimization.

Point 2: Change Ad Delivery from Standard to Accelerated.

This may seem like the opposite of what you should do; after all, you might run out of budget by noon and your campaign will shut off until midnight. In the past, I advised against accelerated delivery for this very reason. However, lately I’ve found that standard delivery, which spreads impressions out across the entire day, sometimes leads to low total impressions & clicks, especially for a new campaign.

I’ve had better luck starting out with Accelerated to get traffic going and establish a baseline, and then switching to Standard if the campaign is reaching the daily budget too early in the day.

Point 3: Set the right daily budget.

The only way I can accept the risk of using Accelerated delivery is by setting a campaign daily budget I’m comfortable with. It’s critical not to set the budget too low, but at the same time you should never set the daily budget at an amount you’re not comfortable spending. If you only have $1,000 per month to spend on PPC, don’t set your daily budget to $500, or you run the risk of blowing through the whole month in 2 days!

Point 4: Turn off the Display Network.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying don’t use the Display Network. In fact, I’m a big fan of Display. However, search and display campaigns should never be lumped into one campaign. If you want to use Display, do it – but set up a separate campaign just for Display so you can optimize accordingly.

Point 5: Install conversion tracking.

Whether you use Adwords & adCenter’s free conversion tracking tools, Google Analytics, Omniture, or something else, the point is to use something! If you’re not tracking conversions in your PPC campaigns, you’re better off buying a lottery ticket. Don’t spend a dime of your company’s money (or your client’s, if you’re an agency PPC’er) until you know you can track the results. Sometimes people (aka bosses) hear about how great PPC is and they get anxious to launch a campaign first, and track things later. Don’t give in to this temptation! Get your tracking codes in order first, and then go ahead and launch your campaign.

So the next time you set up a PPC campaign, run through this checklist – you’ll set yourself up for success! For more tips on campaign setup, check out this article I wrote on campaign setup for Web Marketing Today.



  • This is some good advice for beginner and salty PPC'ers alike.

    While this advice seems basic, it is a great refresher and highlights some of those "little" things we tend to forget about or glaze over as we are building out new campaigns.

    By Blogger Ochlacratic Mentality, at 10:21 AM EDT  

  • When I started PPC these points were the basic things that were taught to me. Had a good read. Thanks.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 1:35 AM EDT  

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