Since Paid Search topics are new to the BlueGlass blog I thought it would be best to start the series at the beginning rather than diving right into something more complicated, like statistically relevant ad testing. I know you’re excited for that one. But, before you can properly test your ads, you need to start with a good foundation.
A good foundation for your AdWords and adCenter accounts starts with your campaign structure. There are many theories on the best PPC campaign structure, resulting in thousands of articles about this one step in setting up your PPC account.
All of these articles agree on one thing: setting up proper campaign structure from the start is key to better optimization down the line. One thing missing from most of these articles though is a focus on how budgets affect your campaign structure. This article will walk you through how to properly structure your campaigns while keeping your budget in mind.
Before you start, you’ll want to determine how you will set most of the campaign setting options available to you. For each site you are creating campaigns for you will need to know the following.
1. What is your budget?
For now you don’t need to know how much budget you will put towards each campaign, you just need to know how much you are willing and able to spend on your advertising. You may already have an idea of what your competitors are spending on advertising to help you determine how much you need to spend. If you don’t, choose a number that you are comfortable with and determine what campaigns you can have with that amount. If you have a large budget you will be able to have more campaigns and use additional types of targeting, such as targeting mobile device users, spanish speakers or people surfing sites in the content network. If you have a smaller budget you may need to limit the number of campaigns you have so you have enough budget dedicated to each active campaign.
Budget size is relative to how much you will need to spend on clicks to compete in your market. If clicks cost $1.50 and you only have a budget of $10 per day, you have a very small budget and will have a more difficult time getting clicks than someone with a larger budget. In this case it would be best to start with one small campaign that has the highest chance of converting, such as a brand campaign. However, as your ads generate new revenue you will be able to increase your budget to allow advertising on additional keywords and with additional targeting options.
2. Do you have an overall budget or is it segmented by product/service/brand?
If your budget is segmented by product, service or brand, you will want to structure your campaigns so each budget is allocated properly. For instance, if you sell Pez dispensers and gum ball machines and have a specific budget to advertise each, you will want to create a campaign for Pez dispensers and a campaign for gum ball machines so the budgets are separate.
Along with allowing you to properly organize your ad groups (and keywords) into themed buckets, this structure will allow you to more easily gauge the performance for each product or service.
3. Do you need to target geographic regions differently?
If your business has a local component, such as having multiple physical locations in drastically different areas or if you know that your products sell differently in different regions, you will want to create campaigns with geographic targeting in mind. If you have a physical location in New York and one in Miami, you will want to create separate campaigns to target each area.
Or, if you know (from other advertising) that your widgets sell very well in California when you use one message and in Texas when you use another message, you will want to create separate campaigns to target each state so you can serve ads with the best product message for each location.
4. Do you need to target various languages?
If you sell a product or service that appeals to an audience that speaks English while also appealing to an audience that speaks another language (think English and Spanish speaking Americans) and you have a version of your site in the other language, you may want to create one campaign targeting English speakers and one campaign targeting the other language.
This will allow you to have ads in the correct language that you are targeting and to send traffic to a page in the language that the user is most comfortable with. Doing so can dramatically improve your conversion rate.
5. Will you be targeting computer users and mobile users?
With smartphones and tablets becoming more popular, it is more important than ever to properly target mobile searches with your advertising. If you have a mobile website, or a website that displays properly and is easily navigated on a mobile device, you may want to create campaigns that target mobile searchers.
While some people will target both computers and mobile devices in the same campaign, this isn’t recommended as CPCs, CTRs and conversion rates can be drastically different for computer vs. mobile users. It will be impossible to properly optimize your campaigns if you have varied results for computer and mobile users.
For instance, if a keyword converts very well with computer users but not well with mobile users, you would not be able to stop that keyword from running on mobile searches if you target both computers and mobile devices in the same campaign. By separating the campaigns you will have complete control over which keywords run on which devices and can therefore maximize your return on ad spend.
6. Will you be using Display/Content Networks?
Display, or content, networks can be very powerful for branding and getting large volumes of traffic at a relatively low cost. Advertising on these networks is drastically different than advertising on search-based sites however. On display networks, CTRs are drastically lower, different types of ads work better, and conversion rates may be much different. So, just like with mobile vs. computer users, you need to ensure you separate your campaigns by network type so you can properly optimize for each network.
7. Will you be advertising on brand-specific terms?
Brand-related terms should be placed in their own campaign. Brand-related terms generally perform better than generic keywords, both in CTR and conversion rate. Having these high performing keywords mixed in with your non-branded keywords can skew your data and make you think your campaigns are performing better than they are. Also, brand keywords will usually have higher quality scores which you don’t want affected by having lower quality score generic keywords in the same campaign.
Once you know the answers to these questions you can develop your basic campaign structure. You should use a naming convention with your campaigns to allow you to easily know which campaign is which based on the targeting options you’re using. A sample structure and naming convention would be:
- Brand – US – English
- Brand – Canada – English
- Brand – Mobile – US – English
- Pez Dispensers – US – English
- Pez Dispensers - US – Spanish
- Gum Ball Machines – US – Engligh
- Gum Ball Machines - US – Spanish
- Pez Dispensers - Display – US – English
- Gum Ball Machines - Display – US – English
As you can see, using all of the targeting options available to you will result in numerous campaigns. If your budget isn’t large enough to support many campaigns, you will be tempted to combine targeting options, such as search and display or computers and mobile devices, into one campaign. Don’t do it. You will regret it. It is better to start with fewer campaigns that will perform well and be easier to optimize so you can generate revenue that will allow you to expand your advertising. If your campaigns don’t perform well or if they are difficult to optimize, you will end up wasting your money.
When setting up new PPC accounts, or if you decide to revamp your existing campaign structure, you need to keep many things in mind. Make sure you consider your budget, geographic and language variables, the devices you want to target, and which networks you want to utilize. Taking the time to set up a proper campaign structure will make your PPC advertising easier to optimize, will increase your profitabilty and will make reporting much easier in the long run.