The truth is, anyone with basic computer skills could set up a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign on Google Adwords.

It seems simple: dump a few ads & keywords into AdWords and Google will do the rest.

In fact, a lot of businesses are running their Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns in house to save money. I honestly can’t say that I blame them. It seems pointless to pay someone else for a service that I could essentially do myself.

Unfortunately, what people don’t know is that there's a great deal of thought, strategy, research, and experience that goes into creating a successful Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign. If you don’t know exactly what you are doing, chances are you're wasting a ton of money on clicks that aren't producing any results. In addition, your probably paying top dollar for every click you receive.

There are a ton of different strategies behind creating successful PPC campaigns. This article is going to focus on the concept of knowing your customer, or, more specifically, understanding their intent.

Why? Because this concept helped us cut Pay Per Click (PPC) costs on one campaign by 54%.

Key Facts About PPC

A well running PPC campaign is one that reaches its goals while spending the least amount of money possible in the process. A lot of businesses don’t know that efficient PPC campaigns cost less money to run than non-efficient PPC campaigns.

This is possible because Google rewards campaigns that have ads, keywords, and landing pages that are highly relevant to what people are searching. In addition, the amount of clicks an ad receives is also taken into account. Campaigns that are relevant and have a high number of clicks receive a lower Cost Per Click (CPC) by Google.

How Knowing Your Customer Helps Lower Costs

In order to receive a lower Cost Per Click (CPC) by Google, it is vital to understand your customers and what they are searching.

This knowledge helps create highly relevant campaigns that target your customer (incidentally, it also helps with SEO).

Smart marketers understand that around 96% of visitors to a website are not ready to make a purchase decision; in other words, they're in one of the earlier phases of the buying cycle. Knowing where the bulk of your customers lie in the buying process provides an opportunity for dramatic improvements in PPC performance.

That means if the only purpose of your website is to get a quote request, you're missing out on 96% of your website traffic. If you can offer your visitors information relevant to them based on where they are in the buying cycle, you can dramatically improve the performance of your website.

You should understand each of these phases and develop a strategy to target each one efficiently. Once you determine where your customers are in the buying process you can start to design your ads and landing pages to target them.

Knowing that a lot of consumers are conducting research and asking questions, a business could position their PPC campaign in a way that answers these questions. For example, if someone were to type "wedding San Diego" into Google, what information might they be seeking?  Do they want to know what a specific location has to offer or would they rather see a list of the top wedding places in San Diego? Which ad would you be more likely to click?

Blog Wedding

Above is an example of two ads that we tested for one of our clients. We followed a process we developed for determining keyword intent using Google AdWords outlined in this blog post, and discovered that the majority of people searching "Wedding San Diego" were looking for a list of wedding places in the area. We designed an ad to target exactly what our customers wanted when they conducted that search. In addition, when the customers clicked on this ad they were taken to a page with a list of wedding places in the San Diego area.

The results from this test were impressive. We experienced about a 300% increase in click-through rate (CTR) over the other ad. Additionally, our cost per click (CPC) was cut in half.

This means that we were now getting 3x more clicks on our ads and we were spending half as much for every click.

This is just one example of how a little creative testing can play a huge role in the success of your Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign.

Here is a screenshot to show you the long term benefits of this process. The blue line represents the click through rate (CTR) and the orange line represents our cost per click (CPC). Our click through rate (CTR) increased and our cost per click (CPC) decreased dramatically over a few months.

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It is important to note that the above example only relates to one specific ad group. User intent can vary dramatically depending on a specific keyword that someone types into Google, so it's important to break ad groups into specific keyword groupings and take the time to fully understand the intent behind each of those groups of keywords.

Key Takeaways

It takes a lot of research and strategy to run a successful PPC campaign. Yes, anyone with computer skills can setup a PPC campaign but it won't be nearly as effective as it could be. The result is every lead or sale costs significantly more than it has to.

PPC success is about doing a lot of things right, hopefully this article give you some insight into one of the most important pieces.