With the constant stream of new betas, introduction of format changes (hello Expanded Text Ads!) and a multitude of new targeting methods such as tablet bid modifiers and demographic bidding for search, paid search marketing continues to become more and more complex. Gone are the days when running ad copy tests, adding negative keywords, performing bid adjustments, and launching more targeted ad groups was sufficient to drive account growth. Today’s paid search advertiser must choose from hundreds of available account optimization strategies.

The variety of available strategies might seem overwhelming, but don’t despair. By following these three steps you can build an effective marketing strategy to achieve any goal.

Use these tips to develop a roadmap to PPC success. Image via Pexels.

Set The Context

Determining if you’ll be focusing on account efficiency or account growth is the first step to developing an effective paid search strategy. Use your PPC goal, recent performance, and budget to guide and simplify your strategy. If you don’t have a goal, you’ll need to select one before you begin.

If your account is currently achieving a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 5, and your goal is to achieve a ROAS of 6, your strategy should focus on efficiency optimizations to improve ROAS. If your account is achieving a ROAS of 5 and your goal is to increase revenue as long as your ROAS is at or above 4 (and you have additional budget to spend), then your strategy will need to focus on growth initiatives.

Once you’ve determined if you will be focusing on account growth or efficiency, you can start examining your strategy options.

Categorize Your Options

Once you’ve determined what your primary focus will be, you can categorize growth-focused initiatives or efficiency-focused optimizations to determine what strategy will drive the desired results. The chart below shows some efficiency strategies, some growth strategies, and some strategies that will help you achieve both.

Growth-focused initiatives typically generate net new traffic – traffic you weren’t receiving with your prior efforts. A Display campaign on the GDN, or a new set of keywords, will attract new potential customers to your site, helping to increase overall sales.

Efficiency-focused optimizations typically cut unprofitable or non-converting spend, or shift budget from unprofitable areas to more profitable areas. You could add negative keywords to block irrelevant traffic, or make geographic bid adjustments to shift spend from poor-performing states to states that perform better.

Finally, some strategies will drive both efficiency and growth within an account. For example, concluding an ad copy test based on CTR, conversion rate, or conversion per impression can increase revenue and improve ROI. However, these strategies typically show incremental long-term improvements, and are less likely to ramp revenue or improve ROAS in the short-term.

Create Your Strategy

The gap between your goal and your recent performance should guide how you choose from the menu of strategy options. If you have aggressive growth targets and are consistently meeting or exceeding your ROAS threshold, then you should primarily focus on growth initiatives, and sprinkle in a few efficiency optimizations to ensure that you’re not wasting spend. If you are not achieving your ROAS goal, you’ll want to focus primarily on efficiency optimizations. If you fall somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios, you should select an even mix of growth and efficiency efforts.

Creating an effective PPC strategy, even in a complex PPC world, is a breeze so long as you use your goals, recent performance, and budget to guide your decision making between different categories of optimization efforts!