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The PPC Guide for Beginners, Part 2: Setting Your PPC Goals

May 7, 2015

This is Part 2 in a 5-part series. Read the rest of the series here:

Okay. So, you are hopeful that a pay-per-click marketing campaign, correctly organized, could help jumpstart sales and bring in a sorely needed boost in revenue. You’ve heard about others who have succeeded with PPC, now you want to know whether the expenditures necessary to get your project on board would provide sufficient return on investment (ROI).

Let’s talk about that – starting from the beginning.

What are the right goals for a PPC marketing campaign?

Everyone needs a goal – a destination. Sure, it can be fun to simply hop in the car and start driving … not knowing or caring where you end up or when you get there. Our busy lives don’t allow that luxury often, though. Most of the time, our journeys require a good deal of planning.

Road Trip

via Patxi Izkue

That is especially true in business. Those who know the results they seek, and have a system in place to measure progress, are way ahead of any less-prepared competition.

Take a few minutes to think about what you hope to see happen in a PPC campaign. The bottom line, for most businesses, is sales – so how many ways can you think of that a concerted effort at PPC could help move your products or services?

  • Do you utilize an online shopping cart for taking orders? Would it be helpful if more people found out about your company and visited your site? It’s tough to beat a sales method that offers 24/7 access, is always smiling, and can have orders waiting for you when you get to the office in the morning (maybe even already shipped and on the way to your happy customers). Pay-per-click can help you realize that dream. The right strategy can bring you more business fast. But it all begins with goals.
  • Are you trying to get better known, hoping to tie your name to your business focus? There was a time when anyone who wanted a soft drink needed a “coke” – even if the real desire was for a root beer. Coca-Cola became so entrenched in the minds of consumers that the name became ubiquitous. What if every potential buyer of automobiles in Dallas, Texas (for instance) thought of your business first when it was time for a new car or truck? Pay-per-click can help build your brand by consistently keeping your message in front of targeted consumers.
  • Does your business work from leads? Do you have a sales force hungry for names and numbers of people interested in the things they are commissioned to sell? By focusing on lead generation, you can boost the number of inquiries entering your sales/marketing funnel and rapidly build your list of qualified prospects.

These are examples of strategic goals. The nuts and bolts of your PPC marketing campaign will consist of tactics – specific actions taken to improve your  click-through rate (CTR), grow your list of targeted keywords, and reduce your cost per conversion – but your goals must be clearly defined and understood by everyone on your PPC team before tactics can be effectively implemented.

Richard Farr, CEO of ConversionMax, says that someone just starting out with online PPC advertising should determine which goals “act as good leading indicators before the big ones will probably happen.” Does your sales path require potential customers to watch a video, for instance, before requesting a quote? Then one of your first goals should be to get the right people to watch that video.

You see, it all begins with goals.

Now, let’s have some fun.

What does NASA have to do with pay-per-click advertising?

When I was a business college undergraduate, I had the good fortune of sitting in on a series of classes given by a professor who had worked with the Apollo program at NASA. He was in the mission control center when astronaut Jim Lovell announced that the Apollo 13 crew “had a problem.”

During one of our sessions, the professor turned to the class and asked, “How does NASA know when they have a problem?”

That’s a good question – and, for that matter, how do you and I know when we have a problem? The answer is both simple and profound. Don’t miss the significance: NASA defines a “problem” as a “deviation from a standard” – a gap between the expected situation and the current situation. Before you can have a problem, you must have expectations.

No goals. No problems.

Before you get going down the wrong road with that, though, let’s consider how it plays out in the world of business.

Let’s say you have determined it is essential for your company to realize gross sales of at least $50,000 this week (way too high for some, way too low for others … but let’s say). You tally up the results on Friday and determine sales topped out at $10,000 for the week.

Do you have a problem?

One must, of course, set an acceptable deviation from the standard – but an 80% drop from sales expectations would likely qualify as a problem in anyone’s book.

Let’s take our thinking one step further: Once you realize you have a problem, what can you do about it?

How does NASA solve a problem?

The next part of the professor’s story is so simple it can easily be set aside. Don’t do that. There is a nugget here that can make all the difference in your business (or personal) life.

Here’s the kicker:  Every problem contains its own solution.

When NASA detects a problem – a deviation from a standard – they determine the gap. For them, perhaps a certain pump is reading 20 psi, but it should be showing 35 psi. The gap, then, is 15 psi.

Your PPC marketing goal is different, but the concept is the same. You must describe the current situation ($10,000 in sales this week) and compare it to the expected or desired situation ($50,000 in sales this week). You then ask this critical question: How can we move from where we are to where we want to be?

In other words: “How can we close the gap?”

Setting PPC Goals

via Matthew Simantov

Rocket your PPC results by setting smart goals

Goals, standards, objectives – call them what you will, but they are essential to every successful journey. If you don’t know where you want to go, you can’t determine whether you are getting closer or further away. And once you have determined your goals, be sure to set acceptable deviations. That will give you a trigger point to tell you when some type of action is required.

The crew of Apollo 13 knew something had to be done. That set off a string of events that, first, determined the gap (a threat to the oxygen supply) and, then, a way to close it.

For most organizations, sales revenue is the oxygen supply. Without sufficient cash coming in, the business will, at some point, not be able to survive. Don’t worry about all the intricacies and tweaks and theories of PPC right now. Break your situation down into its simplest denominators and organize them by priority. Determine where you are and where you want to go. Take a look at the gap between those two positions and envision the events and processes that must occur for the gap to be closed.

It is often helpful to work backwards, saying “We need $50,000 in sales this week. For that to happen, we must make presentations to 100 qualified customers. For that to happen, we must generate 500 targeted leads …” you get the picture.

Then ask one question: How can a PPC campaign help me get from here to there?

In the next installment of this series, we will talk about what to do with a click once you have it. After all, PPC isn’t just one event. It is a series of events leading to the desired result. And it all begins, yes it does, with setting the right goals.