There are 2 ways to get started with PPC. You can dive in on your own or you can enlist the help of an agency. Let’s talk about getting started with each.
Diving in on your own
Be prepared to learn
Anyone can run a Google Adwords campaign. That is one of the joys of this medium. However, successfully running an Adwords campaign means taking the time to understand the strategies and the terminology. If you are going to undertake managing your own campaigns you need to take the time to learn about it. Starting with the source is always good. Google offers an overview of using Adwords and a more advanced best practices series that would a be great place to start. Then there are numerous bloggers who will take you through their theories – like me! Also, Lynda.com is great resource for basic level classes.
I think the most important thing you need to do is make sure you dedicate time first to learn and then to monitor and adjust. I would say you probably need 3-5 hours a week to really get into the data, analyze and adjust your strategy. This isn’t something you can put on the back burner and then spend 10 hours working on because you will waste valuable marketing dollars if you aren’t adjusting as you go. To take advantage of one of the main benefits of the channel you need to be able to dedicate the time to look at your data. We will talk more about evaluation in Part 3.
Be a Copy Cat
If you are looking for ideas on how to get started with keyword research check out our Part 2: Keyword Research from our SEO series. There are a lot of resources available for keyword research including the Adwords platform itself, so I won’t cover that here. The real meat of an Adwords campaign is finding the right text for your ad and making sure it links to the most relevant content on your site. If you are just starting out, I always say go look at what the leaders are doing. Search for your terms on Google, see what kind of ads are coming up and copy their styles. If TripAdvisor is doing it – it probably works. It is at least a great way to start to getting in the ad writing frame of mind because it really is an art form. Above all else make sure your keyword group directs the user to the most relevant content. If your ad is about B&Bs do not send them to the general lodging page – they are asking for B&Bs – GIVE IT TO THEM!
Enlisting an Agency
This is not something I usually say but for the majority of the small to medium sized CVBs I would say finding the right agency to help you with this effort is going to be more cost effective and efficient. You certainly can run these campaigns on your own but unless you have a full time SEM position, who’s job it is to keep up on trends and best practices, it is highly probable that you don’t have the time to be an expert in the field. Let’s talk about some things you want to look for when selecting an agency.
Find an agency that shares knowledge
As you are probably noticing, many of my blog posts stem from someone taking advantage of client and it makes me smoking in the ears mad! SEM should not be a mystery. No one is going to get rich quick by keeping their clients in the dark about SEM practices. If you are keeping your SEM knowledge locked away in some deep dark cave guarded by dragons – LET IT OUT! It is AOK to share it. Isn’t there some adage about sharing your knowledge makes it grow exponentially? Find an agency that will share their in depth strategies and help you understand how they are working to achieve your goals. You still need them to stay up on trends and run the day to day of the campaign but the more they can educate you on their processes the more you can start to incorporate those into your marketing way of thinking.
They understand your destination and goals
Any agency that understands SEM can run a campaign about any type of product. The theories are all same. However, if they don’t understand your goals and your destination you are going to miss out on key opportunities. You want your agency to be involved in your marketing planning so they can be adjusting the strategies to meet your changing goals. A really great agency will be in there with their sleeves rolled up helping you use the data from your SEM campaigns to better understand what users are looking for and what you should be focusing on marketing. Look for someone with some skin in the tourism game, who is willing to learn about the nuances of your destination.
“I can get you the number 1 spot on Google”
In my opinion, this is the biggest red flag that an SEM professional can throw you. This is more related to SEO but I hear it as lead in to PPC as well. If someone tells you this run for the hills and never look back, seriously like a bear is chasing you. Someone who says this does not under the value of SEM and probably doesn’t care about your business. The reason this is the silliest thing I have ever heard is because there are too many variables to consider. What keywords can they guarantee that on? Certainly not on the all of the keywords that are relevant to you. Not to mention it is the nature of SEM for you to move up and down in the ranking because of content and algorithm changes. But even more important than that is the fact that they aren’t saying rank number 1 in Google to gain more qualified visitors to your site. Consultants that guarantee the number 1 spot on Google don’t understand SEM or the true value of what SEM can do for your business.
In part 3, we will talk about evaluation and how to make sure you campaign is running efficiently.