PPC marketing campaigns can be a great way to boost your revenue or kick-start sales in a relatively new project, but it can be difficult to tell whether your campaign is performing as well as it should be. Are your ads truly effective, or are you paying for traffic that is simply not going to convert? If you want to monitor the performance of your PPC campaigns, then you need to set clear, measurable and realistic goals. Just as people have goals that they want to achieve in real life, you can use your goals in PPC to track whether you are successfully turning clicks into customers.

What Do You Want to Achieve?

For most people, the bottom line is simple and obvious: you want sales. However, this isn’t always the case — you may want to get podcast listeners, mailing-list subscribers or members for your site. Decide what your goals are, and figure out a way to measure them. Don’t forget strategic goals, however. These are slightly harder to measure but still important. One example of a strategic goal is building your brand as a whole. In the long term, you will want your brand name to be synonymous with the business that you do. Most people “Hoover” the floor even if they use a Dyson and drink a “Coke” even if they’re drinking something other than Coca-Cola. When the average person searches on the internet, they “Google” things even if they end up landing on Duck Duck Go or Bing because that is their browser’s default search engine. Wouldn’t it be great if your brand had such ubiquitous recognition, even if only in your local area? Strategic goals are broad and a little harder to measure, but tactical goals such as getting a certain number of page views or funnelling 10% of your clicks through to your checkout page are much easier to measure and can help you to improve your click-through rate and lower your cost per conversion.

PPC Problem Solving

Once you have goals, you can easily see where there is room for improvement. If you are not meeting your goals, you have a problem, and that problem needs to be solved. A low CTR means that your ads are not interesting enough for people to click on them or your call to action is weak. A low number of impressions on your ads means that either your bid is too low or the keyword that you are bidding on isn’t as popular as you anticipated. If you are getting traffic but that traffic isn’t converting, it’s your landing page that isn’t interesting enough. If people are adding your product to their cart and then leaving your site, this means that something about your checkout process is stopping them from buying.

What Makes a Good Goal

If you have experience in running a bricks-and-mortar business, you probably think in terms of needing a certain number of sales per week. Cash revenue targets are a good starting point for PPC goals, too. You can break a cash revenue goal down into a number of customers, assuming each customer has an average spend, and from there you can try to set realistic goals for how many qualified leads it takes to earn that many customers, and how many clicks you need to get that many qualified leads. Most of the above, at least for your first few campaigns, will be based on guesswork. It can take a few months to gather enough data to figure out what sort of CTR you need and what your conversion ratio will realistically be. For some industries it is easy to turn a click into a sale, while for others the process takes a lot longer. It is your responsibility as a webmaster to get to know your customers and to try to understand what they want and what they respond well to.

PPC Is a Multi-Step Process

One reason why many people’s PPC marketing campaigns fail is that they think of PPC as being a simple process where someone sees an ad, clicks on it and then makes a purchase. While this simple process can work for some products, you can’t sell a house or a car to someone based on one single PPC ad view. PPC is really a multi-step process. You need to identify your target audience, attract that target audience with a carefully worded ad and then provide the ad viewer with the information that they need in order to decide that they want to engage with your brand.

That engagement won’t always be making a purchase. In fact, if you go for the hard sell every time, you will probably lose a lot of people who might otherwise have been willing to stay in touch with you and learn more about your brand. You don’t want to convince your viewers to open their wallets right away; you just want to get them to listen to you long enough so that they will learn the benefits of your brand. Your landing page should be sticky. It should intrigue visitors and make them convince themselves that they have found a great deal. When you are tracking your goals, you should take that into account. A mailing-list subscription, catalogue download or print-out of a voucher to take to your bricks-and-mortar store can all count as successful goals.