How to lay a good foundation for your pay per click success

PPC 101 7 Questions to Ask Before Starting PPC

Questions to answer before setting up your PPC account.


Before you build a house you must lay a foundation – before you start PPC you gotta do the same thing. In order to be successful in pay per click, ask some basic questions about your online efforts.

That’s why I’ve compiled 7 questions designed to lay the foundation for a solid PPC account. Whether you just use Google, Bing, or you’re working in multiple search engines, these questions should help focus your PPC efforts.

#1 – What is Your Goal of Your Website?

Sounds pretty basic, but some marketers still don’t get it. Are you stuck in 1999 with your online brochure? If so, start by defining measurable goals for your website. Maybe you want leads for your windshield repair or painting business. Or maybe you sell stuffed animals to carnivals or deck chairs to homeowners. Either way, decide why you’re online. Then build a website to support your goal.

#2 – What is Your Budget?

There are three primary ways website owners pay for traffic: CPM, CPC, & CPA. For now, we’re only interested in CPC (cost per click), a.k.a. PPC. Search engine pay per click drives targeted traffic because the searcher was already looking for something related to your ad. But each click costs money – anywhere from $0.01 to $100. Before you jump into PPC, determine how much you want to spend in the channel. PPC is an excellent tool, but it’s not free.

#3 – How Do You Define a Conversion?

Once you know why you’re online and how much you want to spend, decide what event to measure. In other words, how do you define a conversion on your website? Going back to the windshield repair business – a windshield guy can’t replace windshields on the internet. But he can harvest cracked windshield leads. Lead generation is a definable online event. Remember to measure the event by installing conversion tracking on the “thank you page” after your contact form. You can also set up a goal in your Analytics program that will do the same thing.

#4 – Does Your Landing Page Support Your Conversion Process?

If you drop off traffic on your website (i.e. Destination URL), make sure your visitors land in the right place. Your home page is usually NOT the best place for a landing page. Instead, send visitors to pages that address the original search query. If a carnival booth owner searched for “big stuffed dinosaurs”, your landing page should include something about giant stuffed animals optimally mentioning dinosaurs.

#5 – What is Your Target Cost Per Conversion (CPA)?

Veteran direct marketers are obsessed with cost per lead and cost per sale. Pay per click marketers should be no different. How much can you spend on each lead? If you make $300 for every windshield repair, your target CPA must be less than $300. Obviously the less you spend per lead the better, but CPA should be defined.

#6 – How Will You Measure Offline Conversions?

Some marketers forget their website should also support their offline efforts. If you don’t, you’re not making full use of your “star salesman” – your website. That’s why you should employ call tracking on your PPC landing pages if possible. That way, you can tie phone calls back to your pay per click efforts. Once you measure offline conversions, you’ll get a much closer estimate of CPA.

#7 – How Will PPC Support Your Sales Funnel?

Pay per click is competitive. Before marketers discovered it, you could make buckets of money without any other source of traffic. Those days are over. Today you must be smart about your advertising spend. Will PPC funnel leads into an email auto responder? Or will it give you names to call by the next business day? Whatever it is, decide how PPC supports your overall sales funnel.

From my experience, the biggest area of PPC potential is offline leads. At the end of 2009, it’s less competitive to drive PPC traffic to offline businesses than it is to online commodity businesses. If you sell deck chairs, join the club. Everybody sells them. But if you need leads for your local painting business, you’ve got a better shot at closing a deal with PPC.

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These seven questions are part of a larger 15-questions I ask new clients when starting their pay per click management. If I missed anything, feel free to chime in below.