Are You Creating SMART PPC Goals for Your Accounts?

Smart goals, smart cookies? You get it. And...I just want some cookies.
Smart goals, smart cookies? You get it. And…I just want some cookies.

Tasks for managing accounts are constantly changing due to changes in clients goals and changes in PPC platforms. A few weeks ago, we talked about PPC management planning. Continuing that theme, I want to talk about making sure the tasks you are planning are meaningful and bringing the positive change you need, while minimizing time input. By aligning each task directly with account goals, you’ll be making the most impactful changes and improving the stats you’re targeting.

Creating Goals

The first step is to understand the clients needs and their goals. Once you understand those, you can begin to create specific goals for the accounts themselves. Make sure the goals you are making at SMART goals (no, I’m not talking about those Google Analytics goals). I’m talking about specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals.

  • Specific: Create goals that have detailed outcomes. Know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish when you start building your task list. For example, if your overall CPA is too high, the goal would be to lower the CPA on specific campaigns that are driving that metric up on average.
  • Measurable: Luckily for us, PPC accounts are very data rich, so you’re pretty much set here. Adding on to our example, the goal is to lower CPA on underperforming accounts. To make your goal measurable, set a specific CPA goal or look to lower the CPA by a certain number of percentage points. Technically, these can both get you to the same place, but run with whichever verbiage feels right. Either way, you have a firm outcome of what you need to reach to be successful.
  • Achievable: This is where it’s important to understand the account in detail and how different data points affect each other. A CPA of $100 is probably not achievable for a campaign whose keywords have a CPC of $100 or more. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Give yourself a goal you can actually achieve.
  • Realistic: Knowledge of accounts and PPC in general helps account managers understand what is realistic in a certain time frame. For example, if a client expects a 100% drop in CPA with no traffic fluctuations within a week, then you have to explain why this isn’t a realistic goal. You might very well be able to cut your CPA in half and keep conversion volume the same, but that’s a hefty optimization to make in just one week.
  • Time-bound: When does the goal need to be achieved? Before your next client call? By the end of the month? Putting a time limit on your tests builds in accountability and motivation to get it finished in a timely manner. Without a deadline, a goal is just a dream.

By the end, here’s what our goal might look like:

Decrease campaign CPA from $150 to $100 in 3 weeks time.

Align SMART Goals into Your Account Task List

Every account in PPC is different depending on industry, location, or just the client goals involved in each account. Setting SMART goals is the first step. The second is aligning your task list with those goals.

  • First, you might not always know what the best course of action is. For those situations, don’t be shy about seeking out blogs, help sections, or the PPC community. There is a ton of information out there to help with PPC strategies. Just keep in mind, all accounts are different and just because something works for one account, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for yours. Hence, testing.
  • Now that you have an idea of the strategies that can help achieve your goal, implement a plan. For example, using the goal above the plan might involve pausing expensive keywords, changing bid modifiers for geography, time of day, or mobile devices. Try doing one task at a time so it’s easier to monitor what is and isn’t working. Depending on the level of impact you need to make on an account, it might make sense to prioritize tasks based on what might have the larger outcome, or potentially even layer a couple tasks at the same time. But just keep good notes and be sure to check back in.  A task list might look like:
    • Week 1: Pause high cost keywords with 0 conversions over the past 30 days.
    • Week 2: Adjust dayparting bid modifiers to limit poor performing times and empower stronger performing times.
    • Week 3: Adjust big modifiers (similar to dayparting) for strong or weak performing geographies.
  • If you’re unsure about some of the changes you’re making, set tasks for yourself to check in on the progress of each task. Looking at back at the data points you adjusted, not just monitoring the end goal, helps to understand how each change affects the campaign or account.

Track, Follow-Up, and Start Again

Tracking success and following up is a commonly overlooked aspect of testing, especially when the goal is accomplished. There are so many things going on in a PPC account on a daily basis, it’s easy to overlook the follow up. It’s important to keep track of the changes made throughout the account or campaign. That way you can try to attribute the success or failures of the test to the tasks you completed.

For example, maybe we lowered the CPA to the desired point, but conversions dropped dramatically too. Now what? Back to the drawing board of tasks to determine what can keep CPA in the range you’re looking for, but help recoup some of the lost conversion volume you experienced from your initial optimizations. Maybe it makes sense to reenable a paused, expensive keyword that brought in lots of conversions and work to manage budget/performance elsewhere such as mobile bid modifiers or day parting.

It’s important to “always be testing”, but don’t get so stuck into a routine that it becomes mindless. Create SMART goals aimed at producing specific results. Review performance and adjust strategy as necessary going forward.

Have tips for creating goals or managing your PPC task list? Share with us in the comments!