A year in business is a journey through successful peaks and seemingly fruitless troughs. In order to maintain profitability throughout, it’s important to plan ahead. An annual marketing calendar is a great way to ensure budget and time is allocated appropriately.
Today I’m going to talk about how planning a PPC-specific marketing schedule could lead to a higher ROI for your paid search activity.
What is a marketing calendar?
A marketing calendar allows you to strategically allocate your budget to the times of year when your marketing activity is likely to be most effective. It also allows you to plan seasonal advertising messaging, offers and other USPs ahead of time, allowing you to fully take advantage of your sector’s annual trends and target audience’s buying habits.
Why Plan a PPC-specific marketing calendar?
Paid search allows advertisers to targets people who are actively searching for a product or service. And Google also provides a lot of useful data about when searches are happening. Combining your knowledge of your industry with Google data allows you to plan an effective, targeted strategy and advertise to your audience when you’re most likely to get the best return on your investment.
And with PPC, it’s very easy to measure your ROI in real time. More insight means more data to make informed reactive and tactical changes than most other marketing channels allow.
Without a PPC marketing calendar, it’s easy to forget about a long-term strategy and get lost in the day-to-day management of a PPC campaign. General account optimisation alone can be an all-consuming task, so planning ahead helps you keep the bigger picture in mind, leading to better results overall.
The Proactive and Reactive Management of PPC
PPC managers should act both proactively and reactively in order to achieve the best possible results for an account. Proactively, PPC managers work ahead of time, planning according to their marketing calendar. Examples of proactive work include:
Research into and development of the annual strategy
Recommending and co-ordinating seasonal offers
Analysis of previous years data to inform current years activity
Assessing competitors strategies
Planning and building landing pages for future use
Allocating budget to campaigns based on strategy
Building campaigns to cover new keyword areas
Preparing remarketing audiences to use at a later time
However, there are countless times during a year when something happens that you’re not able to plan ahead for. Reactive changes might include:
Observing competitors in real time & matching offers
Responding to un-foreseen surges in traffic
Reacting to industry changes
Making bid changes based on changes in the competitive landscape
Adding or removing keywords based on actual search data
Making changes to ad texts and landing pages as a result of performance
Ideally, the perfect PPC management strategy will include a proactive annual marketing plan to drive and inform the ongoing work, as well as time for reactive management. Pairing the two helps ensure that an account is able to reach its potential throughout the whole year.
Planning your PPC Marketing Calendar: What time of year matters to your sector?
When it comes to planning your PPC marketing calendar, start by identifying the most obvious busy times for your sector and brainstorming other peak times. These times will change very significantly from one sector to the next, but some examples of common busy periods for many industries might include:
Lead up to Christmas
Boxing Day Sales
May Bank Holidays
August Bank holidays
Guy Fawkes Night
Below are some industry specific examples to help get you thinking more strategically about when your service might be in high demand.
What Google Trends can tell you about your sector
Google Trends is a PPC marketer’s dream tool when it comes to planning a marketing calendar. You can use it to find out when your keywords are searched for most over a certain period of time to help you plan budgets and offers.
The example below shows how demand for ‘Gas boiler repair’ fluctuates over a year. As you’d expect, this term is searched for more during the winter months and dips in the summer. This gives an indication as to when there will be more customers and therefore when you should apply more budget and attention to your PPC campaign.
Meeting Search Consumer’s Expectations
Once you have a solid idea of when your services are in most demand, it’s time to decide on ways you can actually stand out and attract your customer’s attention when it’s most required.
Typically, online shoppers are very price sensitive. Users are confronted with offer after offer and habitually search for the best possible value they can get. In order to remain competitive in this market, businesses are having to offer real value to their customers. But value isn’t just about price.
Whether you’re selling a pair of shoes, a conveyancing audit or a 2-week holiday, the added value can often be found in the extras the consumer gets when they choose to buy with you. This could be anything from:
Proven exceptional service
High success rates
Brand trust & advocacy
It’s important to communicate the value offered in a clear and meaningful way. Both in your ad text, using ad extensions and on your website.
Online Trends & Competition
The UK is starting to adopt many American selling traditions, for example, Black Friday. As a result, UK consumers have grown to expect deals at this time of year, making it important to increase visibility and increase offers in line with expectations.
For ecommerce companies especially, it’s important to have an elevated budget for this time of year, as the added competition will inflate bids dramatically. Entering a bidding war on competitive items during this time might see you receive low positions, lower CTRs and lower conversions.
A PPC Marketing calendar is for everyone, not just for Ecommerce
When we hear about PPC marketing calendars, a common misconception is that this only applies to physical ‘things’, or only ecommerce businesses. However, although Paid Search does typically perform well for retail businesses, marketing calendars are extremely for all types of business.
A mistake that many PPC managers make is neglecting how annual trends apply to service based businesses. The reality is that web users use search to find local and national services more than ever before, and there will be trends behind these searches.
Beating the competition
The PPC bidding war is fierce, and increased competition means you have to be on top of your game when it comes to connecting with your audience. Once you have pulled your marketing plan together, it’s time to think about the finer details of your campaign.
Making your ad text work hard
You’ve decided on your added value – this may change depending on the time of year, or it will stay the same throughout all of your marketing activity. Either way, it’s imperative that you demonstrate this clearly in the ad text. Be clear with your call to actions and make sure they are changed accordingly.
Getting the most of out Adwords
Google Adwords offers many types of PPC campaign that can work together to help you reach your audience effectively. Each type of campaign targets your audience at different stages of their web journey, and if your messaging and timings are right, this can make them more likely to convert.
When planning your PPC marketing calendar, it’s a good idea to think about how you might plan when the different types of campaign will run. Below is an overview of each of the main campaign types and what they’re used for.
These are the text ads that appear at the top or to the right hand side of the google results page. They are the most common advert type and are used to answer direct search queries, driving qualified traffic to websites.
Display campaigns are the image based ads you see as you browse the web. You’ll often see an ad that is related to the website you’re on, for example, trainers and sports wear as you’re browsing a gym’s website or even based on your own interests. You can target these ads based on user demographics, the context of the site, or even on a list of specific websites you choose yourself. These ads are often used to create brand awareness and familiarity and are less focused on direct conversions.
As you explore the web, you may see that a product or a service you’ve previously looked at follows you around. This is the result of a remarketing campaign. It works by tracking users as they land on a website, monitoring their behaviour on it and then displaying relevant and targeted ads to them as they explore other websites. It’s a very effective way of reminding a web user about your product or service once they leave your website, and it’s possible to target specific groups of people, for example, basket abandoners and people who have spent a certain amount of time on the site without converting.
More people than ever are using Youtube which allows advertisers to carry out targeted video ad campaigns.
If you’ve got something physical to sell, then Google Shopping is an effective way to get your products in front of the people who are looking for them. It works by showing a selection of products from various vendors at the top of the results page instead of just search ads.
The below graphic demonstrates how a company who want to target winter more aggressively might allocate their PPC budget to different types of campaigns over the year.
PPC is important
We’re living in a world where buying and selling is at the top of our to-do lists. As buyers, we’re always on the hunt for the best possible value, and as sellers, we’re constantly looking for an opportunity to deliver the best possible value in order to sell more. PPC allows advertisers to target customers strategically and with ease, but can only generate the best results when it’s actively managed and optimised. Getting the most out of a long term PPC strategy can be a full time job, and not just an add-on to your marketing activity.
PPC at Loom
Loom is a Google Premier Partner agency – this means you can trust us to manage your Adwords account and generate a significant ROI. At Loom, we really understand the importance of data and annual strategy when running a PPC campaign. We prioritise achieving goals over spending a budget and our management time is utilised to ensure that campaigns achieve their best possible results. We employ a proactive, human approach to paid search that is focused on obtaining the results you want.
Get in touch with our team today and find out how we can help you make the most of your paid search activity. To learn more about how PPC can impact your business then follow our Insights section or find out about our PPC management service.
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