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Friday, February 23, 2024

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A Successful Launch—What Next?

So, you’ve actually launched a PPC account! Woo-hoo! I think back to that great IBM commercial from a few years ago where an anxious boardroom launches the company website and the first sale appears on the monitor. They all cheer. Then another sale. And another. The boardroom is going wild. And then, the sales counter starts to spin every second and the group stops. Suddenly, the ticker blurs wildly as the sales begin to mount up in the tens of thousands. The boardroom pauses in fright as the glee of new sales turns into paralysis as the realization that now the hard work begins.

You might feel the same way. You’ve spent weeks (maybe months) researching and gathering intelligence and carefully crafting your keywords and ads. And now, what’s next?

In the first few days following the launch, it’s imperative that you treat the account with kid gloves; don’t assume anything. I repeat: don’t assume anything. The first thing you should do when your account is live is go actually find a few of your paid search ads on the engines which you are running and click them. I rarely suggest clicking your own ads as you are charged for every click, but sometimes it’s the only way to properly check to make sure everything’s working. Try searching for and clicking one of your most long tail terms (lowest cost) and get to the landing page. Make sure everything looks kosher. Click through to a conversion (tip: if you actually buy something, use your advertiser’s credit card, lol). If everything worked well, then that’s a good sign. Feel free to breathe a bit easier now.

Even though you went through everything before launch using a pre-launch checklist, I urge you to check your budget caps again to make sure you don’t accidently spend too much. The last thing you want to do is blow through half of your budget accidently in the first few days—and believe me, that happens. If your budgets are set up correctly, even if something terrible goes wrong, at least you won’t spend money you shouldn’t have. Throughout the rest of the first day, check in every so often and make sure your ads are actually being served. The engine reporting systems could be as much as a couple hours behind so don’t worry if you don’t see something immediately. But certainly, three to four hours after launch, you should at least see some of your ads being served, if not clicked.

The next day, check into your accounts immediately. How much did they spend? Did they reach your daily budget caps or did they significantly under deliver? Spending to the cap is fine for now, but if your ads are under delivering, you will want to keep an eye on them. I wouldn’t touch them for at least a few days, especially if you didn’t launch early in the morning on the first day, but don’t let your account go too long under delivering, especially if you have a short flight, say a month or two. You run the risk of under pacing so much that you can never get back on track and could wind up not spending your full budget (another SEM sin!).

One of the first things you can do to prevent under delivery in AdWords is to go into the campaign settings and change your delivery method from standard to accelerated. If you remember back to Take Control of Your Campaign Settings, you know that, by default, Google will try to evenly serve your ads and actually pause them throughout so that you don’t cap out early in the day. That’s standard delivery. Accelerated delivery will serve your ad every time it wins an auction so chances are you might be able to spend your budget more quickly.

Also, check on the conversions you made yesterday. Drill down to the keyword in the ad group you converted on and see if the engine registered the event. Another benefit to testing conversions on a longer tail, less popular term is that the chance of other conversion occurring is less and you can clearly see if your own test worked. If it did, you’re golden. If it didn’t, shut off the account immediately. That’s right, pull the emergency brake. Check in with the advertiser and let them know you aren’t seeing conversions. If they want to keep going with the account (during a big promo season, a new site launch, etc.) then turn it back on. A few minutes off the air shouldn’t really affect things very much.

But, if the advertiser is as interested in measuring effectiveness as much as you should be, it’s time to recheck the conversion tags to make sure everything is right. If you can’t figure out the issue, call or email the support group at the engines. Get this issue resolved ASAP. Normally, any new PPC account can wait a few days so it’s better to spend that budget later when the measurement system is in place than just run on it without being able to show the ROI (return-on-investment).

Hopefully (and probably most of the time), your conversions are working. If they are, give the account a few days to run. Drill down through your accounts and see what’s happening. Are the keywords you thought would get the most clicks actually the ones that are? Which ad groups and campaigns are showing the most activity? What are your average click costs? Are they more or less than you thought they would be? What about your conversions? Are you actually getting sales, lead forms filled out, etc? It can pretty exciting to see your accounts beginning to take shape.

But the work has just started.

In the weeks and posts to come, we’ll dive into reporting and make you an expert in that. Once you know how to pull the reports and read the data you have, then we’ll look at optimizations you can make to improve efficiency and ROI. There will be tests to run, new inventory sources to consider and reporting deliverables required by your advertiser. The fun is just beginning.

PPC Academy is a comprehensive, one-year search advertising course from beginning to end. Starting with the basics, PPC Academy progressively explores all of the varied facets of paid search, and the tactics needed to succeed and become an advanced paid search marketer.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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