How to define and put into action
a successful PPC strategy

The key questions solved by the expert Álvaro Bautista.

Ask me
anything Series

Álvaro Bautista specialized in Business and Marketing at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

After that, he took several advanced online marketing and CRO programs at KSchool. He believes that formal training is important to build solid foundations, and he also remarks the importance of continuous training.

He started his career in digital marketing almost 10 years ago in a startup where he realized that he really wanted to follow this professional path.

As a freelance online marketing consultant he has been helping companies of all types and sizes for almost 6 years.

This year 2020 and the unpredictable situations we’re living have brought new challenges to the world of e-commerce. PPC campaigns are always a hot topic when it comes to their optimization and return, and this year there has been much discussion about issues that are now the focus of many PPC specialists active in the online retail world.

In this new edition of our series “Ask me anything”, we have been lucky enough to collaborate with the marketing expert Alvaro Bautista, who will help us to solve some of our doubts about the most commented PPC topics of this year. Likewise, he will also offer us his vision about the trends in PPC campaigns for the coming year 2021.

We hope that the information below becomes useful to you and that you can take full advantage of these valuable tips and contributions from the expert.

According to your experience in the e-commerce world and in different types of sectors:

Which are the most relevant KPIs that we should define before elaborating our PPC strategy?

The most relevant KPIs depend on each type of business, it is not something generic.

 The first thing to do is to ask questions about the business you work with in order to know in depth their main needs and objectives, so that you can get to plan the right PPC campaigns:

define its structure, the bidding strategy and the KPIs for that particular business or campaign. For example, the typical ROAS is always an important KPI in ecommerce but depending on what the objectives of each business are it will be more or less relevant: profitability, grow by gaining market share, generate notoriety? Therefore, depending on the objectives and strategy of that specific business, the KPIs will be different in every case. In addition, one has to consider who will use such KPIs and why those are needed. KPIs can be defined to help the marketing director make decisions and KPIs can be defined to help the PPC specialist. To define KPIs the most important thing is the questions you have to ask.

On the other hand, it is very important to evaluate the quality of the data, it is usually taken for granted but many times it is difficult to maintain over time…because of errors in tracking implementations, deep changes in the structure of a website or even changes in how analytics tools or platforms measure the metrics.

The first thing to do is to ask questions about the business you work with in order to know in depth their main needs and objectives, so that you can get to plan the right PPC campaigns

This year 2020 has been unpredictable at all levels, and the world of the PPC has been no exception. The most talked about topics this year have been automation, audience definition, as well as user privacy.

How does all this affect the structuring of PPC campaigns in the ecommerce world?

The use of machine learning helps to be more efficient at the level of investment and campaign management. It makes us put efforts in a better alignment between campaigns and strategy. The problem is that Google Ads or Facebook Ads mainly seek their efficiency and profitability, implementing this in an opaque way.

 The most important thing you should consider about machine learning is what data you are going to feed as conversions to the platforms, the quality of the data and if it is really enough for the correct optimization of the campaign or account through machine learning.

For example, perhaps in a campaign you need to incorporate (as the main conversion action) ‘add to the cart’ instead of just transactions to provide sufficient data to the platforms about which are your potential customers. And on the other hand, perhaps you need a smaller structure of campaigns and ad groups because otherwise not enough conversion data is generated per campaign to obtain the best performance from the algorithms. The important thing for the structure is to find a balance between what is optimal for the platforms at the machine learning level and what we need at the business level.

Audience management is a fundamental pillar for structuring campaigns, but it is necessary to be clear about what type of campaign and how each audience will be used over time. For example, it is important to have control over the various remarketing audiences you can generate and to assess the budget allocated to these audiences. ROAS on remarketing is usually high, but we should not be guided only by metrics, but think about the context and determine if with these campaigns we can be getting incremental conversions or if we are cannibalizing conversions that could be generated organically.

The limitation of data: elimination of cookies and restrictions on access to search terms.

With these handicaps, how can we make decisions to improve our accounts?

In the case of search terms in Google Ads it is important to make a previous planning of search patterns to incorporate negative keywords and it is also advisable to elaborate ‘negative’ audiences.

You should focus more on analyzing the performance of URLs or broader search patterns and audiences, rather than just a specific keyword.

In relation to having less data or more noise in the data due to cookie settings, you have to adapt because the data provided by the tools has never been that inaccurate, an example of this is the direct traffic of Google Analytics or the conversion attribution models. What you may want to consider is the extent to which cookie settings affect you in your data collection. For example, if most of our users use Safari or Chrome, for how long are the cookies in each browser compared to the purchase decision process in our ecommerce? It is also useful to assess which of the data we collect is useful to help us make decisions when the implementation of cookie policy acceptance has been done strictly.

How can we better understand what our audience is looking for?

In order to get to better understand your potential clients, first you must know well what is the positioning of each business with which you collaborate within its competitive environment. On the other hand, you can have access to many quantitative and qualitative analysis tools in order to analyze each customer segment.

You can collect all the data you want, but what is relevant is that you devote resources to analyze and think about who are priority and secondary, what are their objectives, motivations and barriers.

Then plan how to exploit the opportunities that exist through PPC campaigns. In the case of search campaigns it is always useful to analyze the information with tools such as SEMRush, GSC or the Google Ads planner itself, to discover search patterns and the intention of each one aligned with each customer segment of the business. With this purpose, you can analyze which functionalities appear on the SERPs, along with related searches, the titles and descriptions of the pages that appear at both SEO and PPC level, the kind of content that exists in the landing pages or even Google Images displayed.

Automation makes PPC specialists lose more and more control.

How can we ensure the effectiveness of our campaigns in this situation?

Regardless of whether there is more or less automation, it should not be forgotten that what campaigns do is give scope to the products or services offered by a business in a competitive environment.

Sometimes this is forgotten and it is thought that “the campaign does not work” because of the machine learning or the marketing agency and what perhaps happens is that the business does not have competitive advantages. When price is very important at a competitive level, making use of tools such as Netrivals enables a business to carry out a more efficient catalog management and pricing strategy and in turn will have a positive impact on the effectiveness of PPC campaigns.

At the campaign management level, it is necessary to review where the budget is allocated to campaigns with greater automation, to build negative audiences, to mark negative keywords in Google Ads, to plan with which metrics we will feed the machine learning, to review the quality of transactions or leads and to have special control over remarketing and brand term campaigns. In addition, we must plan when it is useful to incorporate more automated campaigns.

Regardless of whether there is more or less automation, it should not be forgotten that what campaigns do is give scope to the products or services offered by a business in a competitive environment.

What do you think will be the trends in PPC and paid social advertising for the next year 2021?

I believe that the trends will continue in the same line, greater automation where

the tools will be better and better identifying patterns among the audiences

which will enable the implementation of increasingly sophisticated bidding strategies. We will see the war for ecommerce between Google Shopping, Facebook Shops and Amazon, which will make the efficient management of product catalogs and prices increasingly important for the performance of PPC campaigns. More trends may be related to greater offline conversion integrations for attribution improvements or new functionalities in the platforms that enable greater campaign customization, along with the possibility of creating more interactive and visual ads.