I couldnot resist myself from responding to this rather "old link".
My suggestions to a small business owner for managing PPC Campaign(tested over ample number of campaigns with success):
1. The entire PPC Campaign process can be broadly divided into three stages:
a.the keyword stage
b.the bid management stage
c.the performance measurement stage
Our experience has been a well managed campaign requires sufficient focus on all the three stages.
2a.Industry research: Competiton websites - PPC benchmarks - rough spends - offers by comeptition - industry trends (avg.CPC,comeptition intensity ,etc,)
2b.Analyzing your website: You need to chart out your focus areas - what is that you want from the PPC Campaign and which sections of your site(s) address the "NEEDS OF THE TRAFFIC/VISITOR" who come to your site from PPC ads. After this you should clearly draw up a list of strengths - the areas you would like to focus - and finally have some sort of an idea as to which are the keywords you would want to focus on for PPC campaign
2c.Keyword Research and Generation: Now that you have some idea "what you want to do" you can use tools like PrioritySubmit(arguably the best tool available currently),WordTracker,Overture Suggestion tool and Google SandBox. There are some tools like keyword tumbler that give you the combinations and misspelling tools like SearchSpell.
The idea is to generate a comprehensive list of keywords from which you can select the optimal list .
2d.Keyword Selection - Now you have a bunch of keywords...you need to select the most optimal set...can be tricky
The ideal way is to "quantify your objectives" and "assign a weight" to each objective....whoa! To make it look simple, suppose you have a campaign budget of $100, and have three objectives: achieve a CPA of $x, get y clicks, get a CTR(Click Through Rate) z. Now you need to decide how much money would you allocate to each of these objectives.Keywords can be divided into three objective oriented sets.Seems simple...not really, because there will be "overlapping kw's" that address multiple objectives.
After you have decided the above you have:
1. A clear "boundary condition" or a constraint : Budget - number of clicks - CPA
2. Using the tools mentioned(Overture is easiest) get the list of kw's that address each objective and select the "list that seems to fit most optimally".
3. Now you would have: Say,three sets of kw's each with a defined objective and bounadry condition. And in each set you would have say n number of kw's.
IF THE ABOVE PROCESS IS CARRIED OUT WELL - 50% OF YOUR CONCERNS ON PPC CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT ARE TAKEN CARE OF!!!
2e. Now comes a part that's difficult for most and easy for some
Writing ad copy:
This is one time consuming job and calls for expertise. You may have selected the best set of kw's,but if the copy is not effective, what's the use?? No one would click your ad...and a strict SE like Google would give you a poor score on relevancy (CTR) and push your site down in the listing
The other week my copy writing team went berserk writing ad copy for a client who had 10,000 keywords and wanted 3000 unique ad copies.
2f. You have written the ads
Now you need to specify the "effective destination page URL's". Its of no use leading a visitor to a page that doesnot contain the stuff she wants. We have observed that 80% of the sites DONOT specify the appropriate landing URL and thereby lose out. Who has the patience to search your site for info? Its not for nothing that Amazon started and to great effect the "one click" concept.
3.The Keyword BidManagement Phase
3a.You have defined keyword sets/groups and for each group you have specified the objectives - CPA, clicks et al. Now you need to monitor your bids closely for all the keywords so that the objectives specified are attained. In a competitive category like travel the bids can change thereby affecting your site's position on the SERP, maybe even 300 times in a day!!! Your site might have been in top position at 10am CST but at 10.30am for the same CPC it might not be there in the top 10!!!! Gosh
Keep a round the clock vigil especially for the competitive sectors.
3b. The menace of click frauds - I mentioned in a post in the same forum yesterday that 15% of the budget on an average goes down the drain because of fraudulent clicks. You must have sufficient capability to capture instances of fraud and bring them to SE's notice. Also, you must keep a very close watch over the logs and take immediate action.
Carrying out bid management in a rigorous manner is painful- in competitive industries you have to maintain a 24 hours vigil - no breaks - no off days(the visitor does not recognize off - days ).However, if this stage is carried out meticulously it can result in substantial savings and qualified clicks.
I read this somewhere: about 75-80% of marketers DONOT make a profit using PPC.
Take control over your campaign...its your business!
4. Performance monitoring - Do you know how effective your campaign is? Are u making money? How many additional conversions have you received? How many visitors are visiting your site? What pages on the site are they visiting? How much time they are spending per page? Which links are they clicking ? Whats the conversion ratio - click to sales? what's the cost per lead? Whats the CPA? Are you "in the range" compared to competition?
If you don't, either you are not serious about your marketing... or probably you just don't care...
Get one of the numerous analytics tools available in the market TODAY.
However, this is just the basics - the same process has to be repeated everyday - the campaign optimized based on performance data - set objectives - its trickier in Adwords with the importance given to CTR(relevance).I was discussing this with a Senior Personnel in Google Adwords the other day: one of my advertiser's sites suddenly got a flurry of impressions but no clicks - as a result the CTR went down and as Google listing depends on CTR*CPC , the site went down in listing!!! This was a case of impression fraud
PPC is arguably the most powerful advertising mode available to a marketer today (the average cost per lead is just 45 cents compared to 55cents for emails and $1.2 for yellow pages), however, with increasing competiton and entry of bigger players in the fray , it has become extremely important for the campaigns to be managed well.
Have fun and wish you success with PPC