What you’ll need before you get started setting up a PPC account and paid search campaign

PPC has proven to be a highly effective and efficient marketing channel for businesses of all sizes and industries. However, it’s also very easy to waste a lot of money and have little to show for it. Before you start your first campaign, there are some things you’ll need to prepare.

Goals

As with any marketing effort, it’s key to establish the business goals for your campaigns first. In PPC, this is particularly important because those goals often inform the structure of your campaigns. One way to structure your campaigns, for example, is to do so based on where people are in your marketing funnel.

Figure out what it is you want to achieve with your paid search campaigns: Is it to build awareness and consideration among prospects? Generate leads? Sell products? Increase average order value? Upsell existing customers? Increase loyalty? Drive app installs or in-app actions? Whatever your goals, map those out first.

Adequate budget

Without a sufficient budget, your ads won’t show often. There are many ways to control spend in AdWords, but doing it by limiting budget is just about the worst way to do so. It also means you won’t get enough clicks or conversion data to learn and optimize your campaigns, let alone meet your business goals.

Landing pages

The best campaign structure, the best ads and all the optimization levers in AdWords, Bing Ads or any other platform won’t make a difference if you don’t have good landing pages. As mobile now makes up a majority of searches and ad clicks, mobile landing page speed is a factor. It’s critical to have landing pages load quickly on all devices and provide a good user experience that’s relevant to their search query and provides an intuitive path to the action you want them to take.

In the Landing Pages report in the new AdWords interface, Google now shows a “Mobile-friendly click rate” and “Valid AMP [Accelerated Mobile Pages] click rate” to give advertisers more visibility into how their landing pages are performing on mobile. You can also check the mobile-friendliness of your pages with Google’s mobile-friendly test tool.

If your business goal is to acquire leads, but you don’t have a lead form or clear call to action on the landing page, your campaigns probably won’t yield the results you want or the user behavior that signals a good user experience to the search engines.

If your site sells baby products and your ad for the search query “baby stroller” takes a user to your home page instead of the baby stroller category page, most visitors won’t spend time figuring out how to find baby strollers on your site. Instead, users will click back to the search results, and that ad’s Quality Score will suffer.

A testing mindset

Your campaigns may not meet your objectives right out of the gate. Successful search campaigns require ongoing analysis, testing and optimization. From bidding to targeting to messaging to landing page strategies, all play a role in performance. And because the search engines are constantly testing and introducing new features themselves, there is a constant learning curve and opportunities to try new things.

Dedicated resources (people)

The size of your budget and complexity of your campaigns will dictate how much time and talent you should dedicate to managing, analyzing and optimizing your paid search efforts. It’s incredibly easy to waste money on PPC. Having the right talent in place and resources devoted to your efforts will save money and headache.

Read more of The Search Engine Land Guide to PPC: