Optimize Your PPC Program with the 3 “Cs”

If you’re starting or optimizing a PPC program, it doesn’t matter what the business is, the approach is largely the same. I’m talking about using the 3 Cs to explore and create your ad strategy: company, competition and campaign.

  1. Company: Exploring the brand, its products and services, the audience and more.Wood Letter C
  2. Competition: Looking into the competitive landscape to see what you’re up against.
  3. Campaign: Diving into the logistics of the program, including budget, goals, ad messaging and more.

In this post, I’ll share with you some of the questions we use to discover as much as possible about the client in order to create an informed PPC strategy.


The purpose of this research is to better understand the brand and company logistics, which directly affects how you set up and plan for your PPC program. Whether you’re an in-house PPC practitioner or on the agency side, these are important questions to ask:

  • How would you describe your company/product/service in a few sentences?
  • What are three to five key selling points of your company/product/service?
  • Describe your target audience. Do you have a secondary audience or market you are hoping to tap into?
  • What is the price range of your product and/or service?
  • What are the geographic targets for your service? Any geographic exclusions?
  • What are peak times and slow times for your business?
  • What current challenges does your company have when marketing to customers?
  • Do you do any business over the phone? At a physical location? All online?


No matter what business you’re in, you have competition. In PPC, your competition is those businesses that are bidding on the same keywords as you are. Knowing your actual competition and what they’re up to with their paid search strategy sets the bar for your campaign. Likewise, knowing what sets you apart is key. Here are a few questions to explore in this area:

  • What sets your company/product/service apart from competitors?
  • How do your products/services rate in the marketplace compared to competitors? For example, biggest range of inventory? Personal customer service? Best prices?
  • Who do you consider to be your top competitors?


This part of the research comprises the nitty gritty details of the program – things like budget, return on investment and more. Here, we recommend diving into:

  • What the goals are for this PPC program
  • The monthly budget
  • The ideal cost per acquisition
  • The measurement of PPC ROI. Is it revenue? Lead generation?
  • Ad messaging used in the past. What has worked best? What hasn’t worked?
  • Products that need priority in the PPC program
  • Any ad messaging tests you’d like to conduct. What about landing page conversion tests, too?
  • Offers available with the product/service. For example, free shipping? Bulk pricing? Limited-time offers?
  • Phrases/ideas/words that are “off limits” in the ads

Next Step: Strategy and Implementation

After you’ve run through the research, it’s time to start mapping the information to the ad account. Google gives tips on how to set up your PPC program here. Keep in mind that with any new campaign, you should watch it closely once it goes live to work out any kinks. I recommend checking out this post on monitoring new campaigns, and what to watch for.

Don’t forget to perform your daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly research as well to ensure the account stays optimized well beyond the initial build. Check out this guide I wrote for Search Engine Watch on how to maintain your PPC operations.

Questions or comments? Would love to hear from you below.