Step-by-Step Guide Before Launching Google Ads Campaign

Google Ads Campaign, Tom Recio, Digital Marketing Specialist


I’ll assume that you’re currently running a Google Ads campaign or planning to run your first Google Ads campaign, that’s why you’re here. Are you asking yourself what to do before starting Google Ads? Or have you ever stopped to consider the crucial details that might have slipped through the cracks before launching a Google Ads campaign? Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned professional looking to enhance your strategy for Google Ads management, the quest for obtaining an additional advantage is a shared collective journey among many marketers regardless of one’s level of expertise.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a diverse range of clients from around the globe, each with a variety of compelling case studies that have been a pivotal aspect of my journey. Throughout these years, each unique project has sharpened my skills, refined my strategies, and influenced my approach to how to launch a Google Ads campaign effectively.

I’m thrilled to share my personal playbook for developing a successful pre-launch game plan. This isn’t just a vague overview or a rehash of standard advice – this is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide drawn from my real-world experience, filled with specific, actionable tips and best practices. A little disclaimer though, this is what works for me and I understand that everyone has their own way of doing things, or has their own SOPs or checklists, but I’ve used this for the longest time and it works like a charm every time.

Here is my 8-Step Guide Before Launching a Google Ads Campaign:

  1. Understanding Your Products and/or Services
  2. Knowing Your Target Audience and Creating a Buyer’s Persona
  3. Knowing Your Competitors
  4. Keyword Research and Grouping
  5. Creating a High-Conversion Landing Page
  6. Setting Up Conversion Tracking Through Google Tag Manager (GTM)
  7. Setting Up The Ultimate Trio for Web Analysis
  8. Creating a Media Plan

1. Understanding Your Products and/or Services

When it comes to running a successful Google Ads campaign, the first and perhaps most crucial piece of knowledge you need is an in-depth understanding of your own business or your client’s business, its products, and/or services. This is not just about knowing what you sell but understanding why it matters to your customers. It’s about understanding your unique selling proposition (USP) – what sets you apart from your competitors.

Your USP is what you’ll leverage in your ad campaigns to make potential customers choose you over your competitors. Whether it’s superior quality, exceptional service, innovative features, or cost-effectiveness, your USP should be at the heart of your Google Ads campaign.

Knowing your products and/or services inside out will allow you to create more targeted, compelling ad content. You need to understand not just what your product does, but also how it benefits your customers, how it meets their needs or solves their problems.

This understanding will allow you to highlight the right features in your ads, craft persuasive ad copy, and choose the most effective keywords for your campaign. Remember, your customers aren’t just buying a product; they’re buying a solution to their problem.

Once you have a deep understanding of your business and your offerings, you can translate this knowledge into a winning ad strategy. This might involve highlighting your USP in your ad copy, targeting keywords related to the unique features of your products, or positioning your brand as the go-to solution for your customers’ needs.

2. Knowing Your Target Audience and Creating a Buyer’s Persona

Understanding your audience is paramount. When it comes to Google Ads campaigns, this takes the form of creating a detailed buyer’s persona. This step is as crucial as understanding your business, products, and services. In fact, these two components go hand in hand, forming the backbone of any successful advertising strategy.

Why Knowing Your Audience Matters

The main goal of any advertising campaign is to reach potential customers and convince them to choose your product or service. But how can you do this effectively if you don’t fully understand who those potential customers are? Knowing your audience allows you to tailor your messaging to their specific needs, interests, and pain points, making your ads more persuasive and impactful.

Creating a Buyer’s Persona

A buyer’s persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. It includes details about their demographic characteristics, behavioral patterns, motivations, and goals.

To create a comprehensive buyer’s persona, you might need to conduct market research, gather data from your existing customers, or use online tools and platforms that provide insights into consumer behavior.

When creating a buyer’s persona, consider factors like:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, location, income level, educational background.
  • Psychographics: Interests, hobbies, values, attitudes, and lifestyle.
  • Behavior: Online habits, preferred social media platforms, purchasing behavior.
  • Needs and Pain Points: What problems is your audience trying to solve? How can your product or service help?

Applying the Buyer’s Persona to Your Google Ads Campaign

Once you’ve created a detailed buyer’s persona, you can use this profile to guide your Google Ads campaign. This might involve targeting specific keywords that your audience is likely to search for, crafting ad copy that speaks directly to their needs and interests, or choosing ad placements that align with their online behavior.

Remember, the more accurately your ads reflect your audience’s needs and preferences, the more likely they are to resonate with potential customers.

3. Knowing Your Competitors: Analyzing Campaigns and Landing Pages for Competitive Advantage

Keeping a close eye on your competitors can give you a significant edge. To run successful Google Ads campaigns, it’s important to understand what your competitors are doing right in their campaigns and landing pages, and how you can take those elements and improve upon them.

Why Knowing Your Competitors Matters

Understanding your competitors is crucial because it gives you insight into what strategies and tactics are working in your industry. By analyzing their campaigns and landing pages, you can identify best practices, discover new trends or ideas, and find opportunities to differentiate your own brand.

Analyzing Competitor Campaigns

Competitor analysis isn’t just about identifying who your competitors are. It’s about digging deep into their marketing strategies to understand what makes them successful.

This could involve analyzing their ad copy, keyword targeting, bidding strategy, or even the timing of their campaigns. Look for patterns and trends that might reveal their strategy. What keywords are they targeting? What kind of ad copy are they using? How are they positioning their products or services?

Learning from Competitor Landing Pages

Landing pages are a critical component of any digital marketing strategy. They’re where your potential customers land after clicking on your ad, and they play a huge role in converting those potential customers into actual customers.

Competitor comparison landing pages, in particular, are a goldmine of information. These pages compare the competitor’s product or service with others in the market, highlighting their strengths and downplaying their weaknesses.

Key things to look for when analyzing competitor landing pages include:

  • Content: How is the information structured? What kind of language do they use?
  • Design: What does the layout look like? Is it easy to navigate?
  • Calls to Action: What actions are they encouraging visitors to take?
  • Social Proof: Are they using testimonials, reviews, or case studies to build trust?

Improving Upon Competitor Strategies

The goal of competitor analysis isn’t to copy what your competitors are doing, but to learn from them and improve upon their strategies. This could involve targeting different keywords, crafting more compelling ad copy, designing a more user-friendly landing page, or even offering a better value proposition.

Knowing your competitors and understanding what they’re doing right in their campaigns and landing pages is a critical step in running a successful Google Ads campaign. It allows you to learn from their successes, avoid their mistakes, and carve out your own unique space in the market.

4. Keyword Research and Grouping: The Cornerstone of a Successful Google Ads Campaign

Keywords are the main connectors between your business and potential customers. They are the words and phrases that users type into Google when they’re looking for products or services like yours. Hence, understanding keyword research and grouping them based on intent is critical for any successful campaign.

Why Keyword Research Matters

Keyword research is the process of identifying the most relevant and valuable keywords for your Google Ads campaign. These keywords should reflect what your target audience is searching for when they need the products or services you offer.

By targeting the right keywords, you can ensure your ads appear to the right people at the right time, increasing the chances of clicks and conversions.

Conducting Keyword Research

There are several tools and methods available for keyword research. Google’s own Keyword Planner is a popular choice, as it provides insights directly from Google’s search data. Other options include SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz’s Keyword Explorer.

When conducting keyword research, consider:

  • Relevance: The keywords should be closely related to your products or services.
  • Search Volume: Ideally, the keywords should have a decent number of monthly searches.
  • Competition: High-competition keywords can be more expensive to bid on, so consider your budget.

Understanding User Intent

User intent refers to what the user is trying to achieve when they type a query into a search engine. There are generally four types of user intent:

  1. Informational: The user is looking for information or answers to a question.
  2. Navigational: The user is trying to get to a specific website.
  3. Transactional: The user is ready to buy and is looking for a place to make a purchase.
  4. Commercial Investigation: The user is considering a purchase and is comparing different options.

Grouping Keywords Based on Intent

Once you’ve identified your keywords, the next step is to create ad groups based on user intent. This allows you to tailor your ad copy and landing pages to match what the user is looking for, increasing the chances of a successful conversion.

For example, keywords with transactional intent like “buy running shoes online” could be put together in one ad group and targeted with search ads that highlight your product range and offer easy online purchase options.

Negative Keywords

An often overlooked aspect of keyword research is the use of negative keywords. Negative keywords are terms that you specifically do not want your ads to appear for. For instance, if you’re selling luxury watches, you might want to include “cheap” or “discount” as negative keywords to avoid attracting customers looking for low-cost alternatives.

Keyword research and creating ad groups based on intent is a vital components of a successful Google Ads campaign. It ensures your ads reach the right people at the right time, aligns your messaging with user needs, and ultimately drives more clicks and conversions.

5. Creating a High-Conversion Landing Page

Creating dedicated, high-converting landing pages is the gateway to conversions. A well-designed, keyword-optimized landing page can significantly improve your conversion rates and boost ROI of your search ads. Importantly, it’s recommended to create a dedicated landing page for each campaign or ad group, rather than directing users to your homepage.

Why Not Use the Homepage?

While your homepage serves as a general introduction to your business, it’s not designed to convert visitors from specific ad campaigns. It often contains a lot of information that can distract the visitor from the main call to action (CTA).

On the other hand, a dedicated landing page is focused on a single goal relevant to the ad that brought the visitor there. It’s tailored to the specific keywords and ad copy used in the campaign, which can significantly increase the chances of conversion.

How to Create a High-Conversion Landing Page

Here are some elements to consider when creating a high-conversion landing page:

  1. Match the Ad Copy: Your landing page should align with the ad copy that brought the visitor there. This includes using the same language, offers, and call-to-actions (CTAs).
  2. Use Relevant Keywords: Incorporate the keywords you’re targeting in your search ad campaign into your landing page copy. This not only helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but it also assures visitors that they’re in the right place.
  3. Clear and Compelling Headline: Your headline should instantly communicate the value of your offer and compel visitors to continue reading.
  4. Focus on Benefits: Highlight the benefits of your product or service, not just the features. This helps visitors understand how your offering can solve their problems or improve their lives.
  5. Strong Call to Action (CTA): Your CTA should be clear, compelling, and easy to find. It should tell visitors exactly what you want them to do next. Whether it is a Buy Now button for online purchases or a Book Now button for appointments or reservations, you should be guiding your website visitors to take action on your landing page to get a conversion.
  6. Minimal Distractions: Remove any elements that could distract visitors from your CTA, such as unnecessary links or information. The goal is to guide visitors toward conversion, not to confuse them.

Creating a dedicated, high-conversion landing page based on keywords is a vital component of a successful Google Ads campaign. It ensures your landing page aligns with your ad copy and target keywords, providing a cohesive and focused experience for visitors, and ultimately leading to higher conversion rates.

6. Setting Up Conversion Tracking Through Google Tag Manager (GTM)

Conversion tracking is a powerful tool in Google Ads that lets you identify how well your ad campaign is generating leads, sales, downloads, email sign-ups, phone calls, and other key actions for your business based on user clicks or user actions on your website. The Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a free tool that makes it easy to update and deploy marketing tags on your website without having to modify the code.

How to set up conversion tracking with Google Tag Manager (GTM):

  1. Set Up A Conversion Action in Google Ads: First, you need to create a conversion action in Google Ads. Go to the “Tools & Settings” menu in Google Ads, then select “Conversions”. Click the “+ Conversion” button and choose the type of conversion you want to track.
  2. Install Google Tag Manager: If you haven’t already, install Google Tag Manager on your website. You’ll need to add a piece of code to your website, which can usually be done through your website’s backend or CMS.
  3. Create a New Tag: In GTM, create a new tag for your Google Ads conversion tracking. Choose the tag type as ‘Google Ads Conversion Tracking’, and input the Conversion ID and Conversion Label from the conversion action you set up in Google Ads.
  4. Define a Trigger: Triggers determine when your tag will fire. For a conversion tracking tag, you’ll typically want it to fire on a specific page (like a thank you or confirmation page) or after a specific action (like a button click). Set up a trigger that corresponds to your desired conversion event.
  5. Test Your Tag: Use GTM’s “Preview” mode to test your tag and make sure it’s firing correctly. You can also use Google’s “Tag Assistant” extension for Chrome to help with this.
  6. Publish Your Tag: Once you’ve confirmed that your tag is working correctly, click “Submit” to publish your changes. Your new conversion tracking setup should now be live!

Remember, it can take up to 24 hours for conversions to appear in your Google Ads account. Also, it’s good practice to regularly check your tags and triggers in GTM to ensure everything is working as expected.

Google Tag Manager is a powerful tool for managing your Google Ads conversion tracking. It provides a more flexible and efficient way to track conversions, allowing you to optimize your campaigns based on accurate, real-time data.

7. Setting Up The Ultimate Trio for Web Analysis: Social Media Pixels, Google Analytics, and Microsoft Clarity

Understanding your audience’s behavior is crucial for successful digital marketing. This is where tools like social media pixels, Google Analytics, and Microsoft Clarity come into play. These powerful tools can provide essential insights to help you optimize your marketing efforts and run Google Ads.

1. Social Media Pixels

Social media pixels, like the Facebook Pixel, are small pieces of code that you add to your website. They track user interactions on your site that result from your Google ads or social media ads.

How to Install a Facebook Pixel:

  • Create a pixel in your Facebook Events Manager.
  • Add the pixel code to the header section of your website. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, plugins like ‘Insert Headers and Footers’ can make this process easier.

2. Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics provides comprehensive insights about your website traffic, user behavior, and conversions.

How to Install Google Analytics 4:

  • Sign up for a Google Analytics 4 account and create a property for your website.
  • You’ll receive a unique tracking code.
  • Add this tracking code to every page on your website. Again, you can use a plugin or Google Tag Manager to simplify this process.

3. Microsoft Clarity

Not many marketing professionals know about Microsoft Clarity or even use this but this is one of my favorite tools and all of the websites that I’ve worked on throughout the years have this installed. Microsoft Clarity is a free-to-use tool that provides behavioral insights, heatmaps, and session recordings to understand how users interact with your website.

How to Install Microsoft Clarity:

  • Sign up for a Microsoft Clarity account and add your website.
  • You’ll receive a unique tracking code.
  • Add this code to your website, similar to the Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics.

Why This Trio is Powerful

Using these three tools together gives you a comprehensive view of your website performance especially when you run Google ads:

  • Social Media Pixels allow you to measure the effectiveness of your social media ads, track conversions, and retarget users.
  • Google Analytics gives you detailed statistics about your website’s traffic, user demographics, and user behavior.
  • Microsoft Clarity provides visual insights through heatmaps and session recordings, helping you understand how users interact with your website.

By understanding these insights, you can make data-driven decisions to optimize your website design, improve user experience, and enhance your marketing strategies. This powerful trio indeed acts as a secret weapon for successful Google Search Ads and Display Ads.

8. Creating a Media Plan: Budget Recommendations, Estimated Clicks & CPC, and Estimated Conversions

A media plan is a strategy for advertising campaigns detailing where and when to place ads. It includes determining the budget, estimating clicks and cost per click (CPC), and forecasting conversions. Here’s how you can create a media plan:

  1. Set a Budget: Based on the client’s goals and the cost of advertising on the chosen platforms, recommend a budget for the campaign. Consider factors like the client’s overall marketing budget, the importance of this campaign in their marketing strategy, and the cost of advertising in their industry.
  2. Estimated Ad Clicks & Cost-Per-Click (CPC): Use keyword research tools (like Google’s Keyword Planner) to estimate the number of clicks your Google Search ads might receive and the average CPC. This will depend on factors like your keywords’ competition level, the quality of your ads, and your bid strategy.
  3. Forecast Conversions: Based on your estimated clicks and the client’s current conversion rate, you can predict the number of conversions the campaign might generate. Remember, not every click will result in a conversion, so it’s important to set realistic expectations.
  4. Choose Platforms & Formats: Decide where and in what format to place your ads. This may include search engine advertising, display ads, image ads, video ads, banner ads, etc.

Remember that a media plan is a dynamic document. It should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure it continues to align with your client’s goals and responds to changes in the market.

Creating your first campaign on Google Ads can be a daunting or terrifying task, but with a clear step-by-step guide, it can become an effective tool in your digital marketing arsenal. Before launching an ad campaign, it’s crucial to define your advertising goals, conduct thorough keyword research, and set a realistic budget. These steps form the foundation of a successful Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign, enabling you to reach your target audience effectively. Crafting compelling ad copy and setting clear objectives for your campaign further enhance its efficacy, ultimately driving traffic and boosting your business.

By following this proven step-by-step guide before launching a Google Ads campaign, you can ensure your campaign remains competitive, maximizing your return on investment. You already won half the battle of managing an effective and successful Google Ads campaign. In my next blog, I’ll demonstrate and discuss how to properly configure the ad campaign settings.

If you feel overwhelmed by the complexities of starting your first Google ads campaign, I’m here to make it easier. I’ll guide you through the world of PPC advertising, ensuring you get the best results from your investment. Whether you need help setting up your Google ads account, setting up your first campaign, conducting keyword research, or optimizing ongoing performance, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you on my next blog.



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