This is a bit of a tricky topic, everyone has their own opinion and its probably all different. Google and other Adwords experts have best practice and guides for setting up campaigns. People have wrote entire papers on the proper Adwords setup and I could discuss this ad nauseam. I will try to write a very high level summary of what I feel are the more important issues when setting up campaigns and link to more detailed information at the bottom of the post.
Essentially, proper campaign setup really depends on what your marketing goals are. The main issue is that every business has goals that are unique to them. Before you even open your Adwords account you need to assess who your target audience is, where they are located (geographically) and what they may be looking for. Some of this information can be gleaned from the Google Keyword Planner tool in your Adwords account (which I will discuss in a separate post). You should probably have already done some market research into who your potential customers are and know more or less where they located.
What to do if your customers are spread over a large geographic area?
This is an important step in planning out the structure of your Adwords campaigns. If your customers are spread over a large geographic area for example east cost, west coast or even across continents you may want to create a separate campaign for each area. The primary reason is that you want to be able to adjust your bidding strategy based on geographic location of your customers – specifically the time of day they are most active. The problem is that day-parting (adjusting your keyword bids based on the time of day) is a setting on the campaign level and not on the ad group level. So, if you were to create a campaign and target both US and UK in the same campaign you wont be able to properly adjust the bids because of the time zone difference. To clarify; lets say you notice that users in the US convert better during the morning hours. So you’d want to increase your bids accordingly, however you also notice that users in the UK also convert better during morning hours, but morning in the UK is the middle of the night in the US so you can’t adjust the bids. In this case you’d want to have two separate campaigns, one for the US and one for the UK. This way you can adjust the bids on each campaign separately.
Is there such thing as an ‘optimal’ campaign structure?
It really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. I don’t think there is one type of structure that will work across the board, after all a B2B lead gen account structure is going to be completely different than an ecommerce store account. It all comes down to what are your business objectives are and who your audience is. Google’s official stand on the matter is this; create campaigns and ad groups to mirror your website and if possible separate them geographically (as outlined in the paragraph above). But you may also want to consider separating your campaigns based on user intent. For example you want to create a ‘top-of-funnel’ campaign with keywords like ‘reviews’, ‘product A vs product B’ and a ‘low-funnel’ campaign with keywords like ‘buy product model #’. The top of funnel campaigns will have more broader, informative keywords and the low-funnel keywords focus more on user actions. This may seem overly complicated but it helps by giving you the granularity to optimize on a much lower resolution.
Naming Your Campaigns
When creating your campaigns you want to follow the golden rule of campaign naming conventions. If someone else were to look into the account, would they understand what is going on without speaking to you? You have no idea how many times i’ve taken over accounts that were managed by other agencies or internal individuals who no longer work for the organization and had to spend countless hours trying to make sense of what is happening. Just remember to stick to important attributes and if possible include all the required information at a glance. Also, try to keep everything consistent and stick to it. This may seem trivial but trust me whoever takes over the account from you down the line will thank you.