Successful PPC Campaigns Are Earned, Not Created
We’ve been managing Google Adwords and Bing Ads campaigns for a long time. Most of our clients found their way to us after they’d tried, unsuccessfully, to get a positive ROI from pay per click advertising on their own. Over the years, the campaigns we’ve reviewed shared many of the same tell-tale signs of under performance. Some mistakes that novice PPC managers make are easy to overcome. Other times, it requires blowing up the whole account and starting fresh. Better than starting fresh is doing it right the first time. With that in mind, you”l want to check out our guide to running a successful PPC campaign laid out below:
#1 Avoid Adwords Express: We’re putting this first. If you selected this option, reconsider that move and start over. This “gets you in the game” quickly, but scoots past all the important stuff you have to consider for your campaign to really work. This is an important marketing decision. Treat it like one!
#2 Make Sure To Separate “Search” And “Display”: If you go with the default of search and display combined…congratulations! Google loves you, because every 2nd and 3rd tier publisher in their network will show your text ads, eating up the bulk of your budget and driving down CTR’s. Save display campaigns for display ads, especially retargeting (which we’ll get to later).
#3 Set Up The Right Geographic Targeting: The default setting for AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns is targeting the entire United States (and Canada). If you only have reps in 15 states, this isn’t going to work for you. If you are a local business, this REALLY isn’t going to work for you. You must assign the geo-targets at the outset of building your campaign. You’d be surprised how many times businesses are advertising where they have no business advertising (pun intended).
#4 Create A Tight Keyword List: Many business owners are surprised to learn that broad matched key phrases will pull in traffic for every word in the phrase. For example, using a broad match phrase for the term used construction equipment will result in your ad showing for terms pertaining to construction and terms pertaining to equipment. Imagine your ad for construction equipment showing for queries around construction companies, construction jobs, construction paper, farm equipment, sports equipment and equipment manufacturers. Yep, that’ll happen. It’s no wonder that many businesses waste as much as 30% of their PPC campaign spend without ever knowing it.
#5 Always Maintain A Negative Keyword List: Negative keywords can help you filter out all the junky, worthless clicks that eat up budget and lower your conversion rates. As you monitor the keywords that are bringing you clicks and impressions, make sure you understand how to maintain this tool, both at the campaign and ad group level. It’s estimated that as many as 25% of AdWords accounts don’t use any negative keyword list whatsoever. That’s a big no-no if you want to make money.
#6 Proof Your Ad Copy: The old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. And if that first impression is a typo? Goodbye customer. Measure twice and cut once. Or in this case, proof twice and submit once. It’s worth noting here that best practices are to capitalize every word in the body copy. It helps it stand out. It’s also worth noting that ads with a strong point of differentiation or at least a call to action get more than 15% more clicks than ads without them. Consider that.
#7 Test Multiple Ads: From the very get-go, you should write two or three ads for each ad group. Over time, as enough impressions, clicks and conversions rack up, you can determine which ad is the strongest. Knock off the weaker ad(s) and test a new one. This is a simple and underused method of optimizing your PPC campaign.
#8 Log In Daily: The absolute number one thing you can do to ensure the success of your PPC campaign is to check in daily. Published reports of small business advertisers show that only about 1% sign in to their AdWords account on a weekly basis. Not even daily. Weekly. If you don’t have capacity to have eyes on your performance daily, find someone who does. This thing isn’t going to manage itself.
#9 Focus On Your Quality Score: Some people consider this “voodoo” that is hard to calculate. But if you know how to manipulate the columns in your Adwords or Bing Ads account, you can see it’s calculated – or at least estimated – from inception. Average Quality Score is a great indicator of how your campaign will perform, as it directly affects both your average ad position and the cost you’ll pay for each click. Lower CPC’s (Cost Per Clicks) save you money. Period. Anything below a “6” needs some love. Anything below a “5” needs to be paused or have other action taken.
#10 Have Great Landing Pages: This is the easiest concept to grasp, but the hardest to accomplish. It requires having a well-built website (or at least a set of well-built pages) that works well across all devices (mobile, tablet, desktop) and gives the reader what they want. If it’s information, the page needs an easy and noticeable form to submit. If it’s e-commerce, make sure the checkout process is clearly defined and that users don’t have to wander around a page to find the product they’ve searched for. Don’t be the business that sends all their traffic to your homepage. Understand the importance of landing page strategy and optimization. And if you DO send all your traffic there…at least make sure that the page gives users what they want – regardless if they’re looking on an iPhone or an old desktop.
#11 Be Okay With Being Second (Or Third): Often times, clients will come to us bemoaning how expensive it is to run their PPC ads. One of the first questions we ask is “what’s your goal for this campaign?” More than once we’ve heard a response along the lines of “being first in the search results!” A-type personalities are great. We fully appreciate them. But being first at all costs isn’t a sound business strategy. No keyword is worth an insane bidding battle. Conversions matter. ROI matters. Being #1 ion the page…well…it matters (but not at all costs!)
#12 Consider Your Optimal Schedule: Chances are your landing pages or website includes a phone number. What happens if people call after hours? Or on the weekends? If you aren’t staffed, don’t run your ads. Failing to consider the best ad schedule for your business can really cost you. Also, it’s a great tool to “stretch” a budget. If your budget is $3,000/month, that’s roughly $90 a day (Google especially will blow past your daily budget by 10% on any given day). But what if you only run during the week since you’re closed on the weekends? That $90 a day goes up to more than $135 a day. Something to consider.
#13 Set Up Retargeting: This is especially important if you are running an e-commerce site, or have a longer sales cycle with your customers. You can target visitors who didn’t actually convert to a lead or a sale with display ads that follow them around for the next 30 days. This also requires some extra, you’ll want to create a solid ad that follows best practices…but if you’ve clawed and fought to target the right customer, why not buy some insurance and stay in front of them in case they weren’t quite ready to move forward when they first visited your site? At the very least it’s fairly inexpensive brand impressions to a target prospect. At the most, it’ll net you additional leads and sales that otherwise would fall through the cracks.
#14 Always Track Your Progress: If you aren’t tracking your weekly, monthly and quarterly success, you’re missing an opportunity. Detailed performance reporting can be complex, but looking at the basics isn’t. Take the time to know what is improving and what is declining. “Fish where the fish are” and you’ll be able to optimize the good parts to new heights, while lopping off weaker segments of your campaigns.
We hope you’ve found this valuable. If so, please share it or link to it as a resource. Or, if you’re a business owner or decision maker looking for professional help with your campaign, drop us a line today. We’d love to hear from you! Finally, if you’re a PPC professional…tell us what you think about this list in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you too : )