Pay per click (PPC) marketing has long been considered a necessary evil by many business owners. This is perhaps because we are all captivated by the glitz of SEO success and how it could mean lots of “free” traffic and sales.
The fact is that PPC can often be cheaper than SEO; to rank well for competitive keywords through SEO can take years of effort in terms of research, content production, outbound link prospecting etc etc whereas PPC can be researched and set up in a few hours (optimisation obviously longer). I am not saying that SEO is not worth doing; I am just saying that comparing these two seemingly similar (but very different) marketing channels is not a good thing to get into.
PPC is a great channel for all businesses to use; you can quickly tap into demand for the products and services that you are selling; small businesses can launch and grow significantly in a short space of time through leveraging PPC correctly.
However; there are common mistakes and misconceptions that we see time and again when picking up existing Adwords accounts from other agencies as well as business owners doing it themselves. This post will highlight the most common errors of PPC management that we see in the hope that you can avoid them.
1) Overuse of broad match keywords
The aim of keyword management for business growth is to constantly reduce irrelevant traffic over time and also to maintain a strategy of constantly uncovering new keywords that work for your business. We often see Google Adwords accounts which are made up of mainly broad match keywords, and usually without the +modifier. When we run a search query report on these accounts we often see that up to 50 or 60% of the traffic that the client has been buying is completely irrelevant to their business.
If you are going to use lots of broad match keywords then you need to be extremely tight with your negative keywords. It does take time to build negative keyword lists but it can be done quickly.
It is sometimes the case that Google “advise” advertisers on beginning their accounts with large numbers of broad match keywords (no longer in their documentation but nowadays from their telephone service) in order to help the business understand the keywords that are working for them and constantly optimise down. The problem is that a small business will be bankrupt by the time they have an efficient account – careful use of broad match is a good thing but I believe that it should always have the + modifier. Here is a post on setting up a Google Adwords account which will show you how to achieve both relevancy AND opportunism.
2) Not setting up proper conversion tracking
It is vital to understand how well your PPC advertising spend is being invested. Depending on the nature of your website and your business this can be very straightforward or a bit of a pain in the arse.
If you sell products on your website and have most of the sales occurring online then it is a simple case of installing Adwords conversion tracking – here are the instructions from Google.
If however you have most of your conversions occurring over the phone then it may be worth considering call tracking. There are a number of companies now offering this service and that integrate relatively easily with Adwords. These technologies allow you to see which keywords lead to telephone calls to your company through tieing the keywords to variations of your phone number. One such company is Adinsight.
If your business goal is to get leads then you can tie leads in your database to specific keywords; many cloud CRM solutions have the ability to do this with a little customisation. A couple of cost effective cloud CRM solutions that can do this are Zoho and SalesforceCRM.
If you can see how your keywords are performing then you will be able to make constant improvements in your return on investment. Here is a post on creating a PPC bid management strategy. Without reliable tracking this is not possible.
3) Not using reports
Google Adwords offer a fantastic range of reports for advertisers that help us to understand the performance of our campaigns, and to clearly identify opportunities and threats. Arguably the most important report is the search query report which allows you to see the actual search terms that users are entering into the search engine before they click on your adverts. In this report you can clearly see the search terms that are not relevant to your business which means you can add them as negative keywords. Also; in the same report you can see the search terms that users are searching for that are related to your business but that you did not previously think of. Here is a post on running search query reports.
As well as the search query reports you can run keyword reports which show you the impressions, clicks, average CPC’s, average position, conversions (if using conversion tracking). There are ad reports so that you can see which ads are performing best for each of your ad groups. This will help you to develop your ad writing skills and better understand what appeals to your potential customers.
Then there is the dimensions tab – there is a wealth of reports here on things like the location of your searchers, the types of conversions that are taking place, day parting reports (what time of day do most sales occur?), when did calls occur? (if you are using click to call functionality).
If you spend 3 or 4 hours going through all of the different types of reports and downloading them into Excel then you will start to get ideas on how you can better optimise your Adwords account.
4) Ignoring the importance of landing pages
This is a particularly worrying problem with companies that have just had new websites built that they are very proud of. The site gets designed and built and and it has been a large investment for the company so it is mentally ticked off as complete. However; a website is simply your shop window which needs constantly updating to better meet the needs of your customers. All businesses need to have the mindset that their website needs constant work in order to make it more effective.
Here is a post on PCC landing page optimisation.
Always take into consideration that a small increase in your website conversion rate will reflect on the performance of your marketing across all channels.
5) Not taking advantage of ad extensions
There are many ways to increase the relevance (and size) of your Adwords ads using ad extensions. Ad extensions are additional aspects to your ad that give more information about your business and/or products. In the screenshot below you can see 3 examples of ad extensions.
Here is a post on setting up and using Google Adwords ad extensions.
6. Not having clear aims
If you do not have a clear understanding of what your goal is from your advertising then you will not be able to set proper targets and will end up constantly nervous as to whether you are making any money or not from your advertising. This post was referred to earlier in the article; it will take you through working out your customer lifetime value and from that a target for your advertising and finally a bidding model that will allow you to constantly improve your performance.
I hope that this post has been helpful – if you are new to PPC don’t make these mistakes!