PPC advertising is a powerful mechanism for creating new customers. It is; however, one that is ripe with trip wires, snares, and third rails. Below lists the top 10 most common PPC campaign mistakes that prevent companies from finding a pot of gold.
10. Not Using Geographical Targeting
Whether you're an international conglomerate or a localized small business, geographical targeting is tremendously important. Avoid wasted spend by only targeting the areas that offer maximum ROI.
For small businesses, maximum return might only occur within — say — a 20 mile radius. Also, companies selling higher-end services can benefit by targeting higher income regions.
Finally, large companies benefit breaking out campaigns on a geographical basis as country-by-country performance can vary greatly based on a wide range of factors such as disposable income, need, spending habit, currency strength, etc.
9. Not Using Site Exclusion
Site exclusions remove high-click, low yield partner sites from the display network. Avoid thousands of dollars in wasted spend by consistently removing sites/pages that are not a logical fit for your target audience.
To do this, simply select the "Networks" tab, select the "show details" link next to "automatic placements" and check and remove all underperforming/undesirable sites.
8. Failing to Recognize the Existence of Match Types
PPC newbies can often frequently don't realize the tremendous power of match types. Below lists how each of the four match types handle the keyword "red kite":
- Exact Match: Triggers ads only when the exact phrase "red kite" is queried.
- Phrase Match: Triggers ads that include the exact phrase "red kite" and any words or phrases that surround it such as "red kites" or "red kites miami."
- Broad Match: Displays ads for an even wider range of keywords, including variations that only loosely match such as "fly kites" (although more control can be used through broad match modifier
There is significant opportunity within each of these keyword umbrellas. For example, broad match keywords often have a lower bid price than their exact match counterparts, and can be relatively controlled with an abundance of negative keywords. Additionally, you can find opportunity in the long-tail with specific high bids dedicated to longer tail keywords with less search volume.
7. Not Utilizing Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are life preservers for your accounts. Regardless of the match type, negative keywords prevent your ads from being displayed when unattractive modifiers accompany your broad and match phrase terms. For example, the keyword "Chicago legal services" might be a great keyword, but "free Chicago legal services" is a resource draining keyword.
Adding negative keywords are simple, and you can find great negative through google's keyword tool or by going into the keywords tab and selecting "See search terms all."
6. Not Separating Search/Display Campaigns
We can't help but blame Google for this one. Google essentially forces new campaign creators to opt-out of the display network, which is likely to be tremendously confusing for beginners.
It's incredibly wise for businesses to have campaigns segmented based on Network type. The reason is simple: in all likelihood, performance will be significantly better in the Search Network than the Display Network.
Separating these campaigns offers maximum control over budget allocation, which allows you to reap higher ROI in the early stages of a campaign. After your higher ROI budget is maxed, it then makes sense to begin to dial up the display network.
A quick fix is to copy your campaign in Google Adwords Editor, rename your campaigns based on the network, and adjust the selected networks in the setting tab.
5. Being an Adwords-only Organization
Clearly, Google Adwords has more than a 2:1 advantage in market share, but many companies miss the enormous opportunity that lies in MSN. As I've previously written, an MSN campaign can be created in just 15 minutes and often offers cheaper CPC's and cost per conversions. It's a great way to give overall performance a 20 percent lift.
4. Selecting keywords that are too broad
Many companies make the painful mistake of targeting keywords that are too broad. Specificity is paramount in pay per click advertising, as broadness directly correlates with saturation, expensive costs, low match, and negative ROI.
A perfect example is when a company selling fine cheeses advertises for the keyword "appetizers." While a fine cheese makes for a great starter, who's to say the searcher isn't a lactose intolerant DIY chef looking to whip a quick appetizer for dinner guests? Look for keywords that communicate not only direct product/service, but also intent (in this case "fine cheeses online" while produce higher returns).
3. No Ad Testing
Ad tests are paramount in determining the words, phrases, and propositions that appeal the most to your target audience. Maybe it's a tempting offer (free shipping) or a quick testament to your company's credibility (90 percent success rate). Ad testing is a powerful way to improve campaign performance.
To start, try testing at three different ads per ad group (set ad rotation to even). I first recommend testing three philosophically different ads. Once you have a sample of 300 clicks per ad, you should be able to begin to determine winners and losers by ROI. Be careful not to judge by CTR alone, as high click through rates can actually be detrimental to a campaign if they do not result in conversions.
For phase two of ad testing, experiment with language refinement to further boost returns. You should find that strong adjectives such as "powerful" go along way in further improving your ad. Again, keep your first winning ad as the control.
2. Sending Users to the Homepage
My one rule to PPC: control the user experience as tightly as possible. Use research, testing, and analytics to discover exactly what matters to your users and then deliver a tight, visually engaging experience to fit their needs.
Sending a user to the homepage enables them to, by and large, determine their own experience. Imagine your hard-fought budget disintegrating as users click your "about us", "mission", and "sitemap" before bouncing.
Instead, use landing pages that specifically relate to the users search intent. This should include headlines, content, text, images, and call-to-actions. Find a more detailed explanation of conversion rate optimization here.
1. Not Conversion Tracking
This is the Ted Bundy of PPC campaign killers. No conversion data at any level means that a campaign is essentially flying blind (which is scary since the vast majority of campaigns I've taken over are fraught with waste even with campaign tracking).
Conversion data allows users to quickly understand the financial returns from a campaign, ad group, and keyword level. This data affects every aspect of campaign optimization from ad testing to landing page performance to bid adjustments.
Here are a few ways to collect meaningful PPC conversion data for any organization.
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