Pay-per-click (PPC) is one of the most powerful marketing channels available today.
If you get it right, that is.
Below I’ll cover ten of the most common mistakes made in PPC campaigns, and how your business can avoid them.
What’s the Big Deal About PPC Campaigns?
First off, it offers the most bang for your buck.
Fact: Businesses make on average $3 in revenue for every $1.60 they spend on AdWords.
And, it doesn’t come off as advertising to audiences (which is good – blatant advertising can often turn people off.)
Fact: Roughly half of users did not recognize the difference between PPC and organic listings in search results, according to a Wordstream study.
They also perform much better than organic searches. So if you want to move up in the search rankings, PPC is your surest bet.
Fact: Paid clicks outnumber organic clicks by 2 to 1.
Not only that, but they reach a very wide audience.
Fact: AdWords display campaigns reach 80% of global internet users.
And, exposure to your ads increases a consumer’s likelihood of seeking out your brand.
Fact: Consumers exposed to display ads are, on average, 155% more likely to search for brand- and segment-specific terms.
So what does all this tell us? PPC ads are effective, reach a wide audience, and generate a large return.
Which means if you haven’t been using PPC, it’s time to start.
Common PPC Campaign Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)
Not Understanding the Different Kinds of PPC Campaigns
PPC isn’t a one-size fits all feature.
Which is a good thing. Different kinds of campaigns are meant to accomplish different things, but to make sure you make the best decision for your company, it’s important to study the differences between different ad types.
For example, with Google ads you have the option of Search ads or Display ads.
Search ads show up directly in the SERPs (search engine result pages) when someone types a search query into Google. These are targeted directly at people searching for something related to your product, and work best for bottom of the sales funnel.
Display ads, on the other hand, show up on websites and are targeted by interest. Therefore, they’re best for top of the funnel, brand awareness campaigns.
And that doesn’t even cover things like social ads.
How to avoid it: Familiarize yourself with the different ad types and which align best with your goals. Also, be sure to segment your audience. Often, you will use multiple ad types to target different groups within your audience.
Not Having a Clear PPC Campaign Strategy
I preach this all the time: good marketing starts with a solid PPC strategy.
Before you start planning keywords, bid amounts, and creatives, you must have a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish.
This goes hand and hand with the point above. After all, how will you know what to write if you don’t know who you’re writing for? And how will you know which metrics to measure if you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re looking for?
How to avoid it: Do your homework. Really evaluate your business and what you need to achieve with these ads. Start with one.
For example, maybe your goal is to increase website traffic. Now, create an action plan to make that happen.
Not Using Audiences Correctly
The ability to zone into individual audiences is one of the greatest assets of PPC campaigns.
For example, on Facebook alone you have the option to target by location, demographics, interests, behavior on the web, as well as more advanced targeting features like remarketing (those who have visited your website in the past) and lookalike audiences (an audience similar to one you’ve already created).
Choosing the correct audience is (once again) tied directly to your goals. So, if your goal is lead generation, you may want to gather your existing leads into a list and create a lookalike audience based on those who have proven interest in your product.
How to avoid it: Target carefully, and make sure your goals match your targeting.
Using Broad Match
This isn’t always a mistake, but we see it misused more often than not.
Why? Because it can cost you lots of money, without the return you’re looking for.
Broad match allows your keyword to match a very wide range of possible keywords.
You’ll notice as you set up your ads that this is the default option, and while it could lead you to more relevant keywords, it will inevitably produce unrelated keywords that you don’t need to be bidding on.
For example, if you target a broad term like “dress,” you could end up with broad matches like “wedding dress.” If you’re not in the wedding business, you likely don’t need to spend on that keyword.
How to avoid it: Use options like exact match or phrase match to more accurately target your keywords. This will often mean choosing more than one match type. As always, be aware of what you’re trying to accomplish and the best option to get you there.
Not Targeting Your Messaging in PPC Campaigns
Of course, your messaging is the bread and butter of your ad.
If you’re using bland language and ok keywords, you can’t expect a big return.
The key to effective messaging? Using emotions to speak directly to your audience.
First, know exactly which audience you’re talking to. Maybe it’s a busy mom of three, or perhaps a serene Yoga instructor.
Next, determine your own persona. Are you authoritative? A comedian? The hero here to save the day?
Once you’ve decided those two things, you’ll have an idea of who you’re talking to and how you should talk to them. Then, you can work at incorporating emotion and urgency into your ad messaging (think headlines – what words will catch the most attention?)
How to avoid it: Follow the steps above. Know your audience and know your brand.
Not Bidding Properly
PPC campaigns can get expensive – fast.
Sure, you probably have a few big keywords that generate the most return. But focusing exclusively on those competitive keywords may prove more costly than intended.
Worse, you may find that you’re getting the expected traffic but at an exorbitant price that your company is unable to maintain.
How to fix it: First and foremost, set a (realistic) budget for your campaign. Then, focus on long-tail keywords. These generally cost less per click and can be more effective at targeting a specific audience.
Not Running Split Tests on PPC Campaign Ads
Testing is a must if you want to get the most bang for your buck.
Split testing allows you to test different ad features (creatives, audiences, match types, etc.) to see which is most effective for your brand.
Because the ads come with so many options, it’s increasingly important to experiment with different types. After all, you may know in theory what should work, but you’ll never really know until you try.
How to avoid it: Run the tests. Thanks to new features like Google Experiments – which lets you test different campaigns before pushing them live – split testing is easier than ever.
Not Using Geo-Targeting in PPC Campaigns
Geographic targeting (or geo-targeting) lets you limit your audience to a specific location. In fact, 36% of searches on Google are associated with location.
If you’re a small or brick-and-mortar business, it’s especially important to drill down exact locations. If not, you could end up wasting money on clicks across the country that won’t generate any return.
How to avoid it: Pay attention to the location options in AdWords and other PPC ads. Many of these are pretty standard; start by choosing the most relevant region.
Not Using Long Tail Keywords
Keywords are an undeniably crucial part of your PPC campaign, and choosing the right ones will ensure your ad shows up for the right people.
But many new to PPC make the mistake of only focusing on short, broad keywords. While these will likely generate some return, they are generally more costly and competitive, and less specific to your audience.
Which is why we use long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are search phrases. So, a broad keyword may “jeans,” while a long tail would be “best jeans store in Nashville, TN.”
It may not get the volume of the broad keyword, but it will have the most relevance to your audience and target those looking specifically for your product.
How to avoid it: Make a list of questions your ideal customer might type into Google. These are what your long tail keywords should look like.
Not Paying Attention to Your Quality Score
Your quality score is assigned by Google, based on the quality of your ads and keywords.
It’s affected by multiple factors, including:
- Your CTR (click-through-rate)
- Your AdWords performance over time
- Relevance of your keywords
The higher your quality score, the less you’ll pay per click and the higher your ad will rank. Pretty nice pay-off, right?
Yes, as long as you monitor it.
How to avoid it: You can find your quality score in your AdWords account, and improve it if less than desirable. For example, try improving your CTR by adding calls-to-action, or work on your keyword research to improve the relevancy of your keywords.
Start Your Successful PPC Campaign Today
There are many factors that go into a successful PPC campaign.
And with so many options, you’re bound to come across a few mistakes. But by being aware of the common ones above, you can get ahead of the game and pave the way for a successful campaign.