Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing can drive traffic to your webpages, generate new customers and clients quickly for your business, and deliver fast and measurable results and a wealth of actionable data.
The PPC model essentially boils down to you buying visits to your website as opposed to laying the groundwork over time through organic methods. When used correctly, PPC can complement content marketing and other cost effective-activities. Without it, you may lose out on traffic and revenue.
With that said, PPC requires constant micro-management, and you may be making mistakes both big and small without realising. If your PPC is mismanaged, it is unlikely to be beneficial for your business and could lead to soaring costs and impact your bottom line.
Managing PPC in-house is a considerable undertaking. Here are some of the most common oversights and problems that can arise when attempting to keep programmes on track. Fortunately, the majority are addressable.
Strategic audience targeting can convert prospects more effectively, but brands still often run campaigns without setting this up. For PPC, an audience is not a monolithic block of users – you can target different subsets. For example, an audience can be based around visitors who spend a significant amount of time browsing your site or those who complete a ‘micro-conversion’ such as downloading a press release or infographic.
This sort of targeting is great because you are effectively creating marketing funnels that align with the sales funnel. This makes it easier to find the right people and push them along the cycle. The main point is to implement audience targeting from the get-go as campaigns can meander along without any real intent without it.
Duplicate keywords and ad groups
Ad groups and keywords are a fundamental part of PPC, but you don’t want to go overboard. You should have between seven and ten ad groups for a campaign, and within these groups, around 20 keywords. This is not definitive as flexibility is required now and then, but it is a good rule to follow.
Problems can start when there are hundreds of ad groups and duplicate keywords as it can make campaigns unwieldy and difficult to manage. Google actually warns against duplicate keywords in its own guidance for Google Ads.
It notes: “Duplicate keywords happen when one of two or more of your ads are using the same keyword list. It’s best to avoid having duplicate keywords in your account. Google shows only one ad per advertiser for a particular keyword, so there’s no need to include the same keywords in different ad groups or campaigns.”
Unoptimised location-based ads
If you are a company operating in different locations across a country or markets around the world, you are likely to have ads targeted to separate regions. A common mistake when this happens is for the ads to be displayed showing information that is not relevant to a particular location.
For example, ads that impression in London might have info about an office in Manchester or Birmingham, even though it is not relevant to the user. This happens when ad extensions are not matched correctly. Google says that extensions “typically increase” the click-through rates of an ad, so it is always a good idea to keep them up to date and optimised.
Reporting misleading metrics
Marketers want to demonstrate the success of PPC campaigns to senior managers, but you don’t want to use metrics that are not aligned with your goals. For example, using page visits as a barometer for success is not recommended if you want to generate new leads and drive revenue. Actually converting is the name of the game. If you have been looking at the wrong metrics, now is the time to focus on what’s important.
Account strategy mismatch
In the same way that some metrics are not suited to drawing conclusions about a campaign’s performance, PPC account strategies sometimes do not dovetail with broader business objectives.
When creating campaigns, you should take your company’s goals into context as you want your PPC strategy to support core objectives. If senior managers want to drive brand awareness, marketing strategies aimed at users who have already visited your website is a great idea. However, shopping campaigns are not.
A mismatch here can undermine everything you are doing and is a sure sign that account managers have either forgotten to tailor campaigns or are unable to manage them correctly.
Unoptimised landing pages
Landing pages are the first thing that a customer will see after they have clicked on an ad. Even if your PPC account is being managed to perfection and click-through-rates are soaring, you will find it difficult to maximise results if you overlook post-click elements.
Landing pages need to be carefully designed and implemented to push visitors along so that they make a purchase. If you are not serving up reviews, product information and contact details, you will still struggle to get people to actually buy your products and services. This means that all the good work you have done thus far will go to waste.
Relying on Google Ads Score
Google has been pushing its built-in optimisation score as a way to analyse PPC campaigns. The score between zero and 100% will show you whether your account is fulfilling its potential. While it is a quick and easy way to get an overview of how your account is being managed, the tool can be misleading as most experts agree that a maximum 100% score should not be the end goal for most companies.
This is because there can be problems with campaigns that appear to be running smoothly on the surface. PPC managers should therefore use it as a means to gain some insights and recommendations but not as a definitive guide for account success. Always be willing to dig a little deeper to see how your campaigns are performing.
To conclude, PPC mistakes are not a death knell for campaigns. However, you should talk to the internal manager and consider outsourcing your account to an agency or professional if you think that you need to make changes in the short term to deliver better ROI and results.