The majority of our new clients and consultations come to us with their PPC campaigns in a very similar state. In most cases, the only reasonable thing to do or recommend to do is to start their campaigns fresh and new. Even though there are countless “AdWords mistakes” lists that have been published and synchronized all over the Internet, I would like to make some suggestions to everyone on the not so common mistakes. If you are setting up your first PPC campaign or thinking of expanding your current PPC campaign, I urge you to read the following list before shelling out your money to a PPC management firm.
The following advice is based on questions received from our clients and from companies who have come to us seeking consultation.
1) Having a non-converting landing page.
I would estimate that about 90% of our clients come to us either directing PPC traffic to their home page, or directing it to a standard product they are advertising/selling page. It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of PPC advertising and the instant gratification the search engines promise but just throwing traffic at your site will not cut it. If you are advertising a product for the first time You absolutely need a tailor made landing page for that product. The page should cater for PPC visitors only and be very targeted. You should have split testing or multi variant testing set up on this page before you start sending traffic to it. When you have the optimal landing page (according to your tests) then start to focus on the intracies of PPC bid management, gap surfing, bid jamming and all that fancy stuff. Your landing page is also an essential part in getting your AdWords quality score perfect from the start. Your landing page will make or break your PPC campaign. Do it right from the get go.
2) Installing only one form of tracking.
The majority of accounts came to us from other PPC management agencies and a lot of what we see is quite shocking. Many accounts have not installed their conversion tracking code and any that did left it at that. For example, if you use AdWords and sell online You need to install e-commerce tracking to track each and every order. If you are not comfortable with the sometimes complicated setup, at least use the basic value tracking in your conversion tracking code.
3) Not tracking the correct metrics.
It may take more time but if you can, set the value of each sale in your conversion tracking code or e-commerce tracking code as the profit per sale. This will allow you to see exactly how profitable your campaigns are and focus more on the keywords, ad groups and products that are making your more money. If you run a completely e-commerce based product site, set the value tracking as your profit and your e-commerce up normally. It’s win-win. At the end of the day, your ROI is the most important metric (generally). Make sure you know exactly what it is. (And I mean EXACTLY, not just a rough estimate from how positive your bank balance is at the end of the month.
4) Failing to optimize ad serving for your ads.
By default, AdWords sets your ad creatives to be “optimized”. This means that they display the ad with the highest CTR more often. You do not want that. You want to be able to make that decision yourself after a statistically sound sample size (about 30-100 clicks per ad). In your campaign settings, simply change your ad serving preference to “Rotate Ads Evenly”.
5) Using broad match only.
When adding new keywords, add them with ALL match types. The match type with the highest quality will be shown more often and with higher placement. You can make decisions as to which one to keep down the line based on the ROI data of each.
6) Entering the content network without modifying your bids.
This is our favorite one. We can increase a campaign ROI by up to 300% relatively quickly with this one! Many advertisers are STILL opting into the content network as part of their search campaign. Don’t opt out completely, simply duplicate your campaign and set it to content network only. Make sure you set your bids much lower to begin with and optimize accordingly. Running ads on the content network and search network can skew your ROI data and force you to make bad decisions with your campaigns.
7) Not running content network reports.
This is a fairly new one. Content network campaigns can be VERY profitable if managed correctly and they have the added benefit of being a wonderful way to brand your product or service, even if a user never clicks on them. Make sure you run a placement performance report and act accordingly. Block non converting/spam sites and perhaps think of running a site targeted CPM campaign on the ones that convert well.
8) Not testing your ad position.
Many advertisers want the top spot on the PPC engines. While in a lot of cases, the head men/women upstairs insist on this, this can usually have a negative effect. It is important to test the ROI (remember, total profit-total cost) for each position. In a LOT of cases there is more money to be made from being in positions 2-6 as a result of the lower cost of attaining those visitors/leads/customers.
9) Not day parting.
While many consider this an advanced form of pay per click management, it most certainly is not. While there are many caveats, Only showing your ads at certain times of the day and indeed only at certain days of the month can decrease the number of window shoppers clicking on your ad and again…. increase your overall ROI. It can can also free up some monthly budget for spending on the top positions if they are most profitable.
10) Bidding high to increase your quality score.
The small part that CTR has in PPC quality score is normalized to it’s position. Don’t bother spending a fortune on top position clicks just to bring your CTR up in the hopes of improving your quality score.
11) Hoping your quality score will get better.
You may notice that your quality score fluctuates from Good to poor different times of the day. sometimes you can still get a lot of quality traffic when it changes to “good” for those few hours. But something is wrong, fix it.
12) Failing to run the search query performance report.
Running the Search Query Performance report should be done at least once a week to see what words in phrases that trigger your ad on broad match should not be showing your ad. You can then add those words to your negative keyword list. Simple, effective and will improve your CTR and ROI.
There are many other mistakes that one can make with their AdWords account. Many simple and silly and many a little more complicated. The list above are the ones that we see time and time again. If you can avoid those, you will be in excellent shape and in most cases will prevent you from having to go to a PPC management company to fix your problems. Feel free to add to this list in the comments below.