10 pay-per-click mistakes and how to STOP making them
Any Internet Marketer who really knows the business will tell you using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising (specifically Google AdWords, the leading PPC ad platform) is a phenomenal way to drive traffic to their websites. Moreover, it can be incredibly profitable – if used correctly. A campaign that is not managed well will cost more than its worth, but an intelligently designed pay-per-click campaign will yield incredible results.
The key then is smart management of Google AdWords (our choice PPC platform for this article). Unfortunately, smart management is not something easy to come by if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 common AdWords mistakes we see companies making to help you better understand how to effectively manage your Google AdWords campaign.
SEE ALSO: What is Google AdWords
If you are guilty of any of these common AdWords errors, it’s time to rethink your approach and probably seek out professional and specialized assistance.
1) You’re not grouping your keywords correctly.
Google has set up AdWords to allow you to create ad groups to effectively manage a range of different campaigns. This means a content campaign and a product campaign can be dealt with separately, thereby allowing you to organize your keywords and ads into specific ad groups based on your given strategy.
Failing to use ad groups is both one of the most detrimental and one of the most common AdWords mistakes. All too often businesses don’t divide ads into groupings based on similar keywords; rather they toss all their keywords into one segment. The result? Everyone sees the same ad. This is a waste of resources. Pay-per-click (PCC) advertising works when the ad displayed matches the searched keyword. When the ad is relevant to the keyword, you are more likely to have potential customers click through. If it is irrelevant, you’ve just wasted a lot of time and money.
Quick tip: It’s best to use 20 keywords or less for each ad group. You may be able to use more on occasion, but generally using more than 20 keywords is an indication your ad copy does not optimally correlate with the keyword. Focusing on a smaller group of keywords allows you to analyze their performance to better manage your bidding strategy.
2) You’re not using correct keyword matches.
AdWords has 5 matching options in which you can add keywords to your campaign: Broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, exact match and negative match (negative match keywords explained in #3).
Let’s start by examining broad match keywords. This means that searching certain keywords will yield ads regardless of the order of the keywords. For instance, the keywords “Weight training for runners” will yield the same ad as “Runners weight training routine” or “Training runners for weights”. If you want your ad to show up in a broad match, simply enter the keywords without any punctuation.
Broad match modified keywords are used to only show when someone’s search contains those modified keywords, or close variations of the modified keywords, in any order. The modifier won’t work with phrase or exact match keywords, and is used to eliminate synonyms or related searches that have no relevancy to your campaign. You can add a modifier by using the plus sign (+) on your keyboard.
Phrase match keywords necessitate that the keyword phrase appear in the exact order in which it was entered. So, “weight training for runners” would yield ads for searches like “what’s the best weight training for runners” or “weight training for runners in winter”.
The exact match keyword is pretty much what it says: The search term must match the exact keywords specified in your AdWords campaign. Yes, this narrows your reach, but it also ensures your ads are reaching your most relevant target audience.
Broad matches pan out with more impressions, but are not as targeted since they show ads for searches that aren’t always a close fit for the query. Conversely, exact and keyword matches deal out higher conversion rates, but they also provide fewer impressions. As a result, your reach is reduced.
We recommend beginning with exact matches and then expanding to phrase and broad searches based on your results. If your exact matches aren’t getting results, you can expand to phrase and then, if necessary, broad matches. After this, you can scale back and tweak your campaign as you get more feedback data.
3) You’re not using negative keywords.
Excluding ineffectual keywords is just as important as including the right ones. Negative keywords allow you to do just this. Let’s look at an example: You own a business that sells women’s gloves – but you only specialize in dress gloves, not ski gloves or motorcycle gloves. Using negative keywords allows you to add “ski” and “motorcycle” to a list of excluded words, so people searching for those gloves won’t see your ad. Thus, your campaign is refined and more likely to target the right audience.
Not only do negative keywords allow you to exclude at the campaign level, but you can also use them at the group level. Translation: If you only want a word to be removed from a certain group, you can do that as well.
Quick tip: You can use Google Analytics to see what exact keyword phrases are converting poorly, and then you can determine whether removing a keyword from your campaign will help it perform optimally.
4) Your ad-love trumps the ads actual performance.
There’s nothing wrong with commending yourself on your ad, but if that ad is not converting, your love affair could be detrimental to the effectiveness of your campaign. Your subjectivity can be deceiving, but numbers don’t lie: Test your copy to see what is really working. Try different variations, like different headline versions, or identical headlines but different body content, or perhaps even identical copy but a variation on the call to action. Always Be Testing!
The point is not to get too attached to your copy. If you have between 20 and 40 clicks, pick the one which is receiving the best results. You want the best click-through rate, the optimal conversion rate or, alternatively, the lowest cost per acquisition. The specifics will depend on what works best for your business.
5) You don’t know the Lifetime Value (LTV) of your customers.
Understanding the LTV of customers is the best way to know how much you should invest on AdWords for each acquisition.
Example: Your LTV is $20, which means you will make an average of $20 over the lifetime of doing business with your customers. If you are investing $12 for each acquisition, this is fine. You are making more for every customer than you are spending. On the other hand, if your LTV is $20 and you are spending $25, you will eventually go out of business. Not so good.
Many businesses do not know what their LTV is and as a result, they have no idea what a decent CPA (cost per acquisition) would be. Say your customers stay with your company an average of 12 months and pay $20 per month. This would mean your LTV is $240 dollars, so even if your CPA is $180, you are doing OK. Remember, many businesses lose money at the start, and then make it back over the course of their relationship with a customer.
Don’t know how to calculate your LTV? That’s where we come in. Let us run a competitive analysis for your company. Our competitive analysis will outline the behaviour and spending habits of your customer online by providing you with advanced analytical data you can’t find anywhere else.
6) You don’t test the optimal ad position.
The optimal ad position does not always mean you want to be at the very top. If you want to get the best results, SOMETIMES it is ideal to be in position 3 through 5. But why?
Well, people tend to readily and mindlessly click the first 2 positions. They are not necessarily more interested. However, if you are in a lower position, the people who are clicking your ad are seriously interested.
On the other hand, if you are looking at better branding, then the top 2 positions are your best bet. It all depends on what your objectives are and what will work best for your business at the moment. Again, the only way to know what works best is to test.
Quick tip: Increase or decrease your cost-per-click bid based on Google’s suggestions. Monitor what happens. Adjust until you get the optimal results. The key is to pay the least amount per click for your ads best position.
7) You don’t know your competition.
You know that old adage: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Well, OK, your competitors are not your ‘enemies’ in that battle-to-the-literal-death sense, but not knowing or underestimating your competitors could lead to the demise of your business. It is vital to know which ads your competition is utilizing. What keywords are they bidding on? What about their landing pages? What do they look like? Scout out your competition on a regular basis to get a leading edge.
You’re going to need a little objectivity here: Pretend you are a potential client. Which ad is more appealing? Which ad draws you in? Is your ad too ‘in your face’ loud? This can make it look spammy and off-putting. Alternatively, is it too meek or boring? This can make it seem like you are not professional enough to compete for their business.
Go to your competitor’s landing pages and examine their strengths. They might be doing something that could help you with your own landing page. Maybe it is design, social media outreach, security or even onsite customer testimonials. You can always learn something from your successful competitors. Use it to your advantage.
Again, you are going to want to implement these changes and then test them against your old copy. Test and then test some more until your conversion rates improve.
Don’t know how to analyze your competitors? Let us help. As mentioned above, we provide a full competitor analysis comprised of advanced analytical data to show exactly how your competitors are executing their marketing communication online.
8) You put too much emphasis on pay-per-click.
This is one of the most unsung, but most common pay-per-click mistakes. AdWords will only do so much – especially if you have a smaller budget. Remember: You get what you pay for. If you only have a couple hundred dollars to spend every month, you are not going to get a massive audience with AdWords.
This isn’t to say $100 or $200 per month won’t get you places with AdWords – but not off the hop. People seldom get a campaign right from the start. You have to run, then test, then run and test your campaign multiple times before you see return. It is at this point that your monthly budget will seem reasonable.
It’s easy to get frustrated and give up on AdWords. Our recommendation is to hold off on AdWords until you have the funds to back a solid campaign and drive enough traffic to your business. In addition, you will want to ensure that you stay with a campaign long enough to be able to see and accurately measure results.
9) You are an e-commerce business and you don’t direct visitors to suitable product or category pages.
Don’t just direct customers to your landing page; take them to a custom landing, product or category page that directly matches the ad they clicked. So, if someone clicked through for ‘children’s watches’, don’t send them to a page with adult Rolex’s. This is frustrating for the customer and could cause them to leave your site. They have a lot of options, so get them to where they want to be from the start.
Custom landing page design isn’t always an option, but smart site structure and design will take you far, if you plan it right and test properly you will do just fine.
10) You don’t use Ad Extensions.
Ad Extensions are the extra links set up in campaigns to show the customer more information on your ads. Google will rank your ads based on whether you have extensions or not, so if your competition is using extensions and you are not, your cost per click will increase and your ranking will decrease.
Using ad extensions isn’t enough though. Part of Google’s ranking system is determined by how much they expect results from ad extensions and formats. In other words, they forecast your ad performance based on factors like CTRs, relevance as well as how visible formats and ad extensions are on the search result page. If you don’t know how to properly use Ad Extensions, you may not even be a contender.
To see if your Ad Extensions are working for you, search using a keyword that you are bidding on. You should be able to see your ad and determine if the Ad Extensions are there.
If you search and you aren’t ranking in the top 3 positions, the extensions may be working but just not showing up because you aren’t ranked high enough.
Finally, check your Google Client Account and have a look at your Ad Extensions for the ad in question and see if you have any clicks on them. If you do notice some activity on your extensions, but aren’t seeing the CTR numbers you desire, then test them. Much like your ad copy, your landing pages, and your call-to-action; your Ad Extensions need to be tested consistently to ensure optimal results.
Google changes its algorithms regularly, which can make it hard to keep up or know if you measure up. It can seem like a full time job to stay on trend and know what’s working and what won’t. The truth is, for some companies it is a full time job. This is why a lot of companies hire someone to take care of their campaigns for them. It ultimately frees up resources and saves time and money. Google may be a bit tricky, but it is here to stay because it works and works hard.