These tried-and-tested PPC strategies can attract more (qualified) leads into your pipeline.

Here you’ll learn:

  • Why quality is key for PPC lead generation
  • How to generate high-quality leads
  • Ways to adjust your campaign for lead generation
  • Tips for cutting PPC marketing costs

When it comes to pay-per-click (PPC) lead generation campaigns, the more you invest in your paid search campaigns, the more leads you’re likely to see. 

The tricky part is that, in PPC lead generation, quantity doesn’t equal quality.

The good news? With the right approach, you can achieve your lead gen goals, attract the right kinds of leads, and see the campaign ROI you deserve. Here’s how.

group of people celebrating with wine

Look closely at how your target audience is searching for what you have to offer. (Image: Rawpixel)

What is PPC lead generation?

PPC lead generation refers to the process of using pay-per-click advertising campaigns to attract and capture potential new leads for your business. 

It involves creating targeted ads that appear on search engine results pages or other online platforms. When clicked, these ads direct users to a landing page where they can provide their contact information (or take another desired action). 

PPC lead gen allows your business to reach a specific audience, track campaign performance, and generate leads that have a higher likelihood of conversion.

PPC leads: quality vs. quantity

“Over the past month, we’ve generated 15,000 leads.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? But what does it really mean for your business? 

The number that you should focus on is not the quantity (15,000) but the quality (how many of them are converted). If only 100 of your leads convert, then you’ve got a 0.67% conversion rate, which is quite low. That means your ROI (return on investment) may be barely breaking even. 

Generating high-quality leads is harder than low-quality ones. This is why so many businesses struggle with their PPC lead generation.

But there are some clear signs that someone will be a low-quality lead. And you should avoid targeting them in your campaigns. Skip targeting audiences that:

  • Window shop without an intent to buy
  • Click to get a free gift in exchange for contact information (and share fake details)
  • Click out of boredom or aimless curiosity
  • Think they’ll get something else due to unclear or misleading ad copy

But how can you know that an audience behaves in the ways we’ve listed above? A good place to start is with lead scoring. 

Lead scoring for PPC lead generation 

Lead scoring is a process that can tell you the interest level of each lead. There are a bunch of reasons why you should try lead scoring, but most notably it will help you weed out leads that are not worth your time and gain some insight into how your campaigns are working.

A lead scoring system assigns values to leads and then ranks them against one another. This allows you to focus on leads that will generate the maximum revenue for your business with the least effort and less time.

Lead scoring can be done through your CRM (at HawkSEM we use ConversionIQ for lead scoring). And while it isn’t part of Google Ads, it certainly can improve your ads’ performance. There are several lead scoring models just like there are several attribution models.


The basic idea is to assign a point system to your leads. Perhaps you give a negative number to spam or people who fall outside of the geographic location you cover. Then, one point for engaging with an email and two points for calling. Essentially, the more points a lead has, the more qualified (and more likely to convert) they are.

HubSpot gives an in-depth walkthrough of what lead scoring is and how to get started if you’d like to use it to help improve your PPC campaigns.

Low-quality leads come with the territory — a certain number of them are basically inevitable in every PPC campaign. But, as mentioned above, it’s possible your ads are drawing the wrong people’s attention.

To avoid that, let’s look at some ways you can improve your PPC lead generation.

1. Create customized landing pages

Not all landing pages are created equal, and your PPC ads are only as effective as their corresponding landing pages. 

So, what is it that makes for a scorching hot landing page that will have your customers clicking ‘buy,’ and what mistakes should you avoid?

A lot goes into creating a killer landing page (and you can find the full details in this post), but here are some of the basics: 

  • Choose the right media: landing pages that have images of people instead of objects result in a higher click-through rate (CTR). Images without text also have a 52% higher CTR than images that do have text. 
  • Include the right details: Landing pages that include a price can double lead generation – if a price isn’t displayed, potential customers automatically assume that the product is expensive. However, it’s worth noting this is often more relevant to e-commerce and SaaS products. 
  • Test and improve: A/B split testing is regarded as the best method for improving conversions, with 60% of businesses deeming this method “highly valuable.”
  • Maintain continuity: If your ad call-to-action (CTA) says, “Get a free ebook,” then your landing page should be where the user can download the content (with or without filling out a short form). If it requires extra clicks, these people are likely to leave the website, upping your bounce rate.

Pro tip: Google can punish you for leading clients to a different page than you promised in the ad. Search engines consider this practice deceptive and may lower your Quality Score, increasing the ad’s price as a result.

2. Practice target audience segmentation

Are your PPC campaigns set up to target each product or service separately? If so, you may not be getting as many high-quality leads as you could. 

Divide your offering into as many groups as possible. But instead of segmenting by products or services, you should look to segment by:

  • Industry
  • Sub-categories
  • Features
  • Benefits
  • Geographic locations

If, for example, you provide managed IT services in LA, you can segment by:

  • Industry: Managed IT services
  • Sub-category: Managed security, managed cloud infrastructure, managed SaaS, managed communication services
  • Features: Antivirus software maintenance, hardware management, disaster recovery plan, software inventory management, quick response IT assistance
  • Benefit: High-quality IT services, quick response managed IT, low-cost managed IT services
  • Geographical location: Managed IT services in LA, remote managed IT services in LA

When you segment the audience accordingly, you will find it easier to set up a campaign, use the right keywords, write ad copy, and create specific landing pages.

3. Fine-tune your ad copy

Your PPC campaign’s fate lies in the hands of your ad copy. Don’t simply write out some ordinary sentences and a boring CTA. You need to carefully craft impactful copy and use the power of your words to elicit an emotional response and conquer the hearts of the people who see your ads. 

The first question to ask yourself when you create PPC ad copy is: Which stage of the buyer’s journey is your targeted audience in? 

For example, product-focused copy and leading them to product-oriented pages might not do much if they’re at the awareness stage. 

Create ad copy that aims to get the person’s attention through an offer they’ll find valuable. That means knowing your target audience and having a clear ideal client persona in mind throughout the copywriting process.

When writing the text itself, some elements to keep in mind include:

  • Always address the potential client directly (use “you” and “your”)
  • Leverage emotional triggers
  • Use exact numbers (feature statistics, show product prices, advertise a sale)
  • Make use of the entire space offered by Google Ads — don’t leave blank space
  • Show what makes your offer unique

And, of course, A/B test your ad copy to see which one resonates most.

woman using laptop on a couch

There are five main keyword types you can explore for your PPC campaign. (Image: Rawpixel)

4. Focus on your “money” keywords

Keywords are the pillars of your PPC campaign. So, after segmenting your audience, the next step is to dive into the keyword search.

Tools like SpyFu and UberSuggest exist to help you gather a list of relevant keywords while keeping the competition’s efforts in mind. 

You can arrange your keywords using Semrush’s PPC Keyword Tool.

Below are the keyword types to explore for your PPC campaign.

  • Brand keywords: Include brand names 
  • High-intent keywords: Specific keywords for buyers at the bottom of the funnel
  • Low-intent keywords: To help expand your reach and increase brand awareness
  • Long-tail keywords: Low-cost and low-competition keywords 
  • Competitive keywords: High-volume keywords used by many companies in your target industry

And don’t forget about negative keywords. You can filter them out by using the Search Term Report and determining which keywords are generating irrelevant clicks. 

By putting them on the negative keyword list, you can improve the quality of your leads while cutting campaign costs (win-win!).

5. Track your campaign and ad groups

Your PPC campaigns need regular fine-tuning to ensure they’re as optimized as possible. 

Track your efforts to keep a pulse on what needs changing. 

You can get an idea of what works and what doesn’t by following the key PPC marketing KPIs.

  • Impressions: How many times have your ads appear in search results
  • Clicks: How many times have users clicked your ad
  • Click-through rate (CTR): the percentage of users who clicked the ad (clicks divided by impressions)
  • Average position: a position in which your ads appeared on the search engine results page
  • Conversions: how many leads who clicked the ad followed the CTA within a certain window of time
  • Quality Score: an indicator of your ad, keyword, and landing page relevance to the user
  • Cost per conversion: how much you spend to obtain a new client
  • Bounce rate: people who clicked but left without following the CTA

Pro tip: By linking your Google Ads (formerly Adwords) account to Google Analytics, you’ll get valuable data for your lead generation efforts.

6. A/B test

The best way to inject some life back into your campaigns is with A/B testing.

A/B testing allows you to experiment and mix and match variations of copy, design, and targeting until you find the perfect formula for optimal lead generation. 

You need to track the metrics of your varied campaigns against each other. Will Variation A attract more clicks than Variation B? Will the conversions pour in with a cleverly crafted CTA or a witty one-liner? 

Analyze the data, review the results, and eliminate the underperformers. Continue with the best-performing variation and then start the process again, testing against new variations. 

For example, imagine you’re running a PPC campaign for a pet store. In one variation, your headline reads, “Unleash the Cuteness: Adopt a Furry Friend Today!”

In the other, it boldly states, “Find Your Perfect Pawtner: Pet Adoption Made Easy!” Monitor the click-through rates and conversions to determine which version has your audience adopting the most puppies.

7. Regular optimization

A major aspect of PPC lead generation is optimization. A/B testing is one way to do this, but there are others too. 

You will need to keep a sharp eye on your campaigns and cut the underperforming keywords and ads. Keep a close watch on your campaign’s performance and adapt quickly because what performs well in one moment may start to lose momentum as trends and circumstances change.

For example, suppose you’re running a PPC campaign for a fitness app. Monitor the click-through rates and conversions for different ad copies.

Embrace the ever-changing PPC landscape by tweaking your bids, refining your targeting, and fine-tuning your landing pages. With each optimization move, you inch closer to dominating the lead generation realm.

8. Chose long-tail keywords

We quickly touched on the different types of keywords you can choose for different campaign goals. But one of the most important considerations in PPC lead generation is which long-tail words to target.

Keywords, both short and long, can reveal a lot about user intent. And as the game we’re playing here is all about lead quality, we need to find the right intent. Long-tail keywords can get very specific, and this helps us be more certain of the user’s intent.

Short keywords may lack the intent we’re looking for, but we can still make use of them. When you add modifiers to short keywords, you can transform them into precise and powerful long-tail keywords.

For example, say that someone is searching for the term “insurance policies.” It’s a bit vague, isn’t it? But when someone searches for “life insurance policies for seniors,” now we’re talking! 

They have been more specific about their needs. And guess what? Because of that, they’re more likely to convert into paying customers.

You can implement using longer tail keywords by taking a look at your current keyword list. Do keyword research and find any opportunities you can to make them more specific. If there are any modifiers like the one we mentioned that can supercharge your keywords with higher intent, then start targeting those words instead. 

Remember, the longer the keyword, the better chance you have of attracting users who know exactly what they want. And that is a game-changer for lead quality.

9. Use remarketing

Also called retargeting, remarketing to potential new customers who have completed a qualified action, like signing up for a white paper or clicking on a specific link, will help you make the most of your website visitors.

If they’re already showing interest in something important to your business, why let them just go away? Instead, try to convert them with an offer. Make the most of your ad spend by reaching those leads again.

10. Use a CRM tool

CRM tools like HubSpot are important to your campaigns. Once you get the lead, you need to keep track of it, score it, and use it to refine your PPC lead generation strategies. You need to know what leads close, how many of your leads close, and how the lead quality was. It will also help you keep track of lifetime value.

What your data tell you will help you understand the true cost per lead and inform your PPC management strategy.

Why is PPC lead generation a good marketing strategy?

PPC lead generation offers several advantages that make it a valuable strategy for businesses.

  • Targeted audience: PPC campaigns allow you to target specific keywords, demographics, locations, and interests, ensuring your ads reach the right audience who are actively searching for products or services related to your business.
  • Immediate visibility: Unlike organic search engine optimization (SEO), PPC ads provide immediate visibility on search engine results pages, allowing you to quickly generate qualified leads and increase brand exposure when your ads are well optimized.
  • Measurable results: PPC platforms offer robust conversion tracking and analytics tools, enabling you to measure KPIs such as impressions, clicks, conversions, and cost per conversion. This data makes lead generation easier as you can optimize your campaigns based on accurate data.
  • Budget: PPC can be an expensive investment. Lead generation strategy helps you ensure that you get the maximum ROI possible and that you aren’t flushing your ad budget away from sending potential leads to lousy landing pages or targeting low-intent keywords.

The takeaway

Of course, you want your campaigns to generate qualified, high-quality leads. 

With a strategic, thoughtful approach to ad design, keyword search, analytics, and segmentation, you can achieve your conversion goals through PPC lead generation campaigns — and see an impressive ROI as a result.

This post has been updated and was originally published in May 2020.

Shire Lyon

Shire Lyon

Shire is a passionate writer and marketer with over eight years of experience as a writer and digital marketer. She's well-versed in SEO, PPC, and social media, helping businesses both big and small grow and scale. On her downtime, she enjoys hiking, cooking, gardening, reading, and sailing.