Tag Archives: PPC program

Written by Caroline Cox on Oct 27, 2021

Managing your PPC campaign shouldn’t be what frightens you most this Halloween. Make sure these mistakes don’t come back to haunt you.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Common PPC problems even seasoned marketers run into
  • Actionable solutions to help you avoid these problems
  • Pro tips to boost your PPC campaign
  • Best practices to help you stick to your budget

Ghouls, monsters, zombies, and underperforming pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns — all pretty scary, right?

When it comes to paid search, it can be easy to spend your whole budget and still see underwhelming results. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Running a PPC campaign is like getting your first credit card. If used wisely, you’ll spend some money now and be rewarded for your good decisions later. 

But if you’re not especially thoughtful about your spending? You could be out of funds before you know it. 

While we can’t speak to your credit score, we can help you learn from the PPC mistakes of others without having to make these missteps yourself.

We’ve highlighted some common PPC problems, complete with solutions to help turn things around. Just beware: there’s spooky stuff ahead. 

three carved jack o lanterns

Don’t let Google’s reputation trick you into missing out on a great opportunity. (Image via Unsplash)

Problem #1: You don’t have a concise goal and strategy

You started a PPC campaign without a clear goal in mind. Without a specific target or timeframe, it’s difficult to track your progress or know how to measure success.

End goals are so important that Microsoft Advertising bases your campaign plan and recommendations on your goal. Plus, not having a goal can potentially make any strategy seem like it’s moving in the right direction.

Solution: Once you define your goal, you can create a plan for how to reach it. Define your audience as specifically as you can. Once you know your audience and strategy, you can choose better keywords and create stellar ad copy that gets your target audience to click. 

Problem #2: You’re not leveraging PPC beyond Google

Plenty of marketers get trapped in a Google-only mindset. But, as we’ve said before, Microsoft Advertising is a viable option for plenty of industries. 

Solution: Ads on Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) also run on the Yahoo! and AOL search networks. They have exclusive access to 66 million searchers who opt for the Microsoft search engine over Google, and over a third of their users are in the top quarter of earners. 

Don’t let Google’s reputation trick you into missing out on a great opportunity. Microsoft Advertising has a display network called the Audience Network that can be leveraged as well.

Problem #3: You’re not using negative keywords

You already know how essential keywords are in a campaign, but there are a few other things you need to be aware of to better make use of keywords.

One of the PPC problems many companies fall for is failing to use negative keywords in their strategy. 

Solution: Negative keywords are terms that you can use to tell Google which search terms you don’t want to show up in the results for. 

For example, if you’re selling luxury bedding, and “bedsheets” is your keyword, you wouldn’t want to appear in a search query like “what to do with old bedsheets?” Using negative keywords can help improve the relevancy of your ads and make sure the right people are seeing them.

Pro tip: Relatedly, don’t neglect your own branded keywords. Some companies will bid on the competition’s keywords to siphon off buyers looking for their brand. If your competition is bidding on your keywords and you aren’t, that could cost you.

Problem #4: You’re not taking advantage of available resources

Paid search platforms often have various features and tools to make managing your account easier. The trick is knowing what they are. 

Solution: Google has ad scripts that help you automate many important but tedious tasks. They can analyze your ads, send budget alerts, and assist with bid management.

Google also allows you to schedule your ads to run during certain times of the day. There are often windows of heightened conversion when your target audience will be most likely to see your ads. 

Ad extensions are another great resource. You can spotlight prices, location, site link, or features. They make the ads larger and more engaging. Ad extensions are free and can do wonders for your clickthrough rate (CTR). 

Problem #5: You don’t have a consistent message

Throughout all the content you create (including ads and landing pages), your tone, message, and branding should be consistent. If people get different messages from your ads and landing pages, they may end up confused about who you are and what you offer. 

Do your keywords match what you’re selling? Do they match the keywords on your landing page? If not, visitors may be unsure about whether your business is what they’re looking for and bounce from your page.

Solution: To avoid PPC problems like this, it’s wise to repeat your ad copy on your landing page to keep visitors on track. 

Other best practices include having a similar design across all of your platforms and offerings, and keeping the tone and voice consistent throughout.

skeletons and neon lights

Leveraging tools to make your job easier is a win, but they work best when paired with a hands-on approach — no bones about it. (Image via Unsplash)

Need more help with your PPC? That’s why we’re here.

Problem #6: You’re driving traffic, but not conversions

You’ve decided on the copy, finalized the design, organized your campaigns, and launched your ads. Now, you’re seeing traffic numbers go up — that’s great! But conversions are another story.

Traffic is one thing, but if you’re not getting conversions, something is amiss. So, what gives? It may be a matter of where you’re sending that traffic on your site.

Solution: Create optimized landing pages. If your ads send leads to your homepage, you’re not making the best use of your traffic. As we’ve said before, quality traffic can lead to more conversions, sales, and a better-performing digital marketing strategy. 

When people click your ads and land on your homepage, it’s not always clear where they should go or what they should do next.

By sending this traffic to optimized landing pages instead, you can deliver a minimalist visual experience with a clear message that makes it easy for your leads to know exactly what action they should take. You can even tailor these various landing pages to different audience segments and speak directly to them.

Use specific language about the next step a visitor to your site should take — aka the call to action (CTA). The CTA could ask them to do something like sign up for your email list, schedule a consultation, fill out a form, or give you a call.

Problem #7: Your leads aren’t qualified

Sure, it’s great to have a large influx of leads coming your way. But if the bulk of your leads aren’t qualified, you’re using up time and money that could be better spent elsewhere. 

By not taking advantage of all of the keyword and targeting strategies at your disposal (like using too many overly broad keywords and not leveraging negative keywords), you risk running into PPC problems like having a high volume of leads that don’t actually translate into sales.

Solution: It may be time to look into the audiences you’re currently targeting. Where are they in your buyer’s journey?

By targeting your prospects who are further down the funnel and closer to the decision-making stage, you can create hyper-focused campaigns that’ll increase your odds of converting them.

It’s important not to focus solely on bottom-of-funnel prospects though. Every stage of the funnel will have different ideal tactics and serve a different purpose in the customer journey. It’s vital not to laser-focus on one stage at the detriment of all others.

Also, look into single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). Experts define SKAGs as ad groups designed with a one-to-one relationship between the root keyword and the ad. These groups can include multiple variations and long-tail keywords. 

By creating ads that match your keywords closely, you can pull more detailed reports and become that much more likely to attract qualified leads. 

Problem #8: Your PPC program relies too heavily on automation

Automated marketing can be great for time-saving and repetitive manual tasks. But being too hands-off with your PPC program can have drawbacks.

This can result in underperformance and a lack of understanding about what’s going right and what needs attention. When you opt for the “set it and forget it” model, you risk wasted ad spend and losing control of the whole operation.

Solution: At its core, marketing is about connecting with people. Because of this, it’s essential that you keep the human element at the center of any marketing strategy or initiative if you want to see long-term success.

Once your PPC campaign is up and running, you may be tempted to leave it alone, sit back, and let it do its job for a while. But the truth is, it’s a good idea to monitor its performance as often as possible. 

You’re paying for the ad daily, after all, so you want to make sure you’re spending your ad budget wisely.

Leveraging tools to make your job easier is a win, but they work best when paired with a hands-on approach — no bones about it. This means taking the time to understand your audience (in a way no algorithm can), revisiting your goals, and iterating when necessary. 

By continuing to test, track, and reconfigure your PPC program, you’ll land on the combination that works best for your company — with or without automation.

Pro tip: Split testing is a great way to see which campaigns and changes are more effective instead of running a bunch of ads without proper analysis, never knowing which one is more effective.

Problem #9: You’re not sticking to your budget

Another one of the PPC problems we often see is how easy it can be to go through your allotted budget in a snap. If your campaigns are bringing you a high volume of leads without resulting in substantial returns on investment (ROI), then there’s work to be done.

But, wait! Don’t throw more money into Google Ads to try to boost profits and fix your wasted ad spend issue just yet. You don’t necessarily need to modify your budget just because you’re consistently underspending and not hitting your goals. 

Solution: We’re all about money keywords — the keywords that bring you the most PPC ROI. By zooming in on the right data, you can get a better idea of your money keywords and the ones that can be scrapped.

First, check out your PPC performance over the last 3-4 months (as long as your current strategy has been in place at least that long).

Go into your Google Ads account in the Keywords tab. Next, identify all the keywords that haven’t produced any conversions during those months (you can organize this info in a spreadsheet or PivotTable) and dump them. 

(It’s worth noting here that branded keywords are a different story, as these can help boost your quality score, even if they don’t result in conversions.)

It’s not all about clicks and traffic, both of which may decrease after you eliminate those keywords. Look at which ones are driving the best customer lifetime value (CLV), then put as much of your budget as you can towards your money keywords. 

Ads further down the page can still have great CTRs and conversion rates, and will end up costing you less in the long run. 

Pro tip: Not hitting your budget? Try increasing your cost-per-click (CPC) bid limit and expanding your audience location. By creating a simple budget tracker that includes your overall budget, average spend rates, and actual monthly spend rates, you can get a grasp on where you are and where you want to be. 

The takeaway

Your paid search strategy shouldn’t be a mystery, and it shouldn’t feel like you’re simply throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks.  

By identifying your PPC problems and arming yourself with the right information and solutions, you can turn a broken program into a high-performing strategy that yields big results and impressive ROI. 

Get solutions to even more PPC problems here: Our Ultimate Guide to Problem-Solving for Your PPC Program and Getting the ROI You Deserve.

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2019.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Oct 6, 2021

When it comes to measuring the success of your pay-per-click (PPC) program, these are the top metrics to monitor. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • Ways to determine your specific PPC goals
  • How your goals relate to your KPIs
  • Tips for evaluating your business’s definition of success
  • Common KPIs used to measure PPC campaigns

Are you measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) for your marketing campaigns? 

If you’re unsure how your campaigns are really performing or you’re struggling to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, it may be time to revisit your KPIs.

KPIs give your business an effective, measurable way to track your campaigns’ progress and performance. In the case of a PPC campaign, you want to be sure that you’re seeing a reasonable return on your overall investment. 

By establishing PPC KPIs, you can create goals in Google Analytics that connect with your Google Ads. This way, you’ll have visibility into campaign performance and can begin sourcing accurate data right from the start. 

If you haven’t yet determined what you’re trying to accomplish with your campaign, here are some factors to consider.

hawksem blog: PPC KPIs

When you’re first deciding on goals, consider your past marketing successes as well as what you want this specific campaign to accomplish. (Image via Unsplash)

What is your PPC campaign trying to accomplish?

Typically, the goal of a PPC campaign is to raise awareness of your brand and to encourage customers to click through the ad to your website over your competitors’. 

Your PPC campaign may focus on a specific stage of the buyer’s journey or encompass specific keywords that are related to your product or service. 

When determining what KPIs to track, make sure you’ve clearly defined what you’re trying to accomplish with the campaign. 

For example, if you’re creating a top-of-funnel campaign to raise brand awareness or spread information about a new product or solution, you may want to focus on direct clicks more than conversions. 

What does “success” look like for your marketing program?

Every industry — and every brand within those industries — has a different measure of success. A brand that has a significant marketing budget, for example, may have higher goals and be willing to spend more on a campaign. 

If you sell high-dollar products or services or see a significant customer lifetime value (CLV), you may be able to spend more to acquire a single customer than if you’re a small business with relatively low-price items or a lower CLV.

When you’re first deciding on goals, consider your past marketing achievements as well as what you want this specific campaign to accomplish. 

Ideally, you want to boost ROI through new sales. But if your goals are more focused on raising brand awareness or bringing customers to your website, you may not see that kind of return in the early stages of your campaign. 

You also don’t have to start with your final goal, as Search Engine Journal explains. You can start by raising awareness or building your email list in the hopes that the end result over time will be more sales.  

Common KPIs to help track PPC campaigns

Looking at common PPC KPIs used to measure a campaign can give you a better idea of what to focus on when evaluating your campaign. 

There are some platform-specific KPIs, like followers on social media, then there are more general, universal ones. No matter what platform you’re on, you may want to consider:

Clickthrough rate (CTR)

CTR measures how many people clicked on your ad after seeing it. You can assess clickthrough rate by taking the total number of impressions (the number of times the ad was seen) and dividing it by the number of clicks it received. 

For a view to qualify as an impression, the consumer doesn’t have to take any action or interact with the ad. 

However, the clickthrough rate can give you a better idea about what percentage of people you can expect to click through an ad based on the number of times it’s been seen. 

Cost per click

The cost per click determines how much it costs you when someone clicks on your ad. In the competitive digital ad space, particularly when it comes to specific, high-volume keywords, you may pay more per click than you would in the case of lower-frequency keywords. 

However, those higher costs may be well worth it when you end up with a better overall return on your investment for critical keywords than you do for low-volume keywords. 

people in a meeting about ppc kpis

Keep a close eye on your conversion rate as you consider the performance of your campaign. (Image via Unsplash)

Cost per conversion

As customers click through your ad, some of them will explore your site, join your mailing list, or even make a purchase. How much does it cost to convert customers through those ads? 

Your cost per conversion will naturally be higher than your cost-per-click rate. 

Not every customer who clicks through your ad will choose to convert, whether that means joining your list or making a purchase from your business. 

Notice that your cost per conversion is higher on a specific type of campaign, or based on specific keywords? You may want to consider revisiting those keywords or the elements of your campaign. 

This way, you can potentially create a more effective campaign that has a higher return on your investment. 

Need more help getting your PPC program off the ground? Let’s make it happen.

Conversion rate

Not only do you want to know the cost per conversion, but it’s also important to know how many prospects actually convert. 

If you notice your conversion rate decreasing — that is, that people are clicking through the ad, but not choosing to make a purchase from your business or to sign up for your mailing list — consider why. 

Is your campaign focusing on the wrong keywords? Does your landing page fail to deliver the information customers need, or not provide them with an effective call to action? Keep a close eye on your conversion rate as you consider the performance of your campaign. 

Pro tip: Quality Score is another KPI worth looking into. While this score is determined by Google, it’s based on factors like your expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience. A higher quality score means you could rank higher while spending less. 

The takeaway

The last thing you want is to pour money into a PPC program without a clear goal in mind. 

Having key performance indicators helps you measure success and better pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in your campaigns.

By knowing what PPC KPIs are most important to your brand, you can build a solid plan to help ensure your goals are met.

This article has been updated and was originally published in July 2020.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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