7 Common Pitfalls of PPC Campaigns

AdWords Pitfalls

Pitfall #1: Keywords

Successful PPC campaigns start with your knowledge of keywords. Generally, this is where many advertisers fail. Think of your keywords as the foundation of your Adwords campaign. If your foundation is not solid, your campaign will most likely crumble.

The basic purpose of keywords is to trigger your ads. Sounds pretty simple but it can get complicated very quickly.

Choosing your keywords starts with research. There are many tactics for conducting keyword research but this describes the most common.

Start by defining what you would like your company to be known for, If your company offers a premium service you probably wouldn’t want to be known as the “Cheap”, “Free”, or “Open Source” solution provider.

Search volume vs. competition vs. price is the likely next step. Adding your keywords into Google keyword planner will give you a good idea of the search volume, price, and competition for the keywords.

Example result 1:
Search volume 80k – 1m
Price per click $18.50
Competition High

The above scenario states an enormous search volume a month. This sounds excellent, but with that many searches it is more likely this term has also attracted the attention of some pretty heavy hitters with enormous ad budgets. With a cost per click of $18.50, you can see how this term could rack up some huge Adwords bills very quickly. Competition is also listed as high. This suggests that space is very crowded. (High search volume accompanied by high competition and price.)

Example result 2:
Search volume 30k – 60k
Price per click $6.50
Competition Medium

The search volume is significantly lower but still offers a healthy amount of monthly searches. As a rule of thumb, volumes above 60k tend to attract large corporations. The cost per click has also decreased to a more reasonable number. Competition fell from high to medium. This would suggest that space is less crowded and has not yet attracted too many corporations. (Respectable search volume and reasonable cost per click.)

Example result 3:
Search volume 1k – 10k
Price per click $1.50
Competition low

The search volume has decreased to a fraction of examples 1 and 2. The cost per click now looks more like a rounding error than anything. Competition being low suggests that space is not crowded. (Search volume is very small)

Obviously, each company is different and each scenario will appear more appealing to one organization than the other. A possible solution would be to target a mixture of all 3 scenarios with 3 different bidding strategies.

Pitfall #2: Keyword Types

Mistake #1: Not Using the Right Keyword Matches, Wrong Keyword Match Types, Not Using Negative keywords, and Generic or Poorly Implemented Dynamic Ads

Understanding keyword types are critical. There are 5 types you must be concerned with.

Broad match default
(Highest search volumes no restrictions)
This is the least restrictive of all match types. It has the highest chance of triggering your ad but is least likely to convert.

Modified broad match
(More restrictive then broad match but not as restrictive as the terms below)

Reduces the search volume slightly but allows you to specify that the query must contain the keywords. Adding a “+” before your keywords specify broad match.

Phrase match
(Must contain the keyword phrase)
This further reduces the search volumes. Phrase match allows different query variations as long as the exact phrase is within the query. Adding ” ” around the keywords specify phrase match.

Exact match
(Must exactly match)
The most restrictive of the match types. Exact match only triggers the add if the query matches exactly without any variation. Adding [ ] around the keyword specifies an exact match.

(Do not show my ad when this keyword is present)
One of the most important but least used of the match types.
Adding a “-” before keywords like Free or Cheap may be a good idea for premium services.

Using the correct match types allows you to trigger your ad when searches are more likely to convert.

Pitfall #3: Writing Ad Copy

Writing effective ad copy is an art form. Think of it as the headline of a blog post. It needs to be compelling and entice clicks. Here are some things to remember when writing ad copy.

Do not forget to add a compelling offer. Consumers are shown ads constantly. Make sure you are delivering a message that consumers instantly recognize have value. 30 Day Free Trial, Overnight Shipping, and Free Evaluation are all good examples of compelling offers.

Do remember to include your keyword in the ad. This tactic not only validates to the consumer that your ad is tailored to their query but also improves your AdWords quality score.

Make use of Ad Extensions. Ad extensions are an easy way to increase your ad’s real estate. It quickly increases your ad’s size and adds value to the query. Ad extensions can add phone numbers, address, reviews, and product images. This makes your ad far more likely to be clicked.

Pitfall #4: Targeting Search and Display

AdWords defaults to both search and display networks. To understand what is best for your campaign you should understand what each one is.

The search network displays ads to consumers who are searching google for a specific query. Ads are typically shown at the top and bottom of the screen. Statistically, these ads are shown to a consumer who is more likely to convert as they are actively searching for a product or service.

The display network displays ads within the Google display network. This network of websites displays your ads based on the keywords and the site’s content. The display network will show your ad to relevant customers but often times this potential customer is not actively searching to make a purchase.

Pitfall #5: Segmentation

Segmenting by device types again is under used. It is very simple to segment by device types and triggers different ad groups. There are many reasons for segmenting by device types but here are a couple common ones.

Your analytics show a depreciation in conversions coming from mobile users. Simply target desktop users until you can determine what is causing this drop.

With the number of mobile users rising each year, so do the search volumes. It may make sense to adjust your keywords and types for mobile to accommodate the difference in search queries. Mobile searches tend to be shorter due to the added difficulty of text typing.

Pitfall #6: Landing Pages

Landing pages are paramount. DO NOT spend dollars to attract customers to simply dump them onto your home page. Make sure you are optimizing your landing page to convert your paid traffic. If your goal is to collect leads then you absolutely need a lead capture form on that page. If you are promoting a specific product, make sure that product is prominently displayed for the visitor to purchase.

When designing the landing page, ensure that it is congruent with your ad copy message. This will reassure the visitor that their decision to click on your ad was the right choice and will also increase your AdWords quality score.

Pitfall #7: Trust In Your Metrics

First of all, ensure that you are measuring your conversions. How can you know for sure that your ad dollars are working if you are not?

Know your customer lifetime value. It is not enough to consider your ROI of acquisition/purchase. You also need to consider your customers lifetime value. One click usually never equals one purchase. You must consider your conversion rates. Of your visitors who made the conversion how was their experience? If it was positive it is very likely that they will continue to purchase from your brand. How often and for how long on average does this occur?

Understand who you are competing with and measure your metrics against them and the industry average. This will give you a good idea how your AdWords campaign is stacking up.

Continually optimize your landing page or pages, your ad headlines, your ad content, and your keywords. A B test everything you possibly can. Remember increasing your conversion rate is much more valuable than increasing your visitors.

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