Top 10 PPC Mistakes That should Never be Overlooked

by jaidecker - January 13th, 2010

We all know Search Engine Marketing (PPC) can not only be VERY lucrative, but can also provide a vast amount of data to your business if you know what you are looking for.  Today we are talking about what are the typical mistakes when using PPC that can not only cause your campaigns to fail, but can quite possibly harm your brand.

1)    Campaign Development: As we all know success is in the detail and that statement rings especially true with digital advertising.  It is crucial to setup campaign properly but also with the right flight details or your campaign will fail even before they even start.  Be sure to confirm flights dates, target goals, engines and spend rations BEFORE the campaign goes live.  If you neglect these steps, you may find that your campaign is not only not running, but has blown through its total budget in a few short hours.

Sample doc (not the one we use at DrivenTide)

2)    Message/Copy: As stated by Forrester, you only have 1/10 of a second to grab a searcher, but with the wrong message the clicks will never come.  Make sure your message clear, relevant and contains a Strong-Call-To-Action.  We all see when PPC ads do not make sense, irrelevant or even spelled wrong and wonder what copy writer was thinking.  When making ad copy make the message relevant to the searchers keyword(s) and provide a Strong-Call-To-Action to influence the click.  What I have found successful is an offer or statement like, AT NO COST, 10%, FREE Demo or even CALL NOW!

Utilize Keyword insertion or custom copy linked to relevant landing pages to greatly increase click and conversion rates

3)    Landing Page: Once the searcher has click ad, the landing page needs to reflect the ad copy’s message, offer and actionable or the search will click away.  Too many PPC campaign link to a homepage or worse to a “404 Page Not Found” as the campaign manager never checked the advertisers destination URL.  It is essential to make sure the Landing Page is customized to the keyword, product and Call-To-Action.  If these are not followed, then you just paid $3 for Google for nothing and the searcher will NEVER come back.

Weak: Cluttered with no clear call to click       —– Strong: Clean design with reasons to click

4)    Campaign Preoptimzation: Most campaigns start out using typical words that are selected in Broad Word Match and over time performing keywords are uncovered which drive conversions, but that takes time and expensive.  To avoid this, campaign managers need to review the client’s web analytics reports to find trending, converting and non-converting keywords to ensure a successful campaign.  This is what I call, Preoptimization as it will allow you to have a jump start on what will and will not increase campaign performance.

Research with the client what has and has not worked in the past

5)    Custom Targeting: Every day we see ads which have nothing to do with what we are searching or advertising something that is not even available in our area.  This is a critical issue as it is key to focus you ads to find qualified searchers in the location that makes sense.  This type of custom targeting should be created to deliver ads by location, time, and season or even too specific interests depending on the ad delivery tool you are using.

Research the client's trending, demographics and geo reports to identify opportunity

6)    Negative Keyword List: If a searcher is looking for a Apple Store in SF and an irreverent ad shows up, then that is bad for the advertisers business.  I know what you are going to say, “But, you only pay for what is clicked”, which is true, but I have seen WAY too many clicks on irreverent ads without conversions to ignore this rule. Within every PPC campaign there must be a strong Negative Keyword List otherwise you ad might come up where it is not only irrelevant, but could harm your brand.  Review keywords to find similar product, lifestyle and branding similarities to prevent ad misplacement.

list keywords which will make sure your ads will only show with opportunity to convert

7)    Account / Campaign Maintenance: Once in a while a campaign will be discovered to be not running by the campaign manager and hopefully not by the advertiser. This can be due to something as simple as the account’s billing has expired or that the campaign was accidently turned off.  The campaign manager needs to frequently check on the status of the overall account for end dates, spend rations and flight status.  Remember, PPC is not a “Fire and Forget” tool.

8)    Keyword strategy: Just because the keyword “online education” receives a great deal of traffic according to Google, does not mean you should buy it.  Keywords should be bought with the idea that their cost will be offset (hopefully) by their performance.  If you are an education site, buy terms which showcase your specific classes, location and demographics.  The deeper down the conversation funnel you go the closer you will be to cheaper and more relevant keywords.  But do note, the more targeted the keyword the smaller the pool of searchers there will be, so be aware.

Top: General KWs, Category KWs, Genre KWs, Brand KWs and Item KWs

9)    Optimization: To optimize a campaign only once a week is a quick way to erode not only your performance but your Quality Score.  Just because your campaign is doing well, does not mean you should neglect it.  By staying on top of your campaign, you will uncover new areas of keywords, targeting and even other search engines to further increase preference.  Remember, performance can quickly dry up when seasonal trending, blog change subjects or even when sporting events come to an end.  The key PPC is research, analysis, test and repeat.

10)  Multichannel Analytics: Have you ever heard of an agency that cut the Display ads from their Media Plan due to PPC outperforming Display by 2 to 3 times?  Then a week later, the PPC performance drops off like a rock. The reason for this is usually due to the fact that the Display ads were influencing people to use search to click and convert, this is form of Multichannel Analytics. The Holy Grail of advertising is Multichannel Analytics which is the ability to see how multiple ad channels interact and compound influence, clicks and conversions.  Without the ability to analyze a campaign’s multiple ad interactions, the advertiser is only getting part of the story.

According to Google(2009)

To help prevent any of the above from happening, you create Campaign IO documentation which will outline the campaign details which will be signed off by the client/advertiser and campaign manager.  Then a document called Campaign Flight Confirmation doc will be used to ensure the campaign has been setup in accordance to the advertisers’ wishes and performance goals.  This way both parties are covered for things ranging from campaign errors to last minute media changes.

It is an extra step, but trust me the client will greatly appreciate it.

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