6 Common PPC Campaign Mistakes Marketers Make

Don’t Do This!

Google’s advertising service has come a long way since its inception in 2000. Over the years, more features and bidding methods have been added, making it a complex platform to use. This also means it’s now easier to overlook details when setting campaigns up or running them. Correcting these mistakes could mean extra revenue or substantial savings on your paid advertising campaigns.

With the help of award-winning marketing agency Champions UK Plc, we’ve put together a list of six errors that most PPC marketers make. If you’re serious about wanting to improve your paid advertising results, it’s important to avoid the following at all costs…

1. Not setting up the keywords correctly

This can mean many things, but most often, it implies bidding too broad or using the wrong keyword match type.

It’s easy to focus on broad keywords, however, they’re not necessarily the best performing ones. Consider long-tail keywords. They won’t drive as much traffic, but they will drive the right kind of traffic. Long-tail keywords are more of the converting type, which is actually what PPC managers are after. Moreover, they are cheaper to target than broad keywords and will lower your cost per click/conversion.

When it comes to match type, there are three options:

  • Broad match
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match

Using the wrong type in your PPC campaigns means that your ads won’t be as effective. Consider the type of industry you’re operating in (size, competition level, customer behaviour etc.) and your goals when deciding on the match type. Broad match means more impressions, but less precise ads, so it will be the wrong choice if you’re after conversions. The phrase and exact matches will deliver more conversions, but fewer people will see them.

2. Fighting for the first position in SERP

Generally, being the first at something is good and it pays off, but targeting the first paid position in SERP isn’t always the most rewarding. It’s definitely not a recommended strategy for small budgets.

It’s usually true that the first position gets more clicks, however, it doesn’t get as many conversions. It may be good for building brand awareness if that’s what you’re aiming for, but don’t expect an avalanche of sales from it. Ranking first also doesn’t come cheap, especially if there are clear industry leaders in your field. A small furniture company, for example, probably won’t be able to outbid the likes of IKEA for generic searches.

It’s also not the best strategy to go for position #1 targeting broad keywords. They indicate a low intent level and the clicks will most likely not result in conversions. Paid results lower down the page still get a lot of visibility and get clicked on. Consumers using paid search are usually still trying to define their problems and goals and will probably click on several ads.

3. A bad landing page (or lack of)

Many PPC specialists are guilty of this rookie mistake. A lot of time and effort go into driving the user to click on ads by focusing on creating a targeting strategy, setting up the keyword groups and designing the ads. Therefore, it’s easy to forget that there is life after the click and the landing page will quite often make or break the conversion.

Taking your prospects to a generic page or your home page will most likely result in the visitor leaving your website. Why? Because they didn’t get what they were promised. You shouldn’t only help your leads obtain what they were looking for, but your entire campaign should be consistent in messaging, branding and design. This will result in a positive user experience and build trust.

Once somebody lands on your page, it should be obvious how they can reach their goals. In order to create landing pages that convert, you need to avoid cluttered content and design and opt for a clean and minimalist page that has a clear call to action. Use various conversion rate optimisation techniques to find out what works for your audience.

4. Not bidding for your name

You’re busy researching and bidding on the best keywords in your industry and the ones that your competitors use, but how about your own brand name? It’s true that this defensive strategy isn’t always feasible, but if other companies show up among the paid results above your organic listing when searching for your brand name, you should think about bidding on it.

The benefits of this method are:

  • Having two links in the SERP that won’t cannibalise each other
  • Beating the competition and not letting them steal all your hard work building top-of-mind awareness that resulted in the branded search
  • Dominating the SERP shows that you are a big player in your industry
  • Building strategic traffic to new pages such as new products and services or limited offers
  • Lower CPC
  • Higher intent to buy that could result in more conversions.

Canva is a good example in this case. As you can see in the image below the brand dominates the SERP through a paid result, an organic result, the Google knowledge panel and social media pages. The users will most likely click on a link that will direct them to the brand’s pages.

5. Not optimising the campaign

Just like you can’t put something in the oven and then forget about it, you can’t set up a PPC campaign and then never check on it again. Review the performance of your campaign regularly to make sure it’s on track and getting the results you’re after.

Look at the click rate, conversion rate and the quality score and see if you can identify ways of getting more bang for your buck. This could mean finding ways to decrease your cost per conversion, lowering your average cost per lead and increasing visitors to your landing page.

Targeting too many keywords can be time-consuming and costly. Pause all underperforming keywords that drive your costs up, and instead focus on the keywords that drive the best results.

Checking the reports on GDN placements and search terms on a weekly basis is highly recommended. If you’re advertising on the Google Display Network, it’s good practice to check the websites where your ads are showing. Some of them may actually be malicious and have robots clicking on all the ads. Have a look at your keywords and negative keywords to see if any bids for these need adjusting.

6. Too many keywords in an ad group

PPC professionals may try to cover more ground by bidding on every keyword that’s related to their business, but sometimes less is more. Use a small group of better-performing keywords over a large group with mixed levels of performance. Opting for too many keywords can diminish the relevancy of your ad and some of them will have a low click-through and conversion rates.

If you don’t know how to choose your keywords, go for the ones that indicate higher intent because these are more likely to convert. Remove the ones that suggest a generic search for products. In other words, focus on the bottom of the funnel searches, rather than the top of the funnel ones. This is a good tactic, especially if your budget is limited. Alternatively, break up the big ad groups into smaller ones based on intent level and create new ads for each one.

Of course, the list could go on, but these are the most easy-to-make and easy-to-fix errors when managing PPC campaigns. Hopefully, you’re not making any of these common mistakes, but at least now you are more aware of what you should avoid.

Chester Yang is the Microsoft Program Manager at Diginius with a background in economics and quantitative research.  

At Diginius, Chester focuses on nurturing partnerships with PPC agencies and integrating marketing and sales solutions.