Common Mistakes with PPC Accounts
AdWords was released 10 years ago, and throughout this decade of rapidly changing marketing environments, many marketers radically changed their strategy. Others introduced functions for one initial reason, and then left them without reasonable explanation. As such, quite a few PPC profiles have become unnecessarily bulky and dotted with questionably useful ads. One would think that it is time for a PPC-account spring-cleaning to deal with the most common account mistakes.
The characteristics of a healthy PPC account are 1) it’s cost efficient, 2) it’s attracting users, and 3) it’s increasing sales, and these criteria should be used when evaluating your current profile and portfolio of advertisements. Past performance data—mainly total expenditure to total visitors—would be invaluable in isolating PPC account performance from uncontrollable factors. For example, the effects of optimization in December should not be confused with the increase in purchase activity for Christmas.
The first area to look at when optimizing your ads is Ad Tests. Undoubtedly, testing advertisements is the key to finding customer preferences and choosing the most efficient wording. However, quite frequently marketers rely on Google to analyze the data for them and highlight the winner. Even worse, they do not modify their portfolios to take account of ad usefulness and efficiency, and simply delete underperforming ads while strengthening over-achievers. Additionally, having a number of advertisements means that Google has a wider selection when choosing which ad to display, which will lower the overall click-rate and consequently efficiency. Take a look at your PPC account for ad groups with more than 20 ads in them.
Special discounts and promotions are usually short-term and have seasonal offerings. Consider all the holiday related offers hurled at the consumer before the holiday itself. The problem with these is that they are relevant only for a short time span, usually before the related occasion. Alternatively, some ads are created for sales with limited quantities. All of these mislead or confuse the customer as the information on the ad conflicts with that on your website. Consequently, the website’s incoming traffic, customer conversion ratios and even its reputation will suffer heavily. The solution for accurate ads is either personal due diligence or (the easy way out) automation via services like the AdParamService1.
An AdWord account overhaul will not be complete without keyword optimization, and this will mainly focus on optimizing for negative and duplicate keywords. As businesses change and evolve, so should their marketing campaigns. For example, initially a business was specializing in computer parts production, a la IBM, but now it is focused on business consulting and solution implementation. If the business or product names can be confused with alternatives, use negative keywords to restrict their showing in certain query results. This will make ad impressions more relevant and efficient. Keep in mind that you should look out for underperforming products, as their exposure can be limited by negative keywords.
Conversely, positive keywords are there to tailor the specific ads so that they are shown to the right user at the right time. These can be extremely useful if used properly, that is, each ad group has been attributed with the right keywords that are specifically chosen for relevance. Far too often, PPC accounts have keywords attributed to the whole profile instead of specific groups. This dilutes the relevance of your ads and worsens the CTR and conversion rates.
The last common problem is with PPC ads that direct users to broken or missing pages, thus wasting precious traffic. A marketing employee must conduct thorough and regular checks of its profile for such problems, fixing them as he goes.
The best solution to avoid such plaguing problems is a periodic overview of the profile and a complete overhaul if necessary.