Few other marketing channels have the potential to fuel-inject a company’s bottom line the way PPC can. And yet, day-in, day-out, thousands of enterprises waste huge sums on poorly designed ad campaigns – simultaneously losing out on big profits. And let’s not forget the brain-cell destroying frustration felt when big ad spends deliver puny revenues. Ouch.

Brainbroker team members – both in-house and freelance – continue to come across truly wasteful, ineffective PPC accounts, and that’s putting it politely.

Thankfully, applying a little hard-won PPC experience, a sprinkle of logic and a soupçon of creativity, the majority of paid search issues can be remedied with a combination of quick-fixes and intelligent long-term strategising.

Here are the most common problems we see cropping up:

Cost Per Lead luddites

OK, luddite is a bit strong, but too much emphasis on Cost Per Lead can mean you aren’t focussed on the bottom line. In short, we’ve seen many PPC campaigns that deliver impressive CPL results, but don’t return a decent profit. And profit pays the electric bill, right? CPL can be a great indicator, but it’s not really a hard-and-fast measure of high-quality leads.

You need to pinpoint your most effective ad copy; which terms deliver the lowest cost-per sale; and which keywords generate the most revenue. Harnessing a good CRM such as Marketo or Salesforce can supercharge your tracking. Time-consuming but very much worth it.

No conversion tracking

It may not seem like the most exciting subject, but we’re sure you’ll learn to love conversion tracking when it’s proven to boost your revenues. There’s no point spending lots of money on getting leads and sales if you don’t know exactly how/where you got them. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for clients to resist adding tracking code to their site.

No call tracking

It’s a similar story with call tracking. Leads and sales from phone-calls are the lifeblood of many companies –, particularly lead generation outfits. And yet we find a lot of them don’t bother with phone call tracking. Without it, it’s difficult or impossible to know which channels are delivering the reddies.

This is a shame since setting up call tracking is fairly straightforward. For instance, you might include a forwarding number in your ad copy call extensions. This will keep track of calls right down to the level of ad group. You might also dynamically replace your main number with a forwarding number by adding a small snippet of code to your website. You can then find out which calls from your site were prompted by which campaigns.

A number of tracking platforms integrate well with CRMs – including Five9 and Call Tracking Metrics.

paid search advertising

Bids are too low

Yes, high bids do cost you more. But when you set up a new campaign, you need to find out if it’s effective, and to do that you need clicks. Kicking off with higher bids will get you those clicks. You can then reduce your bids once you know your campaign is a winner. And if it’s failing, you have enough data to justify ditching it. Conversely, if you begin with low bids and gradually increase them, you may well end up spending more on ads and keyword lists that don’t deliver good ROI.

How to decide on a bid amount? A good rule of thumb is going in three or four times higher than Google’s suggested bid. And of course, in the majority of cases you will only pay a little more than the suggested bid – not the upper amount.
This approach should only be implemented after you have established a compelling offer for your target audience. That means a product or service pitched to a genuine need/want, great ad copy and a carefully curated keyword list.

Underwhelming ad copy

All too often we see ads that are sloppily written or very similar to the competition. You need to focus relentlessly on the would-be customer’s problem, how you understand their pain – and how you can remedy it.

Uncompelling/poor landing pages

It’s common to see effective PPC campaigns with sparkling ad copy and well-chosen keywords that link to poorly designed landing pages. A big part of PPC management is ensuring valuable traffic doesn’t fall out of the funnel because a landing page doesn’t match the ad copy, or doesn’t seem to correlate with an ad’s promise. Getting a visitor to a website is only half the battle – you need to provide compelling on-page copy and calls to action if they are to buy, sign-up or request a call-back.

Not using negative keywords

We see huge sums wasted by companies who end up paying for traffic that is of no use to them – by displaying ads on irrelevant search terms. Carry out in-depth keyword research and find those accursed queries – then add them to a negative keyword list. This should boost both your CTR and your bottom line.

Too many keywords

Most campaigns we come across have far too many keywords. After in-depth analysis, it often turns out that the majority of sales come from a fraction of these terms – perhaps 10 to 20%. This means large sums are being wasted on useless key terms.

Remedy this in the first instance by turning off broad match; while it may be the default setting it is seldom of use to most companies, and simply means you are giving your money to Google with little or nothing in return. Google wants you to succeed, but they want themselves to succeed more.

You then need to establish which keywords are not delivering. Do this by creating a filter in the keywords tab of AdWords, and ranking the queries by conversions/goals in reverse order. You’ll quickly see which terms are resulting in actual sales or leads.