If you’re reading this, you’re probably either already on the path to figuring out how to better your PPC campaign or you’re ahead of the game and planning appropriately. A PPC campaign is easy to start and fairly easy to manage, but it doesn’t take much to let the whole thing get out of hand. If you want the best bang for your buck, you’re going to have to be organized, consistent, and scrupulous.
Right off the bat, let’s get something clear - the term ‘ROI’ (return on investment) in this particular context is the same thing as ‘ROAS’ (return on ad spend). Now, I am definitely not a mathematician. My motivation to get a degree in writing was due in part to an aversion to math that bordered on downright fear. That being said, calculating your ROI is not a difficult procedure. It’s as simple as this:
(Revenue - Ad Cost) / Ad Cost = ROAS
Ex. ($1000 profit – $500 cost = $500) / $500 cost = 1.0 = 100%
Calculating your ROAS is one thing - what can you do to really bolster those numbers, though? Let's look into some best practices and strategies.
check your match types
Take a closer look at your keywords. What kind of match type are they using? A broad match keyword will be made available to the widest audience, but this also means you could be wasting money on ads because you're not exerting enough control over your ad traffic. Broad match keyword types also eat up money quickly.
By changing the keyword match type to modified broad, phrase or exact, you're cutting out unwanted traffic and serving your ads at a more cost-effective rate to an audience that's more likely to click your ad.
keyword consistency is...Well, key.
This may sound obvious, but it's also important that your PPC campaigns are clearly relevant to your business. You need to write ad copy that is appropriate to the keyword group, not just your conversion goals. Write ad text that is appropriate to the keyword group as well as your conversion goals. Look at the campaign as a whole—Google shouldn't have to connect the dots for you, the cohesion should be obvious. If the words you're using in the ad don't seem related to the landing pages, it’s time to rethink some things. You'll get a low quality score and you'll confuse those who click your ads.
The more relevant the keyword, the higher the click-through rate - prioritize the keywords that will get you the traffic most likely to close. Don't bid on keywords that won't work just because they're cheap. The "off chance" that someone who sees it is interested isn't enough for you to risk low click-throughs (which also affect your quality score), or worse yet, paying for clicks from people who will never become customers.
ad scheduling and locations
For every unique campaign, there’s a corresponding unique audience. Keep an eye on the trends. Once you’ve been running a PPC campaign for a while, you’re going to have good, actionable data. Check out the screenshot below.
Looks like most of the action is happening between normal work hours, 8am-5pm. We could run our ad schedule strictly between those hours, and not show ads between 5pm and 8am.
Make sure you've specified which locations you'd like to advertise, too! The default location for those advertising in the United States is... the United States. The entire country. Maybe your budget or your company limits you to advertising only in a certain city or state. Failing to specify those locations means you'll advertise to the whole country as soon as you launch that campaign. Your budget will be annihilated within hours. Be careful!
Every audience is different. I’ve run campaigns before in which ads were performing best between 2-6am and ads that target very specific locations. Monitor the trends and know your audience.
Deploy your negative keywords to the battlefield
Negative keywords are crucial to any campaign. A negative keyword ensures that your ads aren’t served up to the wrong audience. Let’s say Doug opens a shop selling custom-made beer glasses. We'll call it Doug's Mugs, why not? After one week of paid advertising, he realizes he’s pulling a lot of traffic for people searching for “glasses frames.” Adding “frames” as a negative keyword will ensure that portion of traffic won’t be seeing his ads - saving searchers time and Doug money. If you’re looking for ideas for negative keywords, check out the ‘Search Terms’ section of your AdWords dashboard. Negative keywords are one of your greatest defenses against unwanted traffic.
Negative Keywords - They're Doing Their Part! Are You?
Make sure your landing pages don't suck
The landing pages that your ads direct to should be as optimized as possible. Ideally, there should be one landing page for each major topic and/or conversion goal. Try to remove distractions like links to other parts of your website, as you're paying for traffic to go to this page. Don't confuse them. While it might be a bitter pill to swallow, it's very possible to have a great PPC campaign but landing pages that are going to need a redesign. (Make sure your ads don't suck, either.)
hit 'em again with remarketing
Remarketing is an exceptional method for nurturing leads and converting goals. It's all about the targeting. When you're running a remarketing campaign, you're adding a code to a landing page that places a cookie in the browser of those looking at your site.
So let's say someone checks out your site, peruses the 'Shop' section, adds an item or two to their cart and after a while, they decide to bail. They could have left for any number of reasons, but you want them to make that purchase. That's why you've added your remarketing code to the cart page. A week later, the same individual is online when they see an ad - your store is now offering 10% off all products, this weekend only! Well, that's motivation enough to log back in, see that discount and make the purchase. Ta-da! You've just harnessed the awesome power of remarketing. It's usually cheaper than a regular PPC campaign, it targets people who are already familiar with your brand, and it's an awesome added layer of support to your advertising efforts.
PPC TIP: Remarketing goes both ways. Go to a favorite website and add an item to your cart.... and wait. They might just target you for remarketing!
A/B testing, or what i call ppc darwinism
Change things up! It’s good to have a minimum of 3-4 ads per ad group. Make some ads with slight variations in the text, and make others that are worded completely differently. Put them out there and see which ads fare best. Sometimes, quirky little things like an ampersand (&) tend to convert better than the word ‘and.’ It’s weird, but it happens. May the odds be ever in your favor, little ads.
spruce up your account structure
When possible, you can split up your ad groups into smaller, more targeted ad groups. This allows you to make the keywords more focused, make the ad copy and landing pages more specific, and improve your click and conversion rates.
To get the most benefit from your PPC campaigns, choose tightly-focused keyword groups that target a clear buyer persona at a certain stage in the buyer's journey. The more applicable and specific to the searcher's situation, the more likely that he or she is to click and ultimately buy.
Sometimes you just have to combine it all and hope for the best. Just kidding. Do not do that.
bids - TIME make some adjustments
You can adjust your bid for all kinds of things! You can make adjustments for time of day, devices, and the locations you're advertising to. According to Google, you can be very specific with your bids. Looking at the data below, we can infer that the majority of our traffic is from mobile devices.
If I saw this in a PPC account, I'd want to implement a mobile bid adjustment of, say, 10-20% and then I'd monitor it's progress. Same applies to locations and times - if a click is worth more to you from Knoxville than it is from Chicago, you can set a bid for Knoxville.
Continuing off the ad scheduling point from above, we could even go so far as to adjust our bids for those denser timeframes (even on the ad group level).
hunt down the non-converters
Let’s say you’ve been running a campaign for a few months now. Some of your keywords/ads are getting clicks and converting. Others are getting clicks and….nothing else. You’re paying for those clicks and getting nothing in return. So, what’s an advertiser to do?
"...the time has come. Execute Order 66."
Get rid of ‘em. If they've historically proven themselves to be a drain on your ad spend with little to no return, they should not be allowed to continue.
PPC Tip: Instead of deleting ads and keywords that aren't converting, pause them so you can hold on to that historical data.
To Wrap things up...
PPC is not a "set it and forget it" kinda deal - your keyword list needs constant pruning and refining. Take advantage of valuable opportunities highlighted by your data and pause terms/ads that aren't converting. Implement negative keywords that make your campaign more relevant for searchers.
Taking these steps can drastically cut down on wasted spend and help you achieve a higher placement on the SERP (search engine results page). Efficiency is the name of the game, and while it requires constant monitoring and tinkering, the results speak for themselves.