How To Fix Under-Performing PPC Campaigns

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Is your PPC campaign not performing as expected? You set up an account, did keyword research and wrote the ads. You’ve already spent money but nothing is happening.

Perhaps you hired somebody to run the campaign for you but it’s still not performing.

The basic PPC plan is simple: find relevant keywords and pay for clicks. However, it is actually hard to drive traffic that converts.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common PPC problems and how to fix them.

Reasons Why PPC Campaigns Fail

When PPC campaigns fail, the problem is usually one or more of these issues:

  • Problems with ad platform configuration
  • Problems with the landing page
  • Problems with ROI – PPC is too expensive for you

Problems With Ad Platform Configuration

There is a problem with the way things are set up and it’s causing problems in reaching the intended audience and the types of traffic you’re paying for. This is why optimization can mean the difference between a profitable account and one that is not.

Audience

The first thing to make sure is to check whether you’re bidding on the right keywords to reach the people who need your product.  Examine search terms ad check to see if those are the words people use to search for your products which triggers your ad to be shown. Google won’t show al of them due to privacy but auditing this report is a must.

Do a Google search on the keywords you’re bidding on and check other ads being shown to gauge if this is where you belong. Are you in the same industry? Have similar products?

Check your campaign settings too to ensure that location targeted is not set to “People in, regularly in, or who’ve shown interest in your targeted locations.” Google says it’s recommended but it’s really not.

Let’s say you only sell to customers in Singapore. If you target Singapore only but leave these settings on, Google will also show ads to people “interested” in Singapore. We obviously want that because that leads to money down the drain.

Improper or no Conversion Tracking 

You should be monitoring conversions in order to know whether your campaign is working or not.  The one exception to that is if you`re running display ads designed for brand awareness, and you don’t care what happens when someone comes to the site – but you should care. 

BTW, save money and don’t bother with the display ads.

Ad Copy 

creating website

If your CTR (click-through-rate) is below 2%, it’s time to revisit your copy. The no.1 killer of ad success is a bad copy. Persuasive copywriting is an art so spending time and money to hone this sill is worth it.

Try to add keywords to your copy, more benefits and more compelling CTAs (call-to-action)

 Account Structure 

Structuring PPC account is important to quickly see data that you need and evaluate ad spending based on goals, location, etc. This data has a big impact on ROI because too much spending on under-performing campaign is just wasted money.

A good way to manage campaigns is to group ads by product, product category or offer. You can also think about this by landing pages. Within this you can segment your ad groups by theme and group keywords more easily. You don’t need to add many keywords – more is not better, just pick around 5 highly relevant keywords.

For example, let’s say I’m running travel campaigns. I’d have a campaign for each destination’s landing page on my site, and ad groups for different themes. Examples might be a summer theme, a cheap flights theme, and a vacation theme, depending on the actual keywords and search volume.

Match Types 

Google is scrapping broad match modifiers, so it’s best to use both phrase match and exact match keywords in your campaign. If the budget is tight and the CPC (cost-per-click) is high, you might consider using exact match only.

It is important to remember not o use broad keywords when your budget is limited.  Google will match your ads to completely irrelevant searches and you will end up spending more than your budget.

Negative Keywords 

The wrong keywords can have a negative impact you’re your campaign and severely hurt your budget. You need to remove irrelevant keywords that will never become a lead.

Learn about search intent and how it impacts conversions. Look at your search terms report and exclude irrelevant keywords

Budget 

In PPC, you need to spend money in order to make money. You can think of it like a car stuck in the snow. It needs traction before it can go. It’s the same with PPC. The less you spend the slower you learn and the more you think it’s not working.

This is why PPC is not the right choice for all business.

Problems On Landing Page

Landing Page Design

It`s very easy to spend 90% (or more) of your time on ads, and forget about where you’re sending traffic has a big impact on your ROI. People who are ready to buy will not do anything unless your page communicates properly. Red flags like unclear the value in your offer adds barriers to conversion like slow load times, poor checkout experiences or broken forms.

Consistency

Content on your landing page needs to be consistent with the ad copy and keywords. If your ad says “free download” then the landing page needs to have a free download CTA.  If campaign ads are for a product, the landing page needs to be about the product page.

The Offer

 Your offer has to be compelling and at the same time short so that it’s worth the effort to complete the task in the landing page.

For example, an ad for a retirement home with CTA “fill out this form and get your mother in now” is funny but it’s not going to work because the ask is too big. Your offer has to be valuable but not scare people away. Offers like free demo, free download, free quote, free trial, etc usually work well.

The Content

Humans spend emotionally and then rationalize their purchase later. Benefits are important in an ad campaign because they prompt an emotional response.

Features are good but they are useless without providing benefit to the user or buyer. For example, they have to solve a problem. This means that your buyer needs to care about to features in order to drive conversion.

 Best practice for a good landing page is to highlight benefits of your product or service by using persuasive copywriting.

The Layout

 When structuring your landing page, keep in mind the following things: clean, clear, simple.

Clean: No clutter, no navigation especially in B2B. Exclude anything you don’t need.

Clear: One CTA only.

Simple: highlight product benefit, social proof and clear CTA. That’s it.

Focus on how the product or service increases the ROI of the user. Can it save time, revenue or reduce churn? If you can do this at a reasonable price, you have a winning PPC campaign.

cash-flow

Problems with ROI – It’s too expensive for your business

This issue is easy to miss because PPC is usually sold as a miracle for all businesses. Sure, it’s effective but it is not always right for all kinds of scenario. A bit of prep can help you save time and money.

The Equation

This is something people don’t talk about enough. It’s also something you need to know if you considering a PPC campaign for your small business: if your ACV (average contract value) is too low in contrast to the CPC (cost per click), then PPC might not be the best option for you.

Let’s use an example in which PPC would be extremely effective:         

You sell software, and your ACV is $10,000        

The CPC for the right keywords is $15        

The landing page gets demo sign-ups, and this is how we’re capturing a lead 

Let’s say you spend 3K per month for 3 months. You’ve spent $9,000. 

$9,000/$15 cost per each click is 600 clicks. 

Out of those 600 clicks, 4% book a demo. You get 24 demos. 

Let’s say you close 25% of those demos. You’ve got 6 new customers.

 6 customers at $10,000 is $60,000.  $60,000/$9,000 in ad spend is a 6x ROI. Fantastic! This is very profitable.  

Now it’s not a perfect example, but it illustrates the point: PPC works here. Watch what happens if the numbers are a bit different:         

You sell software, and your ACV is $2,500        

The CPC for the right keywords is $20        

The landing page gets demo sign-ups, and this is how we’re capturing a lead 

Let’s say you spend 3K per month for 3 months. You’ve spent $9,000. 

$9,000/$20 cost per each click is 450 clicks. 

Out of those 450 clicks, 2% book a demo. You get 9 demos. 

Let’s say you close 11% of those demos. You’ve got 1 new customer. 

1 customer at $2,500 is, well, $2,500. 

$2,500/$9,000 in ad spend is 0.27 ROI. Bad! This is not profitable.  Now it’s not a perfect example, but it illustrates the point: PPC does not work here.

Before running a PPC campaign, it’s important to do some projections in order to prepare for what can happen. When looking at the numbers, you might come across something that doesn’t make sense. It’s important to remember that PPC is just one of many channels and can’t be relied on as the only solution to a problem.

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