Eight Common Mistakes on the PPC Checklist

ppc mistakes

Google Ads has become one of the most popular platforms for online marketing. Since being launched, AdWords has morphed to account for the various needs of marketers, which has made it more complex than it used to be. If you’re new to the world of PPC, you may find that new ad types, features, and targeting methods can be somewhat perplexing.

The reality is that running successful ad campaigns is more difficult than it may seem. Minor missteps can lead to significant underperformance and unmet KPIs, so it’s worthwhile becoming familiar with common PPC mistakes, so you don’t make them. 

Having worked with hundreds of clients over the years, we’re familiar with the most common ad campaign issues, and we’re here to share them so you can perfect your PPC checklist. There is always room for improvement, and we can help! 

Mistake #1: You’re only using a last-click attribution model 

An attribution model is a set of rules that lets you decide how much credit an ad interaction gets for conversions; it allows you to see how your ads perform so you can make them more effective and yield more conversions. There are several different attribution models, but the most common is the last-click attribution model. 

Under this model, you give credit to the last click before someone contacted you or bought your product, but you aren’t accounting for the entire journey the customer took to get to this point — so you can see why it’s problematic that so many marketers are only using this model of attribution. 

Most users pass through at least seven touchpoints with a brand before becoming a customer, so if you’re only giving credit to the last-click model, you’re leaving money on the table without educating and capturing users who are in research and discovery mode. Consider using one or more of the following models to improve your bidding and reach customers earlier in the funnel:

  • Position-based attribution: 40% of credit given to first and last interactions, 20% of credit given equally to other ad interactions along the way
  • Data-driven attribution: Uses your account data to accurately determine the real contribution of every interaction along the conversion path
  • Linear attribution: Gives equal credit for conversions across all ad interactions along the conversion path
  • Time decay attribution: Assigns more credit to ad interactions occurring around the time of conversion

Mistake #2: You’re not using negative keywords

Using negative keywords prevents your ads from appearing under irrelevant search terms. You don’t want to pay for clicks from someone who won’t convert in their search. For example, if you sell luxury textiles, you don’t want to appear in someone’s search for the negative keyword ‘cheap’, as they are looking for products that are lower in price and quality than yours. 

So, add ‘cheap’ as a negative keyword to your ad campaign so Google Ads knows not to show your ads for any searches containing that term. We recommend doing negative keyword research before launching any campaigns, and creating lists to ensure the right keywords and reach for your prospective customers. 

Mistake #3: Your landing page isn’t relevant to the user’s search

Landing pages are critical to customer conversion, which is why your landing page needs to be relevant to the target keywords by which your customer is searching. If it isn’t tailored to parameters like location and service, your quality score and conversion rates will suffer. 

Quality scores are diagnostic tools that show you how well your ad compares, in terms of quality, to those of other marketers, and they have a direct impact on what you pay per click. These scores are calculated on three components of your ad campaign, including CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience, or how well your landing page content matches the user’s search term.

You can improve your landing page by optimizing for target keywords and visiting the landing pages of your competitors who have similar product or service offerings. See how they target customers and structure their pages. What are they doing well? What mistakes are they making? Determine the best features of your competitors’ landing pages and adopt them to create a competitive and relevant landing page that converts.

Mistake #4: Your CTR is below 3% because you aren’t testing regularly

As well as you may know your target audience, you will almost never create perfect ad messaging on the first try. Ad testing and performance tracking is important not just to your PPC campaigns but also to your entire marketing strategy, as it can help you understand which phrases your prospects respond to best within an ad group and turn them into customers. 

Start your ad testing by thinking of your goal (buy now, sign up for the newsletter, etc.) and draw up a list of possible search terms your target audience would use when searching for your product or services. When you know what you want to test and have values for each variable, decide which tests you’d like to run. You should be testing different phrases early and often and tracking KPIs such as CTR and conversions. Depending on the amount of traffic you get, let your test run for long enough to get accurate results (this may be days or weeks).  

High clicks and conversions will give you the best ROI. When you find combinations of search terms that convert strongly, you know where to devote your marketing dollars. If you’re getting conflicting or ambiguous results, run more tests with different variables until you find the ideal combination.

Mistake #5: Your landing page takes more than three seconds to load

Another aspect of your quality score is the speed of your landing page, which impacts the prospect’s experience. Your landing page load time should be quick, never exceeding five seconds. Every additional second increases the likelihood that the user will bounce, which negatively impacts your conversion rates. 

In order to prevent lost prospects and wasted money on clicks that lower your quality score, you need to optimize your landing page using Google’s page speed tool, which will tell you how long your landing page takes to load and what you can do to make it faster.

Mistake #6: You’ve allocated your budget to Google and nothing else

If you’re limiting your campaigns to Google, you’re missing out on opportunities to gain visibility and expand your ads and target specific audiences on LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft Ads, Pinterest, and so forth. A portion of your budget should always be allocated to new initiatives, which could include experimenting with other channels. If you’re running a profitable campaign on Google and want a cheaper CPC, for example, you could consider running them on Microsoft. 

Wherever you choose to branch out, you’ll be increasing engagement with your target audience wherever they search, browse, and socialize.

Mistake #7: You aren’t monitoring or optimizing your account often enough

While the “set it and forget it” tactic may have worked in the past, it’s not effective in online marketing today; poor campaign management could be leaving your ads hanging. If you navigate to “change history” within Google Ads and see no activity, your account is not being monitored or optimized appropriately. Even with Google’s smart bidding, there is always opportunity for keyword research and expansion, ad copy testing, negative keywords, and much more. 

Mistake #8: Not targeting customers throughout the entire conversion funnel 

A lot of marketers are overly focused on search when it’s more effective to present ads to customers in all stages of the conversion funnel. Focusing on bottom-of-funnel audiences or keywords may have a great return, but this is not a growth strategy. 

The buyer journey contains many touch points across a variety of channels, so you need to hit them where they are researching and comparing — Facebook, YouTube, the WSJ, etc. This will build brand awareness and make your bottom-of-funnel campaigns more profitable.

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