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Optimising PPC and Utilising Best Practice

So, how do you make a PPC account on Google Ads, Bing, Facebook or LinkedIn successful? What is best practice and how do you know if what you are doing is the best option? Often, as with most things, the real answer will be in a blend of all the options,  balancing investment with practicality and data-driven decision making. However, in the confusion around how to develop the right best practice PPC strategy, important aspects can often get forgotten about or ignored.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most common myths in PPC as well as some of the most actionable ways you can help your PPC accounts deliver conversions and ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).

In general, the majority of biddable media advertisers work in broadly the same ways so the methods proposed will often work across platforms. However, it’s important to be aware that some may not be applicable to you or your business so choose wisely to get the most out of your time and budget. Remember, you need to be where or audience is so that should help you decide what platforms to focus on.

Bigger Budgets Won't Always Increase ROIMoney falling onto woman

Often you will see big business increasing their budget exponentially, expecting their campaigns to scale and increase with the more budget they add to the account.

In reality, most of the time that increased investment isn’t going to make an account perform any better. Yes, it will help increase potential reach and will likely generate gain more conversions but at what cost? A factor to consider is how that budget could affect rankings. If a campaign is limited by budget, and the keywords bid on have a high cost; increasing the budget may be the only solution; unless you look to rank for other less competitive keywords. However, before even thinking about increasing budget and throwing more money at a campaign, you need to understand whether or not it’s scalable.

Campaign scalability takes into account a number of factors:

  1. Does the campaign have a large enough target market?
  2. Is the Cost/Conversion going to give acceptable ROI?
  3. Are you already seeing positive results in key metrics i.e. CTR, Conversions, Impression share, Quality Score etc?
  4. Would the increase in budget be better used elsewhere i.e. targeting new customers or retaining existing ones with a remarketing campaign?

It may be stating the obvious but increasing budget is only really a viable option if your campaigns are already performing well, (with the budget given), and you want them to continue that trend going forward. Increasing the budget on a failing campaign will not save it, in fact, it might even reduce performance overall. With that in mind, it's worth thinking carefully about how to use the additional budget in order to maximise productivity and adding budget to an existing campaign is not always the right answer.

If It’s Not Budget, Then What’s the Problem?

There are countless reasons why your campaigns might not be performing as expected. There are also countless ways in which you can optimise your campaigns to get the best possible results. However, the process you can go through to make decisions on how to optimise them is thankfully relatively simple.

Firstly, you need to locate the reason your campaign isn’t performing properly. If the ads are generating good impressions and click-throughs but poor conversion rates, it's possible that the landing page may not be relevant enough to the ad or match the search intent correctly. There are a number of possibilities but drilling down to isolate the likely cause is key to rectifying the situation. 

Another possibility is that ads are not showing often enough or aren't getting the right number of clicks. This might be down to the targeting preferences set. For example, the positive keywords in place might be too specific and not have a big enough search volume. Alternatively, the ad targeting might be aimed at the wrong audience altogether. If that is the case ads will show but the CTR will be unusually low. If ads are not being shown at all, it’s important to check they have been approved. This may seem obvious, but it can often be the case that when ads get disapproved no one notices.

These are just a few of the most common reasons for ads not performing, but there are many more, which will vary from campaign to campaign, so it’s important to remember what might work for one campaign might not work for another. If you need help isolating the issue that's fine, our team are ace at forensically tracing the glitches in all sorts of accounts and fixing them. Just get in touch to see how we can help. 

After you have figured out why your campaign isn’t performing the next stage is obviously working out how to rectify the issue, without affecting other running campaigns or other areas in your campaign which might be working effectively. Here's how. 

How to Fix Underperforming Google Ads Campaigns

There are a whole host of tweaks and tests you can implement to optimise your campaigns but here are our top 10 tips to get started:

1. Optimise your product feed, this will help with any shopping campaigns and allow Google to better target your ideal audience, below are some feed properties to check, it's important they have been implemented correctly. For more information about Google Shopping Feed you could read our in-depth guide here:

  1. Product Margin
  2. Stock
  3. Competitor
  4. Date Added

2. Negative Keywords and Keyword Lists used effectively can deliver huge change in your campaigns, helping to optimise for users search intent and reducing wasted clicks on users who aren’t interested in your product or service. Well planned positive and negative keywords can be instrumental in focusing budget on the users who have the right intent and will convert.

3. Campaign Priorities help Google show the appropriate campaign for the best user. Prioritising campaigns is useful in showing the right product in the right campaign, particularly when one product is being shown across a range of campaigns. For example, there is a summer sale campaign with flip-flops included with tighter parameters and a more targeted budget, and then one standard campaign for shoes, also selling flip-flops. You want the summer campaign to show up first when a user searches for flip-flops but once that’s completed or runs out of budget you can still show your normal shoes campaign and the user still finds what they are looking for.

4. Catch all campaigns, these work through using broad targeting options (without specialist targeting options) that will then try to catch any users that might fall through the cracks of more specialised campaigns. These campaigns should have a low CPC (Cost Per Click) because the quality of leads will be lower and it makes sense to channel the bulk of the available budget into higher-quality traffic that is more likely to convert.

5. Review Ads and Ad Structure to ensure your ads are not disapproved. One of the key problems we find are trademarks. Google frequently disapproves ads with them so check that there are no trademarks included in your copy. Also, choose your language carefully and ensure that links are relevant. When you are happy with your content think about how your ads will complement each other. It is considered best practice to include at least 3 ads in an ad group because Google can then optimise for the best performing one. Relevant ads should also be grouped together to increase the relevance of those ads to keywords in their campaigns.

6. Test different Keyword Match Types. To more finely manage how and when your ads appear SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) look at Keyword Match Types. Keyword Match Types are the parameters that can be set on keywords. These limits control which search terms trigger your ads to appear in which SERPs. There are four match types; Broad Match, Broad Match Modifer, Phrase Match and Exact Match. Each of these match types has its ideal application, however we'd recommend avoiding Broad Match as it is the least discriminate and is not useful in most cases where budget is an issue. To find out more about these 4 match types and how best to apply them you can read Google's own description here

7. Update your landing pages. It makes sense that once your ads are operating efficiently and delivering good quality traffic, that the pages you land that traffic on have to be equally effective. Developing landing pages that are explicitly relevant to the ads that deliver traffic to them is step one. If a user clicks on an ad because it appears to answer their question, only to find the page they land on isn't actually that helpful will only see that user click away. Unrelated landing pages will simply see the traffic that your ad budget was spent delivering bounce off your site, wasting that budget and your time. Good quality landing pages answer the users question but that is not their only function, their ultimate purpose is to retain that visitor and entice them to convert. Whether that conversion is to download something, sign up for something or even buy something. A landing page that doesn't have a clear call to action that channels its visitors to do something else, or deliver data to the site owners, isn't a good landing page.  How this is best achieved will depend on where in the buyer journey the landing page sits and what its purpose is, this could be anything from a page designed to capture data for a download, a sign up for or even a product purchase page - whatever the purpose, the principle remains the same, the page should actively encourage and persuade visitors to complete whatever action or conversion is desired. 

8. Review Customer Journey. Being familiar with the journey your customers take when finding, researching and finally buying from you is a critical part of understanding how and when to communicate with them to best effect. Tailoring your content, landing pages and ads to match the different stages of the customer journey means you'll always be answering the right question at the right time, optimising conversions from leads and maximising value from your site. We understand this is easy to say and perhaps not so easy to actually do. If you think it might be useful to get a little help in mapping your customer journey and adjusting your PPC strategy to match it, then why not get in touch, to see how we can help. 

9. Utilise Google Ad Scripts. Google Ads scripts allow you to control your Google Ads data, automate common procedures and interact with external data in your Google ads account. Managing that data can rapidly become increasingly complex as you expand and develop your campaigns. Google Ads Scripts can automate simple and tedious processes on your account, helping to maintain and improve performance. Some of the most popular scripts you can use are:

  1. If competitor bidding is 10% more or less don’t show
  2. Use labels and bid more on certain ads i.e. bid more on 4/5 star review products for more conversions
  3. Prioritise high margin products (but only if they sell well)

10. Customer Review platforms. It is a good idea (providing you have sufficient, good customer feedback) to run your product feed through customer review platforms such as Trustpilot or Feefo to show ratings on your products. Associating reviews and ratings with products has been shown to increase click-through rates and can be used in many platforms from Google Ads to Facebook.Customer reviews to ads

As effective as these options can be when implemented properly, they can take a lot of time to set up and to maintain. However, to address that drain on resources, Google has released Google Smart Shopping Campaigns.

Smart Shopping Campaigns will implement almost all of the tactics we've outlined for you through its intelligent AI and machine learning platform. However, it cannot be understated how much the human element is needed in creating truly responsive and relatable digital advertising. We are yet to see these ‘smart’ campaigns perform as well as a well maintained and optimised campaign managed by an experienced PPC expert. That said, they are far better than nothing so if you either don’t have the time, expertise or budget, these kinds of campaigns can be a brilliant way to get started. 

The Most Important Thing TO Remember About PPC

When optimising your account ensure you review the whole campaign as there could be a number of reasons it isn’t performing as expected. Start at the beginning and check each element carefully, then look ahead and assess the customer journey you are delivering for a user that clicks on one of your ads. Where are the pain points, how can you engage them more definitively and or sooner? What will they want to see and what will make them convert? Looking at the journey from SERP to conversion from the point of view of your visitor can help identify where you are losing traffic, where your ads might not be pitched just right and what you can do to fix it. 

If you would like help developing your PPC strategy and optimising your account, the Innovation Visual team would be happy to help! Contact us today to talk to an expert.