Building a successful pay per click advertising campaign comes with a unique set of challenges. There are multiple elements that contribute to the overall effectiveness of your ads: compelling copy, the right keywords, and organized account structure to name a few.
What’s more, without proper setup and ongoing oversight of your PPC advertising campaigns, you can easily waste a lot of money with little or nothing to show for it.
To help make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, we’re sharing seven of the most common pay per click advertising mistakes to avoid.
But first, as a refresher:
What is pay per click advertising? And, why is it so important for business growth?
PPC advertising allows companies of all sizes to create cost-effective marketing campaigns that reach targeted audiences. With just a bit of creativity and the willingness to experiment, you can leverage a relatively small budget and compete with much larger organizations for the same customers.
Make the most of your pay per click advertising cost by fixing these mistakes, or avoiding them altogether!
Mistake 1: An Undefined Target Audience
The key to successful search engine marketing is clearly defining who you’re trying to reach, understanding what they want and where they spend their time online and then creating ads and landing pages that speak directly to their unique desires and challenges.
One of the greatest advantages of PPC advertising is the ability to quickly and easily target your audience by:
- Search queries
- Online shopping habits
- And much more!
With so many targeting options available, there’s no reason to waste money and effort reaching anyone other than your perfect target market.
That said, even PPC advertising companies can make the mistake of assuming that the whole world is their audience. The results are unfocused, generic ads that are shown to the wrong people, leading to low performance and wasted effort.
Creating detailed buyer personas can help ensure that you truly understand the people who will care most about your products and services.
The more accurately you can define your ideal buyer persona, the easier it will be to keep your pay per click advertising cost low by focusing your marketing strategy, ads, and landing pages to speak to their exact needs and tastes.
Mistake 2: A Lack of Clear Pay Per Click Advertising Goals
Are you looking to generate leads for your sales team, or do you want prospects to use a self-checkout system to download a trial version of your product?
Are you going for the sale up front, or are you more interested in building a list of subscribers for a long-term drip email marketing campaign?
Are you looking for new opportunities by testing multiple offers and target audiences, or are you simply trying to build on a marketing approach that’s already working quite well?
Without a clear goal of what you’re trying to achieve before you just start pay per click advertising, you’re leaving success to random chance — hoping that something will work, without first defining what “something that works” even looks like.
Defining a clear goal will help you choose the right strategy to:
- Differentiate yourself from competitors
- Target your audience
- Create an advertising budget
- Pick the right key performance metrics (KPIs)
- Create effective ads and landing pages
- Choose the appropriate check-in points and campaign end dates based on the timeframe for reaching your key goals
- Define the right metrics to measure, like revenue, profit, clicks, and conversions
- Identify when you’re on the right path, or when you’ve gone off track and need to make a correction to your approach
- Who are we trying to reach?
- What do we want them to do?
- Where do we find them?
- When do we expect them to become paying customers?
- How are we going to get and keep their attention?
If you find yourself struggling with too many conflicting options, defining your number one goal for the year can help focus your attention on what’s most important.
Mistake 3: Poor Organization of Campaigns
Good organization makes it easier to look at your PPC advertising from both a macro and micro point of view, and understand how all the moving parts work together.
The more organized your campaigns, the easier it is to identify weak spots and waste, as well as quickly scale up and grow successful campaigns.
The classic marketing funnel is the big picture model for organizing your campaigns.
At the very top, you have the prospects who click your ads.
Most will click away without becoming a lead.
Some will move down the funnel as they engage with your landing page, request more information, subscribe to your blog, or watch your YouTube videos.
An even smaller number will get all the way down to the bottom of your funnel and make a purchase.
On a more detailed level, Google PPC advertising campaigns are structured like this:
The key to understanding a Google Ads campaign is how it relates to your overall targeting, as well as how you group and organize your keywords.
At the top level is your account. Next comes the campaign level where you choose geographic targeting, budgeting options, and other top-level settings.
Each pay per click advertising campaign will then have one or more keyword-related ad groups. Ad group A may have any number of keywords related to the phrase “find a dog walker,” while ad group B may have keywords related to “dog walking services.”
By organizing keywords into tightly-related ad group sets, you can focus each ad to match each search term as closely as possible.
Mistake 4: Not Tracking Performance
Not tracking your PPC advertising on a regular basis is a sure way to lose money. Your campaigns will evolve over time as you track what works while pruning away what doesn’t.
Pay per click advertising success requires consistent maintenance and attention!
Tracking your performance turns missteps into opportunities to take your PPC advertising to the next level.
So what exactly should you track?
First, determine your goal (see Mistake 2). Are you focused on generating sales or leads? Creating brand awareness or attracting subscribers?
Based on your overall goal, you’ll then identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most.
Common PPC metrics include:
- Keyword performance
- Conversion rates
Mistake 5: Not Split Testing
Spending weeks trying to design the perfect PPC advertising campaign is a recipe for frustration. You’ll rarely know ahead of time which ad headline, landing page configuration, or offer works best.
To find out what works best, it’s critical to test different elements of your campaigns, gather data, and then make decisions based on what you’ve learned.
Consistently split testing over time can make a massive difference to your conversion rates and return on investment. Not doing it at all means that you’ll likely generate mediocre results.
- Isolate — Be sure to only test one variable at a time, otherwise, you won’t know which one contributed to the change in performance. Start by testing small variations for each of your pay per click advertising campaigns, including ad headlines, body copy, targeted audiences, and bidding strategies.
- Double down on the winners — Take the winner of each split test and create another version to test against it. Repeated over time, you’ll see your campaign performance ratchet up, small test after small test.
- Be patient — Testing takes time. The evolution of your campaign won’t happen overnight. Each iteration builds on the last.
- Don’t forget your landing page — It’s critical to also test your landing page conversion rates as well. It does little good to have a great ad if your landing page doesn’t convert traffic into action.
Mistake 6: Using Too Many Broad Match Keywords
The power of PPC advertising is its ability to serve specific ads to potential customers based on the exact search phrase used. With a seemingly infinite number of possible combinations of search queries to pick from, it can start to feel a bit overwhelming.
Why not just choose a few broad search terms that capture the largest amount of traffic with the fewest number of keywords?
The reason is that the broader your keywords, the more generic your ads are in relation to a user’s search, and the less effective and profitable your overall PPC campaign will be.
Imagine a Ford dealership in Seattle is looking to generate interest in their inventory of brand new Mustang convertibles.
Broad keyword phrases like “buy a new car” or even “Ford Mustang convertible” may be very popular searches, but they’ll also have far more competition for clicks. These PPC ads would also reach people looking for “Ford Mustang convertible calendars” in addition to people looking to buy a car.
By focusing keywords down to specific phrases like “blue Ford Mustangs for sale in Seattle” and “special deals on new Ford Mustang convertibles,” this dealership will be reaching more of the right people.
And as a bonus, they’ll more than likely be spending far less per click for these targeted keyword phrases than they would for “buy a new car.”
Everything else being equal, the more specific your keywords are and the closer they match your targeted customers’ search queries, the better your PPC advertising results will be.
Mistake 7: Not Using Negative Keywords
Which prospect would you rather reach with your Google Ads?
- Prospect A searches for “best accounting services in my area.”
- Prospect B searches for “cheapest accounting services in my area.”
The answer is: It depends.
If your value proposition is based on providing the best possible level of service, you’d probably choose prospect A.
Prospect B isn’t looking for quality — just the lowest price.
Adding negative keywords like “cheapest” would help focus your paid advertising strategy on the right customers and eliminate costly, poorly targeted clicks.
Just be careful not to get too carried away. Every negative keyword you use limits your potential audience. If you include too many, your ads may not reach enough people at all.
Also, be aware that negative keywords work a bit differently than normal keywords.
Negative match types don’t automatically include:
- singular or plural versions,
- misspellings, and
- other close variations.
Your ad could also show up on longer search queries if the negative keyword is placed after the tenth word.
Proper setup, ongoing oversight, and the willingness to experiment will help you leverage even a small budget and get the greatest benefit from your pay per click advertising.
Remember to avoid these common PPC advertising mistakes:
- Mistake 1 — an undefined target audience. Be sure to clearly identify and target your ideal customers.
- Mistake 2 — a lack of clear pay per click advertising goals. The clearer your objectives, the easier they’ll be to achieve.
- Mistake 3 — poor organization of campaigns. Create a clear structure for your search engine marketing ads and keywords.
- Mistake 4 — not tracking performance. Measure the KPIs that matter most to the success of your paid advertising strategy.
- Mistake 5 — not split testing. Constantly experiment to discover which creative elements work best with your target market.
- Mistake 6 — using too many broad match keywords. Attract the right audience by bidding on specific search terms.
- Mistake 7 — not using negative keywords. Filter out the bad fits and focus on your ideal customers.
Now it’s your turn.
What PPC advertising mistakes have you learned from in your business?
Share in the comments below!