How to Improve PPC Campaign Management

1. Define your goals

PPC advertising can help drive numerous marketing and business goals. But targeted, successful campaigns don’t attempt to achieve everything at once. Subsequently, an important part of PPC campaign management is defining a clear goal that can be measured against key performance indicators (KPIs).

Before starting a campaign, you should be able to answer questions such as:

  • How many conversions you want to drive per month
  • Your ideal and maximum cost per conversion (CPC)
  • Your ideal and maximum cost per click (CPC)
  • Your total monthly PPC budget

Define your goals before you start, because it will ultimately impact what bidding strategy you choose, what keywords you target and what kind of ads you serve.

2. Set up your account the smart way

Carefully structuring your account from the beginning is an important part of PPC campaign management, making your campaigns easier to manage, and reducing the chances of making big targeting mistakes, such as:

  • Having too many ads in a single ad group
  • Duplicating keywords across campaigns and ad groups
  • Targeting a single product with multiple ad groups
  • Targeting a single product category with multiple campaigns

When you’re starting out with just one or two campaigns, account setup might seem easy. But if you plan to expand in the long term, it’s important to consider multiple factors when initially laying a foundation for your account structure.

Setting up your account the smart way means:

  • Creating campaigns for specific product categories — Have your account structure logically reflect the structure of products and/or services you provide.
  • Considering location and language targeting — If targeting more than one country, create separate campaigns for each. Ensure your campaigns are only targeting locations and languages relevant to your audience.
  • Creating separate campaigns for different advertising goals — Create unique campaigns for different marketing goals, such as search, display, and remarketing. Select the right bidding option to reflect your selected goal.

When setting up your campaigns and ad groups, consider what kind of PPC campaign management tasks you’ll be performing down the road, and make choices that will simplify this for you. For example, don’t put too many ads in an ad group, and use detailed names to describe your campaigns and ad groups. Don’t create multiple campaigns for the same product category, or target multiple products/services with a single ad group.

3. Refine your keyword lists as you learn

When you first create your keyword lists, you’re often taking a guess at what keywords are relevant to your audience without any hard data. But as your campaigns get underway and evolve, you can then start to gain some perspective regarding which queries perform better than others.

A great strategy advertisers can apply when setting up new campaigns is to start using modified broad match keywords, which provide a list of search queries that triggers one of your ads. You can then duplicate your campaign and add these same keywords as phrase match keywords. Search terms that actually generate clicks on your ads can then be added as exact match keywords. Known as segmenting keywords by relevance, this strategy enables you to bid more on high converting queries. Also focusing on more relevant keywords will also improve your Quality Score, making ad relevance an important factor. It’s equally important to remove keywords that are causing problems with your campaigns. Take the time to review the information under the “Search terms” tab and remove keywords that:

  • Have a low Quality Score (e.g. 3 or lower)
  • Generate clicks but no conversions
  • Convert but are too expensive to gain enough profit

Removing problem keywords from your campaigns will help free up your budget so you can focus on high quality keywords, and thus, channel your efforts around achieving the highest ROI.

4. Consistently update your negative keyword lists

Even if you do a great job establishing your negative keyword lists in the beginning, you can’t possibly know every potential irrelevant keyword associated with your ads — this can only be determined by monitoring campaign performance.

Some experts will actually tell you that maintaining your negative keyword lists is even more important than managing your normal keyword lists, simply because there’s a significant negative impact every time your ad shows for one of these irrelevant keywords. As previously mentioned, relevance is an important factor in determining your Quality Score for a search query. Low relevance means low Quality Scores, worse ad position and poor performance.

Making regular changes to negative keyword lists is especially important for advertisers in niches related to news or pop culture topics. Beyond mining your search terms report, you can also set up Google Alerts for important brand keywords, which will allow you to discover new and trending news topics that could cause irrelevant search queries to trigger your ads.

5. Keep updating and improving your advertising content

Some advertisers put so much energy into keyword targeting and bid strategies that they forget about their advertising collateral altogether. But the actual advertisements you display and their associated landing pages are of equal importance for PPC campaign management.

Delivering ads for the most relevant search queries doesn’t matter if your ad copy and call-to-action aren’t optimized and attract prospective targets. By the same token, you won’t also be able to drive on-site conversions from your efforts if your landing pages offer poor user experience. So if you’re experiencing unexpectedly low Quality Scores within your campaigns, your advertising collateral could be the culprit. Consequently, you’ll need to monitor performance and take the necessary steps to continually improve it.

Test your ad copy

Often, even the smallest changes to your ad copy can significantly impact PPC performance. A more relevant headline or call-to-action, for example, can mean the difference between a person ignoring your ad or clicking through and converting. Similarly, including relevant ad extensions can also have a big impact — an auto repair business, for example, could significantly improve ad performance by including call extensions with their ads.

In short, smart advertisers simply don’t guess at the ad copy that is most relevant to their audience — they set up different ad versions and test performance. One way to do this is by leveraging advanced settings in Google Ads to rotate different versions of your ads indefinitely. You can also rotate and automatically optimize to display the best performing ad over a set amount of time.

Improve landing page user experience

Equally important to monitoring how audiences interact with your ads is how they interact with your website content once they click through. A slow loading page will naturally result in a higher bounce rate. Meanwhile, other landing page elements could lead to user experience issues that frustrate visitors.

It’s important to also ensure the content on your landing page matches the content of the associated ad. A specific, targeted ad that leads users back to a generalized landing page will most definitely cause confusion or make visitors wonder if they accidentally clicked on the wrong ad. Consequently, you’ll need to be sure to use language that helps reassure visitors that they’ve landed in the right place.

6. Take advantage of email alerts

Google wants to help its advertisers succeed in their PPC efforts. And PPC campaign management is a huge part of this, so they have a big incentive to help with that as well. One of the ways Google does this is by sending email alerts with important information to help you improve your accounts and campaigns.

Google can send you email notifications for:

  • Newsletters
  • Google market research
  • Customized help and performance suggestions
  • Special offers
  • Campaign maintenance alerts
  • Disapproved ads and policy alerts
  • Reports
  • Billing alerts

Smart advertisers can and should take full advantage of these notification services so they can react quickly to the problems and opportunities Google identifies. That said, you’re not automatically signed up to receive all of these alerts — some require an opt-in. To ensure you’re receiving the most important alerts you need for campaign maintenance, check your email notification settings under “Setup” then “Preferences” from your Google Ads account.

Set up Google’s email alerts the way you want them. With Reports, for example, you can choose to receive all available reports as an email alert, or select the most critical reports that you customize yourself. This way Google can bring your attention back to your PPC accounts whenever they need critical maintenance.

7. Set up automated PPC campaign management rules

Automated rules are another important tool Google offers to help you manage your PPC campaigns, allowing Google to make changes to your account for you based on rules you create. And by taking full advantage of these automated rules, you’ll save time and improve the performance of your campaigns without needing to make laborious manual changes.

Here are some of the many ways you can leverage automated rules for PPC campaign management:

  • Turn on or off special ads or campaigns for a promotional event or on a repeating basis
  • Pause low performing keywords or ads based on performance metrics like high cost per conversion, low CTR
  • Make changes to your bids based on cost per conversion, potential position on page, bid scheduling during different times of the day, etc.
  • Budget scheduling (e.g. higher budget on certain days of the week)
  • Pause campaigns that have spent a certain budget or reached a certain number of clicks
  • Increase budget for campaigns that convert well

To leverage these tools to their full potential, consider the kind of regular campaign management tasks you perform manually and see if they can be automated via Google. From there, you can then start creating your own custom rules to help you save time and improve campaign performance.

8. Don’t manage everything on your own

It’s no secret that in recent years, Google Ads has rolled out a variety of important campaign management features. For example, by using machine learning technology, the platform provides recommendations that can help you improve campaign performance and the strength of your accounts.

When you’re first starting out, it’s highly valuable to take advantage of these features because effective campaign management isn’t something you can do all on your own. The market, competition, and your audience are constantly changing. As a result, comprehensive PPC campaign management is a full-time job for even small business marketers. For larger businesses or those with aggressive growth strategies, keeping up with campaign maintenance manually is practically impossible.

And while Google’s internal automation features are a great place to start, they offer a limited use of a powerful technology. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can not only help you discover new insights and opportunities, it can act on them for you. However, while the data that Google leverages comes solely from your PPC ad performance and that of your competitors, no business solely exists within the bubble of Google PPC advertising. There’s a wealth of data beyond Google that can drive even more relevant insights such as audience data from your CRM platform and third-party intent data from other sites around the web — none of which Google’s AI platform even considers.

So if you want to get the most relevant help to improve PPC campaign performance, you’ll need to use a technology that draws on all these data sources to gain a full picture of your audience and market. By using the same powerful machine learning and AI technologies as Google, you can make significant changes to your bid strategy, keyword targeting, and other campaign factors aimed to dramatically boost conversion rates, lift ROI and improve the overall performance for even your most underperforming campaigns.

9. Finetune Your Targeting

In building PPC campaigns, you have many targeting options. It depends on the campaign:  Google, for example, provides the option of search campaigns, display network campaigns, video campaigns, etc. For search campaigns, keywords and audience targeting are the main targeting options. Display network campaigns provide a lot more targeting options including placement targeting.

Here is a list of some targeting options that are available, but not every one of these is available for all types of campaigns.

Placement Targeting

This lets you select the platforms where you want your ads to be displayed. It is, obviously, meant for display network campaigns and not search campaigns. You can select the type of websites that you want to place your ads on as your target audience might frequent those websites. You can select websites from a specific industry as well.

Audience Targeting

This lets you select who you want to show your ads to based on their demographics, location, language, etc.

You can also use interest-based targeting to show your ads only to people with specific interests. This option is available for Google Display Network ads and not for search ads. There are options available to target people with specific online behavior. This is usually used for remarketing campaigns.

Contextual Targeting

This is basically keywords-based targeting and is useful for all types of PPC campaigns. This is the primary targeting option for search campaigns as your ads are only displayed to people who search for specific keywords.

Topic Targeting

This is another targeting option for display network ads and lets you select where you want to show your ads based on the topic covered on the page. This is a more granular level of placement targeting. You not only select the website to display your ads, but also specific pages of the website.

10. Select the Right Landing Pages

The goal of any PPC ad is to direct the users to another page and encourage them to take the desired action. This could be buying a product or service, signing-up for something, enrolling for a course, or something else.

When you create your ads, you need to add the destination URL of the pages that you want your ads to direct your prospects to. And, it is important to select the right landing pages. You don’t want to spend your money on sending people to your blog and hoping that they will make the effort to reach a product or service page and convert. Similarly, sending people to your homepage is equally futile as it just adds an unnecessary step in your funnel.

You should always direct people to pages that have high conversion rates and are most likely to get more customers for your business. After all, the goal of advertising is conversions and not just website traffic, as the latter can be acquired with SEO.

11. Optimize Your Ads

At the most granular level of your PPC campaign structure, come the ads. Your ad content is what will ultimately decide whether people click on it or not. That is why it is important to create ad copy that immediately grabs the audience’s attention and get clicks.

Here are some key parts of an ad and ways to optimize each.

Title

These are the first, and often the only thing that people see before clicking on an ad. Your headlines need to be compelling enough to encourage people to learn more.

Here are some expert tips to write headlines that actually work:

  • Keep it short, to-the-point, and relevant.
  • Use numbers and statistics to establish trust.
  • Say something shocking or controversial to immediately grab attention.
  • Use positive words that will generate some sort of an emotional reaction in people who read it.
  • Put the most important information of your ad in the title itself.
  • Offers, discounted prices, or any other such promotions should be mentioned right at the top.
Body

This is the main content of an ad and tells people what you’re trying to sell using that ad. You can use text, images, videos, or a mix of these in your ad content.

Usually, visual content works much better than text-only ads. However, you can use any type of ad content and optimize it to get more clicks. Here’s how:

  • Select a clean and minimal ad layout that provides all information in a clear and precise manner.
  • Keep the points precise and add enough white space between text.
  • Use a font that is easy to read and also looks good.
  • Mention key points like your USP or product features or something that provides value and makes people want to click on the CTA.
  • Make your ads mobile-friendly, don’t write very long sentences.
  • Add your brand logo somewhere in the ad.
  • If you’re using images or videos, use only high-quality visual content without any blurring.
CTA

The call to action (CTA) is the final step where you urge your audience to sign up, click, or buy. Clicking on the CTA directs people to another page where you actually get conversions. Therefore, it is very important to create compelling CTAs.

There are several tried-and-tested strategies when it comes to creating CTAs that actually work. Here they are:

  • Use power verbs that encourage people to take action.
  • Make your CTAs interesting, so that people want to click on them to learn more.
  • Place the CTA button in a way that it is clearly visible and the focus is on it.
  • CTAs that create a sense of urgency, like those with limited-time offers, work well.
  • Choose bright, visually-appealing colors for your CTA button to draw attention to it.

12. Run a Remarketing Campaign

PPC campaigns do not necessarily need to be for new customers, but could also be used to retarget existing customers.

Remarketing campaigns help you target people who have had some previous interaction with your brand. As these people already know your brand, they are more likely to convert than a new lead. Remarketing can be aimed to target different user groups based on their past online behavior and interests.

If someone checked out a product, for example, but did not buy it, remarketing will show them a personalized ad showing that particular product to remind them to buy it. This often works because these users were already interested in the product and just needed a push.

Just be clear on which types of users you want to target and use dynamic retargeting to run successful remarketing campaigns.

13. Use A/B Testing

Last, but not least, test your ads and optimize them. A/B testing lets you show one ad to a specific percentage of your audience and another one to the rest. This lets you make a direct comparison of which ad worked better with your audience.

This technique is used to test different ad elements like CTAs, headlines, images, colors, etc. You can try two different CTAs and choose the one that performs better. Similarly, you can conduct A/B tests for each ad element until you create the best ad copy that you can.

A/B testing can provide valuable insights into CTA placements, layouts, the effectiveness of visual elements, etc. This is the kind of information that will help you design better ads in the future and is, therefore, a worthy investment.

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