8 PPC Mistakes That are Costing You Money

“Always be relevant, create relevant campaigns, and give the user the answer to [their] query as precisely as you can,”

Marko Kvesic, online marketing manager at Gotraffic

As a small business owner, you must carefully consider where each of your marketing dollars goes. Not a penny can go to waste if you plan on making it past your first few years of operation.

The good news is that most entrepreneurs and SMB operators have a good idea about where their marketing budget should be allocated to obtain the highest ROI.

The bad news is that a large portion of these self-starters has a tenuous grasp on how to implement these strategies successfully.

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is one of the most popular modalities for businesses to leverage online. PPC is popular because when executed correctly, it’s insanely effective.

When created for the audience you have in mind, PPC adverts provide stellar targeting capabilities to drive the most relevant traffic to your site; many of these folks will ultimately become paying customers.

When PPC is not properly optimized, however, these campaigns can burn through your budget faster than a raging wildfire and leave you little to show for it.

Before you get ready to launch a PPC ad campaign, here are five of the most common yet avoidable pitfalls that you should be aware of.

1. Bad Copy

This is the single most frequent and avoidable issue that PPC campaigns suffer from.

It’s no secret that writing stellar copy for your adverts is a challenging task. Nonetheless, it is one that you must master if you hope to generate meaningful results with PPC.

Crafting copy that meets the limited character requirements while still compelling users to click seems like a superhuman feat, but there are several best practices that can help you appear herculean in this capacity.

The headline of your ad needs to capture people from the jump, so be sure to put your most crucial and compelling info here. Also, incorporate your main keyword or phrase as this is the heart of what folks will search for in order for your ad to be displayed.

The other fields for your advert should be reserved for supplemental information like a product’s key features, the benefits gained from your offering, differentiating factors, and CTAs like “Buy Now” or “Learn More.”

This always takes some practice to get right, but with in-depth research and proper A/B testing, you will likely get the hang of this quickly.

2. Poor Keyword Targeting

The keywords your brand elects to target are of the utmost importance because this is how searchers will be served ads.

What most advertisers fail to recognize is that 90 percent of PPC keywords never convert. The result of this is your budget getting eaten up by phrases that produce nothing in return.

To avoid this catastrophe, sort your keywords that have run for at least 90 days by conversions to pinpoint those that produced minimal to no results and pause these phrases because they’ve proven useless.

3. Spending on Broad Match

PPC platforms like Google AdWords breakout keyword match types into four categories: Broad, Broad Modifier, Phrase and Exact.

These match types determine how your selected keywords will be matched to various queries with each of the above categories becoming more refined, respectively. This essentially equates to less traffic, but more qualified prospects as the match type becomes more targeted.

If you are bidding on broad match terms, you are throwing away money.

Broad match can often result in your ads displaying on completely unrelated queries. For instance, if your site sells house plants, it might show up for someone looking for information on how to care for house plants they already have; no conversion to be made here.

The purpose of broad match is to drive volume. The problem, however, is that a miniscule portion of that traffic will actually convert. Because of this, your time (and money) is better spent optimizing for phrase and exact matches.

4. Ignoring Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are a fundamental aspect of PPC advertising that scads of marketers and business owners fail to implement.

Google wants to make the customer’s journey as easy as possible; hence why the company provides a variety of extension types free of cost. In Google’s own words:

“. . . Extensions add useful business data below your ad—locations, additional links, prices, and more. For that reason, extensions are recommended for just about every AdWords advertiser using text ads on Search.”

Extensions allow advertisers to take up more real estate on the SERPs with extra information like contact info, pricing, reviews and other details that can help drive a conversion.

This commonly overlooked aspect can significantly improve your campaign’s performance, so don’t bypass this vital aspect.

5. Neglecting Negative Keywords

Selecting the right keywords is critical to the success of an ad campaign. What is equally as imperative, however, is implementing the right negative keywords.

Negative keywords are essentially a way to set boundaries for you ad set. These words reflect searches that you don’t want your PPC ads to show up for. Using the plants example again, you can ensure that your house plants website ad doesn’t show up for searches for the “Plants vs. Zombies” game.

While this feature is often overlooked, it is one of the most powerful PPC optimization tools at your disposal.

It’s easy to see how an un-optimized PPC campaign can quickly spiral out of control and turn into a money pit. By focusing on these often overlooked aspects of PPC advertising, you can develop a campaign that serves relevant ads to the most applicable prospects.

What troubles have you had with past PPC campaigns? Do you think that broad match is largely useless for gaining conversions?


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Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

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