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10 Must-Haves For Competitive #PPC Lead Generation (On a Budget)

A strong, healthy PPC campaign for lead generation isn’t about impressions or traffic, it’s about the cold, hard cash that gets generated from it.

One of my favorite things to learn about a new prospect is that they handle their PPC in-house. Why does this get me excited? Because I know that they are already committed to the concept of paid search, but have no idea what the heck they are doing when it comes to executing a campaign, which opens the door to having me take over the account and making them a happy client.

How do I make my clients happy?

Start by focusing on the only thing they should be worried about – qualified leads that they can convert into paying customers, putting money in their bank account and patting me on the back for a job well done. A strong, healthy PPC campaign for lead generation isn’t about impressions or traffic, it’s about the cold, hard cash that gets generated from it.

This is especially true when you’re on a tight budget. If you’re lucky to have big law firms shelling out tens of thousands of dollars a month to test keywords and ads out to find the ones that work the best, then good for you. For the rest of us, there’s the local plumbing company we’re trying to help keep the cash flow moving for. Let’s jump into 10 things you need to do from day one to ensure you’re doing the job.

1. Your Landing Page Should Be Your #1 Priority

Hands down the number one mistake smaller businesses make when starting out in the land of PPC. Everyone just bids on a ton of keywords, let’s Google do the bidding, and then forgets to check their American Express card every month while Google’s stock continues to gain traction.

You don’t send PPC traffic to the clients home page, for the most part – unless of course your home page is already set up to be a killer landing page for your main ad group. For all your other specific keyword phrases, your number one job in managing PPC is to send traffic to targeted landing pages that will use the proper amount of text, images, and calls-to-action that are necessary to outline the benefits of the product or service and entice them to fill out the form or pick up the phone. It’s that simple.

2. A/B Testing

Okay so there’s not enough room here to get into the nitty-gritty of conversion rate optimization, but a huge part of finding those killer pages that convert is designing the initial awesome page that looks great and should be “the one”, then modifying it 100 times before you realize just how much better that page can really be!

Everything needs to be tested. Content, headlines, images, testimonials, colors, SPECIFICALLY the colors of call-to-action buttons, forms and form fields – you get the picture. This doesn’t just end with your landing page all your copy in your actual ads needs to be tested as well. Which brings us to our next important development.

3. Know Your Client (and the Keywords That Convert)

This can be hard to do out of the gate, which is why it’s a really good idea to schedule a “discovery” meeting with as many people in the company as you can get either in the board room or at the very least on a conference call before you begin any campaigns. Most PPC managers will test keywords out in broad match first and slowly begin cherry picking the ones that convert, THEN once the client finally starts paying attention to monthly reports tells you that five of those keywords are for services that they might offer but have little ROI on.

You need to figure this out from the get-go so you’re not wasting anyone’s time. Do your initial keyword research, find a nice list to get started with, THEN sit down with the client and outline the keywords you’re gonna bid on. They’ll help you refine the list which will only make your campaign that much stronger right out the gate.

4. Use Broad Match + Modifier

Here’s the deal – you only have so much of a budget to work with, right? So you’re not going to be able to run your ads for every possible query (we’re talking competitive phrases here, people!). You need to get the most bang for your buck.

From my experience with local lead generation campaigns, about half of your competition is throwing a campaign together with broad match keywords and calling it a day. Using the broad match + modifier will allow you to really focus in on those phrases but also give you a little wiggle room (instead of going too specific with exact or phrase match), and it should yield a significantly lower CPC than any other match type. Let your competition bid on those broad phrases you might now want and stick to the keywords that feel right in your gut. I’ve implemented this time and time again and it’s produced great results.

5. Make Sure Content Matches Keywords

We’ve talked about testing multiple landing pages and how to find the keywords that mean the most to your client’s bottom line. Now here’s the key to making sure they play well together – make sure the content on those pages matches the ads you displayed (which should be written to match the users search intent!)

Are you bidding on keywords related to personal injury for lawyers? Make sure the auto accident phrases get the right ad groups with the right ads, and that those ads take you to specific landing pages that talk about auto accident injuries. If the prospect fell down while on the job, then they should find a landing page that talks about what to do after you fell down on the job. Give the people the information they are looking for and they’ll pick up the phone.

6. Focus on Search (Qualified Leads)

I’m not saying display ads don’t open a world of opportunities and you shouldn’t test them out. But, again, we’re trying to squeeze our budget here to get qualified leads. We’ll get to display ads down the list but here’s where I stand with these kinds of campaigns (again we’re talking lead gen here, not e-commerce)

Run the display campaigns and you’ll get clicks and leads, and they’ll bring your CPC down. But they won’t be as qualified as your search leads. There’ a lot of elements at play and you’ll find while your lead count for the month will look good, the client’s sales closing ratio will not. Stick with search to ensure the leads are from people actively searching for that information in real-time.

7. Configure Adwords & Analytics and Set Up Conversions

This is the dumbest, laziest thing I’ve done with clients in the past – hey, we all have to learn things the hard way and that’s why you’re here reading about it! You should already realize the service you’re providing is not only managing their PPC account but also SHOWING them the results from it in an easy way.

Configuring your analytics account with Adwords, for example, will show you this data in two different places and will let the campaign speak for itself (especially if you have a client who wants to be hands-on and check these his or herself. Make sure your goals and conversions are set up properly from the get-go and they are being tracked in AdWords so you can prove everything is working the way you say it is.

8. Track Phone Leads Through Adwords and Analytics Events

Tracking any lead-generating opportunities allow you to really show the client how valuable your service is to them. When I first started out we just relied on the contact form from our lead generation pages. What about all the phone leads the client could possibly be getting – how do YOU take credit for those?

AdWords will allow you to set up forwarding phone numbers that tracks all sorts of information, like call times and length of call data. If you can get the client to do this you’re in great shape, because chances are they don’t even know this kind for tracking information exists (if they are old-school) and will see a lot of value in it.

Worst-case scenario: set up events in Google Analytics and make all phone numbers clickable links – you’ll get some leads in from mobile users that click-to-call and then your campaign lead tracking is no longer a one trick pony. Just segment the event by acquisition type and you’ll be able to show the clients where the calls came from.

9. Don’t Forget About Bing

Another costly mistake I’ve made in the past is not paying attention to Bing! Coming from an organic-SEO-first background I’ve focused 99% of my efforts on Google and then worried about Bing once I was #1 in all the land.

However, when it comes to working a smaller PPC budget, it’s not about the clicks and the traffic but more importantly the quality of the lead and the price you paid to get it. I’ve mentioned how poorly a lot of your competition is probably managing their accounts and their budgets, and I bet many of them aren’t using Bing. Do the research and tests over there and you’ll see that you can generate some great quality leads at a fraction of the price you will pay over at AdWords.

10. Follow Up with Ad Retargeting

Re-targeting is becoming integral in following up with those who’ve already clicked on a paid ad. Many let those clicks go to the wayside and never get in front of that prospect again. If you’re paying top dollar for highly competitive keywords, that can be a tough to pill to swallow. Even if you’re converting a good 5% of your traffic into leads, that’s still 95% of the traffic (who searched for your service) that’s getting away.

I highly suggets setting up a Meteora account and least getting the conversion pixel set up – maybe you won’t retarget out of the gate but at least you can start gathering the database of leads. Trust me, the small cost of retargeting these leads will be worth it if done right – especially f you can send them to a NEW landing page that sweetens the deal for them. Also, don’t forget the leads that you do get but don’t close; you can always create Facebook ads with a custom audience featuring THAT very targeted list and keep them in the funnel.


In closing, much of what we discussed here is just a matter of not being lazy. I’ve said it before but that’s really where I made mistakes in the past and just knowing how much money I lost for my clients because I didn’t do my due diligence on campaigns right from the start makes me a little sick to my stomach.

I’ll beat a dead horse here but it’s super important to understand your clients and what the needs of their businesses really are.  The difference between a successful SEM today and the one who’s going to put food on the table tomorrow is taking the time to understand the industries they are working in and, even more importantly, the customers who are buying. Your job is to generate new business for your clients and to continue to refine that process. Generate leads, cut down on costs, and find new opportunities to continue doing so.

Your clients will have no problem spending more money on you and on ad budgets if you can consistently show a positive return on their investment. Show them you mean business, and they will become your client (and refer many others) for life!


Featured Image: via Flickr

Category PPC
Albert Costill Writer

Albert Costill is a co-founder of and a freelance writer who has written for brands like and Search ...

10 Must-Haves For Competitive #PPC Lead Generation (On a Budget)

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