1. SEJ
  2.  ⋅ 
  3. PPC

8 PPC Mistakes to Avoid If You Want Quality Leads

If you aren't seeing that success you expect from your paid search marketing campaigns, check to make sure you aren't making these critical mistakes.


Have you ever noticed how often someone will complain that something “doesn’t work” if they don’t understand it?

It couldn’t be more true with PPC.

In my experience, a lot of the people who say that PPC doesn’t work are the ones making mistakes with the way their campaigns are conceived, set up, and managed. Their own efforts aren’t working, so they conclude that the whole exercise is folly.

But the “PPC doesn’t work” argument doesn’t hold up strongly against numbers.

According to Hanapin’s most recent State of PPC survey, 80 percent of marketing professionals felt good about their PPC success over the preceding year.

Other marketers are getting the results they want. If you’re not seeing that same success from your campaign, step back and look at your strategy to pinpoint where you could be going wrong.

Could it be any of the below mistakes?

1. Not Adopting New Ad Features

It’s been a long time since online advertising was just search and display, even though that’s still where the lion’s share of people’s energy is focused. These do remain potent ways to reach an audience, but newer options may be better for reaching the specific types of people you want to target in a given campaign.

sponsored InMail on LinkedIn

For example, sponsored InMail on LinkedIn may be impactful, as well as other relatively new social media advertising options like Quora ads, Instagram Stories ads, AdWords call only ads, Facebook lead capture ads, or even Snapchat video spots.

Be on top of the industry trends and stay agile. You may find that you get the best results from an unlikely format or platform.

2. Overlooking Intent Signals

If you aren’t considering different intent signals in your campaign targeting, this can severely diminish performance. Understanding the different ways your prospects engage with you at different stages of the sales funnel, and aligning your campaign to that, is key to reaching them with the right offer.

Search marketers used to think of any search for a product-specific keyword was a quality intent signal. But in the age of the non-linear, self-serve buyer’s journey, that’s no longer the case.

Someone who watches the first 20 minutes of your hour-long Facebook video product demo is displaying somewhat different intent from even someone who Googles “where to buy [your product name].”

To maximize sales, focus on targeting people who’ve displayed intent signals pointing towards the bottom of the funnel. To capture self-warmed, qualified leads, focus on the middle of the funnel.

3. Advertising for One Device Only

Yes, “mobile first” is important. I know, I know.

But focusing too much on one gadget and neglecting others can cause you to lose out on customers and leads you could be reaching with your campaign.

Might you be giving up on desktop visitors by optimizing for mobile?

Experimenting with different CTA and conversion flows allows you to target a much wider audience and miss out on fewer people interested in your offer because of the device they’re on.

4. Ignoring Click Fraud

Could click fraud be tanking your PPC results? Some projections estimate that businesses could lose up to $16.4 billion this year because of it.

Search engines do what they can to combat click fraud and invalid traffic, but industry-wide protection will take time. You can’t rely on that when your viewability is hurting now.

Instead, you need to either use a third-party tool or start taking your own measures to protect your brand’s digital marketing.

By keeping an eye of your site’s activity logs, you can often identify IP addresses, referring websites and even geographic territories where the fraudulent activity is coming from and adjust your campaign targeting accordingly, thereby circumventing the issue altogether.

5. Serving Up Mismatched Messaging

Another mistake that loses you leads is failing to align the different assets of your ad campaign well enough. You need to optimize your campaigns for maximum message match.

Whether your targeting parameters, ad creative and landing page are poorly aligned, or your overall copy isn’t tapped into your customer’s’ needs, this can kill the ad’s overall experience and impact some of your other metrics by way of Quality Score.

Message matching has been proven to make a huge difference. For example, by using dynamic content personalization tools to align all the variables of one recent campaign for a client, Codeless Interactive was able to drive a 213 percent increase in conversion rate and a 69 percent decrease in cost per conversion.

Just don’t forget that message matching shouldn’t trump the basics – making sure that you’re targeting the right people with the right message.

6. Not Monitoring Campaigns Closely Enough

Next, don’t underestimate how hands-on active PPC campaigns can, and arguably should be. They’re anything but “set it and forget it,” and hands-off advertisers run the risk of wasting heaps of money over time if they continue to run ads that aren’t performing.

You should always have at least two versions of every campaign running: a test group and an experiment group. Document the variables of your experiments, measure their impact over a day or two or more, rinse, repeat.

Some campaign parameters you can experiment with include:

  • Adjusting budget by impression share.
  • Making bid adjustments.
  • Optimizing ad copy.
  • Changing the hours and days your ads are shown.

If you’re doing a good job with your experiments, you should see conversions rising and costs per conversion sinking as time goes on.

Remember, though, that what worked for you last week might have already stopped working for you, and you might never know why.You need to check in on all active campaigns frequently enough to spot performance issues before you spent too much money on them. That way you can make adjustments before your campaign goes too far down the wrong path.

7. Not Bidding on Branded Keywords

Yet another common mistake is not using your brand name as a campaign keyword. Many argue it’s not worth it or necessary, but even if you don’t need to use them, your competitors will. They can intercept your audience if you don’t try to outbid them.

When Growww Digital experimented with turning off brand name ads for an online marketplace client, they saw a 23 percent decrease in cumulative revenue, dropping more than $43,000, as well as a decrease in sessions. After turning the brand ads back on, their important metrics recovered back to where they were before the experiment.

branded keywords revenue

Check out Pauline Jakober‘s post for 13 Reasons Why PPC Brand Bidding Is a No-Brainer.

8. Optimizing for Metrics Other Than Revenue

With all the fuss over Quality Score and pressure to drive a high volume of traffic with ads, it can be easy to forget that click-throughs aren’t your end goal – and neither are lead capture conversions. These are just signposts along the way.

At the end of your funnel, and what you’re really after with advertising, is sales, revenue, and ROI.

ppc metrics

When you take your eyes off of the ultimate objective, the metrics that your PPC dashboard might be showing you can become misleading.

For example, optimizing campaigns around click-throughs is a bad idea when you have a campaign that’s getting clicks but not conversions. And even conversion rate can be misleading, and optimizing for it a potential mistake, if you’re generating low-quality leads as conversions.

You might not have your goal measurements set up for this type of tracking, and it might not even be possible, depending on your site’s tech infrastructure. This is why it’s key to integrate your ad performance data with other data, such as your Google Analytics dashboard (yes, those UTMs are useful).

At the very least, you should set up data pushes to your CRM for automatic logging of each customer’s pre-sale touches with your assets. This will allow you to identify the campaigns that send you the highest-value customers.

Everything in Its Right Place

Ultimately, most PPC mistakes happen when you don’t understand the best way to reach your audience given the specifics of your situation. By focusing on reaching your targets in the right place with the right message for the campaign’s particular goal, and tracking your results all the way through, you can stay in tune with what people want and optimize your campaign accordingly.

More PPC Resources Here:

Image Credits
Screenshots by Ben Jacobson. Taken September 2017.

Category PPC
Ben Jacobson Director at Action Packed Media

Ben Jacobson serves as the co-director at Action Packed Media, a creative digital media marketing boutique and the operations director ...

8 PPC Mistakes to Avoid If You Want Quality Leads

Subscribe To Our Newsletter.

Conquer your day with daily search marketing news.