Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing allows you to reach a target audience easily, helping you gain brand awareness and new customers. And while Google offers recommendations for improving campaign performance, plenty of users still find that their campaigns aren’t delivering the leads or sales they want.
Issues such as inadequate PPC keyword research, ineffective ad copy, and lack of testing and optimization can negatively impact impressions, click-throughs, and conversions. Fortunately, there are ways to troubleshoot PPC campaigns that aren’t performing well and transform them into viable sales pipelines.
1. Reevaluate Your Keywords
One way to improve PPC performance and maximize your return is to perform regular keyword audits. You can generally do this using the analytics provided by the specific platform you’re using, such as Google Ads.
During your audit, you’ll want to investigate which keywords are performing well — getting impressions, clicks, and conversions — and which aren’t. You’ll also want to identify the costs of those clicks and conversions and whether they align with your goals.
Poorly performing keywords may lead to:
- Low Impressions: Keywords with low impressions aren’t reaching many people, which indicates you may be focusing your efforts in the wrong place. Check the keyword volume to determine whether the term you’ve chosen just isn’t very popular and investigate potential bidding issues. Consider removing any keywords with a low search volume unless they’re critical to your business.
- Low Click-Through Rates: High impressions but low click-through rates (CTR) often result from ad copy that doesn’t resonate with the audience you’re targeting or doesn’t match users’ search intent. Check the user intent and consider A/B testing to optimize your ad content.
- Low Conversions: If PPC traffic doesn’t convert, there may be a mismatch between your target keyword and product or service, or your landing page may be at fault. Perform additional A/B testing to optimize your landing pages and analyze the behavior of visitors to ensure you’re targeting the right people.
Pausing or removing keywords that aren’t helping you achieve your PPC goals can help you improve relevancy, protect your budget, and better target your key demographic.
Also check whether your campaign is making use of negative keywords — terms you specifically don’t want your ads to appear for when searched. When you integrate negative keywords into your campaign, you can better manage your spend and avoid wasting budget on searchers who are unlikely to convert. For example, suppose you sell eyeglasses but not sunglasses. In that case, you’ll likely want to add “sunglasses” as a negative keyword to ensure visitors don’t reach your landing pages expecting a product they won’t find.
You can also run a PPC audit to get a better understanding of what may be happening with your campaigns.
2. Optimize Your Landing Pages
Ads provide traffic to your website, but it’s your landing pages that convince people to connect with your brand. If these pages are poorly optimized or too broad, you’ll likely see high bounce rates and low conversions.
So what does a winning landing page look like?
When creating a PPC landing page, consider:
- Messaging: Does the landing page convey the same message as the ad copy the visitor clicked on? Message mismatches make it less likely for customers to convert because they expect to find a specific deal or benefit when they visit your site, as promised by your advertising. When they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll bounce.
- Targeting: Your landing page should match the audience your ads attract, so it’s important to use language relevant to your customers. You may also want to use multiple landing pages if you have several ads targeting different audiences as this can improve the ROI.
- Conciseness: Landing pages should generally be simple and concise. Avoid unnecessary information and complex navigational elements while conveying your message in as few words as possible.
- Above-the-Fold Space: The above-the-fold space contains the content a user sees immediately when a page loads. Visitors are more likely to scroll further when landing pages begin with compelling copy and a clear call to action.
- Multimedia: Beautiful images and video content can enhance your landing pages. However, less is often more with this type of content, as excessive visual stimuli could distract visitors from the value proposition. Any multimedia content should provide value — if it doesn’t, cut it.
- CTA: Your call to action is your chance to close the deal. It should be clear, compelling, and concise and relate specifically to your PPC campaign.
This is a lot for just one page! Thankfully, you can make iterative improvements to your landing pages to improve them over time and make them more effective. A/B testing allows you to measure the effect of optimizations compared to the previous page version. If you think your messaging may be causing visitors to bounce or that your content above the fold is putting your audience to sleep, try a new variation. Just be sure to only change one variable for a given test and to run your tests for a significant amount of time so you can collect meaningful data.
To get the most from your tests, consider using heatmaps and session recordings, which can reveal specific elements users dislike. These tools can help you improve both search engine optimization (SEO) and PPC. See where site visitors are scrolling and clicking. Are they failing to engage with certain parts of your landing page? Are they hovering on one particular section? Use this information to run additional A/B tests and continually improve your landing page.
3. Revise Your Ad Copy
Although there’s a difference between SEO and search engine marketing (SEM), both strategies benefit from content optimization. Many of the same factors you look at when creating a good article for your content marketing campaign also translate to ad copy.
To troubleshoot PPC ad performance, look for ads that produce a low CTR first and foremost, as this is a sign that the copy is to blame. A low Quality Score in Google Ads can also indicate the ad copy isn’t relevant to your targeted keywords.
Next, improve PPC ads by focusing on:
The relevance of your ad copy is often the most crucial aspect, as users won’t click on an ad that doesn’t match their needs. Think about who your audience is and adjust the targeting as needed. Compelling headlines also often help improve the CTR of ads. Try to make an impact in as few words as possible to maximize engagement and minimize the risk of confusion.
After you make any changes, you can use A/B testing to compare the new and old ads. While you want the CTR to increase, you should also track any changes in the conversion rate once visitors reach your landing pages.
4. Switch To Manual Bidding To Make the Most of Your Ads
Automatic bidding is convenient but may not be ideal for all situations, especially if you have a limited budget or want to maximize performance. Switching to manual bidding offers fine-tuned control over your ad spend, allowing you to rapidly react to market changes and prioritize keywords that produce higher conversions.
If you’d like to use manual bidding, consider a strategic transition for better results. Start by looking at keywords where automatic bidding leads to underperformance and check the data you’ve accumulated from previous bids.
Your automatic bidding data will reveal which keywords deserve higher bids based on conversion rates and other performance metrics. It can also help you determine the cost per acquisition, how competition factors into your bid amount, and whether campaign performance varies based on the time of day or week.
You can also look at other factors, like customer lifetime value. Does a particular campaign lead to longer-term customers or higher sales? It may be worth manually investing more into those campaigns to see if they continue to perform well at a larger scale.
5. Restructure Your Campaign
Over time, it’s normal for your Google Ads campaign to grow and expand. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to restructure everything. This is a strategy that can help make things easier to manage while improving keyword targeting, budgeting, and overall performance.
All PPC campaigns are different. However, there are a few simple steps you can follow to restructure most strategies.
- Assess Current Performance: What are you doing well, and what can you improve? Look for keywords with low Quality Scores or messy ad groups that could benefit from better organization.
- Define Your Goals: Whether you want to increase brand awareness, get people to sign up for your email list, or boost sales, your goals factor into the structure of your campaign. If your plans have changed, you may need to target new keywords and alter your ads accordingly.
- Use Segments: A great way to improve relevancy and targeting during a restructure is to organize your campaign more effectively using audience segments.
- Refine Ad Groups: Your ad groups should follow similar themes, as this typically improves your Quality Score. Ensure keywords are closely related and consider creating new groups to organize any that don’t fit existing categories.
- Review Keywords: While reorganizing your ad groups, you should also check keyword relevancy, traffic, and competition. Consider pruning poor performers and adding negative keywords to refine your campaign further.
- Check Ad Copy and Landing Pages: Ensure all your content aligns with your new ad groups and keywords. Additionally, you may want to assign high-performing keywords to separate groups and craft more targeted copy to maximize their potential.
6. End the Campaign and Start Again
Not every method you use to promote your blog or other pages with paid marketing will pan out, and that’s okay. Usually, you can troubleshoot PPC performance and make improvements, but it might also be a good idea to end a campaign that isn’t working.
Afterward, dive into the data and identify any issues that affected the campaign. Solving these problems, whether they relate to keywords, ad copy, or targeting, is key to the success of your next strategy.
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