Audit Your PPC Campaign and Focus on Metrics That Matter

Inbound marketing, content marketing, and integrated marketing are all incredibly useful tools for building brand recognition and customer loyalty. If they have one downside, though, it’s that they take a little while to really kick into high gear. PPC ads are the perfect way to fill the gap.

If you’re just starting out, launching a new product, expanding into a new market, or launching any other kind of business endeavor where you don’t already have an audience in place, inbound marketing strategies aren’t going to be enough to catch people’s eye. To get the ball rolling, you can use PPC ads, carefully targeted to the right people and the right keywords, to start ramping up interest.

But once those PPC ads have been up for a while and your lead generation efforts have caught up, it’s easy to forget about the money you’re spending on PPC, which means you’re not getting the best bang for your buck. Here’s how to make sure your PPC campaigns are still helping you grow.

Start with Data

You can’t analyze your PPC campaigns unless you know what they look like, so step one is to get all your data into one place. Google Analytics is your best friend here, able to generate spreadsheets and reports for almost any metric you can think of, but don’t hesitate to corroborate your data with Bing Ads or other sources.

Start poking through the data. You can use conditional formatting, sorting, and filtering features to find specific information, but it’s also a good idea to just peruse the numbers and see if anything stands out. The list is really endless, but you can stay focused on the most important metrics (more on those in a second). Make a note of especially high and low numbers to come back to later.

Manage Your PPC Campaigns

This is also a good time to look at the structure and format of your campaigns. CPC dashboards will let you launch a campaign without really thinking about what to call it, but that can get away from you quickly. When you ran that promotion last month, was that CAMPAIGN_200615 or CAMPAIGN_200617? Make sure your campaigns are named in a way that you can easily remember what they were supposed to do.

Don’t just lump all your campaigns together. Separate location-targeted campaigns from generic ones, branded from non-branded, and high-budget from low-budget. The categories are up to you, just make sure everything stays organized.

Take a minute to look at location targeting. If you have retail locations or offices in certain cities, it probably doesn’t make much sense to target outside those areas. If your product is entirely cloud-based, you can probably cast a wider net.

Check the PPC Ad Content Itself

Make sure your ads have a concise message. You don’t really have a choice — you only get so many characters — but you need your ads to have a value proposition, a few important keywords, and a CTA baked into that tiny package. Make sure you’re not running any ads for expired offers or out-of-date products (and remember to put time limitations on those ads in the future).

Check that all the URLs and landing pages are up to date and that they load quickly on all devices. If not, redirect those links to your homepage and prioritize fixing those landing pages. Don’t run too many ads at once. You want to be able to compare which ads are working and which ones aren’t, and that’s hard to do with 50 different iterations.

The KPIs That Matter

Like we mentioned earlier, the data you get from Google Analytics or Bing Ads is more comprehensive than you could possibly take advantage of, so you’ll need to narrow down the key performance indicators that give you genuine insights. Here are some of the most important:

  • Clicks: plain and simple, this is a measure of how many people clicked on your ad. It’s not the only metric that matters, but an ad that’s getting no clicks probably needs to be fixed.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): the number of clicks divided by the number of people who have seen the ad. There’s no perfect CTR, but it’s a good way to compare a targeted ad to a broader one. Average CTRs are in the single digits.
  • Quality Score: a metric invented by Google, it takes into account your expected CTR, landing page experience, and ad relevance. Google keeps their formula close to their chest, but the result is a score between one and 10. If your ads get a good Quality Score, Google will charge you less to place them.
  • Cost per Click (CPC): the cost per click that you’re paying for a given ad. You might set a budget, but the actual cost of each ad placement is determined by how much your competitors are bidding for that same spot. If CPC gets too high, you might consider a more specific, less competitive keyword to target. “Inbound marketing for small businesses” will almost certainly be cheaper than simply “marketing.”
  • Conversion rate: the number of conversions divided by the total clicks. This number will vary substantially depending on how you define a conversion, but it’s a good metric of how effective your ads are being.

There are dozens of other KPIs you can pay attention to, but these are some of the biggest and most important. The ultimate goal is to find the KPIs that are the most predictive of your success.

Always Be Iterating

A PPC advertiser’s work is never done. You should always be trying new ad copy, new landing pages, new keywords, and new target audiences.

“Compare your ads and find what’s working, then lean on those techniques. Run two slightly different ones and see which one does better, then replace the less successful ones with those. Customer behaviors and attitudes are constantly shifting — you need to evolve right along with them.”

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