5 steps to turn around a failing PPC campaign

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Paid search is time consuming, occasionally frustrating, and often exhausting. One thing it’s not, however, is rocket science. Even flat-lined campaigns can be resuscitated with the implementation of a few easy steps. Before you decide to give up on PPC, try out these 5 easy tips to turn around your campaign.

1. Refine, refine, refine

It’s true that you don’t pay for impressions in paid search, only clicks. Many marketers struggle with PPC because they think there is no harm in racking up as many impressions as possible. They are wrong! Any time you show an ad to someone, there is a chance they will click it, even if they are never going to convert. The most successful PPC campaigns never stop refining their keywords so that ad shows only to people who are looking to buy what you are selling.

Fortunately AdWords and AdCenter have filled your tool belt with great ways of refining your campaign’s keywords. One of the most important is to use keyword match types effectively. If you are only using broad match, you have very little control over which search terms will trigger your ads, putting your campaign in danger of attracting wasteful clicks. Phrase match and exact match are used to refine the targeting of your impressions and can drastically reduce the number of wasteful clicks.

AdWords has some other great tools for refining a campaign such as negative keywords, geo-targeting, and day-parting. With these tools you can prevent your ads for showing on terms you know aren’t relevant, target the specific geographic location in which your customers live, and isolate the time of day you are most likely to convert.

2. See search terms

In my opinion, the “see search terms” option is the best tool for gaining insight into how refined your campaign is and what steps you need to take to address irrelevant traffic. This tool shows the exact keywords that led to clicks on your ad. If your campaign’s click-through-rate is satisfactory, but the conversion rate remains low, the “see search terms” is a good way to tell if your keywords are too broad. Often you will find phrase and exact match keyword ideas alongside negative keyword suggestions that you never would have thought of on your own.

3. A/B test

Great online marketers love data, and A/B testing is the best way to gather great data used to determine whether your ads and landing pages are performing as well as they could be. A/B testing allows marketers to engage in little experiments using control pages or ads and variants. By keeping the variants identical to the control in all ways but one, marketers can easily compare an ad’s click-through-rate or a landing page’s conversion rate to see whether the changes improved performance. Remember, A/B testing is an iterative process! If you change more than one element at once you’ll never know which one was responsible for the improvement.

4. Conversion tracking

Paid search is a powerful marketing channel largely because it is so measurable. Surprisingly, not every marketer takes advantage of the wealth of information PPC campaigns can provide. While all AdWords and AdCenter campaigns provide information on click-through-rate and keyword relevance, easy implementation of conversion tracking opens up an additional layer of data that can make or break a campaign. Conversion tracking allows you to optimize your campaign to drive the activity you care about rather than just expensive clicks.

5. Long tail keywords

Long tail keywords are incredibly cost efficient but can also feel like a shot in the dark. By using 3-5 word phrases instead of short keywords, you drastically reduce traffic while increasing quality. Long tail keywords will be feast or famine by nature, so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t even seeing any impressions. A good long-tail strategy is one that keeps a lot of variations of a basic keyword enabled waiting for one of them to strike gold.

There you have it! 5 easy tips to turn around a struggling PPC campaign.