The Top 10 PPC Campaign Mistakes to Avoid

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Even the most experienced marketer makes mistakes while navigating the complicated world of pay-per-click advertising online. It’s enough to give a novice, or even someone who has dabbled in PPC and wants to expand their campaigns beyond AdWords, the willies. Although you can’t avoid everything, here are the biggest blunders people make day in and day out with PPC. Avoid these, and you’ll already be a step ahead of the competition.

1. Being hypnotized by high-volume keywords

Unless you’re a Fortune 500 company, high-volume keywords will clean out your wallet faster than Imelda Marcos on a shoe-shopping trip. Stay away from the high-volume, high-cost words and focus your attention instead on lower-volume ones. For example, in the banking industry, the term “high interest savings account” goes for close to $9 a click, while its distant cousin “savings account” costs only a third of that.

2. Missing the distinction between search keywords and shopping keywords

Searchers will use one set of keywords (e.g., “review” or “compare”) to find information, while shoppers will use another set (e.g., “buy” or “lowest prices”) when they’re ready to buy. If your site targets searchers (e.g., review sites) then happily invest in research keywords. But if you want qualified buyers that are hot-to-trot, focus more on shopping keywords.

3. Going big with your initial bids

There’s just no sense in blowing out the lights in the first few days of your PPC campaign. Some crackpots in chat rooms advocate spending your entire monthly budget in the first few days of a month. Where’s the sense in that? Instead, do the exact opposite; start small and build gradually.  Let’s say you start with a $10 daily budget.  See what you get for this first day and, if you like what’s happening, raise your daily budget to $20. Then maybe on your third day, bump it up to $30. This is the equivalent of testing (a marketer’s mantra) and it will save you a bundle. Plus, this strategy keeps you in the PPC game a lot longer than the “I’m all in” folks who get their guidance from televised poker tournaments.

4. Refusing to set a daily budget for your campaign

Not being much of a gambler, I have one hard-and-fast rule before I set foot on a casino floor: always set a limit on how much money I’m willing to lose. So, if I head into a casino for the evening, I carry only $100 with me. When that $100 runs out, I’m done gambling.

Some call this a defeatist attitude, but I call it smart. It’s a freeing experience knowing that I’m only on the hook for whatever’s in my pocket that night-and not a penny more. Adopt this same philosophy with PPC. Set a daily budget for your PPC campaign and you’ll slowly train yourself to spend it more wisely.

5. Focusing your PPC campaign too broadly across a category

If your site sells office products, launching a single broad campaign around general keywords like “office products” will prove far less effective than launching multiple campaigns around specific niches in the category. Instead, focus your keywords on tighter subsegments of the category-say “home office furniture” or “paper supplies”- and you will wind up with more highly targeted traffic and more profitable results.

6. Ignoring the importance of ad headlines

If you are ranked in the top 3 for a certain phrase, does that mean you’ll get 33.3% of the clickthroughs? Of course not. It’s a well-known fact in direct marketing that just by changing a headline, you can increase an ad’s profitability by two, three, or sometimes even five times. Why isn’t this concept embraced in the PPC world? I know PPC marketers who have stuck with the same headlines for years. Commit to testing a new ad headline this week and comparing the results against your current one. You may just beat your control … and make more money.

7. Landing clicks on your home page

Many home pages sport a variety of messages that actually compete for a visitor’s attention. Some have mission statements (bad idea, by the way), some have newsletter sign-ups, and some have very creative flash animation that takes too long to load. Keep in mind that a PPC visitor clicked on your ad because he or she had a resolute focus on one thing-the product or service featured in your ad.

Don’t land these visitors on your home page. Instead, drive them to a landing page that expands a bit on the ad’s content. Easier conversions await.

8. Not budgeting adequate time and resources to manage your campaign after it launches

I’ve seen companies that have campaigns running that provide some benefit, but I know if they just spent a few more hours a week on them, they could double or triple their return.  Successful PPC marketers are always testing new ways (e.g., new keywords, new headlines, new landing pages) to reach their objectives.

9. Not integrating PPC with your natural search efforts

There’s a huge synergy between PPC and natural SEO efforts. One hand washes the other. As you start uncovering which PPC keywords pull in traffic, weave those keywords into your site copy. Napoleon Bonaparte once said “War is 90% information.”  This applies to PPC advertising as well.

Remember that money spent on PPC should not only generate traffic, but knowledge as well. Plow that knowledge back into your website’s SEO efforts.

10. Waiting too long to pull the plug on a campaign

During the 1980s, I bought several hundred shares of a telecommunications stock whose price was on the rise. Over the next year, the stock price quadrupled and I had a sizable nest egg in hand. Visions of a sports car and speedboat danced in my head. But over the next few weeks, a funny thing happened: the stock tanked. And although I knew I should sell that stock, I couldn’t. I stupidly held onto my shares, hoping they would rebound. The net effect? All of my gains were erased because I got sentimental.

Don’t let this happen in your PPC campaign. Take a detached, unemotional view of keywords and campaigns, and cut your losses at the first hint of bad tidings.

Conclusion

There are many different paths to take to succeed at PPC advertising. Every one of those paths is scattered with traps just waiting to be triggered by an unsuspecting marketer strolling along them. Making mistakes is a part of marketing (heck, it’s a part of life). You can’t avoid all the traps, but if you can avoid the most critical mistakes in pay-per-click advertising, you will be well on your way towards achieving success, and profit, from your efforts.

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