January 2011

  1. Running both search and content network campaigns together – Split search and content campaigns so you can control their budgets separately. These are two very different animals.
  2. Not using analytics – Analytics and conversion tracking are musts. If you can’t track it, how do you know if you are making money or losing it?
  3. Starting with too many keywords – Start with few keywords (5-10) per ad group, then grow slowly.
  4. Using broad match options – Stay away from broad match. Stick to phrase and exact match options.
  5. Using only one landing page or sending all clicks to the homepage – Each ad group should go to a specific landing page targeted for the keywords in the group.
  6. Not targeting countries – Start with USA. Don’t branch out unless you can show conversions at home.
  7. Bidding and budgeting according to Adwords/Adcenter recomendations – Take ad and bid optimization recommendations with a grain of salt. After all, they are coming from a company who has a financial interest in getting you to bid more.

Bottom line… start out as simply as possible. This will allow you to learn and understand before moving on to more advanced techniques. It is your ad budget that will be wasted by jumping in to the deep end of the pool before learning to swim.

Split Search and Content Network Campaigns

Search campaigns and content network campaigns are two very different animals. Search users are generally further along in the purchasing process. They entered in your specific search keywords into a search engine after all.

With the content network you usually need to inform more before you start selling as they most likely weren’t expressly shopping for something when they clicked the ad. They were reading the news or their email when they saw your advertisement.

These two big differences mean huge CTR differences for each of the campaigns. Good CTR for a search campaign is generally in the 3%-5% range. For a content campaign, good CTRs may be more likely 0.5%-1%.

Another difference is the methods in which your ads are triggered for each campaign. With search campaigns, ads are triggered based on the keywords you are bidding on. Content network campaigns are not so straight forward. Yes, the keywords you supply come into play, but in most cases, these are a rough guide, not a rule as in the search campaign. Google, Bing and others may try to place your ads on as many sites as possible to fill their inventory of ad slots available.

Use Analytics and Conversion Tracking

This one is so simple. If you aren’t tracking your performance, how do you know if you are wasting your money? Are you profitable paying $1.00 a click to get someone to your site? Or is profitability only possible with $0.25 clicks. How do you know what your break even point is?

Without basic analytics and conversion tracking, there is no way to judge ROI for your campaigns. You quite possibly could be spending more money to get that customer than they could ever return to you in sales. Not Good Business!

It’s also worth mentioning here that conversion tracking should be verified as properly functioning before launching any sizable campaigns.

Start With Few Keywords Per Ad Group

In the beginning, you have so many variables in play there is no way anyone could keep the relationships between them straight, much less a PPC novice. Between the keywords themselves, CPC bids, the actual ad text and the landing pages, how do you know how each effects the other?

Sure, a high CPC bid will usually get your ad higher and better placement and more views. This in turn should result in more clicks, but are these clicks leading to more sales? The trick isn’t to pay the most money to get the most sales. The goal is to pay the least amount of money to get the most highly targeted clicks.

Which keyword group converts best with which landing page? How does the keyword quality score affect bids and ROI? Which ad text gets the most clicks for which keyword group?

It can be daunting to keep all of this in your head at once. Now multiply all of these questions by dozens and dozens, or even hundreds of keywords and it will be impossible to wrap your head around. If you are just starting out, the goal should be to learn and to make money. The learning part will be much easier by limiting the variables as much as possible and sticking to several tightly targeted ad groups with only a dozen keywords each.

Stay Away from Broad Match

Broad match means that if your given keyword is auto insurance, using broad match, your ad could be shown for auto insurance fraud, how to scam my auto insurance, auto insurance agents in Timbuktu and thousands of others you never intended. Unless you can convert that traffic, you are wasting your ad budget on these placements.

Stick to phrase match and exact match bidding for your keywords until you have a better grasp on the potential placements with broad match. Your ad budget will thank you.

Use Landing Pages Targeted for Each Ad Group

As we discussed earlier, search and content network users most likely aren’t in the same stage of making a purchase decision. Searchers more often are closer to the purchasing mindset, while content network traffic is most often still in the information gathering stage.

Trying to close the sale to both using the same landing page is most likely going to leave one of your campaigns with a dismal conversion rate.

Target Your Home Country First

This is a simple checkbox in most advertising platform’s campaign setups. If you don’t already sell to folks outside of the USA, why would you pay for clicks to get them to your site?

Prove your campaigns and landing pages on your best target demographic before hitting the road and going international.

Don’t Rely on Advertiser’s Recommendations

In setting up hundreds of campaigns, I have never once followed the recommendations of Google Adwords or Adcenter as to my budget or bid prices. While I’m not saying these are highly suspect, it is worthwhile to remember that they make more money when you spend more with them. Their recommendations may get you to the top of their placements, but they may send you to the poor house too without many more sales.

Bid what you are comfortable with and budget what you can spend each month.

If you can eliminate these easy mistakes from your campaign you will be much more likely to see early successes in you PPC campaigns instead of wasting a whole month’s budget without seeing a sale. We do provide campaign setup services and ppc management services if need just a helping hand or would like us to take over your PPC marketing efforts.