Pay-Per-Click Campaign

Troubleshooting Underperforming PPC Campaigns

If you’ve made every effort to perfect your PPC campaigns but still find they are underperforming, look on the bright side. At least you’re only paying for clicks. If you’re getting clicks but not seeing conversions, that’s a different story. Unfortunately, underperformance is not always related to low traffic volume. It can also be related to low-quality leads arriving on your landing page or low conversion rates due to a poor-quality landing page. To create a high-performing PPC campaign, it takes a lot of tweaking and comparison to finally come up with the ideal approach that appeals to your target.

Also, tweaking isn’t necessarily going to improve performance, especially if you keep making the same mistakes. Successful channel execution calls for a strategic approach that ensures your PPC ad drives high-quality leads to your website and that your landing pages seal the deal with a compelling, hard-to-resist message. This calls for a deep understanding of your target, keyword analysis, and well-crafted messages that compel visitors to take the action you desire.

Here we share the three most common issues likely impacting your PPC campaigns, with tips to resolve them.

1. Low Traffic Volume

Every successful PPC campaign begins with solid keyword research. Low traffic volume begins at the source of your campaign, which means you have to ensure your ads show up for the right searches. Even if you used high-volume keywords, there are other reasons they might not be working for you:

Your Bids

Competition is fierce for PPC ads, and the winner is often, but not always, the highest bidder. If your bid isn’t competitive enough, there’s no way your ad will land on the first results page. Check your impression shares to see where you land compared to all eligible impressions and look at your average position. Anything seven or worse means you missed your chance to land on page one of the search results.

Solution: This can be tough because if you don’t have the budget to compete for high-volume keywords, you need a new keyword strategy. Getting creative such as checking competitor site keywords and exploring more specific, lower volume/priced keywords, can help improve conversions by reducing competition. For example, using GEO targeting and long tail keywords can make a big difference in price.

Your Quality Score

Another possible offender is Google. It scores your ad content based on the keywords used and the content on your landing page, amongst other things. You can check your score by clicking the keywords tab in AdWords. Low scores require immediate action.

Solution: Consider your keywords, their relevance to your ad, and how they relate to the content on your landing page. The more aligned your content and ad are with your keywords, the higher your score.

2. Low-Quality Traffic

High traffic volume is always exciting – until you realize you are paying for clicks without seeing any conversions. This is related to the quality of the traffic your ads attract. If you go into your Adwords account and look under traffic sources> advertising, you can see what search phrases are getting the most clicks. You can then see what keywords generate the desired behavior and which don’t. Undesirable behavior is often related to broader keywords that fail to weed out low-quality leads.

Solution: There are two approaches you can take to help attract higher-quality traffic:

   I.     Modify keywords: Weed out all keywords sending “junk” traffic to your site or add modifiers to create more relevant keyword phrases. For example, an auto repair shop could change the broad term auto repair shop to imported auto repair shop, brake repair shop, or VW repair shop. An accountant could change accounting services to tax preparation services, or small business bookkeeping services. Obviously, you use the modifiers most relevant to your business.

  II.     Negative keywords: You can also include “negative keywords” to weed out customers looking for something you don’t offer. If you’re a fashion accessory store selling sunglasses and reading glasses, for example, using the broad term glasses, attracts not just people looking for sun and reading glasses but also prescription glasses AND wine glasses, water glasses, and all kinds of glasses. So, you would need to either add an extensive list of negative keywords or qualify the word glasses with sun, fashion, and reading.

The more specific your keywords, the more relevant they become and the higher quality your traffic becomes.

3. Low Conversions

Low conversions are directly related to two things:

i. High-quality leads, no conversions

Attracting high-quality leads without conversions boils down to one thing: Poor quality landing pages. While your ad might be using the right keywords to attract the right people, once they arrive on your landing page, if the design and message miss the mark, you’ll lose them. To confirm potential quality issues, check your Quality Score.

Solution: Create higher quality landing pages using landing page 101 rules:

  • Ensure there is relevance between your ad/keywords and landing page content
  • Create a pleasing design that not just looks good but makes it easy for leads to get the message
  • Answer all likely questions (Consider adding a link to an explainer video)
  • Provide a prominent CTA and prominent contact information
  • Include social proof and testimonials to instill trust
  • Avoid unnecessary content, especially overly self-promoting text
  • Segment landing pages for specific keywords/ads
  • Use data and A/B testing to find the right mix to drive conversions

Of course, you also want to ensure your content and CTA help you achieve your goals.

ii. Low-quality leads

We’ve already covered this under the low-quality lead section above.

Solution: Your keyword strategy is what drives traffic, so adjust your keywords to make sure you are attracting the right leads.

How to Avoid Issues in the First Place

To help you create high-performing PPC ads from the start, use these additional tips:

  • Research your high-ranking competitor’s keywords to perfect your keyword strategy 
  • Leverage PPC ad extensions such as location extensions, site link extensions, and call extensions
  • Use a PPC expert to assist with your keyword and bidding strategy
  • Make sure you review every detail of your campaign set-up to avoid mistakes that impact performance or hire someone to set your campaigns up for you

PPC campaigns require strategy, research, and perfect execution to see the expected results. Recognizing the three most common issues and knowing how to resolve them can help you improve your performance. 

Pay-per-click campaigns can definitely be a challenge when you don’t know what you are doing. With the right marketing partner, your PPC campaigns can start converting leads like never before! If you need a little help with this, we’re happy to chat.