Common Reasons Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaigns Fail

PPC campaigns (or AdWords) have certainly changed the way businesses market websites online. They are a great way to create more leads for your business. If performed correctly, a PPC campaign can be one of the best ways to grow your company as it can help you grow your traffic very quickly.

However, PPC can also be extremely infuriating at times, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t have proper prevention measures in place. Some people start a PPC campaign without the necessary knowledge and research and they simply end up wasting so much money.

run a PPC campaign

A PPC campaign is very delicate, there are many ways it could go wrong.

What really worries me is that most of the mistakes businesses are making in their PPC campaigns are very easy fixes and they are certainly preventable. So before you go off to start your own PPC campaign, make sure you have a read of this blog so you don’t make any of these common, yet very costly mistakes!

If you are already running a PPC campaign and you are making some of the below mistakes, don’t worry, we will show you how to fix them!

It is important to always fix these mistakes as soon as you see them because they have the possibility to cost your business thousands of dollars each month, in terms of lost profit wasted advertising spending.

1. Keyword stuffing

You are probably aware of the common 80/20 rule. Well this also applies to PPC!  Research has suggested that only 12% of all sales of a business come directly from their keywords. This means that only 12% of the chosen keywords are contributing to your total sales. This is already alarming in itself, however it gets worse!

Research conducted by the Digital Marketing Institute shows that these underperforming 88% of your keywords actually take up 61% of your spend on advertising.

So why are businesses doing this? Well for one, they might not actually know that keyword overloading is costing them so much money without a considerable return.

And two, most businesses have a good idea of what their important keywords are and then on top of this they also bid on a few additional keywords in the attempt to gain more business, but this rarely actually happens.

The Solution: This is a very easy fix, so if you are finding that you’re keyword stuffing don’t worry! First of all if you are using broad match you need to stop. Even though this is the default match type, it still shouldn’t be used. Then, you should do some analysis and find the keywords that are costing you the most yet giving you the least return.

This can be done by going into AdWords and on to you keywords tab then looking at “Search Terms”. Here you can filter the terms in regards to conversions or similar that will show you which terms aren’t giving you enough conversions.

This analysis will assist in your determination of which terms stay and the ones that will get cut. This way you will have the ability to focus your budget on the high performing keywords.

It is important to note here that your traffic in total for your website may experience a slight dip but this was the wrong type of traffic that you wouldn’t be able to convert. Now, with the underperforming keywords cut from your campaign you should experience a better conversion rate as well as more actual conversions.

2. Not enough time

excellent PPC results

PPC does take time, so don’t be worried if you are only a week in and haven’t seen results.

Like a lot of other things in SEO, PPC takes time. You will need to devote enough time to both managing and analysing your ad campaign.

If you don’t spend the necessary time on your campaign or give up when you don’t see positive results straight away then the campaign is likely to fail and you would have potentially wasted a lot of money. Ad optimisation is also very important and this does take up a lot of your time.

Small business owners tend to fall into this mistake because they are busy running other components of the business and simply don’t have time. Many small business owners think that once the campaign is up and running then they can just forget about it.

However, this is not the case as a PPC campaign takes constant tweaking and changing. Therefore, if you are not willing or do not think you will have the time necessary to run a PPC campaign (or have enough money to hire someone else to do it for you) then it is probably best for you to leave it for another time.

Research suggests that 53% of small business owners only optimised their ad campaign four times a year. This is simply not enough time to ensure that you are getting the most out of your campaign and you aren’t wasting your money.

The Solution: You can’t just set and forget your PPC campaign. Therefore if you are going to run one you have to ensure that you actually have enough time and resources to do it. It is important to be realistic; a PPC campaign can be started at any time so make sure you are actually prepared to put in the time.

You should probably be spending at least 15 minutes every week checking and optimising your campaign. If this is time you cannot commit to then you should just put it off until later. Or alternatively you can hire an SEO company to run your PPC campaign for you.

3. Obsessing over cost per lead (CPL)

This is a big mistake that businesses tend to fall into because they think CPL is how they know whether or not their PPC ads are actually producing results. However, this is no longer the case. Recently there has been a shift from optimising for more clicks to now optimising for more conversions.

run a PPC campaign

The cost per lead isn’t the only thing you need to be concerned about.

Despite this shift, many are still getting their knickers in a bunch about CPL. What people have to realise is that CPL is an indicator not a measure of PPC success. Where CPL may look good, it doesn’t actually secure profitability. CPL can be a good indicator of campaign health; however it should not be all you base your success off.

The Solution: You should spread your focus on to other key areas including profitability. In order to do this you need to compare your PPC campaign with your bottom line. You should also be aware of the reasons you have chosen each particular keyword.

For example, did you choose the keyword for the lowest cost per sale, or for the most revenue, or for the ad copy that creates the highest return on investment, etc.? It is expected that this will take some time, but the results you will have at the end should make it worth it.

4. Not having a reasonable budget

If you are only just getting started into looking at running a PPC campaign then you are probably worried about the upfront cost. Like an SEO campaign it will take a reasonable amount of money, especially if you want to do it right.

Many businesses find it difficult to allow so much of your marketing budget to go into a channel that you are unsure about. However, the faster you are able to see results and get performance analysis then the faster you can make the changes and be more successful with your campaign.

We have seen this far too many times; businesses stop their PPC campaign due to a lack of leads and the overall performance is not what expected. You will need to put in money upfront to generate the clicks and hopefully leads and conversions.

Do not give up! Like SEO, it will take some time to see results and there is nothing worse than stopping and starting your PPC campaign.

The Solution: You should do some research before committing to a PPC campaign. And we aren’t saying you should go all in and take the risk, but you have to spend money to make money right?! If you only put in a little money into the PPC campaign then you can only expect a little result.

A PPC campaign is not magic where you can put in a small amount of money and see exponential results. You actually have to put in a certain amount of funds if you want to get the ball rolling and see results.

You shouldn’t spend your entire marketing budget on PPC, but instead create a realistic budget that shows where funds will be directed to. It is recommended that you stick with your PPC campaign for at least 2 to 3 months while pumping enough money into it to generate clicks.

Once you have generated the desired level of clicks then you can focus your analysis on getting better conversions etc. If you are wondering how much is a reasonable amount to bid on a particular keyword you could use a PPC bid calculator tool.

The calculator tool from Capterra is based on your business goals and website performance. It provides the targeted maximum amount that you should bid for a click in order to optimise your sales and growth.

5. No call tracking

excellent PPC results

Remember to actually track the phone calls you make to potential customers.

Calling a potential customer after they have expressed interest is likely to see a higher chance of a conversion, especially if you call straight after they show interest (within business hours of course). Calling a potential customer is the first important step, but actually tracking the call is just as important.

Especially, when it comes to lead generating campaigns (like PPC) where phone calls are probably one of the most important sources of leads and therefore contributes to sales. Even though many businesses know and understand this importance they still are not tracking their phone calls (either not effectively, or not at all!).

If you don’t track your calls answer me this: How can you tell which channel are actually producing which sales? You can’t! Then this means that you also won’t be able to determine the campaigns that are actually profitable which leads us right back to point number three — obsessing over CPL.

The Solution: If you are not call tracking don’t worry because this is something very easy to start! You could use a forwarding phone number in your ad copy and then record the calls down to the ad group level.

Or you could replace your onsite number with a forwarding number. This allows you to track exactly which campaign created what call from your website.

To better track or associate your keywords, ads and calls with the sales you achieve there are a few different tools available for you to use that will integrate well with customer relationship management. These tool platforms include Five9 or Call Tracking Metrics.

These tools help you discover the particular marketing campaigns, keywords and specific web pages that are generating phone calls and conversions. Although this type of tool creates a bit more work, it can mean the difference between good PPC results and excellent PPC results.

Final Thoughts

Running an effective PPC campaign can be fairly tricky and time consuming, especially if you are a newbie and don’t really have a full understanding of how everything works. You should always do some research before starting a PPC campaign therefore you will have a better understand of what you are in for.

Running a PPC campaign has the potential to generate a higher amount of traffic to your website as well as more conversions and sales. However, running this type of campaign can be quite costly (in terms of both time and money), so if you aren’t ready to jump head first into the world of PPC, then it would probably be best to wait until you are a bit more prepared.

This blog identified the most common reasons why PPC campaigns fail. Even if you are finding that you can related to some of these reasons you shouldn’t fear because there is always a solution to the problem.

Most of these reasons are actually quite easy to fix, yet they could be costing your business a lot of money. That’s why it is important to get on top of these issues straight away if you think you are falling into a trap.

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Lucas is the Managing Director and the Head of  SEO Strategy at SEO Shark. He has over 15 years of experience in achieving SEO results for small and medium businesses as well as multinational and ASX-listed brands. He is also an author of multiple publications about digital marketing.