According to Statista PPC ad spending is expected to reach $178 billion globally in 2023. If you’re not using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, you’re missing out on an extremely effective way to drive targeted leads and sales for your business. With PPC ads, you only pay when someone actually clicks your ad – not when it’s merely displayed like many other forms of online advertising. This means you can reach qualified customers right when they search for your products or services, without wasting budget. Given its cost-effectiveness and ability to connect with motivated customers in real-time, PPC is a strategy no business can afford to ignore today. Ease up on your wallet, ignore old misconceptions, and lean into one of the best returns on ad spend available.
Choose Negative Keywords Wisely
Negative keywords are an underutilized but incredibly powerful tool every PPC advertiser should be using diligently. By adding negative keywords, you can prevent your ads from showing up for irrelevant, unrelated searches.
This saves you money that would otherwise be wasted on completely useless clicks and traffic. More than just saving money, negative keywords improve the overall effectiveness of your campaigns. Poor quality scores from irrelevant clicks will drag down your ads. Negative keywords act as a shield, protecting you from poor matches and keeping your PPC strategy focused squarely on motivated customers. Take the time to thoroughly build out negative keywords and maintain them over time. It will be a cornerstone to success.
Speak Their Language in Your Ads
One of the biggest mistakes brands make is writing PPC ads focused only on touting how great their company is. But customers don’t care about how amazing you think you are – they care about solutions to their own needs. The most effective PPC ad copy speaks directly to the target audience and outlines the specific benefits you provide.
First, ensure you understand the intent behind the keywords, including the underlying customer needs and desires. Then craft ads highlighting the most appealing benefits, solutions, or offers, rather than just bragging about yourself. Remember, be helpful, not salesy. Write like you’re a trusted friend addressing their concerns, not an obnoxious peddler shouting offers. This customer-centric approach will earn more qualified clicks.
Set Goals That Inspire Action
A very common PPC mistake is running campaigns without clear goals. Simply driving clicks or impressions inevitably wastes budget. The most successful PPC advertisers set specific, measurable goals that tie to core business objectives. Typical goals are lead generation, phone calls, form submissions, purchases, registrations, downloads or other conversions.
By defining the success metrics upfront, you can make better decisions on elements like bidding and landing pages. With tangible goals guiding you, it’s easier to identify the most effective keywords, offers and placements. You also have a real benchmark for optimization. Regularly evaluate performance data against your goals and make calculated changes to improve results. In short, well-defined goals keep your strategy focused and on track.
Send Them Somewhere Specific
Many brands send PPC traffic to their general website home page and call it a day. But this misses a huge opportunity for higher conversions. The most effective PPC campaigns use tailored landing pages designed specifically for each ad and keyword. These customized pages highlight the most relevant products, services, offers and calls-to-action for that audience. Avoid generic pages and ensure you are sending traffic to where they are most likely to take action.
For example, location-based keywords should send them to a landing page about your local services. Long-tail informational queries may land on specific articles or content. With a more targeted experience, you can dramatically boost conversion rates. Don’t just send them your home page and hope for the best. Guide them intelligently to where they are primed to convert.
Test Like a Mad Scientist
Here’s a little-known PPC fact: No advertising element will be universally optimal. This means testing should be at the core of your strategy. Run regular A/B tests on your ads, landing pages, bids, placements, audiences and more to improve performance.
For example, the ad copy that works for top-of-funnel branded keywords likely won’t perform as well with bottom-funnel transactional search terms. Landing pages, bids, ad extensions also require ongoing experimentation based on the keyword or campaign. Treat your account like a science lab. Form hypotheses, build tests based on what you expect to see, then pour over the data to guide your next round of trials. Methodical testing will uncover many optimization gems you would have otherwise missed.
Mind Your Bids
Most PPC novices focus exclusively on elements like ad copy and landing pages – completely neglecting the critical importance of bids. Here’s the reality: bids directly impact your positioning and visibility, even if your other elements are dialed in. Set them too high? You may get clicks but at a bad return. Too low? No one will see your ad no matter how amazing it is.
The key is setting keyword bids based on the value of each conversion, then meticulously monitoring performance and tweaking as needed. Maximize relevance by bidding higher for gold mine keywords, and lower for those converting poorly. Regularly review search term reports to find gems you missed. With carefully optimized bids, you get the visibility you need to hit goals without overspending.
For service-based businesses dependent on local customers, precise location targeting is mission-critical. Fortunately, PPC makes this easy. Specify your geography down to the city-level when first setting up your campaign. Use bid adjustments and other location tools to optimize for customers searching in your backyard. Go beyond just location – tailor ads, landing pages and offers to be locally relevant as well. For national or global companies, you can simply target more broadly. But if you’re a local business, laser-focused location targeting ensures you attract nearby customers most likely to buy. Don’t leave easy money on the table – dial in location meticulously.
Optimize for Mobile
Mobile usage now accounts for over 60% of all online activity. Suffice to say, the mobile experience is now a make-or-break factor for PPC success. Your ads and landing pages must be completely optimized for smaller screens and quick loading times. If customers need to pinch and scroll just to navigate your page, you’ve lost them, along with all that time and money spent driving them there.
Ensure text is legible, calls-to-action are prominently placed, forms are easy to fill out, and pages load lightning fast. Be relentless in removing any friction in the mobile experience. With the dominance of smartphones, mobile optimization is no longer optional – it’s the new norm other advertisers are already leveraging.
Use Call Tracking
Many customers will call your business directly from PPC ads. Phone calls represent highly qualified leads, yet are invisible without call tracking. By using unique phone numbers in your PPC campaigns, you can measure calls driven, optimize for call-heavy keywords, and attribute them to media spend. This typically reveals phone leads making up 30-50% of conversions.
Without call tracking, you’re flying half-blind. You may be getting calls but have no insights into volume, source or patterns. Implement call tracking numbers specific to different campaigns, keywords and location targeting. Now you can make smarter optimization decisions based on all conversions, not just online ones.
Mind the Time
When and how long you run PPC ads can be just as important as what they contain. Schedule ads to align with days and hours your products or services see peak demand and conversion potential. For example, run weekend ads for restaurants starting mid-morning when people are thinking about going out to brunch. Or advertise B2B services during the workweek business hours only.
Additionally, temporary increases in bids during the highest conversion periods can be an easy win. Always be evaluating performance data and making informed decisions on timing and duration. Don’t just set and forget your hours of operation. Maximize visibility when it matters most.
Stay On Top of Your Campaigns
The work is far from over once your PPC campaigns are live. In fact, hands-off management is one of the surest ways to waste budget and miss opportunities. Get in the habit of regularly monitoring your account – optimizing based on the latest trends and data. Keep a close eye on changes in click rate, conversion rate, competition and more that may impact performance. Pounce on new winners, pause poor performers, and refresh creatives.
Effective PPC requires constantly testing, learning and optimizing. Don’t get complacent, or worse, ignore your account for long stretches. Embrace an agile approach to stay ahead of the competition and maximize your ROI.
Wrap It All Up
PPC may take dedication to master, but you now have an expert blueprint to make it work for your business. By laser-focusing on motivated customers, optimized landing pages, strategic bids and rigorous testing, your cost-per-click will start to look very pretty indeed. Just remember, always keep the customer experience in mind, monitor campaigns vigilantly, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to advertising like a pro. Now get out there and start clicking!