You might often hear marketers tell you to take the time to carefully execute PPC campaign management for optimal performance, then you can simply “set it and forget it.” While it may be a popular philosophy, it’s also a common misconception among amateur advertisers.
Without a doubt, setting up well-targeted campaigns lays a strong foundation that gets you off to a great start. But experienced marketing managers know that PPC campaign management and optimization aren’t static disciplines. Both competitors and the market rapidly change, and thus, so do the needs of your audience and their search queries. And if you don’t keep up and make necessary changes, your competition will soon outperform you by doing so first.
As with a well-tended garden, in order to get your campaigns to grow and thrive, you need to continuously keep them managed and maintained. Reviewing how your audience reacts to and interacts with your PPC ads can also provide you with new insights that make your campaigns even more effective.
Smart advertisers conduct routine PPC campaign management tasks regularly — sometimes even daily — to implement important changes like:
- Pausing poor performing ads or ad groups
- Managing bids to optimize for target cost per acquisition
- Check on Quality Scores and make improvements
- Researching search queries and adding relevant new keywords to accounts
- Eliminating poor performing keywords from campaigns
If you choose, you can let your PPC campaigns run themselves in the background. But if you want to maximize ROI from your ad spend, ongoing PPC campaign management and maintenance is a must. Here are eight strategies you can leverage to maximize ROI from your PPC campaign management efforts.
1. Define your goals
PPC advertising can help drive numerous marketing and business goals. But targeted, successful campaigns don’t attempt to achieve everything at once. Subsequently, an important part of PPC campaign management is defining a clear goal that can be measured against key performance indicators (KPIs).
Before starting a campaign, you should be able to answer questions such as:
- How many conversions you want to drive per month
- Your ideal and maximum cost per conversion (CPC)
- Your ideal and maximum cost per click (CPC)
- Your total monthly PPC budget
Define your goals before you start, because it will ultimately impact what bidding strategy you choose, what keywords you target and what kind of ads you serve.
2. Set up your account the smart way
Carefully structuring your account from the beginning is an important part of PPC campaign management, making your campaigns easier to manage, and reducing the chances of making big targeting mistakes, such as:
- Having too many ads in a single ad group
- Duplicating keywords across campaigns and ad groups
- Targeting a single product with multiple ad groups
- Targeting a single product category with multiple campaigns
When you’re starting out with just one or two campaigns, account setup might seem easy. But if you plan to expand in the long term, it’s important to consider multiple factors when initially laying a foundation for your account structure.
Setting up your account the smart way means:
- Creating campaigns for specific product categories — Have your account structure logically reflect the structure of products and/or services you provide.
- Considering location and language targeting — If targeting more than one country, create separate campaigns for each. Ensure your campaigns are only targeting locations and languages relevant to your audience.
- Creating separate campaigns for different advertising goals — Create unique campaigns for different marketing goals, such as search, display, and remarketing. Select the right bidding option to reflect your selected goal.
When setting up your campaigns and ad groups, consider what kind of PPC campaign management tasks you’ll be performing down the road, and make choices that will simplify this for you. For example, don’t put too many ads in an ad group, and use detailed names to describe your campaigns and ad groups. Don’t create multiple campaigns for the same product category, or target multiple products/services with a single ad group.
3. Refine your keyword lists as you learn
When you first create your keyword lists, you’re often taking a guess at what keywords are relevant to your audience without any hard data. But as your campaigns get underway and evolve, you can then start to gain some perspective regarding which queries perform better than others.
A great strategy advertisers can apply when setting up new campaigns is to start using modified broad match keywords, which provide a list of search queries that triggers one of your ads. You can then duplicate your campaign and add these same keywords as phrase match keywords. Search terms that actually generate clicks on your ads can then be added as exact match keywords. Known as segmenting keywords by relevance, this strategy enables you to bid more on high converting queries. Also focusing on more relevant keywords will also improve your Quality Score, making ad relevance an important factor.
It’s equally important to remove keywords that are causing problems with your campaigns. Take the time to review the information under the “Search terms” tab and remove keywords that:
- Have a low Quality Score (e.g. 3 or lower)
- Generate clicks but no conversions
- Convert but are too expensive to gain enough profit
Removing problem keywords from your campaigns will help free up your budget so you can focus on high quality keywords, and thus, channel your efforts around achieving the highest ROI.
4. Consistently update your negative keyword lists
Even if you do a great job establishing your negative keyword lists in the beginning, you can’t possibly know every potential irrelevant keyword associated with your ads — this can only be determined by monitoring campaign performance.
Some experts will actually tell you that maintaining your negative keyword lists is even more important than managing your normal keyword lists, simply because there’s a significant negative impact every time your ad shows for one of these irrelevant keywords. As previously mentioned, relevance is an important factor in determining your Quality Score for a search query. Low relevance means low Quality Scores, worse ad position and poor performance.
Making regular changes to negative keyword lists is especially important for advertisers in niches related to news or pop culture topics. Beyond mining your search terms report, you can also set up Google Alerts for important brand keywords, which will allow you to discover new and trending news topics that could cause irrelevant search queries to trigger your ads.
5. Keep updating and improving your advertising content
Some advertisers put so much energy into keyword targeting and bid strategies that they forget about their advertising collateral altogether. But the actual advertisements you display and their associated landing pages are of equal importance for PPC campaign management.
Delivering ads for the most relevant search queries doesn’t matter if your ad copy and call-to-action aren’t optimized and attract prospective targets. By the same token, you won’t also be able to drive on-site conversions from your efforts if your landing pages offer poor user experience.
So if you’re experiencing unexpectedly low Quality Scores within your campaigns, your advertising collateral could be the culprit. Consequently, you’ll need to monitor performance and take the necessary steps to continually improve it.
Test your ad copy
Often, even the smallest changes to your ad copy can significantly impact PPC performance. A more relevant headline or call-to-action, for example, can mean the difference between a person ignoring your ad or clicking through and converting. Similarly, including relevant ad extensions can also have a big impact — an auto repair business, for example, could significantly improve ad performance by including call extensions with their ads.
In short, smart advertisers simply don’t guess at the ad copy that is most relevant to their audience — they set up different ad versions and test performance. One way to do this is by leveraging advanced settings in Google Ads to rotate different versions of your ads indefinitely. You can also rotate and automatically optimize to display the best performing ad over a set amount of time.
Improve landing page user experience
Equally important to monitoring how audiences interact with your ads is how they interact with your website content once they click through. A slow loading page will naturally result in a higher bounce rate. Meanwhile, other landing page elements could lead to user experience issues that frustrate visitors.
It’s important to also ensure the content on your landing page matches the content of the associated ad. A specific, targeted ad that leads users back to a generalized landing page will most definitely cause confusion or make visitors wonder if they accidentally clicked on the wrong ad. Consequently, you’ll need to be sure to use language that helps reassure visitors that they’ve landed in the right place.
6. Take advantage of email alerts
Google wants to help its advertisers succeed in their PPC efforts. And PPC campaign management is a huge part of this, so they have a big incentive to help with that as well. One of the ways Google does this is by sending email alerts with important information to help you improve your accounts and campaigns.
Google can send you email notifications for:
- Google market research
- Customized help and performance suggestions
- Special offers
- Campaign maintenance alerts
- Disapproved ads and policy alerts
- Billing alerts
Smart advertisers can and should take full advantage of these notification services so they can react quickly to the problems and opportunities Google identifies. That said, you’re not automatically signed up to receive all of these alerts — some require an opt-in. To ensure you’re receiving the most important alerts you need for campaign maintenance, check your email notification settings under “Setup” then “Preferences” from your Google Ads account.
Set up Google’s email alerts the way you want them. With Reports, for example, you can choose to receive all available reports as an email alert, or select the most critical reports that you customize yourself. This way Google can bring your attention back to your PPC accounts whenever they need critical maintenance.
7. Set up automated PPC campaign management rules
Automated rules are another important tool Google offers to help you manage your PPC campaigns, allowing Google to make changes to your account for you based on rules you create. And by taking full advantage of these automated rules, you’ll save time and improve the performance of your campaigns without needing to make laborious manual changes.
Here are some of the many ways you can leverage automated rules for PPC campaign management:
- Turn on or off special ads or campaigns for a promotional event or on a repeating basis
- Pause low performing keywords or ads based on performance metrics like high cost per conversion, low CTR
- Make changes to your bids based on cost per conversion, potential position on page, bid scheduling during different times of the day, etc.
- Budget scheduling (e.g. higher budget on certain days of the week)
- Pause campaigns that have spent a certain budget or reached a certain number of clicks
- Increase budget for campaigns that convert well
To leverage these tools to their full potential, consider the kind of regular campaign management tasks you perform manually and see if they can be automated via Google. From there, you can then start creating your own custom rules to help you save time and improve campaign performance.
8. Don’t manage everything on your own
It’s no secret that in recent years, Google Ads has rolled out a variety of important campaign management features. For example, by using machine learning technology, the platform provides recommendations that can help you improve campaign performance and the strength of your accounts.
When you’re first starting out, it’s highly valuable to take advantage of these features because effective campaign management isn’t something you can do all on your own. The market, competition, and your audience are constantly changing. As a result, comprehensive PPC campaign management is a full-time job for even small business marketers. For larger businesses or those with aggressive growth strategies, keeping up with campaign maintenance manually is practically impossible.
And while Google’s internal automation features are a great place to start, they offer a limited use of a powerful technology. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can not only help you discover new insights and opportunities, it can act on them for you.
However, while the data that Google leverages comes solely from your PPC ad performance and that of your competitors, no business solely exists within the bubble of Google PPC advertising. There’s a wealth of data beyond Google that can drive even more relevant insights such as audience data from your CRM platform and third-party intent data from other sites around the web — none of which Google’s AI platform even considers.
So if you want to get the most relevant help to improve PPC campaign performance, you’ll need to use a technology that draws on all these data sources to gain a full picture of your audience and market. By using the same powerful machine learning and AI technologies as Google, you can make significant changes to your bid strategy, keyword targeting, and other campaign factors aimed to dramatically boost conversion rates, lift ROI and improve the overall performance for even your most underperforming campaigns.
The Bottom Line
Creating and executing successful PPC campaign management is a critical building block for an effective SEM strategy and imperative for maximizing your return on ad spend (ROAS). That said, it’s no secret that the myriad of maintenance tasks associated with a high bar of success are an expense that can quickly add up to take you over budget. In short, you have to spend a lot of time, personnel and resources to consistently and continuously maintain your accounts while making the necessary changes needed in order to keep them optimized. And while necessary for PPC growth, it’s a precarious balance to maintain.
That’s where artificial intelligence and automation come in, which, among other things, make it possible to better optimize your campaigns while simultaneously reducing the amount of hands-on work needed from marketing managers.
Any marketer worth his or her salt knows that there is no recipe for instant campaign success. A successful PPC campaign needs to be well-tended, carefully monitored and constantly updated to accommodate the ever changing market tides. Like anything worthwhile, it requires patience, care and a little TLC. But maintenance and management can also be time consuming, laborious and eat into profits when it becomes too big for your organization to handle or exceeds your resources. Finding the right tools that leverage automation to establish accounts, refine keywords, define and uphold campaign goals and enforce automated rules can go a long way to ensure that crucial functions are done swiftly and accurately. And by keeping the busy work off of your plate, you’ll be able to focus on what matter most — designing even better, stronger and more creative campaigns that take ROI — and resulting profits — to new levels.