PPC: 8 Ways to Avoid Busting Your Advertising Budget

AdWords is a powerful search engine marketing platform that instantly connects businesses with an ocean of potential customers. But oceans are wild and unpredictable — turn your back, and you might get swept away. The same thing can happen to your AdWords budgets if you’re not careful.

tight budget
PPC spending can get awfully fat if you don’t reign it in.

AdWords is a powerful search engine marketing platform that instantly connects businesses with an ocean of potential customers. But oceans are wild and unpredictable — turn your back, and you might get swept away. The same thing can happen to your AdWords PPC budgets if you’re not careful.

If you just started using Google AdWords, then you might be overwhelmed by how quickly you blow through your advertising budgets. You might also be frustrated if this tsunami of traffic isn’t bringing you any actual customers. Sure, launching an AdWords campaign is significantly easier (and faster) than getting organic visitors through traditional SEO strategies, but what’s the point if you’re just throwing money away?

Worry not. Here, we’ll review eight ways to avoid busting your advertising budget with AdWords and other pay-per-click (PPC) platforms. Follow these tips, and suddenly the rough waters of online advertising become far less treacherous.

1. Bid High, Budget Low

The first step toward not blowing through your budget is to keep your budgets low. Yes, you might still spend money inefficiently at first. But just because you can afford to spend $100 per day doesn’t mean you should. Start with a small daily budget until you know what you’re doing.

On the other hand, don’t hesitate to bid high on keywords. Your fledgling campaigns will gain traction more quickly, and you’ll get better click-through rates (and higher quality scores) by driving traffic from your best keywords. With your budgets turned down low, this is a great strategy for launching campaigns on the right note.

2. Avoid Accelerated Delivery

When setting the daily budgets for new campaigns, you’ll have the option to choose Standard or Accelerated ad delivery. Standard is the default option; stick with that.

The Standard delivery option is designed to stagger your ads and expend your budget throughout the entire day. Meanwhile, Accelerated delivery will show your ads until your budget runs dry. By staggering your ad delivery throughout the day, you’ll eventually learn which times are most worthwhile to be advertising. You’re also less likely to burn through your entire budget in the early morning hours when few people actually buy.

3. Use Phrase- and Exact-Match Keywords

Only use phrase- and exact-match keywords when building your primary campaigns. Exact-match keywords will only display your ad when people search for that exact keyword. Phrase-match keywords offer slightly more flexibility — they’ll display your ads when people search for phrases containing your keyword.

Now, I’m not saying you should never use broad-match, but you need to be extremely careful. …

4. Create Separate Broad-Match Campaigns

We just talked about the importance of phrase- and exact-match keywords, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid broad-match keywords entirely. Broad-match keywords result in ads being shown whenever your keywords appear in any order within a search term. For example, if your broad-match keyword is “boys shirts,” and someone searches for “boys uniform shirts,” that person might see your ad. And unless your business happens to specialize in uniforms, that person’s click would be a waste of money.

However, what you can do is start a campaign with a small daily budget and only broad-match keywords. Eventually, you can review your search terms report to see all kinds of search phrases people used to trigger your ads. Some of those keyword terms will likely be irrelevant to your needs — but some might actually be unique or long-tailed keyword terms you hadn’t previously considered. This is how you can “fish” for more keywords, but limit your exposure by using a separate low daily budget campaign.

5. Grow a Negative Keyword List

Let’s go back to that “boys shirts” example. If your business doesn’t sell uniforms, why risk wasting money on that “boys uniform shirts” click? Add the words “uniform” and “uniforms” to your negative keyword list, and your ads will never be shown in response to searches for uniforms.

You should always build out negative keyword lists when launching new campaigns. Then, as you collect data about the exact search terms people use to trigger your ads, you can add to those lists with poorly converting keywords. You can also add terms such as “how to,” “what is” or “reviews” — terms people might use when they’re looking to do research, not make purchases.

6. Bid at the Keyword Level

Adjust your bids on individual keywords, not entire ad groups. Every keyword will have it’s own unique performance and will require it’s own unique bid.

You’ll need higher bids on your most competitive keywords, but you can often get cheaper traffic as you find more unique keyword terms. Adjust your bids accordingly and you can attract more visitors without spending more money.

7. Write Accurate PPC Ads

It’s tempting to say whatever it takes to get clicks on your ad, but a say-anything approach is problematic. For starters, Google can suspend ads (and even lock down campaigns) for dishonest advertising. In addition, people who click on your ads are more likely to bounce from your website if your landing pages don’t meet their expectations. In other words, it pays for your PPC ads to accurately (and honestly) represent what you’re actually offering.

Don’t even try to toe the line between reality and exaggeration. Keep it real and enjoy the stronger conversion rates.

8. Use Remarketing

The Remarketing feature of AdWords displays your ads to people who’ve already visited your website. That means you can limit your ads to only display if the person searching has already visited your website.

If you knew the prospect had already visited your website, then wouldn’t you want to increase your bids to ensure she saw and clicked on your ad versus your competitors? What if you knew that person had already added a product to their shopping cart or viewed a key page in your sales funnel? Chances are you could show a more compelling ad to get that person back to your website to complete the sale.

Conclusion

In the time needed to start a campaign — just a few minutes, if you already have an active account — AdWords can bring waves of visitors to your website. It’s up to you though to not get overwhelmed. Make every dollar you spend on advertising count by following the tips above. Any form of PPC marketing will quickly turn into a colossal waste of money if not properly done. Take the right steps, though, and reaching new customers will have never been easier.

Want more tips to improve your Google AdWords performance? Click here to grab your copy of our Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.

Google AdWords Audit Checklist: How to Optimize Your Campaign

Google AdWords is a vital advertising tool for many businesses. However, like anything else, it must be audited and maintained regularly to ensure that it remains fully optimized. Here is a checklist to follow.

Google AdWords logoGoogle AdWords is a vital advertising tool for many businesses. It allows you to focus your advertising budget on customers who are ready to buy, giving you a steady stream of eager new prospects. It also allows you to start with whatever budget you’re comfortable with, making it a tremendous resource for small businesses.

However, many business owners are not maximizing their campaign performance, so they are leaving money on the table month after month. Like anything else, your Google AdWords campaign must be audited and maintained regularly to ensure that it remains fully optimized. Here is a checklist to follow.

Keywords
Keywords commonly trip up both new and experienced AdWords users because there are so many factors to consider. To optimize your keywords, I recommend using three distinct tactics, each of which addresses a common problem.

  • Pruning: The goal of pruning is to remove unprofitable keywords from your list, including those that are irrelevant and those that, for whatever reason, simply do not perform well for you. To start pruning, run a Google AdWords Search Terms report from the Keywords tab of your account. Any keyword that does not show solid performance should be removed or paused. Also consider adding negative keywords, which tell AdWords not to display your ad if a particular word appears in the search string.
  • Fishing: The goal of fishing is to find new keywords that will be profitable for your campaign. Again, run a Google AdWords Search Terms report and look for keyword phrases that are performing well, but are not yet in your Ad Groups.
  • Replanting: Replanting is a process to optimize your top performing keywords while limiting your budget for new or unproven keywords. Move your top keywords into their own campaign, and focus on tweaking your ad copy and landing pages to tightly match those keywords. Likewise, move unproven keywords to their own campaign and reduce their budget until you get more data on them. Replanting allows you to improve your quality score, increase your click-through rate, and maintain better control over your advertising dollars.

Ads
Your ad copy is an excellent place to optimize your AdWords campaign, since it is virtually impossible to write perfect copy on the first, or even the tenth, try. Here are a few ways to optimize your ads.

  • Split testing: Never allow just one ad to run in an ad group. Always run at least two ads so that you can compare their performance.
  • Offer: No matter how good the rest of your ad copy is, a weak offer can sink your AdWords campaign. Remember that a great offer minimizes customer risk and overcomes the tendency for procrastination. Review your competitors’ offers, think through what would appeal to your ideal customer, and split test different offers in your ads.
  • Extensions: Ad extensions factor into your quality score, and also play a role in improving your click-through rate, so make sure you are taking advantage of all of them. The Review extension, with a third party endorsement, is particularly useful in building credibility.
  • Other factors: Other areas of your ad copy that should be audited include your headline, display URL, and description. Make sure that each section is clear and succinct, focusing on how you can solve a problem or fulfill a need for your prospect. Ensure that your entire ad is internally consistent, easy to follow, and has a strong call to action.

Landing Pages
Your landing page is your opportunity to close the sale, turning visitors into leads and customers. It must be laser-focused to match the ad, reassuring the prospect that she is in the right place and explaining what to do next. Optimizing your landing page is not easy, but it’s critical to your campaign performance.

  • Dedicated landing pages: One of the most common mistakes that business owners make is using their homepage as a landing page for ads. A secondary mistake is using the same landing page for lots of unrelated keywords. Make sure your landing page is 100 percent congruent with the keywords and ads in each Ad Group.
  • Congruence: As mentioned above, your landing page must be fully congruent with your ad. This means that the landing page copy should match the keywords, and the landing page offer should repeat the offer made in the ads.
  • Call to Action: It sounds crazy, but I have reviewed countless landing pages that do not explicitly explain what the visitor needs to do to start the buying process.  As a consumer, it’s frustrating when it’s not clear what to do so most prospective customers will leave rather than try to figure it out.  So make sure your landing page has a clear call-to-action, ideally above the fold so the visitor does not have to scroll to find it.

Tracking
Tracking is the only method you have for determining how well your AdWords campaign is performing. Make sure that each of the following forms of AdWords tracking is set up properly in your account:

  • Webform conversion tracking to measure how many visitors complete your webforms
  • Shopping cart conversion tracking to measure how many visitors complete online orders
  • Website call tracking to measure how many visitors call after clicking on your ads
  • Call extension tracking to measure how many people call using the number displayed in your ads
  • Offline sales import conversion tracking to measure how many sales are generated offline via phone calls or in-person

Optimizing and maintaining your Google AdWords campaign is an ongoing, never ending process. A regular audit procedure will determine which portions of your campaign are working well, and which need some attention. Although it may seem lot a lot of work, following an audit checklist like this can be completed quickly if you break up the tasks over the course of a week or two.

Want more Google AdWords tips and advice? I put together an AdWords checklist to help you get your campaigns set up for success. Click here to get my complete Google AdWords checklist.