Make More With Less: The Secrets To Maximizing Your PPC Budget
Few things are more frustrating for a business than pouring countless dollars into Google Ads campaigns without getting the desired results. That’s, after all, a common reason why companies seek out our expert Nowspeed team….
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Few things are more frustrating for a business than pouring countless dollars into Google Ads campaigns without getting the desired results. That’s, after all, a common reason why companies seek out our expert Nowspeed team. It really does take years of experience to understand the ins and outs of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which, when leveraged correctly, is a major lead generator.
But how do you generate the right leads without spending a fortune? Are you making the most of elements like Google’s extensive settings, optimizers, and customizable features in your day-to-day monitoring to maximize the impact of your PPC budget?
In this post, we’ll share 10 cost-saving tips that can help you make more with less.
10 ways to create a cost-effective PPC budget
Geo-targeting: Don’t overlook this factor
It‘s as simple as this. Only focus on the regions where you are interested in selling or have dedicated sales support. Otherwise, you will waste impressions, clicks, and ultimately dollars on non-targeted areas.
For example, a real-estate vendor shifted from targeting the US to more specific geographic areas, and while click-through-rates and conversion rates remained stable, the total number of sales increased by over 250%.
Google offers customizable location-targeting that allows for country, state, and even city segmentation, filtered by IP addresses. By leveraging this feature, you‘ll ensure that your ad is only shown to people who are located in your targeted areas.
Keep an eye on: Users ‘in’ vs. users ‘in or interested in’
But here’s an important tidbit to keep in mind. Targeting users “in” is not the same as going after users “in or interested in.” Confusing the two can be very costly.
As we explained in the post, “The PPC Mistakes Companies Make All Too Often”:
Targeting users “in” the United States will limit the scope of the ads to its geographical area. But, if the setting says “in or interested in,” someone in another country could see your ads if they, for example, search for “digital marketing agency in the USA” since they are “interested in” the United States although not located here. Unless you aim to target users in other countries, the cost can quickly add up before you realize the error (an analysis of the user location reports can reveal the issue).
This issue can also do a number on your reporting unless you know what to look for. The Geo feature includes two reports that, respectively, show the following: 1) results for the locations that you targeted and 2) where users are actually located. For an accurate read when you’re targeting “in or interested in USA,” you must look at both reports since just checking results for the locations will be deceiving.
Ad scheduling: Does your audience work the night shift?
Chances are, your target audience is more engaged and of higher quality during certain times of day. If you are focused on B2B buyers, they are probably more focused between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m, when they are in front of a computer, conducting research. Utilize your CRM system and compare time of day to quality leads. Limit your ads to run only during this time and you will maximize your budget at those times that lead to quality conversions.
Remember to include coverage for other time zones as well.
After you make this change, compare the leads from before and after to see if it had a positive impact. Chances are the quality will be higher.
Targeted keywords: How to get it just right
Most programs make one of two mistakes. Either they include too few keywords or too many. If you don‘t have enough, you run the risk of missing relevant traffic or lower-cost clicks. But if you have too many, you may be getting clicks that don‘t produce quality results. Narrow down your keyword list to only include those that are highly relevant to your business. This includes industry keywords and acronyms.
Here are some examples of general keywords compared to targeted ones:
- Franchise vs. Coffee Franchise. You may assume that someone interested in opening a franchise is interested in a coffee franchise, but that might not be the case. And you may also assume that if someone isn‘t interested in coffee franchisees, that they won‘t click on your ad – but limited ad copy isn‘t always enough to cohesively convey your message, and you will still be wasting impressions.
- SLM vs. Non-Acronym Version. In network management, SLM stands for service level management. But it also stands for Sallie Mae, Sound and Light Machine and many other highly irrelevant searches. Monitor your acronyms and ensure they‘re providing relevant clicks. Again, don‘t solely rely on ad copy as a qualifier.
Take out those keywords that have very high impressions, low click-through rates, and high cost/conversions. Also, visit Google‘s Keyword tool to identify keywords that could be stronger performers for your program.
Strategic bidding: This requires some serious thought
This article by Google offers some solid advice on strategic bidding. The most important takeaways are as follow:
- Use manual cost per click (CPC) to have the most control over specific bids, but lean into algorithmic bidding if you can to take advantage of Google’s improved machine learning.
- Try to use conversion-based smart bidding if you have enough conversion data per Google’s recommendation (30 conversions in the last 30 days)
- Start with maximizing conversions and use Target CPA if you have a specific cost per acquisition as a hard goal.
Negative keywords: A great way to get positive results
Negative keywords are a great way to exclude irrelevant clicks and wasted dollars.
Say you are in the business of Application Performance Management and you compete with CA Wily. You decide you want your ad to be triggered by keywords “CA Wily” and “wily.” Suddenly, impressions increase by over 100,000 and your click-through rate is nearly nonexistent. What happened?
Wily will trigger your ad for searches such as:
- Free Wily – A great family adventure movie featuring a young boy who befriends a whale.
- Wily Cycles – A race team located in Boulder, Colorado.
- Wily Coyote – A disgruntled coyote whose life goal is to catch a devious Road Runner.
And, clearly, none of these keyword searches are relevant to CA or Application Performance Management.
Use the search query report to identify any keywords that trigger your ad but are not relevant to your business and include negative keywords to prevent your ad from showing, such as “free,” “coyote,” “cycles,” etc. Exclude irrelevant clicks and wasted dollars by utilizing negative keyword
Match type: Going narrow, going wide
Broad match keywords will sometimes trigger your ad for an unrelated search term. Consider the keyword, “Application Architecture,” as an example, which simply defined is the design and development of software. Below are examples of how broad, phrase, and exact matching will alter this keyword in searches:
1) Broad match: application architecture
- Computer Application for Architecture Design
- Web Application to earn degree in Architecture
2) Phrase match: application architecture
- Degree in Application Architecture
- Jobs in Application Architecture
- Exact Match: Application Architecture
- Application Architecture
Utilize phrase and exact match, with a combination of negative keywords (jobs), to ensure you‘re only showing up for relevant searches.
Strategically aligned keywords: Let’s all sing the same song
You already know it all comes down to your offer. If prospects aren‘t interested in your white paper, webcast, or sales-focused product datasheet, they won‘t click on your ads. However, if your message is not aligned throughout your keywords, ad copy and landing page, prospects might skim your ad, think they‘re interested enough to click, but get to your landing page and realize they‘re not, wasting your budget.
Guess which ad came out on top?
Here is a brief example: You are in the business of data storage and your offer is a best-practice white paper on backing up virtualized servers. You launch two ad tests targeting the keywords “virtual server backup”. One ad uses “Virtual Server Backup” in multiple ad copy headlines and descriptions, and sends to the white paper landing page where the headline reads “Everything You Need to Know About Backing Up Virtualized Servers”.
The second ad uses more general messaging, highlighting the company brand name in the ad copy, and directs to the home page of the website where the user can click a large banner that says “Read our Latest Whitepaper“.
Unsurprisingly, the first ad receives a higher quality score due to the targeted keywords included in the ad copy and the landing page. This results in higher ad positions, lower costs-per-click, and better CTR and conversion rate metrics. Without directly mentioned virtual server backup in the ad copy or landing page, the second ad has considerably worse performance. This example demonstrates the difference between well-aligned keywords, ad copy, and landing pages and the impact on results.
Site exclusions: Stay strong by staying relevant
If you are running a campaign on the Google Display Network, it‘s not uncommon for your ads to show up on irrelevant sites. Even with specifically targeted audiences, Google may still show on poor quality or irrelevant placements”
Sometimes Google assumes one site may be relevant, but it‘s not. For example, “Application Architecture” might show up on sites related to building architecture.
Be sure to run Google‘s placement report every few weeks and eliminate irrelevant clicks and impressions by removing your ads from sites with low business-relevancy. Google also gives you the option to remove your ads from all error pages, parked domains, sites with user-generated content, video content, edgy content, etc.
Conversion tracking: The landing page miracle
The best way to track performance and success is through conversion tracking. Implement conversion tracking on ALL thank you pages so you can understand which keywords, ads, and landing pages are driving the highest number of leads. For example, a high-tech software vendor whose destination URL went to their homepage saw a 0.45% click-through-rate, 1.36% conversion rate and spent $179 per conversion. Upon creating a dedicated landing page and implementing conversion tracking on the associated thank you page, the same program saw a 1.64% click-through-rate, 7.81% conversion rate and a decrease to $52 per conversion.
Google Analytics can also be linked to your Google Ads campaigns for additional tracking. Possible metrics include time on site, pages/visit, bounce rate and greater insight into which keywords are driving traffic to your site. And if possible, link your CRM system to Google Ads so you can measure quality.
Outsource: Yes, we can help!
Finally, pay-per-click management requires daily monitoring and optimization. If you don‘t have the resources to devote to your PPC monitoring every day, don‘t be afraid to hire experts who are trained in optimization and management. Contact us to get started.