Digital advertising is a huge business driver for many companies today, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is probably the most popular form of online advertising for brands and marketing agencies. That’s because it can deliver great returns. For example, the industry average return on Google Ads is about 2:1.
Done right, PPC can also be very efficient. You only pay when someone clicks on your ads. But… when you’re paying for every click in your online advertising campaign in uncertain economic times, you want to make extra sure that your marketing spend is being used optimally.
After all, no one wants to pay for dud clicks that can’t be converted into sales for the business, right? Plus, you want to confirm that your PPC ads are driving high-value calls. If you’re mostly getting calls from people seeking directions to your nearest location or asking about your operating hours, you’re wasting revenue.
Here’s where PPC campaign optimization can help your ads become magnets for high-value clicks and calls.
The goal of any PPC ad campaign is to deliver quality leads that can be moved along the sales funnel to conversion, hopefully shortening the length of the customer journey.
Google Ads is a highly effective platform for PPC ad campaigns, as evidenced by its nearly 15% annual growth rate over the last five years. But whether you’re running paid search ads on Google or any other ad platform, you should strive to optimize PPC campaigns to achieve your marketing goals while reducing customer cost per acquisition (CPA).
The 12 best practices outlined below in our PPC optimization checklist will show you how to make the most of your PPC campaigns so you can be confident your marketing dollars are being used wisely — and driving quality inbound calls to your business.
The first step in PPC campaign optimization is to take a deep dive into the Quality Score diagnostic tool that Google Ads provides. This will help you to fully understand how your PPC ads, and the keywords you’ve assigned to your campaign, are performing.
Your Quality Score determines how highly you rank when you bid for ad position on Google. As explained on the Google Ads Help site, “A higher Quality Score means that your ad and landing page are more relevant and useful to someone searching for your keyword, compared to other advertisers.”
So, higher Quality Scores (10 is the highest, and 1 is the lowest) can translate to higher rankings in the sponsored section of search engine results pages (SERPs) — and lead to your business paying less for clicks and conversions.
You also want to understand what your competition is doing. For example: What keywords are they using in their PPC ad campaigns, and how are their ads structured? Are they using promotions or offers? Is their call to action more compelling than yours? Are they better at communicating the value of their product or service to customers than you are?
Don’t be afraid to borrow from your competitors’ playbooks if you think their tactics can increase your success.
Google and other search engines use match types to match keywords that marketers are bidding on for their paid search campaigns to the terms that their target audiences are employing in their searches.
The basic match types can be broad, exact, or a phrase. If you use the broad and phrase match types, you will typically be matched to a higher number of searches than you would by using an exact keyword match. The flip side of this approach is that some of those broad and phrase matches might be irrelevant.
You don’t always want to use exact terms, either, as that will limit your search visibility. You’ll often find that marketers who know how to optimize PPC campaigns effectively are also very selective when using match types.
If you want to follow best practices for PPC campaign optimization, you’ll want to ensure you balance the reach and relevance in your ads and ad groups. You can achieve this if your keywords match the messaging of your ads, and you’re selective with your match types.
Google Ads measures relevance as above average, average, or below average. You know you’re hitting the right notes with audiences when you have above-average or average relevance. Below-average relevance indicates your ad isn’t specific enough, and while it may be reaching many users, it isn’t resonating with your target audiences and generating clicks.
By all means, accentuate the positive when optimizing your PPC campaigns, but don’t overlook the value of using negative keywords. They can be valuable in helping you to reduce the chances of buying impressions from users who aren’t in your target audience (and thus, are less likely to buy from you, even if your ad somehow caught their eye.)
For example: If you run a bookshop, and you only sell new hardback books, you might want to consider “used books” and “paperbacks” as negative keywords. That way, your ads don’t appear when people search on those terms.
The level of buyer data available today means that marketers should be capable of better results when pinpointing their ideal buyer.
Google Ads’ ability to segment by demographics, geographics, hobbies and interests, whether they like to travel, play sports, or read books, is valuable information that can supercharge your PPC optimization. Use this data to give your target audience distinct personas for more productive ad copy and targeting of ad groups.
If you use a call tracking solution, you can also build audiences based on groups of callers. For example, you can build lookalike audiences based on high-value callers who bought your most expensive products or services.
Phone calls to your contact center are an incredibly rich source of data and insights about your customers, including why they’re interested in your products or services. Tracking phone call conversions also helps you understand why customers convert — and where their calls originated from, including from PPC ads.
Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered call tracking software from Invoca allows you to gain a more complete picture of how your PPC ad campaigns are fueling call-based sales. With Invoca, you can attribute high-value calls to specific marketing efforts. That lets you refine your spend strategy so you can channel more budget into the PPC ads driving the best results. (Invoca also integrates well with Google Ads and other digital ad platforms.)
Google Ads’ Smart Bidding feature is another valuable tool for PPC optimization. Smart Bidding weighs paid search ad bids against the revenue they generate.
Here again, call tracking solutions have been shown to help companies improve their paid search campaigns by using phone call conversion data to inform their Smart Bidding strategies. Enhanced Smart Bidding allows companies to scale the results of paid search campaigns and optimize their bids to drive more high-quality phone calls.
However good your ad copy for the initial salvo of a PPC campaign may be, you’ll be extremely lucky to get a sale on the first attempt. In fact, depending on which expert you believe, it could take as little as three or as many as 20 ad impressions before a buyer converts.
So, be patient, and move remarketing up your PPC optimization checklist. Remember: It’s easier to sell to a warm audience than a cold one.
Boost your remarketing efforts with insights from customer interactions. For example, if a customer left something in their cart on your site, send them a reminder. And, if you use Invoca’s call tracking platform, you can use insights from phone calls with the customer to remarket to them. If they didn’t buy over the phone, perhaps a super-targeted ad to them after the call will prompt them to purchase?
The effectiveness of any PPC campaign comes down to testing. Best practice dictates you create an ad, test it with a target audience, check the metrics, and then adjust the headline, links, copy (body text), and/or keywords or try something new.
For best results, constantly stay in testing mode. Your ads and bottom line will thank you for it.
Auto-tagging is a default feature of Google Ads that can help companies track offline conversions by attaching a “Google Click Identifier” parameter to your website or campaign URL. Google and other analytics programs can use the auto-tag to identify which keywords and ad campaign delivered the customer to your site.
Used alongside data generated through phone conversations, auto-tagging provides marketers with a wealth of information to create the best ad copy and keywords and develop more robust PPC campaigns.
If you use a call tracking solution like Invoca, you can also tie Google Click IDs to phone calls, so you can see full digital-to-call journeys.
The last item on our PPC optimization checklist, although certainly not the least, is to ensure your PPC campaigns are mobile-friendly. More than three-quarters of U.S. adults own a smartphone, and roughly half of all e-commerce purchases are expected to be made on mobile phones by 2024. So, if you aren’t optimizing your ads and landing pages for mobile commerce, you’re missing more than a beat.
Google has a tool to test mobile friendliness. It also offers advice on optimizing your ads for mobile, which is another key component of successful PPC campaign optimization.
Pay-per-click advertising is a terrific driver of phone leads, and most marketers are well-aware that phone leads outperform most other leads when it comes to conversions.
That’s why a focus on PPC campaign optimization should be core to your overall digital ad strategy. And with tools like Invoca’s AI-powered call tracking and conversation intelligence, you can gather vital insights directly from calls with your customers and optimize your PPC campaigns for maximum impact. That, in turn, can help you prevent wasted ad spend.
Request a personalized demo to learn more about how Invoca can help you use your marketing budget more effectively and meet your marketing goals in any economy.
Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you supercharge your PPC strategy? Check out these resources:
Download our Ultimate Guide to Reducing Wasted Marketing Spend to learn how you can lower your CPA while improving marketing campaign performance.