Are you new to the world of pay per click? Or are you getting back in the game after a long hiatus? Perhaps you think of yourself as a PPC expert, but your keywords are accumulating dust bunnies, as you flicked the auto-pilot switch and let Google run the show (pro tip: this doesn’t work).
I hate to say it, but sometimes we marketers have egos a little larger than our skillsets, and we all need a little reality check once in a while.
I’ve worked with a lot of intelligent, business-savvy marketers, many of whom are running their own companies, and their success is truly awe-inspiring – yet they’re not always seeing the same success with AdWords. Whether it’s due to a lack of resources, time, or knowledge, it can be hard to identify the signs that you need help.
To run a successful business, you have to admit to yourself that you can’t do it all. Many companies have an entire team running their paid search, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of. So what are the warning signs? Let’s dive into the top 10 signs that you need help with your PPC, and how to get help!
#1: Your Account Is Disorganized
This is the number one red flag that the PPC struggle is real. Tackling a mess of an account structure can be quite the task. The funny thing is, it’s shockingly easy for PPC marketers to find themselves in a web of AdWords clutter – I see it all the time in new client accounts. So, what are the easiest ways to identify that your account structure is in need of major renovations?
- Overstuffed Ad Groups: Do you have lots of ad groups with over 25 keywords? Be careful: Having too many keywords per ad group leads to relevancy issues, and if you dig into the data you’ll most likely notice that only a handful of your keywords are generating traffic. You want to ensure your keywords match your ad copy, and if your ad groups have tons of keywords, the chances that all of those will match your ad text is slim.
- Irrelevant Groupings: This typically ties in with overstuffed ad groups, but it can go even beyond that. The structure of your account is like the foundation of a house – if it’s not set up correctly, it could have disastrous consequences. Your campaigns should have a relevant theme that ties into the ad groups, which should be grouped based on keyword semantics. Keywords should relate directly to the ad copy and landing pages that searchers are being directed to.
- A Huge Number of Campaigns and/or Ad Groups: Unless you’re a massive retailer selling
globally, your account likely does not need to have thousands of ad groups or campaigns. Accounts with too many ad groups or campaigns end up stretching their budgets far too thin, or have a bunch of junk ad groups that aren’t generating any revenue and few impressions. Your account needs to be decluttered to focus on the campaigns and ad groups that actually provide ROI.
#2: You Inherited an AdWords Account OR Have to Build One from Scratch
These two scenarios both leave the PPC employee in the same pickle: “Where do I go from here?”
If you’re inheriting an account it can be extremely challenging to understand how to make appropriate optimization decisions moving forward. You need to dig into the past history, investigate metrics like average CTR, CPA, Quality Score, impression share, and average positions to set realistic goals and understand where you are in terms of industry standards. Is conversion tracking set up? How is attribution being handled? Is there a mobile strategy in place? Unless you have support from the previous account manager, taking over an account that was already running can be extremely challenging to do alone.
Building out from scratch can leave you in a similar situation, wondering where to start. As I explained above, the way an account is structured can make or break the performance of your PPC campaigns. Creating an entirely new AdWords or Bing account requires a tremendous amount of attention to detail, not to mention a strategy for structuring, and unfortunately there’s no one right way to structure an account since each industry and company is unique.
Both of these scenarios scream HELP!
#3: Your Click-Through Rates Are Low
Did you know that the average click-through-rate (CTR) for the Search Network is 2% (according to Google)? CTR is the ratio of clicks to impressions on your ad, so a CTR of 2% means that out of 100 impressions, you got two clicks through to your site.
So if your CTR is 2%, you’re good? Well, not necessarily. The average CTR is different for every industry and business model. Plus, if 2% is average, don’t you want to be above average? CTR also varies depending on the position of your ad. As you can see in the graph below, the higher your ad rank, the higher your CTR tends to be.
Wait, why do we want high CTR’s in the first place? The higher the CTR the more you have to pay, right? Not necessarily… According to WordStream founder Larry Kim, advertisers with low CTR’s end up paying up to 400% more for fewer clicks because of the penalty for lower Quality Scores. Not only does having lower click-through rates negatively impact your Quality Score (which impacts the amount you pay per click), it also affects your impression share (how frequently Google displays your ads).
There are lots of ways to improve the CTR of your ads, from testing your ad creative to adding extensions, but if they’re low across the board, you definitely need help!
#4: You’re Responsible for Social Media, SEO, Content Marketing, etc. etc. etc.
Ah! The multiple-hat wearers! Hats off (ahem) to those employees that are able to do it all.
The problem is, many of us are not able to do it all effectively. If you’re juggling a thousand responsibilities it’s incredibly easy to shove your AdWords account in the corner. We’ve found that half of small-business marketers – the ones most likely to be extremely busy and trying to do it all – only do ad optimizations once per quarter. You let the dust accumulate until you realize you’ve wasted thousands of marketing dollars on irrelevant searches.
The thing with PPC is, you cannot set it and forget it. Many multitasking marketers end up learning this the hard way. Luckily, there are ways to save your account from neglect. If you’re able to, block off some time in your calendar each week to focus on AdWords, and create a workflow to follow and track your progress. Even 20 minutes per week can make a big difference!
#5: Your Average Keyword Quality Score Is 5 or Lower
Quality Score, the mysterious metric that everyone loves to hate. What is it exactly? It’s essentially the score of how much Google likes you on a scale of 1 to 10. You want Google to like you a lot because you’ll end up paying less for the highest positions with the most visibility.
Some known ways to improve Quality Score include improving relevancy between your keywords, ads, and landing pages, as well as achieving high CTR relative to the expected CTR at your ad position. While QS is extremely important, it’s also difficult to control and improve. If the majority of your keywords in your account have Quality Scores below 5, then Google isn’t finding your account too attractive, and you’re likely paying a lot more per click to rank below your competition. This is one scenario that 100% requires help.
#6: Your Spend Is Off the Charts (But Your Conversions Are Not)…
If you’re not seeing revenue flowing in, it’s a MAJOR issue that needs to be addressed. What’s the point of advertising at all if you’re not making a return on what you’re spending?
Could it be that AdWords simply doesn’t work for your business? I’m not buying it… Most people who think AdWords doesn’t work are making one or more mistakes:
- Are you advertising on both search and display in the same campaign?
- Are you using all broad match keywords with no negatives?
- Are you bidding during unprofitable hours of the day or days of the week?
- Are you not even tracking conversions?
So many factors can come into play, so you need help to figure out why you’re not seeing ROI with your PPC efforts.
#7: You Aren’t Sure How & When to Adjust Bids
Understanding how to set budgets and bid properly is probably one of the most challenging aspects of PPC, because it’s an auction that is constantly changing. What you’re bidding for your top converting keywords one week might not work the next week, depending on the ebb and flow of the auction. Also, how should you prioritize your budget? How much should you even be spending all together? And then how do you divide that between campaigns or between search and display?
These are common questions PPC practitioners have – it can be unpredictable whether or not you’re going to get return from your spend, so naturally marketers are nervous. I had one client that set his daily budget for a campaign at $10/day because of his nerves. One day he called me, upset, saying, “My entire budget was spent on 1 click!” I took a look at the account and saw that the keyword search that was triggered cost $10, so yes, it made sense that his budget was depleted.
Determining realistic budgets, setting and optimizing keyword bids can be a complicated process. While auto-bidding might seem like the easy way out, DON’T DO IT. Giving Google the reins isn’t always the best idea, especially when it comes to your ad spend. If you don’t believe me, check out Caleb Hutchings’ post on the five reasons automatic bidding is never a good idea.
#8: You’re Afraid to Try New Things
The most effective PPC marketers are analytical, creative, hands-on individuals who are NOT afraid to try new things. In fact, being an early adopter can have serious advantages – if you’re among the first to jump on a new AdWords feature, you can reap all the benefits of higher CTR before your competitors catch on and even the playing field.
But too often, advertisers don’t even know about new features, or worry that experimenting could tank their accounts. So, how do PPCers keep up? Well, staying informed is one way – whether it be through the official Google AdWords blog, on Twitter’s #ppcchat, or following publications like Search Engine Watch. Don’t be afraid to make changes and try new things, like the super-effective call-only campaigns, because in the long run you will benefit from staying ahead of the game.
If you are afraid to try new things or don’t have time to keep up-to-date with Google’s ever-changing landscape, then yes, you need help!
#9: You Rely on Google’s Suggestions to Optimize
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Google AdWords fan. I’ve spent tons of time in the interface, and the advertising platform they’ve build is insanely impressive. And it’s getting better with new tools and features all the time.
Yet, if you’re solely relying on the optimization tips that AdWords provides, then Houston, we’ve got a problem! No, they’re not all bad, but you will likely notice that Google’s solution is often to up your budget or bids. While this is needed at times, there are usually other things you can do to improve results, rather than simply adding more fuel to the fire. (Wait until you’re profitable to do that.)
Moral of the story, if you’re solely dependent on Google’s suggestions when optimizing, then you need help.
#10: You Don’t See the Value in Paid Search
Just read this post. That’s all.
What Now? Tips to Get the PPC Help You Need
Ok, so we’ve figured out that you need help. What’s next?
There are many options, but the trick is figuring out what’s right for you in terms of time management, resources, and your marketing budget. Here are three options to decide from.
- Help yourself! This is the most challenging option. You haven’t been able to do that thus far so why should you be able to now? If you’re able to carve out the time to really LEARN the ins and outs of paid search and continuously block time on your calendar to optimize each and every week then this could be a plausible option.
- Hire an Agency or New Employee to Take Over: This is likely the most costly, and somewhat risky option. Often clients come to us from an agency experience gone wrong. Yet, there are many great agencies out there that will take the time to actually learn your business, and run your account effectively. The struggle comes in finding the right one. The same goes for hiring a new employee to do the job.
- Do-it-Yourself with Software: This is the best option for those of you who don’t have the time to help yourself, but also don’t have the money (or faith) in handing over your account to an agency or new employee. Software can make your job much easier by automating some of the more time-consuming parts of PPC management and showing you where to start.
Still not sure if you need help or not?! Use our (newly redesigned!) AdWords Grader to get a free audit of your PPC account. Your personalized report will show you exactly how your PPC account is performing compared to other advertisers in your industry and with similar budgets, including tips to improve your weakest areas.
About the Author:
Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream with a background in PPC, SEM, content and digital marketing. Margot is passionate about writing and is also a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal and socialmediatoday.com. Margot was recently named the 25th Most Influential PPC Expert in 2015 by PPC Hero. She enjoys running, sleeping on the beach, and eating ice cream during her free time. Follow her on:
Google+: +Margot da Cunha