3 Ways to Qualify PPC Leads: Balancing Quality with Quantity


In PPC we often run into the word “quality.” Google’s Quality Score has definitely received plenty of attention over the past few years, but whose quality is it measuring? According to Google, Quality Score measures quality for the searcher, advertiser, and the search engine.

Quality Score is great and can help you get your account healthy, but it probably doesn’t mean anything to your business leaders. If your job is to drive “qualified leads,” Google doesn’t get to define quality for your business—the business does. To your business, "quality" probably means more profit or higher revenue.

Not only does the business want quality leads, the business wants hundreds or thousands of them, so our job is always a balancing act between quality and volume.

Fortunately, we PPCers have several tools at our disposal for qualifying clicks, which hopefully turn into more qualified leads. Most of these tools are methods for exercising more control on your PPC campaigns. This means being more intentional and proactive with your ad spend by getting more granular with your account structure.

We use tightly themed ad groups, geo-targeted campaigns, day-parting, device-targeted campaigns, network-targeted campaigns, and match types all so we can bid differently on the same keywords across multiple attributes and control the conversion-path experience (i.e., the landing page).

Today, I want to talk specifically about three techniques for qualifying leads: qualifying ad copy, negative keywords, and landing pages.

1. Use Qualifying Ad Copy

Warning: Quality Score may suffer! Depending on your business, you may need to branch out into a less than targeted space. Maybe you offer a niche product or service. While you work hard to create a new category of service, people are still going to search for what they know. There’s nothing wrong with casting your net into these markets, but you need to use the right net.

Pretending to match the customer’s intent exactly may get you more clicks and a higher Quality Score, but probably will result is a less qualified lead. What you need is qualifying ad copy—something that will get you more qualified clicks.

For example, U-Pack Moving is a self-moving company, and while we do get a fair amount of traffic from people looking for self-moving, there are a lot more people searching for what they know best—truck rental.

In order to reach these potential customers, we use ad copy that qualifies the click. Instead of saying “U-Pack Truck Rental,” which would get more clicks, we use “Truck Rental Comparison” or some similar variation. People who click on the “Truck Rental Comparison” ad are more qualified, because they are open to using a truck rental alternative. They won’t automatically bounce when they see that we don’t rent trucks.

Using qualifying ad copy results in a much higher conversion rate than we would get with an ad that matched the user intent more closely. It allows us to broaden our reach into markets where our potential customers are searching for related services, and is especially helpful for high-search-volume terms.

2. Filter Out Unqualified Leads with Negative Keywords

The use of negative keywords for qualifying leads is obvious and necessary when you are casting a wide net with broad and phrase match keywords. Pay attention to your search query report and regularly take action.

Eliminating irrelevant impressions and clicks will result in higher click-through rates (CTR), higher conversion rates, lower costs per click (CPC), and help ensure that you are reaching your intended audience (a more qualified audience). The more negative keywords you add, the more qualified your clicks should get, which of course leads to more qualified PPC leads.

3. Qualify Leads with Landing Pages

Using your landing pages appropriately may be the best way to qualify your PPC leads, but you need to be careful because once a prospect is on the landing page, you’ve already spent money on the click. You can’t make the landing page experience so painful that only the most qualified leads make it through the process. You need to be smart and test, test, test.

One thing that we do at U-Pack is include an opt-in email field. When a prospect gives us their email address willingly, they are much more likely to become our customer. This is one of many post-click signals that help us qualify our leads. Again this is a balancing act between more quantity and quality. We could require everyone to provide their email address (we used to) and the leads would be more qualified, but we would lose the less-qualified, but still valuable, leads.

Landing pages are also a great place to allow for user self-segmentation. By offering a few different conversion paths, you can get a much better understanding of your prospects needs. At U-Pack we have checkboxes on our free quote form asking if you need storage with your move or maybe help with the loading and unloading. All of these signals can be associated with the quality of the lead.

Enjoy the balancing act between quality and quantity and remember that quality should be closer to the metrics that matter to your business (sales and profit) and not necessarily what Google calls quality. The appropriate use of ad copy, negative keywords, and landing pages can help you maximize quality PPC leads.

Chad Summerhillby Chad Summerhill, author of the blog PPC Prospector, provider of free PPC tools and PPC tutorials, and AdWords Specialist at Moving Solutions, Inc. (UPack.com and MoveBuilder.com).

Follow Chad on Twitter at @ChadSummerhill.

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Alan Mitchell
Jun 29, 2011

Excellent post Chad, You're spot on about using keywords, ads, and landing pages to qualify visitors and improve the number of (high quality) conversions. Though I'm still trying to decide how ad copy can be best used for qualifying visitors to achieve the desired balance between quality and quantity. Cheers, Alan

Andy Klein
Jun 30, 2011

Thanks for the post Chad. I've often wondered about the dilemma posed in point one, specifically that by trying to qualify leads through ad copy, QS may suffer. Are we aware of any case studies on this topic that quantify decrease in QS (and therefore higher CPC) versus increase in ROI (supposedly from a greater percentage of qualified leads)?

Also, an aside on the "Truck Rental Comparison" headline: if I'd done a search for truck rentals, I'd interpret that headline to mean that you offer a comparison of truck rental rates from other businesses. Perhaps the body copy of your ads clarify this further, but I actually find it to be no more clear.

jelly andrews
Feb 06, 2013

Nice post! Thanks for sharing this useful piece of information. This is really interesting.

Candy Smith
Mar 28, 2013

Oh! It is nice to know this information. This is pretty interesting. Thanks for sharing something like this. Great posting!

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