Tightening the faucet on a Google Ads/Microsoft Advertising campaign is one of the most laborious tasks to perform as a marketing professional. They require constant maintenance and tweaks on a frequent basis, and each set of incoming data presents new opportunities to revise and tune your overall performance.
Of course, there are some obvious fundamentals that must not be ignored such as well constructed ad creatives, effective copywriting and relevant keywords. In this instance, we are going to assume those are already a given, as we want to highlight the not-so-obvious tactics that can be actioned in order to give the average PPC campaign a considerable boost in clicks and conversions.
1. Implement negative keywords
Perhaps not a secret, but negative keywords are the first step toward a buttoned-up account. There will always be irrelevant phrases that arise, so it must not be neglected for any stretch of time.
A daily review would involve checking the previous days’ search terms (not to be confused with keywords, which are simply the phrases we want to trigger the ads for), identify what was clicked and if it was a relevant term we want to remain visible for.
If, for any reason, the nature of the search intent is not a match (competitor, research etc.) we can add them to the negative keyword list in order to ensure our ads will never appear for those terms anymore.
2. Cull underperforming keywords
Presuming the conversion pixel is activated and firing correctly, we should be able to gauge what keywords are bringing in the highest amount of conversions or goals (whatever action that may be).
Based on conversion rate, we can easily determine what keywords should stay, and which ones need to be removed.
This method does require a great deal of data to utilize effectively, as rudimentary stages of data collection may produce false negatives and prematurely stun an otherwise productive set of terms. Greater amounts of spend may collapse this timeline, however it would still be wise to stretch the campaign as far out as possible in order to analyze the campaign over all seasons and phases of the sales/marketing cycle.
3. Deduce the optimal conditions
After running any campaign for a while, it becomes apparent which days, times and demographics are contributing the most amount of conversions.
Depending on the customer base, most conversions begin to roll in at certain times and dry up after others. Certain days may or may not perform better than others. The same can be said for certain age ranges.
Turning off your ads for the underperforming days, hours and audience is a no-brainer and a simple way to improve your conversion rates and reallocate budgets for better results.
4. Leverage AI
Going beyond customer patterns: there are data insights that are not obvious from any amount of manual analysis. This is where software comes in.
Apps that can analyze large amounts of data instantly and reveal interesting and valuable information about how a campaign is performing and where there is room for growth are absolutely integral to ensure optimization to the max.
Tools such as Adalysis, Opteo, TrueClicks and Narrative are ideal options to explore, and do not require large or binding investments. They provide significant levels of value, and at the very least can act as a last buffer to guarantee all that can be done is being done correctly and diligently.
5. Prevent click fraud
Spam isn’t limited to email and phone calls. The nature of PPC makes it an easy target to exploit. Whether it be in the form of direct competition, robots or other forms of sabotage – there are many clicks that are fraudulent in nature and should not be written off as the cost of doing business.
Experts estimate approximately 10-20% of all clicks are not legitimate, and with the proper reporting, can be rescinded and prevented through IP tracking and VPN detection.
There are many tools out there which provide this service (ClickCease, PPC Shield and ClickGuard to name a few), but the important thing is to have something in place to ensure you can be compensated for any fraudulent clicks that slip through the cracks. It is a necessity.
6. Avoid native recommendations
Google and Microsoft boast advanced advertising systems which can assist you in generating a positive ROI for your campaigns. Their motive is simple: if you are profiting, so are they (through your continued efforts and spend).
What seems unrefined, however, is their recommendation prompts. Most of the time, they simply suggest a heavy increase in budget, no matter what the number currently stands at. At other times, they opt for the re-inclusion of negative keywords. AI can only do so much, but I would expect more from such large advertising & data-driven corporations.
Perhaps what is most disconcerting, is the account representatives who aggressively attempt to have these recommendations implemented. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a performance bonus tied to such actions, as it’s clear no account manager actually has your best interest at heart. Do not take their call.
Optimization is always an iterative process. And it goes without saying that the more data you have to work with, the easier it is to gather actionable insights. Alas, it comes at a (literal) cost. The tradeoff, however, is absolutely worth it. Any spend you make today should more than pay for itself over the long term horizon, if you are resolutely committed to the outcome.