13 Popular PPC Campaign Tactics That Will Ruin You

By Jeff Allen | @JeffAllenUT | President at Hanapin Marketing

PPC Campaign tactics are those things account managers do at the campaign level to increase performance. This list is 13 very common tactics PPC managers use to optimize at the campaign level. Sometimes they work, but sometimes they can tank an account and leave you with some explaining to do.


1. Rest on the Laurels of Your Top Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaigns

It’s easy to always focus on your top performers. Always expanding them, counting on their conversions each month. But what happens when that one trusty campaign starts underperforming, or worse, the client asks you to shut it off because the leads it is generating convert more poorly than other PPC campaigns?


2. Create Super-Granular PPC Campaigns

I’m a nerd. I love structure. I love super tightly themed ad groups with 3-6 keywords. And I prefer campaigns to be so granular that I can target each state with specific messaging that will make my ads look like rock stars yelling to the crowd, “we love you Austin!” Only, if you do that you better have lots of money to spend. Getting to this level of granularity means each of your campaigns budgets are going to be small. And that means a few clicks each day can gobble up your budget. Having many campaigns can also prevent any one campaign from generating enough conversions to use helpful tools such as conversion optimizer.


3. Use Manual CPC Bid Type Until You Can Use Conversion Optimizer

Conversion optimizer works really well for some campaigns, and very poorly for others. Sometimes enhanced CPC works great, and I’ve even seen auto bidding create the best results. Test. Test. Test. That’s the only way you’ll figure out what works for your PPC campaigns. And remember that each campaign is unique and it shouldn’t be assumed that all the campaigns your run will perform the same with the same bidding type.


4. Once You Know What You Should Do, Do it Fast!

Yeah, if you want to take a great performing PPC campaign and send it into a downward spiral faster than you can say, “I feel this is the right thing to do,” then changing everything really fast is a great idea. However, if you have a steady account and you’d like to make some changes that you feel will make things better, maybe doing it more slowly will prevent some late night calls from a head-scratching client/boss.


5. Day Part Your Campaigns So You Don’t Show During Times You CPL is High

This can be a great strategy. We’ve all had campaigns that performed really well during business hours but not so good at night. But doing this strategy without sufficient data can land you in the unemployment line. Think about it, if you are going to decide a winner in an ad test you want to see thousands of impressions and/or hundreds of conversions. So when you day part, that means each of your 24 hours should have…thousands of impressions or hundreds of conversions. Okay, maybe you don’t need to wait that long. But pausing your ads over night because you spent $500 last week and didn’t convert isn’t really a fair sampling of what is happening.


6. Break Good Performing Ad Groups Out into Their Own Campaigns

An ad group won’t spend more money as a campaign unless the campaign that it is currently in is restricted by budget. All you do by putting it into its own campaign is make your account harder to manage, and possible worsen performance.


7. Always have a Branded and Non-branded Campaigns

Usually, this is a great idea. However if you are a small spend account you may be breaking things up too much, and risk reaching too much granularity. If your branded terms can’t really spend in their own campaign, putting them in a campaign with other top performing keywords may be the way to go.


8. Have Unique Landing Pages for Every Campaign (or Ad Group)

If you get enough traffic and have enough time to optimize a lot of landing pages, go for it. But having super relevant landing pages only helps if you can continually optimize them. I believe it was Warren Buffet who said, “Put all your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket closely.”


9. Create Separate Search and Mobile Campaigns

First, you should probably do this. Second, if your PPC campaigns are already doing awesome, do it slowly and test it out. Sometimes there is no need for this change (like if you do not have mobile optimized landing pages.) Take a look at your results, and test this slowly.


10. Best PPC Campaign Practices are… Best

Best practices in PPC are constantly evolving. If you don something that works, keep doing it. It might not be how the “experts” are telling you to do it, but maybe you’ll create the next best practice along your way to astonishing campaign performance.


11. Put Ads on “Rotate” Ad Rotation Setting

If you are proactively doing ad testing you use these feature to make sure every version of your ads gets an even amount of impressions. But if you aren’t actively testing ads (which you should be) you may get more from using the Optimize for Clicks or Optimize for Conversions settings.


12. Increasing Daily Budget to Increase Spend

If you are not limited by budget, increasing your daily budget limit will not increase spend. This seems obvious, but I heard of a recent instance of someone simply increasing budget caps in an attempt to increase spend. Check your impression share for lost impressions due to budget. If you aren’t losing any, look elsewhere for expansion/spend opportunities.


13. After the Initial Setup of a Campaign, Never Edit the Settings Again

When I review an account, the first tab I go to is the Settings tab. I usually find something there that can help performance, and that stands for when people look at the accounts I manage as well. Sometimes things slip through the cracks. Or Google or Adcenter make changes and we don’t get around to adjusting our settings to account for them.