Impossible PPC Feats of Strength #1

By Jeff Allen | @JeffAllenUT | President at Hanapin Marketing

Reducing CPL and spend at the same time is easy. Keep the best performing keywords running and start pausing the lower performers until you’ve eliminated enough projected spend. Increasing spend while not having to worry about CPL is easy, and fun. Add keywords, increase bids, pause ads with lower CTR, etc.

But if you can increase spend AND reduce CPL you’re in the elite echelon of PPC managers! If you need to drive up cost but lower cost per lead, feel free to freak out for a moment. After you’ve done that, roll up your sleeves and get to work.  Here are a few tips that recently helped us increase a client’s monthly spend by 15% and reduce CPL by 24%.

1. Expand What Is Working

Seems obvious, but what do you do when you’ve maximized your top performing campaigns, ad groups and keywords? The answer is to take a giant leap back and try to understand why they work so well for you.  Here are some questions to ask about these top performers in order to understand why they work, and how to duplicate it.

  • Are the terms that convert best broad match, phrase or exact?
  • Is it (are they) search or display?
  • What do the campaign settings tell you?
  • Can you target the best performing keywords in an ICM or Topics campaign?
  • What’s the average position? How does it compare to other campaigns?
  • What’s the average CPC? How does it compare to other campaigns?
  • Do you have top-of-funnel keywords that drive leads/sales down the road that you have limited because the effects aren’t immediate? (See multi-channel funnel guide.)

If you notice some trends here, apply them to your other campaigns, ad groups or keywords or create some new ones that utilize what you’ve learned. A good example is creating a Display Network campaign that runs on Topics relevant to what you are advertising and uses your top performing keywords. Or increase bids on other campaigns to achieve the same average position you have for your top performers.

2. Eliminate the Impact of What Doesn’t Work

If you’re trying to increase spend, you probably can’t just pause things that cost money but historically don’t convert at goal. So you’ll have to dig a little deeper.  Here are some questions to ask about your lower performers that might help you turn them into high performers, or at least lessen the effect they have on your account.

  • Can you reduce bids, get a lower position, and still spend money?
  • Is the keywords/ads destination URL’s going to the best converting versions of your landing page?
  • Can you take monthly spend away from these campaigns and send it to higher performing campaigns?
  • Do you bid much higher for broad match keywords than their exact match counterpart? Can you bid your exact match higher and get more relevant ads in front of these search queries?
  • Do you have ads with lower CTR’s but higher conversion rates that you can send more impressions to?

The bottom line with these questions is, find ways to mitigate the affects of the poor performers without cutting out their spend. And remember that you can’t in good faith keep spending on things that aren’t working (see the next tip for more on this). But if you are learning from what you are doing, and testing new tactics you can justify keeping them running.

3. Alternate Focus Between Spend and CPL

If you have a few weeks to get your spend up and your CPL down, then alternate which you focus on each week. The first week, just focus on increasing spend. Now, it’s important that you don’t just un-pause campaigns that have never worked for you. Because you are hoping that you will learn something from the increased spend. So create a test campaign that utilizes new keywords, or different geo-targets, or reaches new networks and/or audience settings.

Basically, do something new and different to spend money so you are not just spending money; you are learning something. Then the next week, use what you learned to optimize that campaign, and your other campaigns with the goal of lowering CPL. If you have the time, alternate your goals and forth a few times.


I hope this tips help, and please feel free to leave your own tips in the comment section below. And keep a watch out for future editions of “Impossible Feats of PPC Strength!”