My Top 5 PPC Mistakes

By Diane Anselmo | @diane_anselmo | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing

Having been in the PPC industry for over 12 years, I’ve had the unique experience of learning and growing at almost the same pace at which the industry has developed. In a way, that has provided me with many advantages. I had access to some of the brightest minds in the search industry and was able to grow my accounts at almost the same rate as my competitors. There was very little “catch-up” time needed because I was introduced to products and features at the same time the entire industry was.


However, being in that position also left me open to making mistakes, as there was much less blog content and people in the industry to learn from as there is today. With that said, I have made my fair share of mistakes along the way–and of course still do. I’d like to share some of my mistakes from the past–and recent–with others so that they can avoid suffering through them themselves!


Search Funnel Analysis (aka: How Not Analyzing The Search Funnel Reports Led Me To Pause Keywords That Were Working)


A few months back, I was working on an account that was broken out by product. When looking at the account product by product, it seemed that some products were performing so poorly that the best approach would be to cease marketing on them until a new strategy could be developed. Conversely, the company’s brand name (the company’s actual name) terms were doing phenomenal – ridiculously phenomenal.


With the goal of keeping the account as lean as possible, the client wanted to pause all the campaigns that weren’t profitable and only run campaigns that were currently profitable. Upon taking such action, we quickly noticed that the company’s brand name terms were no longer performing the way that they previously did. It took some digging, but the answer was crystal clear. The campaigns that weren’t generating any revenue were actually assisting in the process.


Image of assisted conversions
Assisted conversions


When viewing the search funnel report, it became clear that many users first visited a product page, but when they were ready to come back and purchase, they came in through the company’s brand name terms. That explained why the brand terms were doing so well, and the product terms appeared to be suffering. Once we brought back all of the keywords that were assisting in the process, we noticed that the company’s brand terms were performing well again. From that point on, reviewing the search funnel reports became a regular part of my week.


Missing The Obvious (aka: There Is No Excuse For Missing Ad Extensions)


This mistake is usually the result of simply not having enough hours in the day to keep tabs on every aspect of the account. However, you never want to miss out on any free real estate that the search engines are giving away! After missing out on implementing ad extensions several times in previous accounts, I now make it a priority to audit every account to ensure that all relevant ad extensions have been added. If they’re not there, I devise a plan to get them uploaded as soon as possible.


The Importance of Campaign Settings (aka: The Whole World Does Not Want To See My PPC Ads)


The first time I created a dynamic remarketing campaign on Google, I was so excited. I was looking forward to great CTRs, strong conversion rates, and increased revenue. Initially, I was excited to see how quickly the traffic was coming in. However, after a few days with no conversions, I took a deeper look and noticed that the campaign settings were set to target the whole world! My client only ships within the United States, so this was all wasted ad spend. Thankfully, we caught it quickly and learned to check and recheck all campaign settings every time a new campaign is created.


Image of location targeting
AdWords location targeting


International Love (aka: Hire A Translator Or Your International Ads Might Be Offensive)


A few years back, I was tasked with building out search campaigns for international campaigns in a language I didn’t speak or write. Using online translation tools and a few friends who spoke the language, I was able to write ad copy that I thought would be effective. Upon launching, I learned that it was more offensive than effective.


The lesson learned is that an online translation tool can’t possibly address different dialects as well as the different terminology other cultures use. The only way to have a shot at getting this done properly is to work with a translator who has a deep understanding of the language and the culture. So now, any time I’m asked about creating an international campaign, the first thing I do is make sure that the proper translation resources are available.


Mobile? Really?! (aka: Your Mobile Users Don’t Want To Fill Out 30 Form Fields)


There’s no question about it – mobile advertising is getting bigger and bigger each year. As more and more advertisers excitedly want to expand their mobile campaigns, it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement and simply move their desktop experience over to mobile. But what do you do when your client has a user experience that works best over desktop? I can tell you what not to do. Do not take the easy way out and try and move that same experience over to mobile.


All you’ll do is waste valuable marketing dollars and set yourself back in your mobile marketing efforts. Rather, discuss the challenges with bringing the desktop experience over to mobile and come up with a strategy that you believe will work best. If your client has a form with 30 fields on it, come up with a shorter form that can be used on mobile. This may require internal changes on the backend, but it will be well worth it once you start taking advantage of all the mobile traffic that you’re currently missing.


Final Thoughts


The list goes on from here, as there are always going to be mistakes made in our PPC efforts. The important theme with each mistake is that I learned something and became a better marketer for it. I’ve devised new plans and strategies to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and frequently read up on industry content to learn from the mistakes of others.


Now that I’ve come clean on my mistakes, I’d love to learn from yours. If you’ve got a PPC mistake that you’d like to share, please leave a comment below!