Almost every PPC audit we run for new clients have one thing in common: basic mistakes that are costing them thousands of pounds every year. Whether they’ve been trying to manage a DIY advertising strategy and got a few things wrong or chosen an agency that doesn’t take care of the final details, the end result is the same – PPC strategies that fall short of their full potential.

There are a lot of reasons why this can happen. Even on a single platform like AdWords there are thousands of settings that can hurt your PPC profits, unless you know how to use them – before you’ve even thought about other PPC channels or what happens after a user clicks your ad.

Here are five PPC mistakes that are costing you thousands.


#1: Using the default account settings

Most advertisers make this mistake when they first start out using AdWords and many continue using a bunch of default campaign settings for years, without realising what it’s doing to their budget. However, AdWords is not ready to use out of the box and you need to review every campaign setting to make sure you have full control over your ad budget.

For example, the default setting in AdWords for every campaign is to share them between Search and Display networks. However, you should be creating and optimising separate campaigns for Search and Display and run them on the relevant network, not both.

Other default settings to look out for are: Google Search Partners, Broad Match keywords, device segmentation, Display campaigns showing in mobile applications and all kinds of other defaults that could be hurting performance and costing you money.

None of these default settings are inherently “bad” for PPC – in fact, they can get great results when used correctly – but they can cause problems if you don’t know when to use them.

Make sure you understand every setting applied to your campaigns and set your own defaults for new campaigns by using AdWords Editor – this will save you a lot of time and money.


#2: Using the wrong keyword match type

We mentioned Broad Match keywords in the previous section as this is one of the default settings that can create havoc with AdWords campaigns. Before we explain why, let’s take a look at the different match types you can use.


Broad match

This is the default keywords match type for new AdWords campaigns, which means your ad could show for spelling mistakes, synonyms, related words and other variations from the keywords you specify.

For example, using broad match on your campaigns could show your ad to users searching for “boots” rather than “shoes”.

The benefit of using Broad match is your ads will be seen by more people. The downside is users who type variations rather than the specific search term you’ve specified will be less relevant, which can impact impressions, CTRs and ad spend.


Broad match modifier

Broad match modifier is a more restrictive version of broad match, which only allows your ads to show for close variations. So while users searching for “boots” might see your ad for “brand name shoes” if you stick with broad match, they won’t see it if you use broad match modifers. However, similar variations such as “roof” and “roofer” can trigger the same ad with this keyword setting.


Phrase match

Phrase match introduces an even tighter control over the kind of variations that trigger your ads, which only happens when your keyword term is included in a search query in the exact order you specify.

So, for example, if your keyword is “second-hand cars for sale”, then your ad will only show for queries that include that exact phrase – eg: “second-hand cars for sale in Manchester” or “find second-hand cars for sale in my area”.

The word order must be exactly the same and no variations like “used cars” are eligible.


Exact match

Exact match is the most restrictive keyword match type, which only shows your ad for the exact search term you specify or close variants. In this case, the meaning of your keyword should remain intact although variations of prepositions, conjunctions, articles and other “function” words can be different.

For example, if your keyword is “men’s trousers” your ad could still show for “trousers for men” using exact match but not “jeans for men”.


So why is keyword match type so important when the difference between each setting seems so minor? Well, imagine you’re running an ad for a sale on men’s trousers but your promotion doesn’t include jeans. If you use broad match and people searching for jeans click your ad, they’re going to be disappointed when they can’t find what they’re looking for. You’re going to pay for clicks that’ll never convert, hurt your conversion rate, increase bounce rates and end all kinds of performance metrics n the wrong direction – above all profit.


#3: Misfiring with your targeting options

AdWords and Facebook both come with rich targeting options to help you make sure your ads get seen by the right people. Fail to make the most of these settings and your ads are going to be seen by a lot of people with no interest in what you’re selling – which means poor CTRs, lower Quality/Relevance Scores, more expensive ads and the risk of paying for clicks that have no conversion potential.

None of that is good for your budget but it will waste a lot of valuable time.

There’s no getting away from it: if you want to make things happen with Pay-Per-Click, you need to master the targeting options on your chosen networks. Most PPC campaigns will benefit from a basic targeting mix of location, ad scheduling and demographics (age, gender, household income, etc) options. If your product is geared towards working mothers aged 35-50 in the UK, you probably don’t want teenagers in the Maldives seeing your ad.

You can also use targeting to reach people on specific devices and optimise campaigns for mobile, tablet and desktop. Or use contextual targeting to reach people with display ads as they browse websites related to your products/services. You also have remarketing to reach people who have previously visited your site and behavioural targeting options that help you craft messages based on user actions – plus a whole lot more.

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to PPC targeting options but the more you know, the better you’ll be able to hone in on specific audiences with a high chance of converting. The less you know, the more budget you’ll be wasting on clicks and leads that never materialise.


#4: Crappy landing pages, sales funnels and user experiences

The goal with Pay-Per-Click is to generate valuable leads with a high chance of buying but no PPC strategy is going to close those deals for you. You need to do this yourself with landing pages that convert users on the spot, sales funnels that guide leads through the remaining steps of the buying process and user experience that make it a pleasure to buy from you.

Too many advertisers pump all their time and resources into creating ads and fail to create landing pages that turn clicks into buys. This leaves you with a high cost-low profit PPC strategy that puts you deeper in the red than any advertiser wants to go – bad news all round.

Ad clicks are no good to you unless you can convert them after they land on your website. In fact, they’re worse than that because each one of them costs you money and every failed conversion hurts your profits a little more. Compelling ads and smart targeting is a great way to maximise your PPC leads but you need to convert them if you’re going to make more money than you spend.


#5: Only aiming for one conversion

For some users, your PPC strategy will go perfectly to plan and they’ll convert without much resistance. Others will need more convincing and you’ll have to invest more time and budget into pushing them over the finish line. There will also be some that never convert, no matter what you do – simply part of the advertising game.

Either way, every lead your PPC strategy converts costs you time, money and other resources. First-time buyers are the most expensive users to convert but your existing customers are something else entirely. They’re more likely to buy again than new leads, generally take less convincing and you already a bunch of insights on them to help you turn them into repeat buyers.

Aside from this, you’ve already invested resources into converting them one time around and it only makes sense to maximise your ROI. Luckily, AdWords and Facebook both offer a range of targeting features specifically designed to help you convert your existing customers and use their data to reach new leads while you’re at it.

Take a look at AdWords similar audiences and Facebook lookalike audiences for more info on these features.


If you think your PPC efforts are falling short of their full potential, get in touch with our team of advertising experts for an audit and advice on what you need to do next. Simply fill out the contact form below, reach out to us on social media or give us a call to speak to us directly.