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Top 3 New Year Resolutions To Keep In PPC


2017 is off to a great start and after what was hopefully a profitable finish to 2016, it’s time to take stock of our lead generation funnels and make sure they’re optimized for the new year. We’re in a mobile-first era, and the mediums we turned to for transactional traffic have shifted, as have the signs of a transactional user. Is your account set-up for profit, or is it stuck in the past?

Here are the top three resolutions to keep when it comes to advertising online:

Resolution #1: I will have a mobile presence and account for mobile auction prices in my budget.

2016 was the year of the changing SERP and blurred the line between mobile and desktop experience. Both paid and organic channels saw the rise in mobile search market share: new ad extensions that are mobile exclusive (the price extension), Google coming out to say they index mobile sites first, and the ever-decreasing real estate given to organic listings. Add to this that mobile cost per clicks (CPC) can be more expensive (depending on industry), it’s understandable that not everyone is ready to make the full mobile plunge.

Don’t be everyone – be a winner – mobile is not a medium you can afford to stay out of.

80% of internet users use a smart-phone, and mobile exclusive internet access is on the rise.

One of the best ways to ensure your budget is capitalizing on this mobile traffic is to include bid adjustments. When Google did away with mobile preferred ads, opting instead for device agnostic format, it opened the doors for bid adjustments to have a much more prominent role in campaign and ad group structure. Bid adjustments increase or decrease the bid based on device, location, and/or time, as well as focus the budget to/away from the specified entity. By including bid adjustments, you can ensure your ads get the average placement of 1-1.5 on mobile, without forcing your desktop and tablet bids to overbid (ideal placement is between 2.5-3.5).

In addition, the ad extensions available via mobile (some exclusively), have high engagement rates (sometimes click through rates (CTR) as high as 10%). Price extensions enhance the path to conversion by leading the user directly to supplemental products/services with pricing while filtering out folks who may have clicked but would have bounced due to price. Crafting ad extensions that count on the user being on a mobile device can do more than just fill out the real estate of the ad. It will create a human connection with the prospect that helps pull them in.

Here are three easy tactics you can leverage today:

  1. Include a mobile bid modifier. This will focus your budget on mobile devices, and ensure that your bid is competitive enough to win the auction.
  2. Include a “call now” call to action in your headline one. This will ensure your ad copy works regardless of device and will engage the user.
  3. Include some degree of call tracking: AdWords has free call tracking backed into their conversion tracking tools, and there are many more sophisticated options on the market.

Resolution #2: I will have a healthy account structure and not bid against myself.

There are many PPC perspectives, and there is no one “right way” to run an account. That said, some strategies that worked years ago, are no longer viable:

The biggest risk with using an old PPC account strategy is running afoul of duplicate keywords. Duplicates keywords cause you to bid against yourself, causing one keyword to “win” at a premium while costing a potentially valuable term to get less market share. The rise of duplicates is directly correlated to two big changes:

  1. Modified broad match: A more restrictive version of broad match that requires each part of the keyword to be present in the query, although there can be keywords in between, before, and after, as well as allowing for singular/plural and misspellings.
  2. Close variants: Similar to the rule of modified broad, this ruling allows for singular, plural, slight misspellings, and ing/ed to be added to the terms. Close variant got added to phrase match and exact match keywords.

Many accounts that had accounted for these variants, now saw keywords that already had an advantage with clicks and impressions run away with the rest of the budget, while the newer keywords/less fortunate ones fall to the wayside.

The easiest way to avoid duplicate keywords, and ensure marketing spend is targeted to the right audiences is adopt a healthy account structure. Ideally, an account will have:

Resolution #3: I will write compelling expanded text ads that engage the prospect.

Ad copy is the creative breath of fresh air amidst all the numbers in online marketing. With the change from standard ads (last day to edit standard ads is January 31, 2017) to expanded text ads, the rules of engagement for ad copy changed.
The biggest area of change was the headline (used to be 25 characters) and the new format that allows us two, 30-character headlines. What this means is we now have room to be engaging and creative, as opposed to mechanical and formulaic. Take this ad promoting DUI legal services:

Rather than following the old way of being completely keyword-centric, “Boston DUI Lawyer”, this lawyer plays off the fear and anxiety of getting hit with the DUI. They then follow-up with “100% DUI Defense”, implying a track record of success to protect the prospect from facing the full brunt of the crime.

The other key element of the ad is including the price. While it’s true on mobile you can include price extensions, they only show on mobile devices and when the ad is position #1. Including some form of pricing in the ad copy (either in headline two or in the description) can increase CTR and ensure the clicks are from the right prospects.

Along with accounting for the additional real estate, you’ll want to make sure the ad extensions paired with the ads do the best possible job of enhancing the path to conversion. Now that we have this additional room for copy, we may want to think about rewriting callouts (25 character promotional statements), as well as adjusting what we use for structured snippets (categorized 25 character promotional statements). Site links should be crafted to solve objections, and/or guide the prospect to an add-on service.

Here are three easy changes you can implement today:

  1. Be interesting with your headlines and remember to include a call to action somewhere in headline one or two.
  2. Include ad group specific ad extensions so the extensions truly enhance the copy, rather than just taking up extra space.
  3. Use the paths for keyword-stuffing and use your descriptions to show off how amazing your brand is.

Any marketing resolutions you’re making this year? Share in the comments!

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