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PPC Mistakes that Sink Beginners

*The original article can be found in ASPE’s ROI November/December 2014 Newsletter. Interested in more articles like this one? View the most current newsletter here.*

As a beginner in the world of pay per click (PPC) marketing, there are steps you must take to get up and running in a fast, efficient and effective manner. There are also things you have to avoid if you want to stay above water and continue to move in the right direction.

The good thing is just because you are a beginner now does not mean you will always be a beginner. As you spend more money on PPC, paying close attention to what is and is not working, you will gain knowledge and expertise. At some point, you will be well past the beginner stage and ready to dive into the most advanced tactics and strategies.

For those who are just getting started with PPC, there are some key mistakes that can sink your strategy before it ever has a chance to swim. Here are five mistakes that you should avoid:

Not tracking each and every detail. If you are going to spend time and money on PPC marketing, it goes without saying that you should know what is going on at all times. How are you going to stay the course if you are not tracking every detail, no matter how big or small?

Your goal is simple: track anything and everything associated with your PPC campaign. From the keywords to the cost to the conversion (and that is just the start), you need to keep a watchful eye on everything that is happening.

The more details you track the easier it is to make changes on the fly that will improve your chance of greater success the next time around.

Spending too much money during the learning phase. It is easy to believe that the more you spend on PPC the more traffic you will drive to your site. And it is also easy to believe that the more traffic you drive, the more money you will make.

Don’t get too far ahead of yourself by setting an astronomical budget during the early days and weeks of your PPC campaign. You have to experiment with a variety of strategies, learning more about what is and is not going to work.

Start with a small budget, track everything, and then ramp up when you are comfortable doing so. If you spend a lot upfront and get nothing in return, there is a good chance you will be scared away from PPC forever. You don’t want that to happen, do you?

Not realizing the key difference between click through rate (CTR) and conversions. Testing and tracking is a big part of your PPC campaign. As you do this, it is only natural to pay close attention to your CTR. This is the number of people who are clicking your ad and making their way to your website.

This is your goal, right? While a high CTR means you have created a successful ad, it does not necessarily mean you are going to be impressed with the conversation rate.

When you focus solely on the CTR you could falsely believe that your campaign is performing much better than what it is. Make sure you know how many of the people visiting your site are converting.

Traffic is good, but conversions are what really matter. Are you keeping track of both?

Getting stuck in your ways. This can happen for a number of reasons. If things are going well and your current ad is paying off in terms of CTR and conversions, you may feel compelled to stick with it for the long run. But how will you ever know if you can do better unless you try?

On the other side of things, you may not be getting the results you are after. However, you stick with an ad for one reason or another. There is a fine line between giving your campaign a chance to work and sticking it out for too long. The longer you hang around without achieving results, the more money you are throwing down the drain.

Forgetting about the power of geo-targeting. If you are using Google AdWords, for instance, the default setting is for the entire United States. If you don’t make a change, your ads are going to be targeted to people from one side of the country to the next (and everywhere in between). This may not be the end of the world if you have a product or service that is sold nationwide, but if you are a local company, such as a restaurant or service professional, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

Use geo-targeting to your advantage, especially if you want to target a specific, local audience. This will improve your chance of people in the right location seeing your ad.

Tips to Remember

These five PPC mistakes sink beginners time and time again. If you avoid these, you know you will be in a better position moving forward.

Here are a few additional tips to implement:

  • Experiment with many traffic sources, regularly comparing the results to determine which one offers the best return on investment.
  • Test, test, and test some more. You may be surprised at which ad copy yields the best results.
  • Ad scheduling can save you a lot of time, while helping you avoid mistakes (such as forgetting to turn a campaign on at a particular time of the day). Here is some more information on this direct from Google.

With the right PPC campaign in place, you could find yourself driving high quality traffic to your site on a regular basis. If you master this strategy, you will always be confident in your ability to generate traffic that converts.

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