Most companies starting out will have to resort to paid ads to establish themselves as a brand and start receiving cash flow from day one. Other marketing strategies either require much more work or show long-term results, not something a startup can afford to bear.
PPC ads can bring fast results to your business, but they tend to cost quite a lot to run. They tend to cost a lot more if they’re not optimized, leading to wasting the marketing budget.
Showing ads to the wrong audience at the wrong time with the wrong message increases your marketing spend while providing little to no leads. To spend less on PPC ads and receive more leads, you need to analyse your campaigns’ performance and focus on what brings you closer to your goals.
This short guide will explain how to do that with different PPC campaigns and provide a handy checklist for PPC optimization you can use when launching a new campaign.
What is PPC optimization
PPC optimization is analyzing campaign performance and altering it with the goal of improving key metrics like click-through rate, conversion rate, and return on investment. The process includes finding what campaign settings perform better than the others and either removing poor performing settings from it or shifting funding towards the best performers.
With any strategy, the result should be decreasing the amount of money you spend to meet your marketing goals, whatever they may be. The exact improvements you need to make to achieve that result will heavily depend on data analytics.
While there are best practices for running PPC campaigns that you should stick to, there’s no single recipe for success regarding PPC optimization. The only way to make sure your campaign performs the best it can is to gather a lot of information on its performance and analyze it.
A PPC campaign has dozens of settings: keywords, demographics, interests, location, time, ad copy, and creatives. Analyzing conversion data lets you understand what settings perform best. With that knowledge, you can focus your marketing spend on the type of audience that is more likely to make a conversion and maximize your results.
PPC optimization checklist
Fine-tuning your PPC campaigns with data analytics is a long process that takes a lot of experimentation. If you’re looking for fast optimization results, try going through the most common mistakes. These principles are tried and tested by hundreds of PPC ad buyers, and implementing them on a poor-performing campaign may lead to an instant boost in performance.
Here’s a handy checklist for the three most important aspects of any campaign to opimize PPC.
PPC landing page optimization
- The page loads in under 2-3 seconds
- Visual elements don’t shift on the page while loading
- The page loads and performs well on both desktop and mobile
- The page has the same visual style as the ad creative and website
- The landing page contains keywords from the ad
- There’s a clear pitch above the fold
- Landing page copy fits your ad and your audience
- Copy covers all major customer pain points
- CTAs are clear and visible
- The contact form is tested to perform without issue
- Conversion tracking is set up for all converting actions
PPC keyword optimization
- Keywords are grouped for different offers or types of customers
- Ad copy contains a relevant keyword
- Ad copy corresponds to search intent
- The correct match type is set for each ad group
- A list of negative keywords is uploaded for each ad group
PPC bid optimization
- Bidding strategy is aligned with campaign goals
- Daily spending limits are set to fit within your marketing budget
- Best performing ad groups receive larger portion of the budget
- Bid adjustments are set up to prioritise best performing parameter within ad groups
- Changes are done in small increments
How to optimize PPC campaigns
The checklists above would fit any type of PPC campaign. Now let’s take a look at some best practices and optimization tips for three major PPC channels: Google display and search ads, social media ads, and Youtube video ads.
All of these channels have one thing in common. In order to optimize PPC campaigns perfectly, you need to analyze campaign performance data. So the first step in any PPC optimization routine is setting up data analytics.
Data analytics for PPC optimization
You can’t optimize PPC without understanding how different campaign settings perform. That’s why a common practice is starting your campaign with a bit more budget than you expect to spend monthly on average.
Running your PPC campaign for a month or a couple of weeks on an increased budget allows you to get a lot more traffic and clicks and record performance data. If you want to spend modestly on PPC, it may take months before you have enough data to analyze and optimize your campaign, so you end up wasting your budget.
Instead, you can spend a bit extra at the beginning to see what works and what doesn’t, optimize your campaigns to increase ROI, and then turn the daily spend down.
Before you launch the initial stage of your campaign to track data, there’s another important step you need to take — set up conversion tracking. All PPC channels have a way of monitoring conversions, and it works almost in the same way.
You set it up by generating a Google Tag Manager or Meta Pixel, embedding it on your website, and creating converting actions. When a user does that action on your page, this piece of code sends a signal to the PPC platform, and conversion is counted.
Create as many converting actions as your campaign needs. With most platforms like Meta, LinkedIn, or Google, you can create the following actions:
- Visiting a certain page
- Filling a form
- Going through checkout
- Clicking on a button (like a Caledly widget to schedule a meeting)
- Talking to a sales rep on live chat
- Downloading an asset
- Page scroll depth
When you’ve installed the conversion tracking code, test it to ensure it’s working correctly and counting all converting actions. Then, you can start running ads and gathering data.
Many marketers run paid ads on multiple channels: Google search ads, LinkedIn ads, Facebook ads, etc. This makes making sense of all the data streams much harder and doesn’t let you optimize your campaign across different channels well.
The solution is to bring all that data together and create a PPC dashboard. This can help you see all the performance data in one place and allows you to optimize PPC efforts among all channels, not just within select channels.
Coupler.io is a data automation and analytics platform that can help you with that. You can automate data export from PPC platforms you use to a data analytics solution and build a dashboard to compare performance across platforms and optimize campaigns.
If you’re not sure you have enough resources to analyze performance data yourself, Coupler.io also offers a data analytics service. Our team can build a data export solution, and handle data analysis and visualisation for you. The only thing you’re left to do as a business owner is choose what metrics to compare and decide where to focus your spending.
Google Ads PPC campaign optimization
When optimizing search ads, your main goal is to perfect three key components of the campaign: the keywords, the audience, and the ad copy.
Optimize keywords for a PPC campaign
There are several keyword match settings, ranging from serving your ads for every keyword similar to the keyword list you provide to serving them for the keywords from your keyword list exclusively. But even in the latter setting, Google may serve ads on similar keywords.
These keywords may not convert that well, so cutting them out is the first step. Look at what the conversion rate is for all the keywords your ads are shown for, and add the worst-performing ones to the exclusion list.
Optimize the audience for a PPC campaign
The audience you serve the ads to also plays a big role. You want to show ads focusing on conversions to the demographic more likely to convert. For campaigns focused on receiving traffic or growing brand recognition, it’s not as important.
Find out what types of audiences perform better by doing analytics on the campaign performance data and assign audiences to the right ad groups.
Optimize ad copy for a PPC campaign
The last major thing you have to focus on to optimize PPC is the ad copy itself. If it’s not getting as many clicks, it may not match search intent. If it does get clicks but performs poor, the landing page copy doesn’t speak to the audience that well. Make sure you’re tracking conversions within all cookie lifetime, not just immediate ones — in many cases, users don’t convert until after some market research.
Experiment with both ad and landing page copy. Stick with the ones that perform best.
When you create landing page variants, make large changes. It’s pretty rare that small changes result in significant improvements. Once you arrive at the landing page that works pretty good, you can start fine-tuning it to see if there’s a small change that can work.
Optimizing the audience is important for display ads, but there are a few things that are unique to this type of ad.
Display ads are served on websites that are part of the Google ad network. Figuring out what types of websites fit your campaign is paramount to success. Consider excluding some specific types of placement if they show poor performance during the data analysis.
Another major thing you’ll have to make within PPC optimization in your display campaign is the creatives you use. Experiment with the visuals and ad copy to see what works best. Don’t forget that ads can work differently for ad groups, and they should match the type of customer you’re targeting.
Follow the same optimization routine as with the landing page copy. Test vastly different variants and then fine-tune the one that works best.
For long-lasting brand recognition campaigns, change the creatives when the performance starts to fall. This can be due to users being accustomed to your typical ads.
Social media PPC campaign optimization tips
Whether you’re working with Meta or LinkedIn, you need to test some key settings of your ad campaigns.
Apart from standard parameters that you can find in Google Ads, like time the ads are served or age and gender of your audience, you can also track your audiences’ interests a lot more clearly.
Both Meta and LinkedIn allow you to filter audience by interests as well as demographic situation. Since these are social media, they have much more information on user behavior on the app than Google can have on its users.
Interests and behavior may correlate with conversion more than simply demographics, so finding your best audience interest is one of the first tasks of social media PPC optimization. Try serving ads to the same members of your core demographics and change interests for each ad sub-group to get more of this data.
Once you’ve gathered enough data and decided where to focus your funding, you can optimize PPC social media even further. Exclude worst-performing audiences from your campaigns. Whether it’s an age bracket, purchase behaviour, or interest in a particular topic, you can save money on each campaign by not showing ads to people who aren’t as likely to convert.
Regardless of what your optimization approach is, it’s best not to keep your ad copy in the same campaign unchanged for a long period. Social media ads are served constantly in the feed as opposed to search ads, so seeing the same picture or ad copy over and over again will tire people, and won’t be as effective with time.
If you’re seeing a perfect campaign’s conversion rate drop, try changing the creatives a bit before doing a deep dive into data analytics.
YouTube PPC optimization techniques
YouTube also gives advertisers the opportunity to target their audiences by interests in certain topics. If your goal is attracting more views from people broadly interested in something, you can try targeting topics.
Those topics can be broad, like “Automotive” or narrower, like “Motorcycles.” If your goal is driving conversions, focus on a more narrow audience and test different ones to see what works best.
To add more people to your custom audience that seems to convert, try either choosing ad placements on a specific channel that has an audience similar to yours or choosing the similar audiences setting in the admin panel. Then, analyze the interests of the best converting audiences to find areas you can focus on further.
An important thing to remember about video ads within PPC optimization is that they appear for a couple of seconds before a video a user wants to watch. So you have to be extremely good at capturing their attention. The quality of the video creative matters a lot, and it’s one of the key things you should focus on.
Develop several variants of the creative and test them on the same audiences to see which performs best.
Optimize PPC on a regular basis
There are many tips and best practices that can be followed to optimize PPC campaigns. The main thing you have to remember is that PPC optimization is not a one-and-done deal, it’s a process.
Optimization has to be an integral part of your PPC strategy. Gather performance data and analyze it for insights you can use in optimization. Whether you do deliberate experiments or just analyze everyday PPC performance, you’ll find something you can improve on.
Analyzing PPC performance is especially important as campaigns tend not to always perform at the same level. Sometimes, campaign performance will tank due to your audience developing banner blindness towards the ad creative. You must catch that early on and change the creatives to bring the performance back.
For more tips, check our guide on conducting PPC Audit.