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The beginning of the year is a great time to take an in-depth look into your pay-per-click (PPC) accounts and assess its architecture. Much like an annual checkup with a doctor, it’s important to review every component of your account at least once per year. While most marketers make regular optimizations to their campaigns and habitually analyze statistics, some get tunnel vision and forget to look at the whole picture. In doing this, they run the risk of losing out on valuable traffic or missing inefficiencies that damage ROI.
Now I recognize that this time of year can be very hectic for marketers. With enterprise level account objectives, it may be impossible to carve out the time needed to go through every campaign component. However, there are a few things every PPC marketer should do on an annual basis to get the most out of their accounts, which I’ve listed below.
Review Negative Keywords
Negative Keywords are great for preventing searchers with little or no value from seeing your ads, clicking them, and consuming your clicks budget. Yet as goals change, your products and services evolve, and your sales abilities grow, some of these negative keywords can actually become detrimental to the performance of your campaign.
Consequently, I strongly recommend reviewing all of the negative keywords in your account once or twice per year to see if they make sense. You might find that you’ve been excluding something that you now offer like free shipping. Perhaps you’re blocking a geo modifier (town, zip code, state, etc) that’s now within your sales team’s territory. There are lots of keyword phrases that could have been added for good reason a long time ago and no longer make sense to block. Delete these keywords and move on. You can always add them back in later if they create a problem.
Review Ad Copy
It’s likely that you’ve made a point to run various promotions throughout the year. PPC ad copy is great for highlighting them. However, the hurdle with running different promotions throughout the year is that it necessitates having a lot of ad copy. The more ad copy you have, the easier it is to lose track of what’s being put in front of searchers. For this reason, I recommend reviewing all of the active ads in your account to make sure that there isn’t anything being communicated to your potential customers that is no longer relevant to them. Perhaps it’s a random Independence Day ad lurking in your account. Maybe it’s a Fall Closeout Sale ad still receiving impressions. Whatever the case may be, spend some time looking for these rogue ads so that they don’t come back to haunt you.
Examine Your Landing Pages
My next point ties directly into what I said regarding ad copy above. There may be pieces of content such as text, video, or photos that are no longer relevant to your marketing efforts. These items can create confusion for both visitors to your landing page and the representatives from your company trying to help them.
I’ve found that one of the most common items left on landing pages long after its relevant is pricing information. If you’re a business that changes its prices throughout the year, it’s essential that you stay on top of what your landing pages are communicating to prospective customers.
Although some customers might not be bothered by these discrepancies, it’s better to be cautious than to assume that they won’t care/notice. Make a point to add some fine print to your pricing information that communicates when the prices are no longer valid like an expiration date. Although, you might end up looking sloppy by having these items on your landing pages long after they are invalidated, at least you won’t be caught in situations where you’re debating pricing with your potential clients.
Check Ad Schedules
Ad scheduling is an awesome feature that’s designed to control which days and times your ads can be seen by searchers. Of course, we all know that consumer patterns evolve and business goals and capabilities change. It’s good to review your site traffic and phone call logs to see which hours and days are most active for your business. Crosschecking that information with your ad schedules may reveal missed opportunities or inefficiencies that can easily be corrected by making adjustments. Keep in mind that if aggressive ad schedules have been in place for some time, your PPC data will be skewed. I recommend looking at your site traffic as a whole (organic, social, direct, etc) using a tool like Google Analytics, to identify any new patterns.
Look For New Features That Haven’t Been Utilized
Google Adwords has been excellent when it comes to adding new features that help advertisers get the most out of their accounts. While sluggish several years ago, the Bing Advertising team has made significant strides this year to add new features and improve their product as well. There are dozens opportunities on both platforms to develop your account. I recommend devoting some time to researching the new features Google & Bing have added to their platforms throughout the year. You may find that there are some things that make a lot of sense for your business to utilize. This year, for example, I found that taking advantage of Dynamic Search Ads really helped improve my account click-through rates (sometimes double what I was getting before) and drove new traffic that I otherwise may have missed.
Do/Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
I’m tempted to conclude by telling you that you can waste a lot of time by honing in on minor components of your accounts with the suggestions I listed above. Yet, there could be something as simple a single negative keyword that’s keeping you from doubling your ROI. You as the marketer must make a judgment call on how you spend your time. Being the primary account manager, no one beside yourself has a better idea of how to effectively review your account. Keep this, along with the bigger picture of your marketing goals, in mind as you proceed in reviewing your account. Use your time wisely, trust your gut, and good luck in 2015.