How to generate hyper-targeted leads with PPC search ads


Date: 28 March 2024

Google Ads offers a user the chance to choose their PPC keywords

We've all seen adverts online, they appear everywhere and many people are fed up with adverts that seem to follow them around the web. However, while image and banner ads are good for brand awareness, they're not what we are looking at in this article.

When most of us search for a service or a solution to a problem, we click on search-based ads, rather than organic search results. This is partly because Google and Microsoft devote the top half of every search results page to paid ads, but also because the best-crafted ads offer a compelling solution to our searches. This guide explains why PPC search advertising is such a great solution for targeted, high-converting lead generation.

What is PPC search advertising?

PPC (pay-per-click) search ads are exactly what they sound. They are online adverts that the advertiser pays for every time the ad is clicked. These are ads that should only show when a potential customer searches with 'trigger' phrases that you have selected. At least, that's the theory.

Over the last couple of years, changes to Google Ads and Bing (Microsoft) Ads keyword targeting and algorithms mean that you have to check that your ads only show for the searches you intended, and not the ones you didn't.

Why targeting carefully and excluding keywords is key

For PPC advertising to make economic sense, the result of the click, that is the value of the services the advertiser sells, should be much greater than the cost of the click to the advertiser. Otherwise, your PPC marketing will be costing you more than you make in revenue or profit.

This means you must choose wisely when it comes to keyword selection, both positive and negative, and keyword match types.

You should consider:

Keyword selection – this simply means the keywords, and more importantly strings of keywords (phrases) you use to target and block searches. Positive keywords - are those you want the ads to show for.

Negative keywords - are the phrases and words you don't want your ads to show for. Match types - are used to control how tightly relevant the keywords you're using are to the searches customers make. These used to be simple, with exact match, phrase match and broad match doing pretty much what their name suggested i.e. exact would only show for the exact keywords you chose, phrase use to show if your phase appeared in the search, broad used to show for synonyms and close meaning words. However, this has all changed, significantly:

  • Exact match – according to Google, this behaves in the same what that phrase match used to with synonyms included. However, this means "accountancy services" might show for "bookkeeping services". Ask yourself whether that is what you'd expect.
  • Phrase match – Google says this will show for phrases with additional words or synonyms. In reality, it's much broader than that. So, "mortgage broker in London" could show for "XYZ mortgages limited", just because they're a mortgage broker in London. Would these results help you get leads?
  • Broad match – in reality, these were always too broad and were a waste of money. For example, "business accountancy services" your ad might show up for totally unrelated searches like "accounting jobs" or "government gateway accounting service". Are these what you want to get clicks for?

Here are the five best ways to ensure your ads aren't wasting your marketing budget on irrelevant searches and clicks:

1. Ensure precise keyword relevance:

Make sure you carry out detailed keyword research for your services and customer types. Your positive keyword targeting needs to relate directly to your offering. There are free keyword tools that can help here, like Google Ads own keyword planner and more complex and advanced paid systems, too.

You also need to group all similar keywords together in an adgroup showing the same advert. This significantly increases the likelihood of targeted ads being shown to interested prospects.

Be very careful about adding any broad match keywords unless you want to test them and get data very quickly. Be aware though, you will need a large budget as it's a surefire way to burn through cash.

Many people start or run ads on a fully automated strategy. For example, to maximise clicks or conversions. While this can get OK results, it always wastes money in the learning phase, and if you don't manage and optimise the results, it will never be as good as a well-optimised manual campaign. You're usually better off starting with a well-crafted manual campaign.

2. Negative keywords are key to wasted spend

Negative keywords prevent your ads from being triggered by irrelevant search queries. By excluding irrelevant terms, you can significantly reduce wasted ad spend on clicks that are unlikely to convert.

Google or Microsoft will not help you here, so if you don't want to show for "jobs", "near me" or any other single keyword or phrase types of searches you need to exclude every keyword by adding them as negatives.

If you are running multiple campaigns or adgroups, there will almost always be overlap, even with exact-match keywords. In our match type example for "accounting services" type terms, if you want to target "bookkeeping services" terms too, then these should be in a separate adgroup and trigger a different advert. That doesn't prevent the wrong advert showing for the other keyword.

To ensure that doesn't happen, you'd need to add the other services keywords as negatives to that adgroup only. Ensuring your most relevant ads always show and your spend is optimised.

3. Improved ad position and quality score:

Well-targeted keywords allow you to optimise ads and landing pages for Quality Score (QS). Quality Score is a measure out of 10 for advert relevance, landing page relevance and expected CTR (click-through rate). A higher QS and the right bids lead to a better ad rank – Google's ranking for every search auction.

Tightly targeted keyword-based adgroups allow you to write well-targeted ads that are hyper relevant to your services and customers' searches. Researching, testing and improving these leads to better CTRs, further improving QS.

Many advertisers have very few landing pages. However, you should always aim for your landing pages to be as relevant as possible to potential customers and to have the keywords you're targeting prominently on them. As a minimum, you should have a different landing page for each keyword-based adgroup. You should also be testing the relevance and conversion performance of these pages.

A higher Quality Score results in lower costs-per-click (CPC), which either allows you to bid higher and achieve better ad placement or to reduce spend. Ultimately, both improve the overall performance and ROI of your PPC campaigns.

4. Track keywords and leads for cost efficiency:

When PPC is being used for lead generation or sales, advertisers need to be able to track the complete journey from the potential client's first click to the point at which they sign up to your services, down to a keyword/search term level.

This is true however they contact you or sign up, be that by phone, form or funnel. Unless you can see how many of the clicks convert into sales, you can't analyse what works and what doesn't.

Tracking responses to different ads also allows you to test ads against each other. This data needs to be accurate and pushed back into the ads platform so that any manual or automated (AI) based decisions and improvements are using meaningful data.

5. Always track and test all elements of your campaigns

Both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads are ever changing. Not only is there more data and insights for your campaigns as time passes, but the platforms themselves change frequently. For example, the recent changes to advert types, keyword targeting, conversion (lead) tracking and many other areas.

Initially, for larger campaigns, the search terms report might need daily checking so you can add negative keywords to the account and adgroups to stop irrelevant searches. This is an ongoing process, although it should be less frequent as time passes. You will need to repeat the process if you start a campaign for new services or products too.

You should always make changes to improve ads and landing pages, comparing old and new versions by A/B testing. A/B testing involves running 2 different versions of an ad at the same time and see which harvests the most leads. Testing will generate data to help optimise keywords and landing pages, as well as ultimately minimising budget wastage as you implement the winners.

As the clicks and conversions for your campaigns build up, you get a picture of what keywords and search terms are working, converting and leading to sales that make you money. This allows you to adjust bids, add or even stop keywords and areas of your campaigns that don't work well.

In summary

If this sounds like a complex and time-consuming process, in fairness it is! Many companies and individuals give up or waste a lot of money on PPC. It's not a level playing field and having data systems and experts to help you is often the only way to succeed for complex campaigns or in competitive markets.

The best way to get a handle on how your current PPC search campaigns are performing, whether you, your marketing team or an external provider run them, is to benchmark them and assess the keywords, ads, wasted spend and potential for improvements via a professional PPC audit service.

This type of service will give you an overview and meaningful actions to take your lead generation to the next level, increasing your leads, while potentially reducing your spend. Either allow you to move your PPC forward successfully, or to get an expert to run your ads, freeing you up to run your business more profitably.

Copyright 2024. Featured post made possible by Insite Web Ltd.

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