Improve PPC Campaign Performance

By Joe Williams, Magento Solution Specialist

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns are the most popular advertising method for merchants looking to market a brand new site, a new product line or specific sales or offers. Google AdWords PPC campaigns have become a staple in most marketing strategies. But, unfortunately, they are also the biggest culprit for wasted ad spend. There are several mistakes that merchants sometimes make when trying to promote a product with PPC campaigns that significantly detract from the ads’ efficiency. The good news is that there are several methods merchants can implement to improve PPC campaign performance.

Six methods to improve PPC campaign performance.

1. Increase Trust and Brand Recognition

The primary reason why PPC campaigns fail is that nobody knows who you are! Window shoppers notoriously click on the most opportune ads to browse and educate themselves on a product. In the end, they go with a trusted brand to make their purchase. So merchants often end up paying to educate a customer on a product that they will end up buying from a competitor. We are all creatures of habit, and although we enjoy entertaining other options and researching a new purchase, there has to be enough trust to go with a new merchant, as opposed to a familiar experience.

The solution to converting window shoppers is to build trust in your brand. Start by marketing to existing customers through remarketing ads, targeting custom audiences, or offering exclusive products. Exclusive products can be either specialized products or private label brands at a lower price than mainstream name brands. Merchants should also place more value on the word-of-mouth referral method. Referrals are generated by focusing on merchant reviews over product reviews and implementing social campaigns to help build an audience and brand recognition.

2. Improve Targeting

Identifying the right customers via personas is critical to the success of an entire marketing campaign. Understanding what the target audience needs to start a relationship and what motivates them to purchase is vital in targeting PPC campaigns to the right audience. As well as, ensuring that a customer has a consistent user experience from the ad copy to the website (more on that later in the post).

Ask yourself the following questions to establish what will attract the right audience

  • Who are your current customers? What do they have in common?
  • Which of your audience’s problems/needs does your product solve?
  • What events need to happen before a customer makes their final decision?
  • What forms of media does your target customers consume most efficiently?
  • Who is your competition targeting?
  • Do customers in specific regions convert higher than others?

The above list is just the beginning, but it will help to get going in the right direction to start creating and utilizing personas effectively for marketing campaigns.

3. Pay Attention to Campaign Settings

Campaign settings in AdWords are often overlooked and left set to default, or merchants select canned settings available without fine-tuning the details. Campaigns settings need to be continually optimized and organized so campaigns can take advantage of testing different configurations to maximize each ad’s capabilities. Below are five campaign settings that can affect ad performance.


The type of ad determines where the ads will display, what kind of ads need to be created, and other customizable ad elements.

  • Search Network with Display Select shows the ad in both search results and on sites around the web.
  • Search Network only puts the ads in search results.
  • Display Network only shows the ads on websites.

For beginners, it’s best to start with Search Network Only ads. When using these types of ads, customers will see the ads when actively looking for products.


It might seem to be a great idea to target a broad geographic area, but it does more harm than good. Especially on newer campaigns. Targeting customers with a defined location will not only improve an ad’s performance, but it will also enable you to track how well the PPC ad is doing in specific areas. For example, if you are targeting the entire United States, Andrew Lolk from Search Engine Journal recommends adding each state individually to monitor the performance for each state.

Bid Strategy

For budget strategy, there are three options available to select in AdWords: manual cost-per-click (CPC) bidding, enhanced CPC bidding, and automated bidding. Which option to choose depends on budget and goals.

  • Manual bidding provides more control, but it can be quite tricky for beginners.
  • Enhanced bidding is somewhat like manual bidding, but Google will set a new bid for searches that convert better.
  • With automated bidding, Google will try to get the most out of the budget. It maximizes clicks or conversions, and this is the best bidding option for beginners.

Ad Rotation

Merchants can choose the frequency of when to display ads to customers by utilizing ad rotation. You can select the “optimized setting” or the “rotate-indefinitely” option. The optimized setting will prioritize the best-performing ads based on keyword, search term, device, and location. Or go with the rotate-indefinitely option. The rotate-indefinitely option will distribute ads into the ad auction without an indication of time. One caveat is that there is no chance to rotate the ad to best optimize it.

Ad Schedules/Day Parting

Ad Schedules allow you to set bid adjustments on certain days of the week and times of the day to better control the budget based on site usage or business hours. The default setting is set to show ads at all times of the day, all days of the week. Meaning ads can be showing at low traffic times or days ineffectively using the budget.

4. Create an Awesome Ad-to-Page Experience

The message you’re promoting in ad copy helps get attention and clicks, but you also need that same message to resonate on the landing page to ensure a consistent user experience. The wording that attracted the customer to click on the ad should also entice them to stay on your site. The message should be relevant to the audience, be specific, prudent, contain pertinent keywords as should the ad’s coordinating destination page.

Always review the final destination page when creating and fine-tuning ad copy. Optimize the messaging to work together with the ad copy based on what’s worked in the past.

5. Use Ad Extensions Correctly

Ad extensions and callouts expand the ad with additional information about your business and can help build trust with a more visual real estate. Extensions can help increase click-through-rates and are available in the form of sitelink extensions, callouts, structured snippet extensions, price extensions, location extensions, affiliate location extensions, phone call extensions and app extensions.

For example, sitelink extensions include additional links to the search ad, and callout extensions append further details to the ads. Use sitelink extensions deliberately by setting them up to cater to the ad copy instead of using a library across the entire account.

6. Manage Negative Keywords

Negative keywords prevent an ad from displaying on irrelevant queries.  For example, if you sell swimsuits for toddlers, you could exclude winter clothes for infants. The best way to find negative keywords is to use the Adwords Search Terms report or a third party utility such as Wordstream’s Query Stream tool. Examine the search queries that generate traffic to the site and add any negative keywords that aren’t relevant to the business, or adjust the keyword type for better matching.

While there are many reasons why PPC campaigns might not be reaping maximum rewards, there are many ways to ignite and boost those stagnant metrics. Contact us today to get advice on maximizing PPC campaigns.