The Top 5 Secrets Behind Great PPC Campaigns

There are lots of articles with tips and tricks for running good Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns, but truly business-changing PPC ideas are not as commonly shared. Great PPC campaigns are all about collecting, understanding, and utilizing data. Here are our top five data-driven secrets that distinguish a good PPC campaign from a great one.  

1. Understand the Differences Between Desktop and Mobile Search

The best PPC campaigns are built for with both desktop and mobile in mind, while understanding the fundamental differences.

Mobile use is growing – people are spending more and more time on mobile devices. But while mobile phones have gotten larger, people still browse the web very differently on their phones as opposed to their desktops. Users will go to their smartphones for quick access to specific information. Mobile users want the bullet points, not the novel. More complex, lengthy, or important online tasks are still saved for the stationary comfort and power of a desktop or laptop.

One behavior that PPC experts see regularly is a mobile user who will find a company by conducting a search, clicking an ad, engaging on social media, etc. The user will spend some time exploring the website or details about the business, and then leave, only to repeat their search on their desktop computer sometime later. This time, instead of suddenly bouncing, they convert. It’s shopper reconnaissance. They go in, check things out, and return to your business website later when they’re better prepared to covert. According to one study, a full 37% of mobile users said that while they used their mobile device to do research, they still went to the desktop to make the purchase. On average, desktop users stay on the site 3 times longer, view more pages, and are less likely to bounce. It makes sense, considering the relatively brief and easily abandoned tasks people tend to do on their phones versus the more complex or time-consuming tasks traditionally saved for desktop.

The trick of great PPC campaigns is to change tactics based on device type. Optimizing your mobile PPC advertising for users in the reconnaissance stage of their buying journey is an excellent way to maximize both your usefulness to consumers (and thus your CX), and your mobile-boosted success metrics.

As helpful as this is, it’s important to remember that the phenomenon of shopper reconnaissance will not be as strong in some industries as in others. For example, businesses like mortgage and loan companies, online educators, car dealerships, and other businesses with important or expensive products and service, can reasonably expect to see some shopper reconnaissance. Companies with products requiring less consideration time before purchase will not experience as large of a behavior disconnect between their mobile and desktop PPC.

2. Boost Mobile Ads During Business Hours

The next secret of great PPC campaigns that we’d like to share is a bit counterintuitive at first glance, but is potentially very valuable for some businesses.

It’s well known that the highest mobile activity during the week comes in the morning (before work or school) and in the evening (after work and before bed), and desktop activity ramps up during work hours. But there’s a good reason for some businesses to consider running mobile ads during the lower-use hours.

We’ve already established that mobile users behave differently than desktop users, but one of those differences is that mobile users are likely to call during business hours – a process which they normally begin with browsing on the business webpage on their mobile phone. After exploring and gathering information, mobile users are easily set up to call via a quick click on a phone number in a PPC ad.

Personal connection with a salesperson is a valuable moment in the shopping journey for businesses to get right, and phone calls also tend to convert much better than regular web leads. Mobile PPC ads built to deliver shoppers to the information they want and encourage a phone call on the landing page can help drive phone leads when run during business hours.

If your business is one that brings in lots of sales from the phone, running ads that could be driving phone calls when you aren’t at the desk to pick up is a waste of your PPC advertising budget and your shoppers’ time. Bid adjustments can be put in place to manage this traffic channel and limit use during the night and on weekends when someone isn’t there to answer the phone.

3. Ad Extensions

These days, the most effective PPC campaigns are those that utilize the huge variety of ad extension technology.

Ad extensions are the glorious little helpers made available to ads in PPC campaigns make it to the top three or four spots. Ad extensions change your regular 4-line PPC campaign ad into a 5+ line ad with extra copy and helpful click-able additions to drive the user to your business.

Ad extensions are shown to improve click-through-rate, and it’s no surprise, when they offer shoppers and business alike a better way to engage via PPC advertising. Ad extensions are rapidly becoming a central tool of great PPC campaigns.

Some of the many uses of ad extensions include displaying business location (ideal for business with a local focus), reviews for a product or the business, special seasonal deals like Black Friday, helpful product information like price and rating, and even site links that can highlight specific pages that users find particularly useful or convert at a high rate. The huge selection of potential ad extensions on PPC advertisements means that the opportunity to capitalize on this technology is available to a wide variety of industries.

4. Micro-Conversions

Sometimes a seemingly awesome PPC campaign just isn’t performing right. The best PPC campaigns are ones that are built with micro-conversions in mind.

In simple terms, micro-conversions are the checkboxes that get ticked as a shopper goes through the steps of conversion. Helpfully for diagnostic purposes, this checklist of micro-conversion actions is often easily followed and documented with the help of Google Analytics. Micro-conversions can be time on site, form field completion, scroll depth, and button clicks.

By following the path of conversions throughout your PPC campaign and monitoring each step, you can track your micro-conversions and see the places that are creating a lead bottleneck where your conversions are dropping off. The issue may be on your landing page – particularly if it isn’t optimized for mobile, but it could just as easily be ad design or ad copy, a weak call-to-action, a slow website, a small button, or even the order that your form fields are in. Your PPC campaign could be hampered by a large number of problems anywhere on the conversion trail, but the methodical review of each step will help you optimize your PPC campaign content to bring in the maximum number of sales.  

5. Optimize For Sales, Not Conversions

Speaking of sales, we can tell you that the best PPC campaigns are always, without fail, optimized for sales, not conversions. Everyone running a PPC campaign probably has their top-converting keywords memorized, but not everyone is aware of their most profitable keywords. For example, the keyword “online business school,” might drive a lot of conversions, but “business degree online” might actually end in more sales.

Like many of our great PPC campaign secrets, this one comes down to how we track our PPC campaigns. Conversions are an excellent way to measure success, but they aren’t the ultimate measure. With standard conversion tracking, you are only getting half of the data. To get the full picture of  PPC campaign success, sales tracking data should be included in the analysis.

Once this tracking system has been set up and analysis has been conducted, you can adjust your PPC campaign ad bids accordingly, easing up on high-conversion but low-sale keywords and focusing more aggressive bidding on the keywords and ads that bring in customers.


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