One of my (and a lot other PPC managers’) favorite metrics in Google Adwords is CPA. It does not matter whether a campaign is big or small, as long as the CPA is under control, everything goes well. Once you have achieved a steady and profitable CPA, you can increase your budget to get more conversions and also try out other useful features of Adwords like CPA bidding. Google Adwords has a lot to be taken care of and one mistake can spike up CPA. Below are some mistakes to avoid to keep your CPA under control:
1. Inefficient Landing Pages
While there could be many reasons behind increasing CPA, an inefficient landing page is one of the most common reasons. Many advertisers send their users to homepage or just any page which leaves the users confused. A dedicated, specifically designed landing page is just as important as your ads and keywords. Pay special attention to what you are putting in your landing pages.
Some critical aspects of a great landing page are overall design, headline, subhead, visuals, color scheme, your offer, form, amount of content and presentation of content. Continuously run A/B tests between different landing pages (or versions of landing pages) to figure out what works best for you. Time invested in landing pages always pays.
2. Unresponsive Landing Pages
Mobile is now a big game changer. If you are sending your users to unresponsive landing pages, you are simply wasting more than half of your money. Simply put, if you don’t have responsive landing pages, cut all your mobile traffic until you make them responsive. Tip: Use call extensions with your ads and also put direct call buttons on your landing pages so that smartphone users can call you directly.
3. Not Using Broad Matches Wisely
While broad match keywords can get you big exposure, a lot of times they are proved to be budget eaters instead. If not used wisely, broad match keywords can get you a lot of useless clicks. It is because it covers everything including similar queries, singular, plurals, synonyms, stemming and misspellings as well. For example if you sell only synthetic fertilizers and your keyword is synthetic plant fertilizers then your ad might show up on organic plant fertilizers as well.
A better solution is using broad match modifier keywords. Format of BMM is +synthetic +plant +fertilizers. Now your ad will pop up only when a query having these three terms will be searched on Google. It gives you more control.
4. Not Using Negative keywords
Even after using keywords and match types carefully, a lot of times ads are shown on terms that you don’t want to target. You can add those terms as negatives. For example you can add organic as negative as you don’t sell organic fertilizers. Now any query with organic will not show your ad. This will save a lot of otherwise wasted money. However, note that negative keywords is a powerful tool and should be used carefully.
5. Sticking to 1st and 2nd Positions
While a high positioned ad can get you more clicks, it doesn’t guarantee more conversions unless you provide a great landing page experience and a great offer for your audience. Most people don’t convert the first time they click on an ad. Especially if your business lives in a very competitive market. People compare a lot of options online and if your ads always appear on number 1 position then there are high chances that they receive a lot of clicks from people who are doing a comparison. That is not always bad however. If your goal is branding, then it is okay.
In my experience, 1st and 2nd positions are most beneficial for businesses having big market share. I am not saying that these positions are less profitable but you should consider playing with different ad positions to figure out the best one for you in terms of CPA.
6. Selling Everything at Once
It happens when your ads and landing pages are not specific to a search query. If your keyword talks about a specific service/product, it’s best to align your ad and landing page with that service/product. If a user clicks on your ad only to end up being confused between multiple options, it’s a click wasted. Make sure to be specific with what you are offering on your landing pages and ads.
7. Continuously Running Unprofitable Keywords
Every PPC campaign has some keywords which perform worse than others and you need to identify those keywords based on the benchmark metrics that you have set. If some keywords are performing badly for quite a time now, consider decreasing their bid or pause them completely for some time. Also pay attention to seasonal keywords and adjust their bids accordingly.
8. No Custom Time Schedule
Though it may not be applicable to every business but there are some businesses where custom time schedule makes sense. For example law group related keywords are searched more during weekdays and further during day time. If it has been some months or years running your PPC campaign, figure out which days of the week and which hours of the day are bringing more conversions. Consider reduce your bids during the days and time when CPA is high. Analyze time trends.
9. Making Changes Every Day
Once you have made the changes (be it budget, keyword bids, ads, campaign settings, bid adjustments, etc.) and optimized the campaign, let your ads run for a week (or at least 4-5 days) to measure impact of your changes. Adwords system takes some time to adjust the changes made. You must also avoid random optimization at all cost.
10. Conversion Tracking is Broken
It is a very common problem among new advertisers which leaves them thinking Adwords is not working for them. It is very important to install conversion tracking correctly on all the conversion points throughout your website. It’s possible that a user doesn’t convert where and when you want and convert at any other point in your website in future, so all your thank you pages must have conversion tracking code installed correctly.