PPC may seem like a “set it and forget it” operation once you have everything just right. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. PPC campaigns need regular audits to ensure performance and ROI. But how often should you be conducting a PPC audit and what should you be looking for? That’s what we’re going to explore.
1. Why Auditing Is Important
The whole point of a PPC campaign is to drive conversions. Unlike SEO, you have to pay to put a PPC ad online. Thus, an ad has to show that it is pulling its weight. If it isn’t, it needs to be changed or pulled before more money is spent on a poor-performing ad.
Regular audits can identify poor-performing ads, but they also identify your best ones. Auditing can reveal best practices for your other PPC ads to raise their conversion rates. Over time, this can increase your ad’s quality score and reduce the overall costs of your ad campaigns. Google rewards those who create quality ads with lower ad prices, so this is a good goal to shoot for.
Auditing can also reveal sudden shifts in the PPC market. A particular keyword might raise or lower in price and force you to re-evaluate your budget. You can also use an audit to study what your competition is doing with their campaigns so you can respond to their movements.
If you don’t audit, all of this information is lost. Too many businesses just set up some ads, throw in a bunch of money into the account, and hope for the best for the next six months, year, or whenever the money runs out. This is a sure way to lose money with PPC.
2. How Often Should I Audit?
Auditing should happen much more often that you probably think. Many businesses perform quarterly audits. This is far too long to get valuable audit data, especially if you want to control ad spend.
You wouldn’t let an employee fail to pull their weight on the job. You shouldn’t let your ads fail to pull their weight either. PPC audits should be performed every two weeks or for every 100 clicks.
100 clicks are enough to get good data on conversion for an ad, and two weeks is long enough for an ad out in the wild to see if it gets any response.
3. The Key Thing To Look For
The fundamental thing to measure in your PPC audit is how much you made off of the conversions vs how much you spent on the ad. If you spent $500 on PPC and earned $2000, your PPC campaign is succeeding. It may not be as much as you like, but it is succeeding. On the other hand, if those numbers were reversed then your ad campaign is in serious trouble.
If your PPC ad campaign is targeted toward building an email list rather than sales, you’ll need to calculate how many sales you are getting off your list to see if the ROI is there. Revenue coming in must be higher than revenue going out.
4. Common PPC Audit Mistakes
There are a number of common PPC mistakes that make campaigns lose more money than they should. Many options that look good on the surface aren’t good in practice. Here are some of the things we’ve seen:
Using broad match – Your ads should be prequalifying your audience so they’ll want to convert after clicking. When you use broad match, Google puts your ad on many related keywords to the ones you choose. This may lead to more clicks, but without conversions it just leads to spending more money.
Not using local targeting – If you have a local business, you must use local targeting. You don’t want your ads showing up to people outside of your service area. AdWords makes it really easy to choose a geographical region or radius from a point for targeting. Don’t set your ads national unless you’re truly a national brand.
Not comparing queries with keywords – Google AdWords will tell you which queries people used to find your ads before they clicked on them. This is invaluable information for tightening up which keywords you’re targeting.
Not A/B testing ads – When you do rapid auditing, you’ll quickly learn what works and what doesn’t with your audience. Every time you make a tweak to an ad, let it run for another two weeks or 100 clicks to see how it performs. If it did better, note the change and try it on other ads. If it did worse, note that too. This rapid A/B testing is what makes short audits so powerful. You can try lots of things without spending a lot of money and quickly discover what works and what doesn’t.
In closing, you should be auditing your PPC at least twice a month to make sure your ads are pulling their weight. If they aren’t making you money they must be optimized until they do so or be scrapped. Audit regularly and often.