Why Isn’t My AdWords PPC Working? [PPC Question]

adwords isnt working

This phrase must be muttered thousands of times everyday, Why isn’t my AdWords PPC Working? (expletives redacted 🙂 ) It’s a fair question. With any marketing initiative, you aren’t guaranteed success. For every blog post that boasts a 700% increase in conversion rate, there are hundreds of failed tests that nearly made it.

Instead of staring at the same numbers over and over again, let’s break down why your AdWords PPC might not be working into 4 potential problems: your ads & messaging, your audience & targeting, your landing page experience and sign-up process, & your analytics & reporting method.

Keyword-level Targeting in AdWords

Nearly half the issues in most AdWords accounts are keyword-related, whether they are poor keyword choices or the lack of including negative keywords. Part of this is to poor planning. It happens even if you get a head start. You sculpt your account over time and accrue knowledge so it’s possible to overcome.

The other part is a lack of knowledge that expands outside your industry. When you work in HR and executive recruitment, you live in this narrow field where recruitment is all you think about–you probably have 10 acronyms you use on a daily basis and no one knows what they mean but you and your team. That’s great! I have that too.

What you need to know is that there are too many different types of recruiting that are just waiting to burn your cash should you bid on generic terms. Military recruitment. College sports recruitment. Fraternity & sorority recruitment. Cash, meet dumpster fire. You two will be great friends.

Doing some basic keyword research and peer review helps you find out related, irrelevant terms. Start by dumping your keywords into the Keyword Tool, take note of the negatives, and add them as phrase match negatives account-wide. Then ask your team to review some of the keywords and add their own negative terms, it’s as easy as telling them to add topics that they know are unrelated but share common verbiage.

Get the keywords on-point and you’ll dramatically increase your likelihood of success.

Geographic Targeting in AdWords

One setting that crushes your budget is the geographic targeting. When you have your first few hundred customers, you can begin to map out where your best customers are coming from. The key here is not to bump up bids for those geographic regions, it’s in trimming the poor-performing regions. Most SaaS customers fit a certain profile and that profile is likely influenced by where they are from. If you service funded Salesforce customers, you’re more likely to find customers in places where they can get funding: Boston, San Francisco, & New York. You’re going to get more false positives with searches if you’re targeting other geo’s.

It’s tough, because you may be excluding some locations where you may find customers. You have to rationalize that spending in those places is likely to result in a higher CPA as the people searching for your service likely don’t have funding and won’t qualify as a good lead.

You have to say no to customers who are a bad fit so that you can spend time on those who are a good fit.

Landing Page Experience & Sign Up Process

Getting your messaging right is more important than any part of your AdWords account. The only thing more important is your product and that’s what people actually pay for.

Messaging, ironically not part of your AdWords campaigns outside of the ad copy, is important because it conveys everything that your SaaS company is to the potential customer. Why do you exist and what can your product do for them?

You have to both reinforce and expand on your initial message. Spending time on the real value that your company adds to your customers goes a long way. It informs your email marketing and editorial team and help hone in on what resonates with your customers.

An easy way to get started is AB testing. Run both headline and visual experiments to get the most value from testing. You can run tests every two weeks with confidence (barring crazy CPC’s!) without crushing the campaigns that you know work right now.

Nail down the Job To Be Done and you’ll hit your messaging faster.

Analytics & Reporting Method

It’s the least-covered problem in digital marketing today–mainly because of a lack of solutions–but reporting is an issue for everyone.

Nearly every platform I use has a different definition of a conversion. Crazy, right?

If you’re not seeing the same number of sales as in your raw transaction log, find out what the definition of a conversion is for each of the platforms you are using. Here are some common explanations when looking at the source of each conversion.

Google Analytics: All reports attribute the last click, except those detailing conversion paths and assisted conversions. So if someone converts directly from your PPC ad, the ad gets credit for the conversion in your report.

Google AdWords: Contrary to Google Analytics, the last click OR the assisted click gets credit here. That means that if someone clicks your PPC ad at any time in the 30 days before they convert, AdWords reports a conversion. This does not change even if you import Google Analytics Conversions.

HubSpot CRM: HubSpot attributes a conversion to the first touchpoint that they can track. A potential customer becomes a lead in June and will be attributed to Paid marketing if they click a PPC ad in June but convert on a blog post in October. It’s essentially first-click attribution with a strange twist.

That means that major platforms all report differently. Incredibly frustrating!

You need to establish a home base for reporting. If you have an acquisition team that report on social, search, & paid, you can all integrate under Google Analytics and use an attribution model that makes sense.

Acknowledge that not all channels are created equally and you have of the solution. It’s fine that one channel leads to more assisted conversions than another. As long as your marketing is working.

Congruence in Your Customer Journey

Lastly, a fifth potential problem area is a derivative of the above: is there congruence between each of the steps in the customer journey? You’ll be in trouble if your advertising is hitting the right audience with the wrong message. You’ll also be in trouble if you’re getting the wrong leads in but have the right email messaging.

There are many potential breakdowns in the process. Run through the process as often as you can–even getting friends to go through it as well-is a great way to ensure there is congruence in your marketing funnel. You’ll find that all the testing you do can really warp how you see the experience for your leads. Talking to your customers helps gain clarity too!

If you are still asking, Why isn’t my AdWords PPC Working?, you need to stop doing PPC!

Brian Swanick

Hey I'm Brian! I fix broken marketing programs for growing companies and crush tacos of all sizes. Whether you're launching a new product or building out a new marketing team, I hope you find the info on this site useful.

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