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    Digital Marketing

    5 Easy Fixes for Paid Search Campaigns

    As marketers, we like coming up with new hacks and ideas to outsmart the competition. But the truth is, we often benefit more from reducing harm than from fresh tactics. Here's how you apply this to your paid media strategy this year.

    In this article, you’ll learn how to mitigate risks in your paid ads strategy through fixing the most common paid search faux pas, diversifying your media investment, and keep close tabs on your budget with automation.

    1) Set Alerts and Rules to Prevent Overspending

    If you’re an agency marketer, you’re likely familiar with a situation when you go over a client’s PPC budget too fast. This mistake is so common, there’s a whole Reddit subthread about a guy who overspent thousands of dollars on several clients’ PPC accounts and had to pay out of pocket. The good news is, you don’t need to worry about it if you set alerts and rules in their PPC reporting tool – you'll get notified via email whenever things fall off track. (You can automate and pause ads with low conversion rate, too.)

    2) Remove Duplicate Keywords and Revisit Your Exclusion Lists

    Duplicate keywords in PPC accounts is one of those pesky errors that are too easy to overlook. Many marketers forget to check for duplicates in their campaigns and end up bidding against themselves. The result? Their quality scores go down and cost per click goes up. To prevent this unfortunate situation, use AdWords Editor to quickly find and edit duplicate keywords (Tools>Find Duplicate keywords).

    As Google is refining its exclusion rules, now may be a good time to revisit the lists of websites you don't want your ads to show. Seer Interactive has built a great list of 429 placements to block on Google Display Network.

    3) Optimize Landing Pages for Conversion

    Even the best search campaign will fall short if the landing page is missing a clear call-to-action, replete with distracting elements, or simply not optimized for mobile. Worse yet, someone comes to your website via organic search only to be greeted by an annoying pop-up in the first two seconds. So, before you run a campaign, think through the buyer’s journey all the way from a click to conversion and make sure it’s a smooth one, no matter the device.

    PPC automation and reporting tool

    Automate actions and set alerts to mitigate risks of overspending and poor campaign performance

    4) Set a Quarterly Testing Budget

    Now that you’ve fixed all the most common risks and errors, let’s focus on building out a risk-free media buying strategy.

    How you allocate your marketing budget depends on your business’s needs and goals, target audience, time frame, competitive intelligence insights, and other situational factors. But chances are, you don’t put all your money in just Google AdWords. You may invest in SEO, creating quality content amplified by paid social, and, perhaps, even the occasional offline branding activities. Your advertising budget is often spread out across your Bing Ads, Twitter Ads, Linkedin Ads, and other channels.

    Diversification strategy can apply to just the AdWords as well. Try additional media: display, remarketing, or video. In other words, you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

    You can clearly track back the impact from all your different channels if you keep data under one roof. Visualize your spend and campaign performance with PPC tools like AdStage, understand performance trends, and make better business decisions.

    ppc automation and reporting data visualization -- adstage

    Pro tip: Easily visualize your spend across different channels with AdStage Report.

    5) Rebalance and Optimize Over Time

    If your campaigns from last quarter went especially well, you might use extra money to implement a more aggressive asset allocation strategy and try Snapchat ads, for example. Or maybe not, but you’ll generally mix and switch things up while diversifying your risks. As a rule, you should establish a testing budget for each quarter and reevaluate your performance over time. Never rely 100% on autopilot.

    Road to Risk-Free PPC Strategy: Fix, Optimize, and Test

    Account for the worst, and the best will take care of itself. The bimodal strategy of minimizing risks and maximizing safety (better known as common sense) can be well applied to paid search advertising strategy. Before you build out an innovation strategy, start small. Eliminate easily fixable mistakes, de-risk overspend through automation, diversify your investment, and optimize over time to keep your paid search and paid social advertising budget in check.

    Anya Pratskevich

    A senior content marketing manager on the AdStage team, Anya manages AdStage's blog, co-hosts the PPC Show, and curates a weekly newsletter with top news in ad tech. Send her tips, pitches, and guest post ideas to anya (at) adstage (dot) io. Anya tweets, occasionally, as @pratsaa.