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Sometimes, errors are due to inexperienced or overwhelmed PPC managers. At other times, we wonder whether the previous account manager did these things in an attempt to get results with minimum effort, and still charge the client for their full effort. We may never know, and our job is not to find out why the account manager did things this way but rather to fix things and make the PPC account flourish for our new customer.

Luckily, nearly every PPC account can be brought back to life with some tweaks and changes. Here are three issues we see most often and how we fixed them to optimize PPC performance.

  1. The previous PPC agency used state-specific PPC ads and remarketed them to the entire US, without cleaning up the copy. In other words, their PPC campaign featured the name of the state on the PPC display ads, but those ads started showing up in other states when customers clicked on the out-of-state specific links. Oops!

When your marketing agency in Minnesota sees your PPC ad campaign ads for Texas showing up on a Texas-specific search, something needs to be fixed. Many clients prefer to do business in particular states, so marketing agencies create state-specific PPC campaigns targeted towards those states. An inexperienced PPC campaign manager might forget to set the target to state-specific, and leave the targeting setting at US for all the campaign display ads.

Once we find this error, we can fix it easily, so the right ads show in the right states. Not surprisingly, the ads perform better, too!

  1. PPC ad campaigns need to drive revenue, regardless of whether they are $5 per month budget campaigns or $500 per month drives. The low-budget campaigns, called “sleeper” accounts are usually a good thing because they drive in a bit of money all year, without a huge daily investment. However, if they are not bringing in the bacon, good PPC managers should weed them out and replace them with ones that work.

Regular analysis of every PPC campaign, even the small-dollar ones, lets account managers see which ones could use some keyword optimization tweaks, which ones are performing well, and which ones should be retired. Keywords cost money, so make sure clients are spending their money wisely.

  1. Once in a while, we inherit a PPC campaign in which we suspect the client put a lot of pressure on the former agency for results. Perhaps their contract was performance-based and stipulated the company would return their fees if certain dollar results did not materialize. These sorts of pressures might tempt even the best PPC campaign manager to take short cuts to make sure those negative outcomes never occurred.

One frequent short cut we find occurs when PPC campaigns have branded keyword ads combined with non-branded keyword campaigns. When this happens, neither set of keywords converts well from PPC to the customer. The account manager hopes no one notices, and that conversion happens anyway. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, so the account is transferred to us in hopes of better ROI.

Branded and non-branded terms are entirely different types of PPC campaigns, and they should never be used in one PPC ad program. When they are co-mingled, it becomes impossible to tell which keywords are driving the conversions. Often, it is the branded – and much more expensive- keywords causing the conversions, and the non-branded ones are simply noise on the line. The client has paid for both when one would do.

Customers who usually do not bid on branded keywords get confused when the new PPC manager puts what appears to be a new emphasis on branded keywords. The customer had no idea they were paying for branded all the time, but the prior agency had them doing so without their knowledge.

  1. The new PPC manager has to deliver this bad news, plus restructure the entire account and PPC campaign and convince the client about the reasoning for their actions. We also have to clean up duplicate keywords and help customers understand why the Quality Scores for their PPC ads were terrible.

Cleaning up transferred PPC campaigns involves some specialized detective work, to be sure. It is good policy for every online marketing manager to be aware of the most current PPC best practices and ensure every campaign is adjusted in a timely manner in order to avoid costly errors and penalties.


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