landing pages and conversion rate optimization blog by pagewiz

Your PPC Campaign is Dying… Now What?

By David Chapman on May 18, 2017

Reading Time: 8 minutes

There is no doubt that PPC is an extremely profitable channel when managed properly. However, sometimes, it can be challenging to return profitability to a PPC campaign. No campaign is perfect, and there can always come a time when performance can deteriorate.

For example, let’s say you spend $10,000 on the first month and you get 100 conversions with the cost per conversion at $100. By the second month, you get 70 conversions at a cost of $140 per conversion. This could leave you wondering, “What do I do now?”

Relax. You just need to think about what happened to the campaign to make it yield these results. If you are not sure, there are many ways to find the issue and fix it.

Review Change History:

First of all, review your campaign change history and see what changes you have made that you think could have had a negative effect on the campaign. Did you change any bid that affects average position? Did you pause any keywords that were performing well? Or were there any ad copy changes?

If you find any of the changes you made affected the results of your campaign, you should immediately work on reverting back to the state before these changes were made.

Do an in-depth Comparison:

After looking into your change history, compare the time periods before and after your changes to find out what keywords or ads have dropped in terms of conversion and spending. I suggest taking note of the following:

  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • CTR
  • Spend
  • Avg. CPC
  • Avg. Position
  • Conversions
  • Cost-per-Conversion
  • Conversion Rate

As for keywords, if you notice the impressions, clicks or spending has dropped, you must figure out right away how you can work on improving it. Is this a bid problem? Or an ad copy problem?

If your campaign is very large and has thousands of keywords, there is a tendency for Google to start showing other keywords from the list instead of just the ones with the best results before. To control this, you can create a separate campaign showing only your best keywords so your budget doesn’t get shifted to other non-tested keywords.

The best practice is to run a campaign with all the keywords and once you find out what your best keywords are, create a separate campaign for those keywords. Never run them with the non-tested keywords.

Other than comparing keywords and ads, you should also compare search terms especially if you are running broad match keywords. You have to make sure your ads are showing up for relevant terms. Sometimes your keywords start showing up for irrelevant search terms. For example, I was once running a campaign for an app development company and the first 3 months went great. On 4th month, however, the cost-per-conversion substantially increased. Upon reviewing the search terms, I found my ads were showing up for “Facebook Apps”, with most of the clicks coming from this search term. Unfortunately, this search term is highly irrelevant for us.

From there, I added it as a negative keyword and the results improved immediately. We didn’t make any changes that would have caused this. It appeared to be an algorithm change.

Review the Landing Page:

Landing pages play a very important role in bringing in conversions. You can bring the customer in from your ads, but after that it’s up to the landing page to convert the click into a new customer or lead gained.

  • Make sure it loads properly.

The first thing to ensure is your landing page is working properly. Sometimes, there could be server errors, which means the page could be loading now, but would not be loading a few moments later. And when a page refuses to load when users land on your website, it could affect your PPC campaigns.

  • Is there any change on the landing page?

A change on your landing page can affect your conversions as well. This is why you should review your landing page to see if there were any changes made on the website before the results started dropping. Even a color or a small button change can affect your conversion rate. You can use heat mapping tools like CrazyEgg to view the areas on your landing page that attract your users the most. And make sure that you don’t change those things without experimenting first. A/B testing there for a reason!

I would also like to share some case studies here on how I was able to bring back results when some campaigns started dying off.

Case Study 1:

This is the case study of a law firm that deals with accident and injury cases. They were doing great in April with great conversion volume and cost-per-conversion. Suddenly, in May, conversions dropped and the cost-per-conversion increased significantly. We worked on returning performance to previous levels for 4 months. On the 5th month, we were able to bring it back to where it was before.

PPC Improvement

Here is what happened. The first problem we found was that we started bidding too much for keywords to be in the 1st position, without considering devices. This caused our campaigns to start receiving more clicks from computers and tablets when mobile clicks converted best for this client. We dropped the overall bids and set a bid percentage to increase mobile bids.

The other problem came from the Google click-to-call extension. Until April, Google had the option to display only the phone number when the ad shows up on mobile searches. From here, clicking on the ad would immediately result in a call instead of directing the user to the website. Since we were using this extension, the results were great until April. After that, conversion dropped because the click-to-call only feature was retired and instead of a call-only ad, it became a regular text ad on mobile.

PPC Call button

After the end of this option, Google launched call-only campaigns so we tried testing those as well to see if we could achieve similar performance. However, the required CPC was too high resulting in high CPL.

After 3 months of continuous efforts with call-only campaigns, we decided to optimize regular text ads to get calls through a click-to-call button for mobile. We added new ads for mobile with a call-to-action saying, “Call Now for Free Consultation”. We then reviewed the extension stats to make sure that this button is showing up on mobile for all the impressions. However, we found out that it didn’t show up all of the time. For example, if we had 10,000 impressions, the button showed up 7,000 times but did not show up the other 3,000 times.

We called Google to discuss ways to make this button show up on mobile all the time, and they recommended removing other sitelinks and call out extensions because they take more space than other extensions on mobile, causing the call button to not show all of the time. After removing the other extensions, we started getting more impressions for the click-to-call button and the campaign started bringing in conversions again at a lower cost-per-conversion.

Case Study 2:

This case study is from another client who redesigned his landing pages. Before changing the landing page, the cost per conversion was around $30 to $35.

Below is a screenshot of the results before the landing page was changed:

PPC landing page 1

After launching the new landing page, it went up to $57.12:

PPC Landing Page 2
The landing page was completely redesigned so it affected the conversion rate, resulting in fewer leads at a higher cost-per-conversion. The client did not want to use the old (better) landing page anymore. After much discussion, we decided we would design another landing page that followed the old landing page’s content and layout, but followed the latest design trends.

With this new landing page, the cost per conversion dropped to $38.69 and the conversion rate also improved from 4.76% to 7.4%

PPC Landing Page 3

Many times, PPC campaigns will run great without any hiccups. But whether you are a PPC expert or novice, you are likely to find yourself facing these kinds of situations. If it was working before, then it can work again. Just don’t lose hope and keep experimenting!

Landing Pages Designer

David Chapman is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Webrageous Studios, a PPC Management Company based out of Reno, Nevada. His expertise in PPC comes from managing PPC accounts with monthly budgets in the range of $30,000 – $100,000 with a focus on mobile marketing.

Also published on Medium.