PPC not delivering what you want it to?

When done properly, PPC has proven to be a reliable and scalable way to reach audiences and get results quickly. Running successful PPC campaigns takes years of experience, best-in-class biddable analysts, custom biddable technology, a tried-and-tested Best Practice Methodology™ and a never-ending desire to improve results (there’s no such thing as ‘set and forget’).

That said, even the best PPC campaigns can fail to deliver the results you’re expecting if external factors haven’t been properly considered. Here’s a list of some common issues to keep an eye out for…

1. Landing page experience is not good enough

It’s common, especially at early stages, to be offered the website or any online presence available as a destination to PPC traffic expecting it to suffice as long as the account is setup correctly. Although marginal gains can be achieved, this is usually not enough, especially in competitive markets.

For direct response advertising success, there are two key factors that need to be considered. One is up to the advertiser, ensuring that good quality traffic is reaching the right landing pages or apps at the right cost. The other is what do users do when they reach the destination URL or app. Do they bounce? Do they reach a certain stage and drop? Do they convert?

The truth is that paid advertising does not sell products and services, but connects potential users with a value proposition, serving as a bridge. It’s the job of the advertising professional to ensure that this value proposition is communicated as well as possible through the ads, despite the limited space, and that it’s reaching the right people at the right cost. But at this stage (the click) the user is unlikely to be fully sold. The landing page then needs to finish the job and if it’s not well suited to the audience or keywords, or just not effectively designed for purpose, it can cause the whole system to fail and budgets to be wasted.

It is actually recommended that once a robust structure is set up, landing pages are designed around the account structure to match keywords or audiences properly. This will ensure that the incoming paid traffic is maximised and user intent is matched accordingly.

Some general advice would be:

  • Good design: It’s the first impression. It needs to look up-to-date, on-brand and clean so that information is organised in a way that is easily digestable.
  • Answer people’s anxieties: It’s natural to question an action (especially when money is involved). Put yourself in the position of the user and see what objections need to be addressed to convince them to take an action.
  • Clear call to action: Too many CTAs can confuse the user and convoluted info can lead to customer confusion / paralysis. General advice is to drive traffic towards a clear and expected next step that is obvious to the user.
  • Social proof: Everyone wants reassurance and we are all hardwired to trust what others trust. Adding PR references, feedback quotes or images, Trustpilot or similar badges will always help to show that others have tried and liked.
  • Consider attention spans: There’s so much good content competing for attention that landing pages need to play the game too or risk being ignored. No one has time to go through a landing page that is not engaging. It’s key to use imagery and copy that talks to the user’s needs, problems and desires, considering the kind of keyword used or what audience they are part of.

2. Issues with website experience (funnel, checkout)

Sometimes landing pages are fine or the nature of the business, like ecommerce for example, works across a longer funnel leading to checkout so landing pages are less important. It may be that your landing page offers a good description of the proposition and answers all the questions the user may have to ease their anxieties but if checkout isn’t efficient, PPC will fail to convert.

As with the landing page, it’s crucial to analyse user behaviour on site. Is there any part of the funnel that is causing issues? Are people reluctant to pay at the last minute? What can be added to give a sense or urgency or reassurance. Again, PPC has little control over decision making at this stage. It will be up to the user experience on site.

3. Asking too much too soon

This is common with more complex or expensive propositions like SaaS or services that require long decision making processes. Expectations are that PPC should get leads, lots of them, quickly, not always taking into account the complex decision making process surrounding these services. It’s unlikely that the majority of users, even if interested in the service will want to chat with your sales team right away. They may be in research mode, need to discuss findings with others or may not be sufficiently convinced at this stage.

So if users are not ready to buy or talk to sales, what can be done?

It would be ideal if PPC could just get the warm leads right away, and it can in some cases, but in most cases, a softer approach will lead to more success. Users who may not want to talk to sales, may very well want to learn more about topics that are relevant to the decision making process e.g how the product has worked for others, advice on issues that are relevant to the audience, etc. If these are gated behind a form, these users who would not normally convert as hot leads, can at least stay within sales’ sphere of influence.

It is important however to understand how these soft leads fit into the process. This leads to our next point.

4. Unaligned post lead sales effort

It is common to see campaigns for sales led clients generate a good quantity of leads, soft and warm but then feedback can sometimes be “we have had no conversions from those leads”, or “quality of leads need to improve”, and a common one “emails are gmails or hotmails so no good”.

Of course sometimes leads are genuinely bad quality, especially with some keywords or some audiences. Our job is to weed those out and focus on where leads are clearly good quality so the feedback loop is crucial. However in many cases we can go through with the client and look at search query report or the audience we are targeting and see that things are relevant and leads should be of good quality.

As with the previous points on user experience, for these clients the sales process and the “nurturing” element of the campaign is a crucial part of the user experience. PPC will rarely deliver leads that are ready to sign a complex contract worth £100k+, but it will bridge the gap feeding the rest of the nurturing machine.

The nurturing machine then needs to have a very clear procedure in place of how to talk and what content to offer the leads based on the stage they are in. Soft leads that download reports should not be treated like warmer leads who have requested a trial. The email address used by the lead should not usually determine the quality of the lead as it’s common for people to avoid using work emails at this stage for fear of potentially spammy salespeople filling up their already crammed inbox.

5. Rethinking of proposition required

As mentioned before, paid advertising does not sell products and services, serving instead as a bridge. No advertising effort or landing page can make up for a product or service that is not good enough for the user, is not priced properly or cannot compete with better alternatives.

It is important for business owners, product managers and marketers on the client side to always put themselves in the position of the user to understand if they could be making it easier for them to convert. This may require larger pivots but usually it’s simply improving how things are communicated and offered.

The “deal” is important. What is the user getting? As often as possible, it should be a no brainer. The further away it is from being a no brainer, the more complicated it will be to convince users to convert against more straightforward propositions in the market.

We have found that sometimes changes in the acquisition strategy can have a big impact. For example, creating a lower priced entry level alternative for acquisition purposes can have a big impact on getting new customers over the line and boosting retention in the process. Or changing the nature of how a user goes towards becoming a customer, removing complexity and adding more value through the funnel.

At Katte & Co we focus mainly on PPC but love to get involved in the wider conversation about how to make things work for clients. A growth mindset is required at both ends to make things work and a willingness to see that PPC works in harmony with all other channels, the product/service itself and the way it’s communicated through the website and others. The idea is to always keep trying new things, testing, learning and improving.