AdWords, PPC

How to use Data to Optimise your PPC Campaign

When done right, running a paid search campaign is a quick and effective way of driving more traffic to your website and generating sales.

But in order to make the right decisions about your campaign, you need to understand how to access the appropriate data and how to analyse it.

Ignoring PPC data can be risky but what’s even more dangerous is inconsistent and unreliable data that can lead you in a completely wrong direction.

Your web analytics package is the cornerstone tool that can help you take an honest look at how your campaign is performing. No matter what you’re using for your site’s web analytics, it will give you the data you need to base your decisions on. Unfortunately, it won’t tell you what do to with that data, that’s something you’ll need to figure out yourself.

To get valuable insights to optimise your PPC campaign you need to use web analytics to understand your business, how customers shop and which goals to set. This is the only way to get actionable insights that you can then use for optimising your PPC campaign.

Setting Goals and Measuring Progress

Every PPC campaign has a clear goal, whether it’s to have customers:

  • Buy a product
  • Download a white paper
  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Request a quote

Once you’ve set your ultimate goal, you will need to measure people’s progress towards it by setting micro-goals. If you’re selling a product, you would use your favourite web analytics tool to look at things like:

  • How many customers are visiting your site via paid search and how much it’s costing you
  • The bounce rate on the pages people land on from your PPC ads
  • The number of customers who have viewed a product page and how much they spent on that page
  • The percentage of customers that viewed a product page and then added the product to their cart
  • The percentage of customers that added a product and proceeded to checkout
  • The percentage of customers who completed the checkout and made a purchase

Google Analytics can easily help you track each of these micro-goals. This is important because if lot of potential customers are clicking your PPC ads and only few end up converting, then the chances are there’s a problem somewhere. By dividing things into small steps, you can pinpoint the cause of the issue more accurately, and that makes it easier to solve.

Improving your PPC Ad Campaign

When it comes to PPC ad campaigns, there are four things that can happen:

  1. Your ads are never shown and they never get clicks
  2. Your ads are shown often, but they never get clicks
  3. Your ads get clicks but visitors don’t convert
  4. Your ads get clicks and visitors convert

Let’s take a closer look at each of these four scenarios:

1. Your Ads Never Show

If your ads are getting few or no views, it could mean you’re targeting keywords that are rarely or never searched for, meaning there is no audience for them. Alternatively, you might not be bidding competitively, or it could be the quality score of your ads is too low.

What to do: Look at the search volumes for your keywords, if they’re low it’s not really worth targeting those phrases and you should come up with some new ones. Make use of Google’s keyword tool which will not only show you the minimum amount you have to bid for your ad be displayed but it will also suggest relevant keywords and tell you how often they trigger an ad in PPC. Finally, take a closer look at the quality score of your ads – the lower it is, the less chance there is your ads will show up. 

2. Your Ads Show, but Never get Clicks

This happens because your ads aren’t relevant to potential customers, which can happen if the keywords you’re targeting are too broad. Alternatively, it might be that your ads are not attractive to people in terms of the copy and images you’ve used.

What to do: Review your ads to ensure they’re doing a proper job at addressing what the searcher is looking for. Test different ads with different call to actions. Add negative keywords to your campaign to prevent your ads being displayed for irrelevant searches.

3. Your Ads get Clicks but Visitors don’t Convert

This is probably the most common issue advertisers deal with when running a PPC campaign. It usually means that you’ve managed to get searchers to click your ads but when they get to your landing page, they can’t find what they’re looking for or what you promised in your ad. In other words, there’s a poor alignment between your ad and the landing page.

What to do: Find out what keywords or keyword phrases are triggering your ads. There’s a possibility your ad is being displayed for broad match terms or search variations that you actually didn’t mean to target. Next, use Google Analytics to check the bounce rate as it will let you know if the page searchers are landing on aligns well with the keyword or ad that brought them in.

Find out which was the exit page – the last page they visited before leaving the site. Did they click “Buy Now” see the price and leave the site? If pricing is an issue, then you might consider adding the prices in the ad text so potential customers aren’t surprised when they get to your site. This will also save you money as searchers who aren’t willing to pay the price you’re asking will not click your ad.

Examine every inch of your sales funnel to identify what’s going wrong and where.

4.  Your Ads gets Clicked and Visitors Convert

Fantastic! When this happens, it means there’s an alignment between keywords, ad and landing page.

What to do: Keep on testing – although you may be happy with your figures, there’s always room for improvement. You might want to move into A/B testing so you can tell if small differences like where you place the “buy now” button boost conversions. Don’t take things easy though, your competitors certainly won’t be.

Article by Alex Gavril is a PPC advertising expert and writer at, the UK’s largest domain name registrar.