6 Ways Not to Spend Your PPC Budget

Managing a PPC campaign can sometimes seem like a free-for-all effort. There are lots of options and lots of ways to spend your money – but not all of them are worth your time. I’ve spent years in the SEM/PPC world, and I’ve noticed a trend in the way ad budgets are structured. Here are 6 ways to avoid wasting your PPC budget, based on the most common mistakes I see dealerships make.

1. Running Ads 24/7

This might be the most common mistake I see when auditing PPC processes – and it’s not unique to dealerships. For businesses that are closed at night and don’t have a 24-hour customer support system or call center, running ads 24/7 is a sure-fire way to waste money. If your dealership is closed and can’t follow up on a website lead, then why pay to drive traffic there? Imagine you have a compelling click-to-call ad that requires an internet sales rep to follow up with immediately. If the ad is being run 24/7, and someone happens to see it at 11:30 p.m., what happens? A whole lot of nothing. Make sure to double-check ads that are running nonstop, because if you can’t actually follow up with the lead in a timely fashion, it’s a wasted effort.

Conversion rates on overnight leads don’t have strong conversion rates, so allocate those dollars for ads during your dealership’s business hours.

2. Text Ads in Google Display Network

Can you guess what’s wrong here? Two words in the subheading above are a dead giveaway: text and display. You technically have the option to run text-based ads on Google’s Display Network, but text ads are traditionally served in search engines. By serving text ads on image-heavy websites, your clicks may go down and your bounce rate may go up, as you’re more likely to get accidental clicks from users who will quickly leave your site. Further, text-based ads don’t look compelling next to display ads, and it’s not an optimal use of your money.

3. Ads in Google Search Partner Network

I hate to say it, but not everything Google offers is a golden goose. In other words, just because it’s an option for your PPC campaign, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea – even if it comes from Google. The Search Partner Network might seem like a great way to boost your impressions, but that metric is undermined by the quality of traffic you’ll get, not to mention it will hurt your overall campaign metrics. If you extend your audience to the Search Partner Network, where conversion & click rates are obscenely low, you’re simply lowering your overall metrics because it ties into your Google campaign as well.

4. Poorly Managed Negative Keywords

Your negative keywords help target qualified traffic, plain and simple. If you’re not excluding negative keywords like “headlights” or “headrests” from your campaigns, for example, then you risk wasting your budget by serving ads to car customers who are looking to accessorize or repair – not buy.

Determine your campaign goals and make sure that you exclude all unqualified traffic by adding in the appropriate keywords. Here’s a pro tip: exclude other products by the OEM, if applicable. For example, Honda makes lawnmowers and cars, and serving an ad to someone who’s trying to cut their grass is a prime example of doing it wrong.

5. Sloppy Copy

I’m not talking about grammar & verbiage issues (that should be at a premium!), I’m talking about how well the ad matches your landing page. Sad to say, misleading and/or poorly written ad copy is a very real problem that not only wastes money, but frustrates your potential customers.

If your advertisement says or implies one thing, but your customer finds something very different on your site when they click through, you’ve lost that lead. And, of course, that can negatively impact your metrics. Just think about how frustrating it is to spend time & effort investigating what you think is a good deal, but turns out to be wrong.

6. No Ad Extensions

A robust, optimized ad is one that includes extensions. And that’s not just a matter of opinion, failure to make ad extensions can rank you lower in Google’s Search Network or even cause you to lose a bid to a competitor who did take the time to build out amazing extensions.

If it’s properly implemented, adding things like link, phone, and pricing extensions can help boost conversion rates significantly. But neglecting extensions is essentially keeping helpful information from your customers, who are eager to learn more (and fast) about their search query. Telling someone that you have new Toyota Camrys is nice, but what if the customer could look at inventory links, could see price ranges, could call you, and even see your address in the ad itself? It’s easy to see how that ad would win over a plain-text ad.

Get Going

It’s important to note that quite a few of these PPC mistakes are the result of an automated advertising strategy. And, let’s be honest. If there’s anything more frustrating than wasting money, it’s paying a machine to do it for you. But that’s not to say that all automated strategies are bad, there’s a difference between “set it & forget it” and smart automation.

For some dealers, automated processes are the only way to manage a campaign, due to sheer volume. If any part of your PPC gameplan is automated, then test it against these 6 common mistakes to make sure you’re not “automatically” wasting money.