​In 1996, the first known and documented version of a Pay-Per-Click advert was included in a web directory called Planet Oasis. Now better known by the acronym PPC or Paid Search, Pay-Per-Click is definitely one of the best digital marketing tools on offer to Marketers. In fact the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) reported that search ads accounted for over £5.8 billion, or 39 percent, of the total Internet advertising revenue for the first half of 2014. This included mobile-related search revenue, where search ads totalled over $7.5 billion in revenue.

With those kind of figures it’s no surprise that paid-for search marketing increased 8.7% to £3.77 billion in 2014 and will continue to do so this year. However, many of these businesses generate poor results from at least a fourth of that budget (in worst cases – ALL of their budgets) due to badly managed PPC campaigns. So if you’re looking to embark on PPC Campaigns, here are 7 common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Failing to use ‘high commercial intent’ keywords

If done correctly, PPC marketing can generate immediate, highly-targeted results the moment you roll your ads. PPC ads are known to get as much as 64% of the share of clicks on ‘high commercial intent’ keywords. These are words which show a high propensity to purchase a product or service such as ‘toaster reviews’ or ‘running shoes’.

  1. Targeting the Wrong Audience

Audience targeting is very important and there are many ways to do this. Demographics like age and location are very important attributes. For example, as much as 59% of consumers* use location as part of their search queries.

  1. Not ‘reflecting back’ keywords

Making sure your ads reflect the search being made is key to getting high CTRs e.g. if you are serving an advert in response to the keyword “PPC job’ then make sure that your ad copy says “PPC Job” and not “Search Engine Marketing Job”.

  1. Forgetting about Negative Keywords

Make sure you exclude unwanted traffic by including ‘negative’ keywords. These are keywords that you don’t want to show your ads in response to. Using Google’s example, if you’re an optician who sells glasses you would not show your ad to someone searching for “wine glasses” or “drinking glasses”.

  1. Not planning your testing

To get your ad copy right, start with your PPC goals, once you have a number of possible ad copy variations decide which elements you are going to systematically test e.g. price in ad vs no price in ad, company name in headline vs USP in headline and so on. Aim to test one thing at a time. You should also be testing your landing pages to see which layout, copy and so on delivers you the most conversions.

  1. Getting your CTAs wrong

One attribute that is critical to getting a strong click through rate is an effective Call To Action. Ensure that you generate a number of good options for how to word this e.g. ‘Buy now’ vs ‘Let’s go’ vs ‘Find out more’ and ensure these are in your testing matrix!

  1. Failing to measure Conversions

If the goal of your PPC ads is conversions – whether that’s a purchase, email capture or something else - don’t stop your measurement at click through rate! Conversion rate is one metric 85% of PPC professionals are focusing on – and so should you. Make sure you track your ads so you can see this and other key metrics such as Cost per Conversion and Return on Investment.

Hopefully this advice will help you to avoid the pitfalls that have swallowed budgets and ruined campaigns. I’d love to hear if anyone has any other recommendations they can share.