by Casey Walrath September 22, 2014

3 Effective PPC Changes That Will Lift Your PPC Performance

Don’t let vampire keywords drain the life out of your PPC account!

Effective PPC account management, like a lot of things, is really about intelligent time management. Whether you’re running your own company’s account or multiple accounts for an agency, there’s never enough time to accomplish everything you could possibly do to optimize an account.

Because of that,  it’s very easy to spend a lot of time making painstaking minor changes for marginal improvements.  

[Tweet “Chose your optimizing time wisely. What makes the most improvement? Do that first! #PPC”]

But whether you’re looking at an account every day or only have a few hours a week, sometimes you need to focus on changes that can make the biggest impact on conversions.

Luckily, those don’t need to take that much time. To help you do that, I’ve written a short list of effective PPC actions you can use that will make a big impact on your PPC accounts, in a short period of time.

#1 – Change Your Landing Page Headline

The first impression your user will have of your company after clicking your ad will come from your landing page picture and headline.

In my non-scientific opinion, you have approximately one second to form a deep, abiding emotional response with your visitor that will decide whether they love your company forever or close your landing page and find a competitor who does it better.

Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but small headline changes can make a big difference. To illustrate this, consider the following true story (with slight alterations for privacy):

I worked with a client with a landing page that converted at 14.9% with dozens of conversions daily. The headlines were variants of, “Is Your Widget Broken?” with a friendly photograph of a widget repair-person and a lead capture form.

I decided to test a new headline focused more directly on the benefit the company could offer: “We’ll Fix Your Widget Fast!”

The result? Our conversion rates rose to 22.2%. That’s an increase of 48%! All because of a simple headline change. By focusing on the result the consumer wanted, we got significantly more conversions without spending a dime, and it only took a few minutes to setup.

best adwords headlines
As for HOW to change your headline, that depends on your industry and your audience. What’s worked best for me is focusing immediately on how you’ll solve the user’s problem.

That doesn’t mean being manipulative or hyperbolic (100% Guaranteed Amazing Incredible Widget Repair NOW!!!), just getting right to the point and focusing on how you’ll solve their problem.

Of course, sometimes you might get better results with another approach—some audiences might respond to humor, others to lists of features. But if you want to make a difference quickly, test a new headline!

[Tweet “Make your landing page headline speak to the end result visitors are looking for. #PPC”]

#2 – Slay Your Vampire Keywords

I’ve often seen large or mature accounts with tens of thousands of keywords. If you’re managing that alone—or even with a team—it can be tricky to stay on top of that much data.

But if you’re looking to make a big impact quickly, one of the most effective things you can do is locate your vampire keywords—keywords that are sucking the life from your campaigns without producing anything in return.

best ppc keywords

Keep your PPC strawberries delicious, kill your vampire keywords.

For starters, look for keywords with high spend and zero or very few conversions. (You’re using conversion tracking, right? If not, step up and get that done now! You can’t fix what you can’t track.)

Once you’ve found those keywords, determine if they’ve gotten enough clicks for a valid sample and be ruthless about pausing or aggressively bidding them down.

Sometimes you might encounter resistance. A client or a manager might protest that the keyword is absolutely critical to the company’s future, that pausing it might ruin everything!

These vampire keywords are a special class I call “ego keywords”, and you must be wary of them, especially if your goal is to generate leads or sales.

[Tweet “Allowing ego keywords to run can kill your #PPC profitability.”]

Maybe—maybe—that ego keywords is driving traffic that ultimately converts later (through attribution modeling perhaps), either through custom remarketing lists or branding efforts, and you should be tracking that to make sure.

But the biggest strength of effective PPC is direct response marketing.

If you’re paying for the responses and not getting them, chances are you’re wasting money.

Don’t let vampires take over your account. Don’t let ego keywords steal budget from the real producers.

#3 – Change Your Form

The standard procedure for lead capture landing pages is to offer your amazing product or service in exchange for the user’s information–name, email, phone, etc.

However, we live in an increasingly privacy-conscious society, and even if your reasons for collecting that information are perfectly legitimate, some people may be unwilling to provide it.

After all, in internet terms they probably just met you. Why should they trust you with their personal information?

[Tweet “#PPC success is like dating. Hold hands first before you go in for the kiss.”]

In terms of effective PPC, one way to capture more of those visitors is to establish trust by not asking for their information up-front.

Instead, try a two-step form or landing page where the first step asks more innocuous qualifying questions, which are used to tailor a response when the second step asks for their information.

Instead of “Enter Your Name and Email for Information About Widgets!”, have a short drop-down menu asking what widget color they’re interested in and how big the widgets should be.

Then your step 2 can be responsive: “We have [Extra Large] [Blue] Widgets In Stock! Enter Your Name and Email…” Psychologically a two-step form can lower the user’s guard by showing interest in their problem without asking for anything in return. 

We had one client where switching to a two-step form increased conversions by 213% while dropping cost per lead by 71%.

CAUTION! Going 2 step can lead to surprised owls.

CAUTION! Going 2 step can lead to surprised owls.

In industry terms, that’s known as “a lot.”

Now, a two-step form isn’t guaranteed to work in every case and its effectiveness can depend on the industry, but it’s another relatively simple change that can potentially make a big difference.

As with headline adjustments, the important thing is to not get caught up on what you think the right answer is, but try to put yourself in your user’s shoes, and then let the data decide.

If I was going to summarize this post, I’d do it by revising an old saying: it’s the little things that matter…but some little things matter more than others.

Don’t be afraid to step back and make these simple, yet effective PPC changes that can make the biggest impact in your accounts. You might be surprised how easy it can be!

Have other small change ideas that can make big impacts? Let me know!


  • PPC

Casey Walrath

Casey Walrath

Casey is an account strategist and blogging/content and IT czar here at Disruptive Advertising. When he's not cuddling up to his cardboard cutout Chewbacca, he's cuddling up with his cardboard Jar Jar Binks.

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