Underrated & Overrated Practices in PPC

There are a lot of opinions on best PPC practices and tactics out there in the blogosphere. Let’s be honest: Not every “best” practice or method is going to apply to every client, account or campaign that you encounter in this industry. Because of this, we put together a list of what we think are underrated and overrated best practices and tactics in PPC.

Kristin Palmer

Overrated: Position 1 Keywords

Stressing too much on the importance of position 1 for keywords is something that is often overrated. While the top positions are the most desired, budgets and profitability can go out the door on the increased bids needed to get and maintain a strong position 1 bid. It’s important not to assume that results will increase with a higher position. In fact, you might only see CTRs and CPCs increase and CPAs greatly decrease. Look at historic results and make sure your performance metrics merit your bids or rules to increase bids to get to position 1.

Underrated: Neglecting Ad Copy Testing on Different Devices, Geos & Channels

I think one of the most underrated practices in PPC is neglecting to test ad copy across different devices, geographies or channels.

For example, if you have a runaway winning mobile ad in the US in Google Ads, you shouldn’t automatically roll it out to desktop, other English speaking countries or your Bing campaigns. Never assume that what works for one platform, geography, etc., will be successful in another without testing first. I’ve been surprised by how vast of a difference there can be. Of course, it’s easier to keep all ad copy the same and it can be difficult to wait for lower volume segments to generate statistically valid results, but it’s always better to wait it out and be sure of your winner.

Michelle Morgan

Overrated: Quality Score

I’ve said it before, but my overrated “strategy” is Quality Score. There’s no doubt that Quality Score is an important component to campaign performance. Anyone who disagrees with that isn’t paying attention. But as Bethany put so eloquently, Quality Score is not a KPI. When evaluating campaign performance and determining success, Quality Score shouldn’t be included in that conversation. That discussion should be focused on costs, leads or sales, and revenue from those leads/sales. Those are the true measures of success.
Quality Score comes into play when you start to focus on the problem area diagnosis and optimization opportunity. It’s important to pay attention to Quality Score factors when looking to improve performance, but again, QS itself shouldn’t be the goal outcome. This is simply a lever that can be pulled to drive to the real goals: conversions and revenue.

Underrated: Not Utilizing Cross-Channel Strategies

I’m finding that more folks have specific strategies for each channel they’re advertising in, which is great and an improvement over a few years ago, but that they’re not taking cross-channel strategies into account.

We live in a highly connected, digital world. Each channel does not live in a silo. We, as marketers, need to be able to see the whole picture of how each channel interacts with the others and what we can do to leverage those opportunities.

Step outside of your Google Ads strategy and Facebook strategy and think, “How can these two play together?” Maybe it’s leveraging a more robust retargeting strategy. Maybe it’s translating one audience into another’s targeting options. Maybe it’s both! The sky’s the limit.

Bethany Bey

Overrated: Long Ad Copy

Maxxing out character limits in ad text is often thought to be the way to go. It’s often believed that because there are 80 characters available, we should and must utilize all of those characters. However, we often see the opposite in the search channels with the shorter message usually taking the cake. If you’re not sure about shorter copy variants, it’s always worth a test.

Underrated: Landing Page Testing

I think the most underrated advice is to test your landing pages. I think advertisers often put so much focus on the ads, but ads can only get people to your website. It’s up to your website to turn visitors into customers. Even if you don’t have a developer resource, tools like Unbounce make it much easier to conduct A/B test.

Tim Jensen

Overrated: Advertising on Every Platform

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to be active on every ad platform.

While it’s important to diversify and test different platforms, not every advertiser is a good fit for every platform. For instance, LinkedIn can be an effective way to reach a B2B audience; however, with high CPCs, it’s not always cost-effective for every advertiser. If there’s room to expand in a channel that’s working well (like paid search), you may be best maximizing that before putting budget elsewhere.

Underrated: Tracking Audits

Auditing your tracking setup is such an important facet of digital marketing. Sometimes, even marketers who have a solid grasp of how to analyze and optimize from data don’t take the time to see if they have accurate data in the first place.
Too many marketers assume that what they see in Google Ads or Analytics is correct without digging further, but a deep dive can often prove that’s often not the case. Relying on inaccurate data is just as bad as not having any data at all.
For example, you might be counting a conversion for every view of a contact page, instead of actually tracking the form submission, and seeing an inflated conversion count. Or you might not be tracking all the places a person could contact you through a site and be missing some conversions that should be counted.
Never assume that tracking is 100% accurate, especially when taking over an existing account. Make sure you know what conversions are being tracked in an account and how they’re being triggered. Audit everything from the conversion setup within ad platforms to double-checking that the proper code is firing on the site in all the right places.

Andrea Taylor

Overrated: Large LinkedIn Audiences

Large audiences on LinkedIn can be overrated depending on the B2B audience you’re targeting. LinkedIn typically recommends audiences of 100k to 400k members in a targeted audience. I’ll tell you that I have had great successes with audiences that are only 11,000 members. (Perhaps that small of an audience is the exception and not the rule).

But I think there can be success found somewhere between 11,000 people and 400,000 people.

While I believe that some businesses and industries can benefit from large (and this often means broad) audiences, I think that it’s less important to have an enormous audience and more important to make sure that you have relevant targeting and ad copy that converts.

Underrated: Sales & Marketing Team Disconnection

One of the most underrated practices in PPC is the importance of allowing marketing and sales to work side by side on campaign goals.

One team is working directly with potential customers and actual customers and one team is working on bringing in more potential customers. These teams should have a unified message and strategy that works hand-in-hand. Both teams (and your campaigns) will only be better for this relationship.

What best practices or tactics do you think are over or underrated in PPC? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!