Kick Off the New Year Right: Tips On Cleaning Up Your PPC Accounts

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The New Year is right around the corner and as 2013 comes to an end it’s time to consider cleaning up your PPC accounts in preparation for 2014. For most advertisers, it’s normal to see fluctuations in account performance throughout the year, of which can be attributed to factors such as: seasonality, competition, brand reputation, or the economy.

In an effort to adapt and respond to changes in performance, advertisers will launch various initiatives year over year. Some of these initiatives can include, but are not limited to the following: campaign settings changes (daily budgets, status changes, etc.), ad copy, or offers and promotions testing. While these types of initiatives can result in favorable outcomes, it’s easy to miss or overlook outdated account changes amidst the thousands of changes made each year. Some of these “residual changes” can actually negatively impact account performance in the long run and may be contradictory to new plans or initiatives for the New Year.

Some examples of “residual changes” that can negatively impact your efforts for 2014 may include:

  • Offers and Promotions Testing & Ad Copy:  Be mindful of any outdated promotions or discounts mentioned in ad copies. For instance, an advertiser may have mentioned a 30% discount within ad copies that were specific to Black Friday, but may have forgotten to pause out the ads after the 30% discount expired. This can prove to be unfavorable, as customers may click on ads in hopes of receiving a 30% discount only to find New Releases at full MSRP.
  • General Campaign Settings: Campaign settings can include language settings, daily budgets, status changes, geographic settings, and more. For example, an advertiser may have decided to isolate geographic targeting for a specific campaign based on performance in 2013. The same geographic targeting for the given campaign may not be favorable for 2014 and could negatively impact performance, given changes in brand awareness, the economy, or competition.

Those are just a few examples of “residual changes” within an account that may negatively impact performance in 2014. Here is a comprehensive list to help clean up some of those old, outdated, and residual changes in your PPC campaigns:

1)     Ad Scheduling: Previous adjustments to ad scheduling may not be applicable to 2014.

2)     Ad Copy: Ensure that ad messaging is grammatically correct and accurately represents product offerings, offerings, discounts, etc.

3)     Landing Pages: Double check your landing pages and make sure that everything ads are directing customers to relevant pages.

4)     Ad Extensions: Make sure all relevant ad extensions are in place. This is especially important after Google updated their ad ranking algorithm, which now factors the use of ad extensions when determining an ad’s rank. For Enhanced Sitelink Extensions, ensure that different Destination URLs and also Description Lines are being used across each campaign’s set of sitelinks otherwise the Enhanced Sitelinks won’t be eligible to be displayed.

5)     PLAs: New Products & Discontinued Products: Make sure that your PLA feed is up-to-date.

6)     Money On The Table: Conduct an audit on your account to see where money is being wasted. Take a look at SQRs for negative keywords, account keywords with excessive spend and zero or very minimal clicks & conversions.

7)     Mobile Bid Modifiers: In one of Elite’s past blog posts (http://elitesem.com/2013/12/03/thanksgiving-black-friday-2013-evolution-of-the-mobile-revolution/)  we touched on the growing influence of mobile devices  on paid search, particularly in the e-commerce sector. With this in mind, you may want to review mobile bid modifiers across your campaigns and adjust them accordingly.

8)     Language Targeting: Review the language setting for your campaigns. Depending on your brand and product offerings, new/ increased language targeting can open up more avenues for traffic and conversions. Conversely, some campaigns may be targeting undesirable languages which is driving up spend.

9)     Geographic Targeting & Bid Modifiers: As the market changes and new trends arise, traffic will also change accordingly. Analyze traffic and order values by region, and review or adjust geographic targeting and bid modifiers.

10)  Campaign Statuses: Check that all campaigns (and/or ad groups/keywords) have the desired statuses. An active campaign that should have been paused may drive up spend. Conversely, a paused campaign that should have been active may result in lost traffic, sales, or leads.

11)  Daily Budgets: Ensure that the proper or desired daily budgets are in place. For example, if you temporarily decreased the daily budget for a campaign in 2013 due to seasonality you may want to consider increasing the daily budget if the campaign is now in season.  A daily budget below the desired amount will result in lost traffic, sales, or leads.

12)  Tracking Parameters: Tracking codes are very important for lead generation and e-commerce/ direct sales companies. Ensure that all of the proper tracking parameters are in place in the proper locations, so that conversions are being tracked accurately.

Summary

There is so much more to be reviewed and explored within your accounts and this list serves as a quick checklist. Take an afternoon when you get back into the office and run through this check list. Your due diligence here will result in a strong and efficient account which will be ready to take on 2014. To keep it short, review everything within your accounts!

Alan Hernandez

Alan Hernandez

Alan Hernandez is an Alumnus of Santa Clara University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Commerce in Finance and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Alan currently works as an Account Analyst in the San Francisco Office at Elite SEM.

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