The 5 PPC Lessons Experts Learned the Hard Way So You Don’t Have To

Pay per click (PPC) campaigns are no joke. They can be exceptionally profitable and provide outstanding ROI, bringing in new leads, new clients, and new sales.

If they’re not executed correctly, however, PPC campaigns can also go really, really wrong.

Without the right measures in place, you can start bleeding ad spend and not get anywhere close to the kind of results you should be.

We all learn by trial and error, including our current generation of PPC experts who have run plenty of their own campaigns and campaigns for their clients.

We wanted to hear about the most common PPC mistakes that ad experts with different specialties saw most frequently or had experienced themselves.

In this post, 5 PPC experts share the lessons they learned the hard way so you don’t have to.

1. Consider the Lifetime Value of Your Customers  

Alex Fedotoff is an expert at helping businesses scale with Facebook Ads (and running Facebook Ad campaigns capable of scaling themselves). The biggest lesson that he’s learned overtime is that the importance of lifetime value (LTV) of your customers can’t be overstated.

The main lesson I’ve learned is that it’s all about lifetime value of the customer and who can spend the most to get a customer,”

he told us, mentioning this was particularly important as you scale your ad spend to much higher thresholds.

If you want to scale your Facebook a campaigns, you need to realize that while you are scaling your campaigns, your CPA will go up and you need to make sure your business has a strong back end where you maximize the value of each customer.”

Most businesses, he told us, focus on the cost of a one-off sale, while they should be focusing on how the lifetime value of a customer. If you’re focusing on the latter, you have more room to spend on your average CPC while still running a profitable campaign.

You need to know how much each customer generates you over a lifetime, not just one -off purchase. Most businesses think about scaling Facebook campaigns in a very simple way. They think they will simply grow their ad spend and CPA and margins will stay the same. It’s rarely the case. They try to scale, their profits evaporate and they think scaling doesn’t work.

I’ve learned this hard way with my own business and my clients’ businesses who were thinking short term profits and have been disappointed. Some of them have adjusted their thinking to long term and LTV focused and we have achieved amazing results while scaling their offers worldwide.

Instead, You need to make sure your marketing funnels and backend are strong, then you just buy traffic on Facebook or any other platform and simply outspend your competitors. They can’t afford high costs, but you can now because your LTV and margins are much better.”

2. Start with a Goal in Mind

It’s easy to hope that a single campaign will drive brand awareness and engagement and sales. And who knows, maybe it can. But going in hoping this and not focusing on a single goal is a common flaw that Simple Pin Media owner Kate Ahl sees frequently.

The Promoted Pins platform can be really confusing to navigate and it’s easy to want to target everyone, but it’s better to have a goal in mind before you start your ad,”

she informed us.

Do you want traffic, engagement or awareness? For most people it’s traffic and the biggest mistake people make is going for engagement. This is only repins that you’re paying for. With traffic, you’re paying for clicks.”

Not only should you have a goal for the results you want to get, you should also be setting goals for where you want your CPC to fall at and what audiences you want to reach.

“After that goal, set one avenue of targeting — keywords, interests or audience. You can definitely use all three but when you’re just starting, choose keywords to keep it simple. The last mistake people can make is setting their CPC bid within the perimeters of what Pinterest sets. It will say high or low. Most people don’t know you can go lower. I suggest starting around $.30/click and then moving higher as needed.”

3. Embrace Square & Vertical Ratios

Anton Eliasson is the director of marketing at video editing tool Shakr, and is an expert in the video ad industry.

He said that one of the best things marketers can do on Facebook and Instagram campaigns is to not only embrace video but to embrace both square and vertical ratios for your video ads.

Don’t stick to the old 16:9 format. Experiment with square and vertical formats. Since most Instagram and Facebook usage happens on mobile, it’s important that you experiment with other aspect ratios than what you’re used to. For example, if your audience watches your square video in a mobile feed (e.g Facebook/Instagram), you get 78% (!) more screen real estate. Square videos often give you up to 30% higher video views and 80-100% increase in engagement,”

he said. He also mentions that you should test multiple ad formats.

Also, if you’re not posting on Instagram Stories, you’re missing out on a potential audience of 300 million daily active users, so start producing vertical content. Instagram Stories ads are a great way to get your audience’s undivided attention and connect with them. Try mixing both candid footage that plays to the native style of Stories, and more polished content.”

4. Get Creative With Your Strategies

Serge Salager has years of marketing experience, and currently runs the ground-breaking tool Retarget Links that has a new way to identify potential PPC customers through content.

It’s not much of a surprise, therefore, that the advice he had to offer focused on getting creative with your retargeting campaigns to better connect with customers.

Having worked in the digital ad space for as long as I have, you start to uncover the intricacies of each digital channel,”

Serge said.

You learn what to do, and most importantly, what not to do, to get the maximum results with the least cost. Specifically, when it comes to AdWords and paid search campaigns, I learned that while results can be immediate (eyeballs and clicks to your brand), it can be expensive, and once you end the campaign, so does your exposure.”

This sounds a little bleak, right? Only if you aren’t using it correctly, as it turns out. So is the channel even worth using?

Absolutely – when you understand how to make the most of your efforts. Know that people are ten times more likely to read trusted content over ads. You can use this to your advantage, by running a campaign that directs users to a trusted article that is relevant to your brand. Behind the scenes, incorporate a retargeting link that will identify potential customers that click on the ad, which you can then use to display targeted ads that will introduce them to your product,”

he continued.

It’s also important to note that people don’t make a purchase after seeing only one ad. They often need between five and ten reminders before they actually go on to make a purchase on Google Adwords. Again, you can run a PPC campaign and use a retargeting link to then show targeted ads to people who clicked on your initial PPC ad. Because of this, retargeting AdWords campaigns won’t work in isolation. Combine your push marketing efforts with pull marketing efforts – understand what people are searching for and create interesting, engaging content of your own to share with them.”

5. Understand Your Ad Settings

Brittani Hunsaker is the director of paid search at PPC advertising firm Disruptive Advertising, and she explained that one of the most common PPC mistakes she saw happening, again and again, was clients not understanding the settings on the search audiences… and making the wrong choice as a result.

She said this was particularly common when it came to the “Target & Bid” or “Bid Only” choice on search audiences.

Using the wrong setting on your search audiences can mean the difference between an increase in traffic and a sharp cut-off of traffic,”

she said.

This is still one of the most consistent errors and/or areas of confusion.”

She laid out the difference between the two for us:

In the old UI, you would have selected “Bid Only”. Keywords are your standard “target and bid” criteria.

She said this mistake doesn’t occur quite as frequently now that Adwords has updated the terminology it uses, but some brands still coming to them after making this mistake.

Thankfully, the new AdWords UI has updated the names of these settings to help eliminate confusion. The new settings are now “Targeting” and “Observation,” with “targeting” restricting the reach of your ad group and “observations” allowing you to monitor your audience lists without restricting your reach. In the new UI, you would select “Observation” as the setting for your Search Audience overlays. Keywords would remain as the primary “Targeting” method.”

Final Thoughts

Though there’s undoubtedly a lot of trial and error involved in PPC campaigns, sometimes it’s best to learn from those who came before you.

These experts have experience executing campaigns both for their own businesses and for their clients. Keep their advice in mind when thinking about the biggest PPC lessons to avoid.

What do you think? What are the biggest PPC lessons you’ve had to learn the hard way? Have you made any of the PPC mistakes our experts shared? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!