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Here’s How to Respond When Your PPC Conversion Rates Take a Turn for the Worse

By Rory Witt    |    December 4, 2017

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PPC can be daunting. Across all industries, the average conversion rate is a little under three percent on the Search Network. If you work in finance or insurance, you’ll be chasing a conversion rate slightly over 7 percent.

Although conversion rates vary, one thing remains true across all business models—every company wants a better conversion rate. When you have strong conversion rate optimization, you’ll turn more visitors into customers.

You spend hours altering your sponsored search ads, landing pages and website to increase your conversion. You put your heart and soul into the conversion rate optimization process, only to find that your efforts don’t always pay off. From time to time, conversion rates drop. Here’s what to do when they go in the wrong direction:

1) Start Internally

A few factors can cause your conversion rates to drop. You’ll be tempted to analyze multiple potential issues at once, but it’s important to stay focused. Start by thinking about your company and your actions.

Have you done anything recently to improve your landing pages or website? Sometimes, even with the best intentions, new techniques or approaches fail. Think about recent changes you’ve made and see if any of them may be to blame for the downtick.

A) Look for Irrelevant Searchers

After you’ve analyzed your actions, start to think about the people who view your content. To begin this step, pull up your negative keywords. If you’re not already using them, you can add them in quickly.

For a step-by-step beginner’s guide to negative keywords, click here. Once they’re added, you might find that they are enough to sort out non-converting traffic, which will boost your conversion rates. However, this approach doesn’t always work, which is why many have to take it a bit further …

Look at your search terms again. These will show you the actual queries customers type into Google searches that return your advertisement. Then, you need to add specific negative keywords for the queries you see.

For example, say your company is selling pecan pies for the holidays. You don’t want people searching “pecan pie recipes” to see your advertisement, so you should add in the negative keyword “-recipes.”

B) Monitor Spend

If you run multiple advertisements at one time, you’re probably no stranger to shifting budgets around. Every day, PPC managers change their budgets from campaign to campaign in an attempt to improve ROI. Generally, this is a sound practice, but it can backfire if you’re not careful.

Some people accidentally move money to campaigns with lower conversion rates in an attempt to boost their success. This is a big mistake … Best practice is to look at the campaign with the low conversion rate and optimize it without additional spend. I repeat, the answer is not pouring more money in, it’s optimizing.

Another thing that can harm your revenue is moving money into a campaign that doesn’t drive sales. There are all kinds of purposes for PPC campaigns, two of the most common being increasing sales or seeking more information.

When you change your budget and allocate more money to a campaign that’s designed to increase the number of phone calls you receive or gain a customer’s contact info, you’ll certainly see a drop in conversion rates.

C) Check Your Messaging

Have you ever heard the phrase “Keep it simple, stupid?” It’s a design principle that found its beginnings with a group of engineers. I like to apply it to digital marketing.

All too often, I see advertisers promoting ad content that doesn’t match their landing pages. For example, they advertise a free trial, but when I click on the link, their landing pages say something like “plans starting at $15 a month.”

This is an example of inconsistent ad messaging. The free trial is what made me click on the link, and that’s what I want to see when I arrive on the website. When I see the paid version options, I’m tempted to close the website immediately.

When you come up with your content, make sure what your customers think they’re getting is exactly what they get. Hulu does this well … Their advertisement says “Start Today & Try 30 Days Free.” As soon as I click on it, there’s an easy-to-locate button that says “start your free trial.” Easy, simple and convenient. As a consumer, I want a free trial, and I quickly see where I can sign up for one.

Once I click the green button, I’m taken to a page where I can pick from one of two plans. One has no commercials and is $11.99 a month, and the other has limited commercials and is $5.99 a month—both start with a free first month.

At this point, Hulu presents me with options and tries to upsell me, and I’m too invested to back out. They more or less spoon fed me content until I was comfortable making a “big decision”—to commercial, or not to commercial. Well done, Hulu, well done.

D) Glance at the Calendar

From a financial standpoint, you’re probably well acquainted with how your business performs throughout the year. What you may not be as familiar with, however, is how your PPC reflects your company’s seasonality.

Companies that bring in a lot of their revenue in Q4 can expect to have pretty high PPC conversion rates come the end of the year. They may even continue to experience inflated rates in the new year, as people look to exchange or return products they received as gifts.

When February or March rolls around, it’s totally normal for conversion rates to take a turn for the worse. When this happens, you must recognize the cause. It’s easy to go on a witch-hunt and look at yourself and your competitors for a change, but the real change may just be the time of the year.

Analyze your PPC performance from last year and review your financial trends to figure out if your decrease in conversion is seasonal. Then, you can make future projections and come up with unique specials or campaigns that’ll draw traffic to your site in the off-season.

2) Move Externally

Once you’ve pointed the finger at yourself and considered the causes above, look to your competition. Has a competitor of yours added a new advertisement that’s undermining your traffic? Are they offering a ridiculously good deal that’s attracting all kinds of PPC attention?

If so, you might need to create a temporary campaign or offer to rival their advertisement.

When All’s Said and Done

How you react to plummeting conversion rates is critical.

Quickly brush over the aforementioned areas and see if one of them is the source of your drop. If not, don’t panic, take a bit more time to analyze what might be going wrong.

If you’re still not sure, reach out to a seasoned digital marketing agency that can quickly help diagnose and resolve the issue.

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