How to generate the highest ROI from PPC campaigns

Alex Minchin
Alex Minchin

Losing money to AdWords or not seeing the results you were promised? Find out how to generate the highest ROI from PPC campaigns.

If you’ve spent a morning creating a PPC campaign only to sit back, refreshing Inbox (0) while AdWords eats up your budget, you’re not alone.

“I thought PPC delivered instant results. Where are my enquiries, and why has Google taken all my money?”

AdWords is one of the quickest channels for delivering ROI. Create a smart, well-optimised ad group and you could start seeing enquiries the same afternoon. But it needs to be setup properly.

AdWords is our bread and butter. We work with it every day for a large percentage of our clients. Done right, it could be yours, too.

Use a thick slice of Doorstop, slather it in Lurpak, and grow fat and happy on the pay-per-click business coming your way.

If delicious metaphors aren’t your thing, here’s our practical advice on how to generate the highest ROI from PPC campaigns.


  1. Optimise your quality score
  2. Put a unique spin on your ad copy
  3. Customise your tables
  4. Create ads for mobile
  5. Engage remarketing
  6. Link your AdWords to Analytics

Optimise your quality score

High ROI requires quality scores to match. A high quality score means your ad is in good shape and setup to perform as well as possible.

It is also more cost effective. A high quality score decreases the amount you pay for your clicks, meaning you’ll pay less to outperform your competition.

A low quality score means your ad is probably underperforming. You’re wasting money. Depending on which keywords you’re targeting, you could be wasting a lot.

Here’s what to do to turn your quality score around and save enough budget for Friday drinks/pizzas this month:

  1. Make your ad copy more relevant to your keyword. You’ve chosen a great keyword for your target audience but your ad copy could use some work. It might be the tone of voice or the actual language you’re using. Whatever the problem, it’s not hitting the spot. Consider setting up several ad groups specific to different products, so you can get as granular as possible with your copy. Include your keyword in the ad text, and review your call to actions. These should be simple and assertive.
  2. Make your landing page more relevant to your keyword. Your ad is great and your keyword is bringing in the right traffic but your landing page doesn’t match up. The copy and design could use some work, or you might have accidentally linked to the wrong page. Check your URLs, then consider editing your landing page to better match the ad copy and target audience. Better still, create a PPC-specific landing page for just this purpose.
  3. Use a keyword that better reflects your ad copy and landing page. You know your landing page is right because it performs well organically. Your ad copy complements it perfectly. But your keyword choice is off. People aren’t clicking through, probably because your keyword is being triggered by the wrong audience. Try a better keyword.

In May, Google revealed that you can now see your quality score data in your statistics columns, making it easier than ever to monitor.

If you notice your quality score dropping, it’s time to pull on your optimising gloves.

Higher quality scores can lead to higher ROI. Discover other ways of spending less on AdWords.

Put a unique spin on your ad copy

AdWords is a competitive scene. The platform is built around a bidding culture, adding a whole other level of competition between you and other businesses targeting similar keywords.

If you’re serious about generating the highest ROI from your PPC, you’re going to need to stand out from the crowd. This doesn’t just mean being the better choice or offering unique products.

It means standing out visually on the screen and creating the ads your audience is drawn to.

If your ads aren’t being noticed, here’s a step by step you can follow to improve them.

  1. Research your competitors’ ads. How is the independent down the road wording their ads? What about the big boys with the lion’s share of the market? Study the kind of language they use when writing their ad copy. Are they asking readers to Buy Here, Find Out More, Save Now? Make a list of the way they write their ads and familiarise yourself with this.
  2. Now revise your ads to read differently. That’s right—whatever your competitors’ ads are saying, talk differently. Readers grow numb to the same language. Offers no longer stand out when there are three of them in a row. Think about how your audience benefits from your service and consider communicating this. If everyone is capitalising the first letter of every word, go lower case. From the words you use to the tone of your writing and the way you structure your sentences, write differently.
  3. Rinse and repeat! Any changes to your ads should be monitored closely. Your quality score might change and the ad might just not perform. As long as you’re monitoring your ads, you can optimise them for performance until they’re delivering the ROI you’ve been looking for (and your competitors are crying into their pillows).

Editing text and content creation might not be your cup of tea. A copywriter or a marketer with experience in conversion rate optimisation should be able to help.

Higher click-through rate can lead to higher ROI.

Customise your tables

You’re familiar with the use of columns to retrieve your ads’ performance data. Your statistics tables are made up of them.

That’s a lot of data, only some of which will be useful for the task at hand.

From campaign types and labels to performance metrics, you can add, remove, and rearranging the columns that are the most important.

Managing your columns in this way is simple, if you know how:

  1. Select the relevant campaign and time period for the data you want to examine.
  2. Choose one of the tabs from the middle of the page, for example Ad Groups or Keywords.
  3. Select “Columns” above the Statistics table.
  4. Click on “Modify Columns” from the drop-down menu and add, remove, or click and drag columns to modify the table as desired.

Optimisation of ads—and the ROI that results from a well-optimised ad or ad group—depends on your ability to access and understand AdWords performance data.

Manipulating your tables in this way makes this much easier.

Better optimised ads can lead to higher ROI. These are some of our favourite columns to use for optimisation.

Create ads for mobile

If you’re not already optimising for mobile, you’re late to the party. The guests have left, the candles blown, and all the food has gone. (It’s okay—your buttered Doorstop is coming.)

I don’t need to pull out statistics to demonstrate how many of us use our mobiles for search every day. Aside from the fact this will vary from industry, all you need to do is look across the office. (Don’t look now.)

Most of us are aware of this behaviour when writing copy or planning a web build. But it can be easy to forget when you’re creating your ads, and an ad optimised for desktop is not going to be as effective viewed on mobile.

Your ROI’s going to feel that one.

  1. Choose a suitable call to action. Mobile audiences spend less time browsing compared to desktop users. Their screens are smaller and it is less convenient. Consider inviting the reader to call, instead of directing them to a form submission. They’re literally on their phone.
  2. Position the call to action more prominently. A call to action at the top of the advert is going to be much more visible than one hidden away at the bottom.
  3. Consider adding Click to Call. You can’t make it much easier for a reader to enquire than click to call. And easy is good.
  4. Review your keywords. Some keywords might perform better than others on mobile. Test a variety to see which are the winners and which fall behind.
  5. Write for small screens and shorter attention spans. Worry less about writing in full, grammatically correct sentences and more about getting the most important or persuasive information across as quickly and effectively as possible. Your copywriters will understand.
  6. Optimise your landing pages for mobile readers. If the mobile reader does click through to your landing page, make sure it’s formatted and structured to meet them. Reflect the ad copy near the top of the page to improve its relevance and implement some of the above tips on the landing page, so it’s as accessible as possible to the reader with a small screen, no time, and a cursory attention span.

Mobile optimised ads can lead to higher ROI.

Engage remarketing

Hugh is one of our resident PPC ninjas. He’s Google certified to the teeth, so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.

He’s blogged about the merits of PPC remarketing before. To paraphrase, remarketing promotes high ROI by engaging people who have already visited and shown an interest in your site.

You can even tailor your messaging to reflect the page they browsed, so it’s as relevant to them as possible. There’s that specificity again.

To set up a remarketing campaign:

  1. Add a remarketing tag across your website. This is a small piece of code that you get from Adwords. Input it to each page. If you already have the code in place, you can enable it for Remarketing in the settings.
  2. Build remarketing lists for your most valuable or popular pages. You can do this in AdWords or Analytics, assuming you have linked the two. (If not—see below!)
  3. Visitors to these pages will be added to the respective remarketing list. You now have a segmented list of people to target.
  4. Create a campaign that shows an ad to these visitors when they search for a certain term or keyword in the future. They will recognise your brand name and remember you from before. Having already expressed an interest in your site, they are more likely to return and convert than customers hearing of you for the first time.

Engaging remarketing can lead to higher ROI.

Link your AdWords to Analytics

This one from Mark, our Head of Delivery: don’t forget to track conversions. You can’t improve your ROI if you don’t have historic conversion data.

Or, you won’t know if what you’re doing is producing better results because you have nothing to compare it against. Fresh from Mark’s mouth:

“Don’t forget to track conversions by linking AdWords to your Analytics account. You wouldn’t believe the amount of businesses who approach us for our help with AdWords management, seeking to improve their ROI, but don’t have conversion data available to them.”

Data is your flour. It’s dry on its own but you need it if you want to make something special; say, for example, a high-performing PPC campaign.

Linking your AdWords and your Analytics enables you to see performance data in both. Analytics will also give you richer data than AdWords alone.

How to link AdWords and Analytics:

If written instructions are more your thing, you can follow the steps detailed here.

Once your accounts are linked don’t forget to add some goals in Analytics to track. Anything from click to call, mail to links and form submissions can be tracked if you’re a service provider or in B2B. For B2C and ecommerce businesses these goals are still okay but the real value is in ecommerce tracking, add to basket and checkouts.

Historic conversion data is essential for measuring and improving ROI.

Final word

Whatever your business area and budget, AdWords campaigns need to be well-researched, monitored frequently, and continually optimised.

With this in mind, AdWords is fast. It can be quick to set up, quick to produce results, and quick to use budget.

In fact, in the time it takes to mix, bake, and butter a loaf, you could have already started growing key areas of your business.

We use all of these tips to repeatedly deliver the significant returns our clients expect.

Use them too and start improving your ROI with a well-optimised, pay-per-click Adwords campaign.

If you think you could use some extra help to promote your business to your customers in a strategic and measurable way, then consider working with a PPC agency skill base like ours – certified Google and Bing partners.

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