5 PPC Management Mistakes That Will Make You Switch Agencies

I think we all know that there’s plenty of PPC management agencies here in Edmonton. & I think we all know that they’re not all that great at what they do. Mistakes in pay-per-click come in all sort of sizes, from tiny blunders that make almost no difference to the result, to huge mistakes that can cost you thousands of dollars. Because of the latter, this makes finding the right agency all that more crucial.

Now don’t get me wrong, we all make mistakes, it happens, we’re human. With that being said, we need to be a bit more proactive about mitigating these potentially significant issues. Why? Because these are the mistakes that can lead to your business missing out on more conversions. Here are some of the most common PPC management mistakes that agencies do:

1. Ignoring your goals and focusing on vanity metrics

I think this point is the one that irritates me the most. Why? Because I believe there are only two reasons why an agency would focus on vanity metrics:

1. They honestly don’t know any better, thus showing their incompetence.
2. They believe that the client doesn’t know any better.

Both are incredibly dangerous reasons.

These agencies will boast about increasing and tracking vanity metrics such as traffic, bounce rate, time spent on site and click-through rate. If your goals are to generate more leads and increase revenue, why would how long someone sat on your website be a metric worth following?

2. Setting up your PPC account the wrong way

Truthfully, this mistake, although massive and horrible, has been fantastic for me. That’s because when I inherit a poorly set up account, I fix it up and all of a sudden, like magic, the account starts to perform significantly better. Naturally, I come out looking like a superstar.

But enough about how great I am and let’s talk about what a poorly set up account looks like.

I love the Single Keyword Ad Group (aka SKAG) method and have been setting accounts up with this method for

years on end even when my good friends at Google suggest a completely different approach.

For years we’ve been told that the best way to structure an account is by creating tightly themed ad groups which are fine in its theory but not so much on the execution end.

Why? Because our target audience is not typing in searches by theme, they’re searching for actual searches.What we want is to be as close as possible to what our target audience is looking for, not ~close enough~. Which is why using the SKAG method is a no brainer.

The benefits of setting up your account this way don’t end there! You’ll notice that Quality Score will increase and thus lowering CPC AND it’ll give me a much more granular view of what is and isn’t working.

3. Managing keywords incorrectly

Keyword management can get a bit tricky from time to time, but the three biggest mistakes I’ve seen are:

✗ Not bidding on your brand name
✗ Using broad match
✗ Not updating your keyword list

● Brand name bidding – There’s always been a bit of a debate on this. I’ve met marketers that believe that the use of branded campaigns is a waste of money when you already rank #1 organically. Which, in theory, makes sense BUT you’re essentially leaving yourself wide open to allow your competitors the opportunity to bid on your name. We CANNOT let that to happen.

The reason why I believe in bidding on your brand name is valuable is that I want more SERP (search engine results page) real estate.

PPC Management - Competitors Bidding on Branded Terms
Although this example isn’t the best, you’ll get the idea (I didn’t want to actually call out the company that is bidding for Klientboost’s name).

All marketers know that ads and organic listings above the fold see higher engagement and more views. Studies have suggested that 65% of those are spent in the top half above the fold.

So, if you opt to rely only on your organic listing, you run the risk of your business showing up dangerously close to the fold. It’s a risk I would not want to take.

● Using broad match – Although broad match keywords are a great way to expand your reach, they are Google’s way of fleecing you for every dollar you’ve got.

The reason why broad match key terms are a costly mistake to your PPC campaign is that they have a high keyword: search term ratio. What this means is that they have so many terms triggering the same keyword in your account.

Managing PPC Campaigns - Broad Match Gone Wrong
Not only does broad match end up costing YOU money that you didn’t need to spend, but it also, sometimes, do not put you in front of the right audience.

Chances a user searching something specific, clicking on your ad (& costing you $$) and then dropping off because the page your business presented wasn’t relevant is high.

& before you start to say nasty things about Google, remember that you chose an agency that uses broad match keywords.

● Negative keyword list – I truly believe that negative keyword lists  are a gift given to us by the Google Gods.

We tell them what words we don’t want our brand/business to be associated with. They ensure that we don’t show up in the search results when someone uses that negative keyword with a keyword we are bidding on. This helps us stay relevant in the SERPs and, best of all, helps us save money so we can spend on keywords that would give us a return.

Take a peek through your account and see if your agency is managing your account with these best practice. If they’re not, you’re likely spending more money, but not necessarily generating more lead than you realistically could.

4. Ignoring the buyer’s journey

The buyer’s journey is the journey the buyer goes through before they purchase a product or service. It’s usually divided into three stages” Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.

When you’re planning your PPC campaign, it’s essential to consider the stage your visitors currently are in. If your visitor is in the awareness stage, it won’t make any sense to send them to a landing page that’s specifically designed to sell them.

During the awareness stage, you need to educate visitors on how they can solve their problem or issue with your product or service. Only then will they able to move to the consideration stage, examining different options for solving their problem. Finally, during the decision stage, they will be ready to spend money to buy your product or service.

5. Making decisions based on small sample sizes

I love PPC because of how quickly you can see what is working and what is not, but with that being said, campaigns do need time. An inexperienced agency will try to optimize ads based on a small number of impressions. These changes in your campaign will result in hurting your bottom line in the long run. To properly optimize your ads, you need to make sure that you’re working on statistically significant sample size.

To make a statistically significant decision, you’ll need to use some tools before you make a conclusive decision.

When I begin a test, I start it with two groups – Group A and Group B. Group A is considered to by my constant whereas Group B is considered to be my variation (aka test). I allow the test to run at least 14 days because we want to give the campaign an adequate amount of time to collect impressions, clicks & conversions.

I’ll pop over to the Cardinal Path A/B Testing Tool and simply enter the information that’s available to me. What outputs is something like this:

Cardinal Path's A/B Test
Cardinal Path - A/B Test Results
Cardinal Path - A/B Test Results

The beautiful thing about these calculators is that they’ll tell you how much more data you’ll need before it can make a concrete decision. It’s lovely, I know.


I know it’s incredibly challenging to find an agency to work with that not only will be easy to work with, but will have your best interest at heart. Making the wrong choice can cost you and your business not only a significant amount of money but also your entire campaign. Looking out for these five mistakes will help you avoid working with an agency that will cost you more money than you bargained for in the long run!

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