Local PPC Mistakes

Are You Making Any of These Local PPC Mistakes?

If you run local PPC advertising campaigns for small businesses, it can be easy to think your primary job is to manage the setup, settings, and performance details of each PPC campaign – the bids, the ads, the landing pages, etc.

But that’s not what your #1 focus should be.

According to Michael Morscheck, Director of Account Management at Acquisio, what you really need to do is to understand what your client ultimately wants out of their advertising. Then you go build campaigns and tracking systems to serve the client’s goal. All the details of how the client’s goal gets executed are just that: Details. Always stay focused on what the client really wants.

That’s the essence of the seven local PPC mistakes listed below, though each of the points we’ll cover is important in its own right. So if you want to understand the “big picture” of how to deliver what your clients really want, keep reading.

1. Not understanding your audience.

The idea of “getting inside your audience’s heads” comes up a lot when people talk about writing ad copy, and it’s true that you need a deep understanding of the people you’re advertising to if you want to write great copy.

But you need to understand your audience way before you ever get around to writing ads. Not doing this is one of the biggest local PPC mistakes. For example, if you’re doing local PPC advertising, by definition you need to have some kind of geotargeting or geofencing set up. Your advertising has to focus on a specific area. Which area you focus on and how you define that area requires an understanding of your audience.

So if you want to avoid this mistake (and get far better results for your clients) spend some time with your clients to understand their audiences before you start creating campaigns. Business owners usually know an enormous amount about their customers. Their audience is their business, to a certain extent. And so even a 15-20 minute conversation with a business owner may turn up valuable insights you can use to create better campaigns.

For instance, if you didn’t ask, you might not know that almost all of a restaurant’s clientele come from one town over. Or you might not have known that a particular gym has a significant portion of members over 65. Both of those pieces of information are critical for targeting your ads, writing those ads, and for crafting effective landing pages and offers.

2. Focusing on metrics that don’t really matter.

Getting insights into your audience isn’t limited to ad copy and location targets, either. As Morscheck explains, “The fundamental thing that you want to do with any advertising campaign is to understand who your audience is, understand what their problems are, and how to solve them.” That may mean having to see through some early funnel, “vanity” metrics, in order to focus on the end goal and what the client wants the end goal to be.

So which metrics matter? It depends on the business you’re in, and even on your business model. And ecommerce site, for example, will be interested in different metrics than a local store. But generally, Morscheck advises, “the closer you can get to revenue, the more important it is.”

3. Not making decisions based on statistically significant data.

PPC advertising and optimization runs on data. Trouble is, the less data you have, the harder it is to optimize campaigns. This is especially a problem in local PPC marketing, because the PPC campaigns are targeted to very specific locations, and so there’s a smaller audience being targeted, and so there are less clicks and conversions to track.

Often, there are so few meaningful conversions to track that you can’t get enough data to make statistically valid decisions.

Here’s how Morscheck describes a possible situation like this. A local PPC agency manager might say, “‘I really like this campaign because it’s more than doubled its performance in the last few weeks,’ and you look at the data and it’s got three conversions versus one, so how significant is that? Probably not significant enough to draw a conclusion… If there’s not enough data, you can’t really make good decisions.”

4. Seeing the data you have only from a PPC performance point of view, instead of in the context of actually driving revenue.

As an agency PPC marketer, your PPC clients are experts in their business. But they’re usually not experts in the mechanics of launching and optimizing campaigns. Conversely, you, the agency marketer, are usually an expert in the mechanics of PPC campaigns… but you’re probably not a total expert in your client’s line of business.

This makes it very easy to have a blind spot about your client’s business when you’re analyzing PPC campaign data. As Morscheck explains, it’s very easy to say “‘from our point of view, this campaign is killing it. We love where we stand with impression share, we love the fact that we’re getting good click-through rate, we feel really good about the conversion rate, we’re spending the budget, we’re not overspending the budget, we’re not wasting money, we feel like we’ve refined it.’”

“And then you turn around in your chair, and say: ‘We feel really good about this, how about you, Mr. and Mrs Client?'”

“And the client says, ‘well, we’re selling a lot of air filters – great, those are conversions – but we’re not selling retrofit HVAC units or furnaces, or the things that really move the needle on the bottom line.’

“There’s a gap there. That’s kind of a one-on-one example; that’s pretty elementary. But that’s the kind of thing where the data can tell one story in one person’s mind and it’s a huge success, and in another frame if you’re not in alignment with the client needs, then you might misfire on that.

5. Not leveraging tools that can save time.

Running a successful local PPC agency requires managing accounts at scale. You’ll still do plenty of customized work, of course, but the more you can automate, the better.

We’ve hit a point with PPC management where both performance and efficiency play off of each other. Being good at both is essential.

Just as an example: If you can automate bid edits and ad budgets, then you can spend more time talking directly to your clients and understanding their needs. Or you can invest more time testing new ad formats like Local Service Ads, doing competitive research, or trying out new features in Google Ads.

6. Not managing your budget carefully enough to get all the way to the end of the month.

This is a common problem for human PPC managers, and even Google itself comes up a little short sometimes.

In the push to get maximum conversions and use all the available budget, it’s very easy to use up all of your PPC budget, but still have some days left in the month. Google Ads tries to manage for the vagaries of search volume and campaign performance, but it’s not perfect. Other tools (like Acquisio) are more focused on both optimizing ad spend and using all of the available ad budget.

This can be especially challenging during the holidays or other times when search traffic is unusual. Of course, these “unusual” time frames tend to be exactly when advertisers want to get their ads seen the most.

But Morscheck knows of a secret benefit to managing PPC ad budgets well. Advertisers who can manage their PPC budgets all the way  through to the end of the month often enjoy very little PPC competition at the close of the month. Because their competitors have used up their ad budgets earlier in the month, those competitors aren’t bidding anymore. This allows the advertisers with better budget management to do extremely well in those last few days of the month. Bid prices drop dramatically, clicks go up, and conversions rise.

7. Not using geofencing.

Geofencing is an example of the sort of campaign you can set up – and have the time to set up – once more of your PPC campaign management is automated.

Here’s how Mike describes it: “If you’ve got a business and you want to target clients who might be going into competing businesses, you can literally draw a shape on the map of where competition is in your area. When people who have their smartphones turned on walk into that target zone, they become eligible to receive your advertisements on their mobile device that are specifically intended for them.”

Say you own a local gym. Any time someone goes to Planet Fitness or Anytime Fitness, you want your ad for Mike’s Gym to show up. The campaign will then track if people in those locations see the ad and respond to the ad’s offer.

When these potential clients walk into Mike’s gym, they get tagged. Campaign reports will now show these people were in your competitor’s zone – were in Planet Fitness, for example – and because they saw this geofencing ad, they came into Mike’s Gym.

Morscheck believes now is a perfect time to try a campaign like this, and Acquisio’s programmatic team can set it all up. “This time of year is a great time to do that because there’s a lot of people shopping around and wandering around in stores. There’s a lot of buzz and people are ready to spend money.”

If you only take away one thing from this article…

Here’s Morscheck’s closing thought for PPC ad managers:

“The most important thing is to understand what the end goal is for the client. Before you move on to the more granular bits of data that are available, make sure that they’re supporting the greater objective, whatever that is. And if [they’re] not, then I would challenge the campaign manager. I would ask them, ‘Why are we focused on this? Why are we looking at this data in this way if it’s not directly related to the outcome that we’re going for?’”



  1. Unsplash. Paul Hanaoka.



Pam Neely

Pam Neely

Pam Neely has been in digital marketing for 20 years. She's a serial entrepreneur and content marketing enthusiast with a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award and a Hermes Creative Award for blogging. She has a Master's Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.

The First Machine Learning Marketing Platform
Built to Scale Search for Local Resellers & Agencies

Automate, optimize and track more campaigns, more profitably.