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PPC Campaign Management: Why the Process Is Just as Important as the Goal

When you’re cooking dinner and everything is simmering away perfectly, do you walk away and leave it to cook indefinitely, or do you check on it periodically, to make sure nothing is boiling over, sticking to the bottom of the pot, or charring and burning?

It’s common sense to regularly check, stir, turn temperatures up or down, and so on—even when everything is cooking exactly as it’s supposed to.

The same applies to PPC campaign management. Even when all metrics are going well, regular monitoring is essential in order to maintain success and smooth operation.

In this regard, the process you set up for your PPC campaign management is just as important as the goals set for each campaign. If you don’t have the right process in place in order to measure the right metrics, you’ll miss out on the goal you’re attempting to reach.

To help, here are seven tasks you can complete daily, weekly, or monthly to ensure that your process enables you to arrive at the end result you’re shooting for.

#1: Review device performance

Device targeting is more important now than ever before with so many people browsing the web on their smartphones or tablets. This makes it necessary to monitor device performance for your campaign on a weekly or monthly basis.

To do so, click on a campaign, and then click on “Settings” and then “Devices.”

Device Type - PPC Campaigns

This shows your campaign performance by device.

PPC/Adwords Device Type

As you can see from this image, campaign performance varies by type. The click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), and conversion rates can all vary depending on which device people are using. The difference isn’t that drastic in the campaign above, but it can be for some campaigns. And if it is, that may indicate that your site isn’t optimized for tables or phones.

So what exactly can you do with this information?

For starters, you can consider adding a bid adjustment for mobile devices. With less screen space on mobile phones, it’s even more important to be in one of the top two positions. You can ad a “mobile bid adjustment” of 10% or 20% so that your campaign will automatically bid more to get you a better placement on mobile devices.

On the flip side, if the conversion rate is lower for mobile devices, you can adjust your bid by -10% or -20% to get your CPA closer to where you would like it to be.

#2: Check ad copy variations

One of the best ways to improve a PPC campaign is to test different ad copy variations for your ad groups because writing better ads can lead to a higher CPC and lower CPA without making any other changes.

But you also need to check on your ad copy tests in order to select a winner. It’s good to keep track of which ad variations you’re testing in a spreadsheet, and then checking from time to time to see if one ad is performing better than another. You can also store the results in the same spreadsheet so you can keep track of your winning ad copy variations.

One tool that comes in handy for these types of tests is a PPC Ad Testing calculator. These types of calculators help you to determine whether or not you’ve received a statistically significant number of clicks to determine a new ad copy winner.

If you run the numbers on the results shown below, for example, you’ll find out that Ad 2 has a 566% higher click-through rate at a statistically significant level while there is not enough data to determine which ad has a higher conversion rate. Based on this, you could choose Ad 2 as your winner, or you could wait longer to see which one turns out to have a higher conversion rate.

PPC Ad Calculator

#3: Find keywords that aren’t converting

The last thing you want to do is bid on keywords that aren’t converting. Even if the CTR and CPC are good, you need to cull keywords that leading to sales.

To do so, select a campaign, and then click on “Keywords” to see which keywords are converting. You can then sort by cost per acquisition (CPA) or conversion rate to find terms that are and are not converting. Once you find terms that are converting below your minimum threshold level, be sure to delete those from your campaign.

Conversion Rate & Cost Per Conversion

#4: Evaluate search network versus display network

You may not realize this, but your text ads can show in the display network along with the search network, unless you set them to show in the search network only. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but sometimes one type will perform poorly compared to the other.

For example, in the screenshot below, you’ll notice that the total conversion rate for the ad group is 12.93%, but the conversion rate for the search network is 17.74% and the conversion rate for the display network is 7.41%. This means that the ads being shown in the display network aren’t converting as well and are eating into the budget you could be spending on the search network which is converting at a much higher rate. In cases like this, you want to change the campaign settings so that your ads are only showing in the network that’s actually converting.

Display vs. Search Network -- AdWords PPC

In another case, you may want to show your ads in both the display and search networks if you’re goal is to get more impressions. Either way, it’s smart to look at success metrics for both networks in order to figure out whether or not one makes more sense than the other.

#5: Negative keywords

How often do you check your campaigns to find negative keyword opportunities?

It’s worth checking periodically to find negative keywords because poor performing keywords will drag your campaign performance down. To solve this problem, download a search terms report and highlight the terms that are not performing well either because they have a low click through rate or a low conversion rate. Once you’ve found terms that aren’t converting, add them to your campaign as a negative keyword (something you can learn more about here) so you’ll no longer show up for those terms.

Negative Keywords AdWords

#6: Ad scheduling

Another pro tip is to check and see when your ads convert at the highest rate. Do they perform better during the middle of the day or at night after work hours? For some campaigns, the time of day doesn’t matter, but for others it does.

You can find out if it matters for yours by adding a schedule to your campaigns. Click on “Campaigns” then “Settings” and then “Ad Schedule.”

Ad Schedule AdWords

Next, click on the “Ad Schedule” button and then add periods in six hour blocks starting from midnight through 6:00 am, 6:00 am through noon, etc. The result will be four six hour blocks.

Once this is set up, you can come back periodically to evaluate the campaign to see if one period is converting better than another. If so, you can adjust your campaign as needed so your ads are only shown when you’re getting conversions.

#7: Geographic location

Conversions by location is another setting you can evaluate. By clicking on a campaign and then selecting “Settings,” “Locations,” “View locations report,” and “Where your users were” you can see where visitors were located when they clicked on an ad.

Locations Report AdWords

So how is this information useful?

It’s useful because you can find out which regions, states, or countries are performing at a higher rate. If one state is performing better than another, for example, then you can set a bid adjustment by state so more of your budget is being used in the states that are converting at a higher rate, etc.

You can also use this information to adjust your location settings for campaigns. If all of your customers order from the U.S., then you may want to set your locations settings so your ads only show in your targeted location and not just people searching about your location. If on the other hand, you run a resort in another country and mostly target international tourists, then you’ll want to change the settings so that your ads show for people searching for or viewing pages about your targeted location.

Location Settings AdWords


As you can see, daily, weekly, and monthly monitoring of your campaigns can have a big impact. If you can set up a process that allows you to consistently measure the most important metrics for your PPC campaigns, then you’ll be well on your way to accomplish the goals you’ve set for your campaigns, which is why the process is just as important if not more important than your end goal.

Over to you: Do you follow a particular daily or weekly workflow for your campaigns? If yes, share what works for you in the comments. We’d love to learn even more tips about how to set up a successful process for PPC campaign management.


Joe Putnam HeadshotKayla Matthews is an iSpionage blogger with an interest in campaign management and productivity. You can read all of her latest posts by following her on Google+ and