For my money one of the trickier aspects of PPC management is the first few weeks of a new account, campaign, ad group, or product line. Many paid search practitioners (myself included) take a very data-driven approach to managing PPC accounts, so starting from scratch can be a little off-putting, particularly if things don’t get going out of the gate the way you’d hoped and planned.

In this post we’ll outline a few common early issues with new paid search campaigns and how to respond to them so that whatever accounts, campaigns, or ad groups you’re launching can bounce back quickly.

Two Common Problems with New PPC Campaigns

New campaigns often suffer from similar issues to existing campaigns, but I find two major issues frequently plague new PPC campaigns unexpectedly:

  1. Lower volume than anticipated
  2. Higher CPAs than anticipated

Each of these creates their own issues within a new campaign, so we’ll offer some potential solutions for dealing with them quickly and efficiently.

Addressing Lower Volume than Anticipated

Oftentimes when you initially launch a campaign it might not be driving any traffic or you might realize you need more leads. A common reaction to this problem is to immediately try to increase budget and/or your bids, but ideally you would find a way to capture more traffic and/or lead volume without just increasing spend. Given that you have a limited amount of time and effort, to accomplish this you can focus your efforts in two core areas:

  • Expanded Targeting – Revisit your keyword targeting strategy and see if you can find new niches to explore. You might be able to identify search queries that you can build on, or you can leverage other PPC keyword expansion tactics. You can also work to generate more volume from your content network campaigns.
  • Increase CTR – Work to refine your ad text and create better segmentations so that more of impressions you’re getting turn into clicks.

You can also focus your efforts around landing page optimization if your issues are around leads and sales more than sheer traffic volume.

Addressing Higher CPAs than Anticipated

Sometimes you’ll actually find sufficient volume from your campaigns, but it won’t be converting cost-effectively for you. In much the same way that cranking up spend is a common reaction to low volume, many advertisers will jump to focus on conversion rate optimization (CRO), but there are actually quite a few alternatives that can help lower your AdWords CPA:

  • Lower Costs while You Iterate – One key approach, particularly if you have a test budget for a campaign you’re piloting, is to rein in spending until you’ve had a chance to iterate on your initial campaign structure, ad text, landing pages, etc. so that you’re not spending as much of your overall budget on a high CPA out of the gate.
  • Analyze Match Types & Search Query Reports – Are your match types leaving your ads exposed to the wrong traffic? This could mean that you need to leverage a better negative keyword approach, but it may also mean that matching options like modified broad match or phrase and exact are better options. You can learn more about match types in our free guide.
  • Increase CTRs and Quality Scores – Driving higher CTRs and creating better segmentations can mean significant pricing discounts from AdWords, as we often mention here on the blog. If you haven’t already, checking out the free Quality Score Toolkit would be well worth your time.
  • Focus Your Spend on More Specific Keywords – This could either mean lowering bids on broader terms and things that haven’t converted (even if it’s early) to spend on more specific, better converting terms, or it could also mean doing the same for new, more granular keyword options.

While there are a lot of options for addressing either of these issues in a new campaign, the six outlined above are typically the best use of limited time and effort when trying to right a campaign that’s gotten off course out of the gate.