31 May 2016

How To Stop Wasting Your Money on Low Quality PPC Leads

For most lead generation PPC campaigns, the number one most important factor is whether your campaign is generating revenue and ROI for your business. For this reason, it’s essential that you turn your focus to generating high quality leads that are likely to turn into customers. While it may look like your campaigns are performing extremely well and you’re taking all the necessary steps to continuously optimize your AdWords campaigns for cost-effective conversions, in the end, all of those efforts and all of your money can easily be wasted on low quality leads that never amount to anything in terms of your bottom line.

Lead quality can be a frustration for any lead generation campaign, but much like most PPC factors, it’s something that can absolutely be improved and optimized. Let’s first take a look at some of the techniques we recommend you implement on the front-end to increase your lead quality.

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Want to dive deeper? Learn more about upping the quality of your PPC leads by downloading our 10-page guide that outlines how to bridge the data gap between leads and sales to gather insights and drive action.

Review Search Terms

If you feel you’re wasting money on low quality leads, one of the first culprits is often found in the search queries that people are using to find your ads. If you employ more broad keywords to cast a wide net, you’ll likely find that you’re wasting a significant amount of money on search terms that are irrelevant to your products or services.

This is where you should utilize negative keywords to reduce the potential for irrelevant search queries. For example, if you’re a swimming pool supplies business, a search query like “pool table” may trigger your ad. In this case, you’d want to add “table” as a negative keyword to ensure you’re serving your ads to the most relevant users and not wasting money on irrelevant clicks.

If you're casting the widest net by using broad keywords, you could be wasting lots of money on your #PPC. Click To Tweet

Another important consideration while reviewing search terms is qualifying terms. If you focus on high quality auto repairs and know you can’t compete with the $19.99 oil and filter change specials, you may want to negate words such as “cheap” and “cheapest.” This will inherently improve your lead quality as you’ll filter out potential leads that may find your offerings too expensive had they clicked on your ad, thus wasting your money.

Broad Match Keywords

Along these same lines, it’s important to be as specific as possible in your keyword match types to ensure you’re targeting the right audience. It can be tempting to try to capture the high traffic that some broad match keywords offer, but oftentimes those are not only less cost-effective for your campaigns, but they also have the most potential for irrelevant searches.

Broad keyword match types PPC

In addition, the broader your keywords are, the more broad your searchers’ intents will be. You’ll want to hone in and focus on the searchers that are closer to the purchase end of the funnel as opposed to the information seekers. This can be done by specifying keywords and users looking to purchase now.

The broader your keywords are, the more broad your searchers’ intents will be. Focus in! #PPC Click To Tweet

Include some terms like “quotes,” “cost,” or “buy” in your keywords to capture those closer to the purchase end of the funnel. Keep this in mind while reviewing your search terms since you may see trends of information seekers vs. buyers, which can result in new negative keywords.

Search Partners

Google AdWords and Bing campaigns by default will include search partners as network inclusions. The search partners are related sites such as AOL, and may be producing decent results on the surface, but if you’re having lead quality issues, these could be another contributing factor.

This is true especially with Bing, where it is less stringent to be a search partner, and you can typically see some lower quality leads within these networks. It is recommended to pull a URL placements report and check out some of the sites that you’re spending advertising dollars on and decide if they’re relevant to your business or if they’re a little lower quality than you’d like.

Google search partners

You can exclude placements by URL, or if you’re seeing many low quality placements, you can exclude search partners altogether at the campaign level in both Bing and AdWords under campaign settings.

Search partners could be a contributing factor to your poor #PPC lead quality. Click To Tweet

Display Exclusions

Similarly, you’ll want to see where your display ads are showing if you are running ads in the display network. Much like with search terms, you should make a habit of reviewing display placements and excluding those that are low quality or irrelevant to your business. For example, if your business promotes and sells gear for men’s fitness, you’ll likely want your display placements to be relevant to your target audience, such as an ad showing on Men’s Fitness Magazine. An irrelevant placement for this business type would include a women-focused website such as Women’s Health Magazine.

Google display network partners

Irrelevant display placements are a major fail for your #PPC campaigns. Click To Tweet

Qualifying Copy

Another way to combat low quality leads is by qualifying your prospects with specific ad copy or through the landing page experience. This is especially useful if you are in a niche industry or your differentiator is something more unique than what most people are searching for in the space. More often, it may be relevant businesses that provide very high quality products or services and are not willing to compete on price with the cheaper options.

Increase your #PPC lead quality: qualify prospects with specific ad copy or through the landing page experience. Click To Tweet

Qualifying leads through ad copy can be tricky due to limited space in terms of characters, as well as with quality score issues. In order to rate each keyword with a quality score, AdWords is judging your:

  • Click-through-rates
  • Ad relevance
  • Landing page experience

This means that you’ll pay more for each click for trying to provide something a little bit different than the user is intending to look for. You’ll want to think carefully about the searcher’s intent for each keyword you target, and how your product relates to that. If you’re trying to provide an alternative to what the user is used to searching, be clear about that, but know you’ll pay more for it. This should pay off in the end by qualifying the prospect who clicks your ad, accepting the idea of an alternative service to what they were searching for.

Landing page qualifying copy for PPC leads

On the other end, you can provide qualifying statements on your landing pages to ensure prospects who fill out your form or contact you are serious about purchasing, and thus are higher quality leads. The catch to this is that once they are on your landing page, you have already paid for their click. However, by qualifying them on the landing page, you may save your salespeople time by not having to filter through as many bad leads. You could provide a section on your landing page with “You may be an ideal candidate for [service] if you meet the following requirements:” and then provide a few demographics or qualifying characteristics you see in the leads you most often close.

Tracking PPC Leads to Offline Sales

You know what they say about saving the best for last, right? Well, this is probably the best case scenario for any business looking to ensure their PPC campaigns improve the bottom line and provide actual ROI with the highest quality leads. Being able to track leads from search to purchase can be invaluable for any lead generation business. While the aforementioned techniques are more day-to-day optimization fixes, you’ll never really know what your lead quality looks like coming from PPC campaigns unless you bridge the data gap between your PPC leads and offline sales. This will provide many analytics-based opportunities that tie in directly to your bottom line.

You'll never know your #PPC lead quality until you bridge the data gaps between your leads and offline sales. Click To Tweet

The best way to do this is by having the technology in place to sync your PPC landing pages with your offline sales CRM. Some of the bigger CRM solutions such as Salesforce and Infusionsoft can do this well. If you’re a small business that can afford those solutions, however, don’t panic — this can even be done through a simple excel spreadsheet. But remember, the more data you collect and track, the better decisions you’ll be able to make upon analyzing this data you’ve collected.

Determine Search Intent

One of the ways that being able to track leads to offline sales is useful is by learning how prospects interact throughout the entire process from search to landing page and then to the offline sales process, and determine the process by which a prospect is most likely to close into a customer. The great thing about this is that there’s no right or wrong way to do it, and it will likely take continuous testing and analysis to make the most informed decisions.

Sales Funnel

One of the ways we have done this in the past with one of our clients as you can read in our case study entitled “Attributing Offline Sales to AdWords Leads,” is by determining search intent through carefully thought out form fields on the landing page. We were able to determine how likely prospects were to close by providing one simple drop down menu on the landing page that asked “How can we help?” with options such as “just browsing” vs. “need savings.” By having these options along with data on what keyword triggered their visit, we were able to make a number of useful decisions that affected the client’s bottom line.

Further Segmentation

The example above from our case study is one simple way of gathering and analyzing data when your PPC lead data is connected to your offline sales data. As one might imagine, there are many more ways to segment data in order to gather actionable insights to not only help PPC marketers make more informed decisions on the front end, but also to assist offline sales teams on the back end with lead qualifying from PPC campaigns.

These segmentations can include:

  • Time of day
  • Day of the week
  • Device (mobile vs. desktop)
  • Geographic location
  • Keyword (if tracking this granular)

For example, it’s possible to segment a significant data set with offline revenue attributed by day of the week or even as granular as hour of the day. By doing this, there may be situations in which campaigns are running from 12 to 6 AM that are producing significantly fewer amounts of revenue than normal business hours. This could be because the business hour leads get a follow-up from the sales team in a timely fashion, whereas the middle of the night leads aren’t being touched for a few hours longer. During the time lag, a prospect may have found what they needed on their own or through a competitor.

#PPC segmentation ideas to improve lead quality: time of day, day of week, device, geographic, and more... Click To Tweet

Along the same lines, it could be possible that weekend leads are leading to less revenue because they aren’t getting their follow up calls from the sales team with a quote or more information they requested until Monday. This would allow a PPC marketer to pause campaigns at times they know are not cost-effective in terms of producing sales revenue, allowing more spend to go towards times where revenue has been proven, improving overall cost-effectiveness and efficiency of campaigns.

Connecting offline sales numbers to PPC lead data is invaluable in improving decision making and assisting sales. The process of connecting PPC leads to offline revenue is a definite best practice that should be a strategy pursued with all PPC channels and campaigns.


When your campaign performance looks and feels great, but you’re having trouble closing sales due to poor lead quality, give a few of these techniques and best practices a try. Some of these should instantly improve your lead quality, while others will take continuous optimization and some tracking. Whatever the case may be, utilize these tactics and you too can stop wasting your advertising dollars on poor quality leads!

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