How to regain control of your online advertising spend

Posted on: May 2, 2018

Click hereMany businesses jump on the online advertising / pay per click (PPC) bandwagon but then leave their campaign to fend for itself.  This can soon lead to a disappointing return on investment.


The appeal of accountability

You can understand why an online advertising campaign, such as Google Adwords, is initially so appealing.  It usually has a low-cost entry (you set your daily budget) and it brings great analytics data of how your campaign is performing. Compared with traditional advertising, you can measure your online spend in detail and which search phrases and keywords are (and are not) generating traffic to your site.

It’s sensible though to also compare these traffic stats to your own sales metrics to see if the online ad visitors are indeed converting into business (and whether they represent the quality/volume of business you want).

So become a regular visitor to your online advertising analytics and actively use the information they provide.  Tom Katté, who runs PPC specialist company Katté and Co says, “The most common pitfall I see small businesses fall into is not having the correct tracking in place to measure the results of their online advertising.  I’ve seen businesses who have spent £1,000s on PPC without knowing what they’ve got back. With amazing free to use tools available such as Google Analytics there really is no excuse!”


Keep your eye on the ball

BinocularsWhilst it would be lovely to have an automated marketing source that brought in valuable leads, in reality, this is unlikely and your online ad campaign will need care and attention.

Don’t be tempted to let it just run and run without having a clear idea about the value it’s bringing to your business. Browser habits and interests change, so do search phrases and keyword popularity.

Also the online media you’re looking to advertise on will be keen to spend whatever daily budget you have set them. This may mean they serve up your ads for phrases which aren’t as relevant for your offering.

Tom Katté adds, “With so many businesses now running PPC campaigns it’s no longer good enough just to ‘set and forget’ campaigns on AdWords. Campaigns need to be regularly updated, tweaked and refined if you want to stay ahead of your competitors.”

This is a good point to note, as the cost per click for a specific keyword will be continually fluid and will depend on many factors including its popularity with advertisers and how much your competitors are prepared to pay.


7 ways to improve the return on investment in your online ad spend

  1. Make sure your campaign budget on a given online channel is set to click-throughs rather than impressions. You probably want tangible leads rather than a loose awareness.
  2. Structure your campaigns by device type as desktop and mobile traffic will engage differently. What does your ideal audience typically favour for searches of this type?
  3. Continually review and stop spending money on search phrases/keywords that aren’t working.
  4. Try out new search phrases and keywords that are showing in your website’s analytics.
  5. Set up a negative keyword list to make sure that you are not paying for clicks that aren’t relevant to your business.
  6. Don’t forget you can select your ads to appear on certain days of the week and times of the day. If you know your target audience are online at specific times, opt for those and don’t waste money on others.
  7. Try out new phrases and search terms that echo your customers’ vocabulary and terms in which they describe your service and the need you fulfil.


Converting clicks into leads


Getting a person to click on your ad is only the first step in hopefully securing them as a customer.  It’s therefore important to think about where that click takes them. The onus is on you to do everything you can to convert their initial interest into something more substantial.

Paul Easter of Digital Agency, TribeSquared, warns, “With an Adwords campaign, the only guarantee is to get more clicks to your site. AdWords does not guarantee new business. If you’re getting the clicks but not the business, something else is amiss.”

He adds, “Make sure your website can convert visitors to leads before you start. This is crucial. If visitors who find you already without ads aren’t getting in touch, they may be confused by your site or not convinced by its message. An online campaign can’t fix this.”

So do look to fine-tune your website’s look and feel in preparation for your campaign.  Wherever possible try and avoid generating traffic from advertising which prompts people to ‘bounce’ away the minute they see your site (keep an eye on your bounce rate in your website analytics to monitor this).


Make the click-through experience enjoyable

this wayIn fact, it’s often better to create a dedicated landing page in your site which is relevant to your ad.  It should echo the messaging in your ad, the keyword you’ve bid on and make it easy for the person to find out more.

This will greatly help to retain the person’s interest and convince them to take the next step you want them to make.  That also means have clear call to actions and contact information on the page.

And when setting up your campaign, be very clear about the target audience you want to appeal to.  Tom Katté suggests, “Audiences are the future of online advertising. Most businesses already have a wealth of untapped data on existing customers. This (assuming you remain GDPR compliant of course) can be used to create look-a-like audiences on AdWords which allow you to target potential customers who are ‘similar to’ your existing ones.”



Left alone, online advertising such as Google Adwords is unlikely to be a quick/cheap fix that drives vast volumes of traffic and leads to your site. Like anything, it needs careful management, particularly if you want to generate good results from your spend and be in control of that budget.

Paul Easter shares these final tips, “Be bold – especially when starting your AdWords journey. Small daily budgets can struggle to succeed for purely statistical reasons. Find a level of spend where the good leads come in consistently.”

Online ad campaigns, therefore, warrant an agile approach and careful management to ensure the clicks generated are indeed worth the effort and you are not paying for bad visits to your site.


For more information and help with digital marketing strategies, contact the Extended Thinking team on 01483 429111 or email

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