If you are a PPC professional, I can bet you have encountered a situation where a client’s PPC campaigns stop being profitable. Their ROI starts declining and your client starts screaming, “What the hell did you do to my campaigns? PPC performance was good last month!” To this, you honestly answer, “Don’t worry, I am working on getting things back on track and the campaigns will start performing well again.”

Now you start looking into the change history to revert any changes you may have made since the ROI started declining. Still, you notice no big improvement. You play with different bids, pause low performing ads and/or write better ad copies, review search term reports and add negative keywords. Despite all of this, nothing works.

You have tried everything but still can’t reach the point where your client’s ROI improves. What do you do next? Here’s the answer – start to cut.

Reduce Radius Targeting

If you are a local business that has radius targeting, try reducing the radius. If you are targeting 30 miles, try 25 instead. If things still don’t work then try 20 miles. Just keep cutting until you start seeing profit from your campaigns.

Turn Off Broad or Phrase Match Keywords

In a situation where you stop seeing results, it’s a good idea to stop broad match keywords. Broad match keywords can silently eat your budget by showing your ads for irrelevant searches. It’s very important that you keep monitoring your search term reports. When you stop seeing profit, turn broad match off and see if your result improves. If you still don’t see results, try turning off the broad modifier and phrase match. Let nothing else aside from exact match keywords run and see if performance improves.

Turn Off the Display Network

If you are running ads on the display network, turn those off too and see if the results improve. There are some best practices for running ads on the Display Network and if you are not following them, you are probably just wasting your money.

Turn Off Search Partners

If your campaigns are running on search partners, it could be time to turn it off too. Simply uncheck the “include search partners” option and see if your results improve or not.

Turning off Google Search Partners

The idea is to get your hacksaw out and keep cutting every few days or every week and see if your campaign is doing better or worse. You want to focus on the key element that returns your campaign to profitability.

Turn Off Low-Performing Ad Groups and Campaigns

Review your ad groups and turn off those that have high cost-per-conversion. Do the same with campaigns if you have multiple campaigns. The idea is to run only your best campaigns and ad groups. Every account has several keywords, ad groups and campaigns with better performance than the others. The goal is to cut down to just those and see if you can do better.

Cut the Hours Ads are Running

Try cutting the number of hours during which your ads run. Review the hourly report and find the hours when you get most of your conversions. Schedule the campaign to run between those times. If your client wants to get calls, run ads only during business hours so that no call gets missed.

Case Studies

We had a client who was spending $100,000 a month but was barely making money after a change in market conditions. Both his website and his PPC account were well optimized. When optimization wasn’t working, cutting back was the only thing left to try. As an agency, you don’t like cutting your right arm off and seeing your fees going down, but it’s the right thing to do. And we have done it before for several clients. We always put their interest first. So we cut his budget to $50,000 per month and things worked great from there.

Another client was desperately trying to ramp up sales and was spending about $30,000 a month. The client decided to ramp up to $250,000 per month. They hemorrhaged a tremendous amount of money for over 1 to 2 months with no increase in sales. It didn’t seem like things were working for them, so we cut their budget to $1500 per month and started careful testing.

Another client was spending $100,000 a month and things weren’t working. When they were working with another agency, they did what a lot of other agencies do – suggest that they needed to increase their budget. But if things aren’t working now, they aren’t going to work with a higher budget. They started spending $200,000 a month and it was a disaster. They hired us and we cut the budget down to $50,000 per month. From there, things worked much better for them.

Sometimes, you have to guide your client in a direction, which hurts as an agency, but we feel if you do the right thing for your clients, they see results and stick around.

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