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Next Steps After Search Ad Conversions Drop

PPC Conversions Down

It happens often with Google Ads and other search engine platforms, performance goes down. Whether it is an account I’ve had from the beginning or I am called in to give CPR to a declining account, performance naturally declines.

When I am talking about performance I am almost always talking about conversions. Specifically, cost per conversion. In other words, return on ad spend. (Although, certainly campaigns can have other targets and KPI’s as well.) Conversions can mean different things to different marketers. It could be a sale, a form fill, or something else, but no matter what your conversion goal is, it’s often the lifeblood of your campaigns. It’s why you spend money.

Below are a few things to keep in mind when conversions seem to be dropping on paid search campaign.

  1. Tracking and Website Issues – Let’s first find out if it really is a campaign issue and not a technical issue. Here we need to make sure all conversion tracking is working properly. That can be done by comparing actual sales or form fills against the data. Do the numbers match up? There is often a disconnect between ad managers and webmasters. It’s important to maintain a good relationship to know if site changes occurred that could have affected performance. Even worse, I’ve seen landing pages disappear because webmasters were not aware they were being used. Starting with site issues is often the first step before any actual campaign work is needed.
  2. Seasonal – It’s hard to admit that sometimes we can’t fix a decline. It may be out of our control. Seasonality is a real thing for many industries. It’s not just a B2C trend, I’ve seen it often in the B2B world as well. There are times when visitors are just not buying. Having prior year data and a knowledge of the industry helps tremendously with this. Knowing the lack of demand is coming, marketers can prepare and adjust budgets accordingly.
  3. Competitors – If we verify lack of technical and seasonal issues, the next step is to see if anything has changed in the marketplace. As with any business, offline or online, a new competitor changes the game. Marketers should search the space to see what shows in results page. Even if your ad positioning has not changed, searchers now have more options. A new competitor can often mean a higher cost-per-click in the auction, better deals for consumers, and fresh new messaging and ads. If a new competitor is in the space, do your due diligence. What is the messaging? What are they offering? I wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying to match them. In fact, many can’t do that. You may not be able to be the cheapest, but there is a reason a someone should pick you. Emphasis that.
  4. Refresh –  Ultimately, it could be that absolutely nothing has changed … and that includes your own content. If everything else seems constant, it could be time to refresh your own creatives. New ads can make all the difference. Your potential customers may have seen your ads way too many times. Change it up. Try something new. That refresh may depend on that data. If ad click numbers are the same, but conversions are down, then it could be the landing page experience. The destination could have lost its appeal.

Those are my initial steps I take when a search ad campaign is losing conversions. It’s a rinse and repeat situation with digital advertising. A/B testing is always a constant. The goal is to make changes before those declines start to happen. Keeping an eye on keyword and ad performance is a lot of work, but if this was easy then everyone would be doing it.

What did I miss? I know I have a lot of paid search friends that deal with this on a daily basis like I do. Where do you look first if conversions begin to drop? Share your insights below.