A cautionary tale: Why you shouldn’t switch off ‘failed’ PPC campaigns

Ever switched off a care home PPC ad campaign because it was generating too many leads? Of course not! I don’t know any marketer that would do that.

You’re far more likely to switch off an ad campaign because it isn’t generating enough leads, though.

But there’s a cautionary tale to be told here. It begins with an imaginary care home marketing manager (let’s call her Michelle).

Setting up care home PPC ad campaigns for success

As a savvy digital marketer, Michelle had set up various pay-per-click campaigns for her care homes. She knew that a solid paid advertising strategy would help her website be more visible in search results. And she knew that with the right approach to paid ads, she could reach her marketing goals quickly and deliver quality care home leads for the business.

No pressure, then. But Michelle was confident. She’d done her research into the latest PPC marketing trends. She’d worked out her goals, done comprehensive keyword research, set realistic budgets, written compelling ad copy, and linked to a dedicated landing page that was loaded with useful, informative content.

All with proper tracking and analytics in place, too.

Or so she thought.

After a few months, Michelle ran her regular performance report, which she’d sensibly linked to the business’s CRM. She could see exactly which leads had come through her landing page and into the CRM – originating from her PPC campaign.

It wasn’t good news. Her enquiry numbers were down against target. The ads just weren’t generating the number of leads she needed to justify the marketing budget.

She tweaked the targeting, and adjusted her campaigns. Another few months went by. She ran the report again and saw a slight improvement – but not enough. What was going wrong?

Solving pay-per-click performance problems

At her quarterly meeting with the company directors, she explained the situation. The decision was made to switch off the campaigns and move the budget to other areas.

Michelle felt understandably disheartened. But what she hadn’t realised was that her campaigns had actually performed very well. In fact, they were performing better than most other marketing channels the care home group was using.

So what had Michelle missed? She’d carefully set up tracking for each campaign. In fact, she could see good amounts of traffic coming into the website in Google Analytics. She could see clicks and form fills on her landing page, and leads entering the CRM. Just not enough to keep the campaigns afloat.

Then Michelle had a thought. What about phone enquiries? What if people had seen her paid ad, clicked through to the website, but then picked up the phone and called the care home to book a visit instead? If they bypassed the online form, of course they won’t show in her performance reports. Those reports only looked at online sources.

But there’s no way I could report on phone leads as well‘, she thought. ‘They’re coming in via an offline channel – how on earth would I connect that with my digital marketing?

Call tracking for care home PPC ad campaigns

That evening, Michelle did some research into lead tracking for offline conversions. Pretty quickly she discovered the answer. She stumbled across call tracking software that would allow her to track and analyse inbound phone calls alongside her digital marketing channels. The software meant she could report on the performance of both her online and offline marketing activities together – and get a complete picture of the customer buying journey too.

Care home ppc ad campaign.

She put a business case together and went back to the directors. They were impressed.

Michelle quickly implemented call tracking and marketing attribution software for her care home group. She didn’t need to change any phone systems – just add some unique phone numbers to her marketing collateral and a small piece of code to the website.

After reinstating her PPC campaigns, she was able to see the results right away.

Sure enough, there was a marked improvement in campaign performance. Michelle could see that the vast majority of leads phoned in to the care home to arrange a visit and discuss their requirements. They didn’t tend to fill out the online form, as she’d previously thought.

Michelle was also able to analyse the content of the phone calls too. She used speech analytics to understand more about the leads’ buying journeys. Listening to the calls, she discovered some concerns prospects had mentioned on the phone, which she was able to address with some new website content.

Now, not only could Michelle more accurately report on the performance of her campaigns, she had some seriously useful insights to feed into future campaign planning too.

Michelle may be a fictional marketing manager, but her story is one that should resonate with many care home marketing people.

Turn a bad PPC campaign into your best one

With multiple channels bringing leads into your business, it’s crucial that you stay on top of tracking and analytics. Making well-informed decisions about channel efficacy completely depends on having an accurate view of their performance. Put it this way: if most of your leads come in by phone and you aren’t tracking and analysing phone calls, you’ll be missing a ton of leads from your campaign reports.

So take heed of Marketing Michelle’s story. Before you kill off a poorly performing campaign, ask yourself if it’s as bad as it seems – or could it really be your best campaign yet?

About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics, content management and eCommerce.

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