The Critical Dos and Don’ts of Running a CPA Marketing Campaign On Adwords 2020

For every online marketing campaign, you always want to make sure that you get what you pay for. The cost of advertising is a necessary expense for business, but online marketing now makes campaigns more efficient with spending, and investing to some of the tools at your disposal is a wise move.


Besides social media marketing and guest posting service, one of the popular methods for online marketing is CPA or Cost-per-Acquisition campaign. This type of marketing, in essence, is all about measuring the direct impact of marketing spendings against the newly acquired customers.


It’s also a great way in controlling expenditures and targeting an audience. Although there are a few nuances in the art of the CPA marketing campaign, you can still make the most out of it by following definitive guidelines. Here are sixteen tips to help you get started.


I. The Dos Of Running a CPA Marketing Campaign On Adwords

The Critical Dos and Don'ts of Running a CPA Marketing Campaign - Do's

Define Your Target

It may sound a little too obvious and repetitive for you, but a good CPA campaign starts with a particular target.

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Is 30% worth of CPR good or bad? It depends. Is $1 per click economical or expensive? It also depends. Is 75 cents worth of average cost per conversion high or low? It still depends.


Everything depends on the target audience that you’re trying to reach, which of course will be the foundation of your optimization process. Only after you’ve defined them will you be able to compare your campaign, keyword, ad group and check if there’s a match.


Always Check Auto-Tagging

It’s the checkbox that passes the Gclid (Google Click Identifier) through Google Analytics and permits AdWords to send data to it as well.


You can locate the checkbox under ‘Account Settings’ then ‘Preferences,’ after you click the wheel at the top right corner of the screen next to your email and customer ID.


After doing so, you need to link your Analytics account to your AdWords account, which you can do through the interface of your Analytics account. You can check your AdWords campaigns data in your Analytics reports only after doing it.


 Set Your Ad Rotation to ‘Rotate Indefinitely’

‘Optimize for clicks’ is the default option on AdWords, but in most cases, these options are ideal for beginners. You must set the rotation for your ad to ‘rotate indefinitely’ for your ads to get an equal opportunity.


Your CTR will be a lot more meaningful through this method, and will not be a reflection of one ad that acquires 2,000 impressions while the other one only gets 20.


Make Sure Everything is Approved

It might sound like another obvious tip, but you’ll be able to find relevant keywords for which the bid was too low, disapproved ads that you missed, or keywords that contend with other keywords within a dissimilar ad group. So, check everything.


Don’t Start a New Campaign On Friday

The moral lesson here is to go in depth on the campaign after you upload it. Of course, this can’t happen if you upload a new campaign on Friday. By thoroughly examining the campaign from top to bottom after you started it, you’ll be able to determine and fix the waste as soon as possible.


It also has to do with the way people search during weekends which is significantly different than weekdays. Hence, if you start a new campaign on Friday and optimize on Monday, you might make wrong decisions.


First off, determine how the individual devices are performing. Is the poor performance due to a single device type or it reflects across all devices? Find out and apply the ‘Device Segment’ and check the origin of the problem.


If the problem occurs within a certain device such as desktop, mobile or tablet, you have to drill down and check what’s exactly wrong with it.

Networks – Search Partners

Not all of the clicks that you get come from Google’s search engine. There are other search engines such as,, and other Google products with the same build as Google’s search engine such as Google Maps where your ad can also appear.


Your campaign’s performance in the ‘real’ Google, for the most part, will be quite identical to its performance within the search partners, just in case you need to apply that segment to get additional insights to the source of the problem.


Search Lost IS (Budget)

Search Lost IS column is another stat that you need to check at the campaign level. It will disclose you the potential impressions’ percentage that you lost due to inadequate budget.


If possible, talk to your CEO and ask him or her to increase your budget, assuming the campaign’s conversion rate is relevant and profitable enough and reaches its target.


Accelerated vs. Standard Delivery

Make sure you’ve selected ‘Standard’ under ‘Delivery Method’ in the campaign settings, in case you don’t have the option of increasing the budget and still want to serve your ad throughout the whole day. Google will aim to spread your budget throughout the day equally.


On the other side of the coin, if you can see that your campaign doesn’t take advantage of the whole daily budget that you allotted, you may consider changing the delivery method to ‘Accelerated.’ You may also raise the bids of certain keywords which Google called as ‘Below First Page Bid.’


Navigate through the keywords column and choose the Search Terms > All view. You’ll be able to see here the actual search queries used whenever your ad got served. It will help you determine the times where your ad showed for irrelevant keywords, and it can also show you the relevant search terms that trigger your ad through phrase or broad match keywords, and you can add them too as an exact match.


Strategically Test Your Ads Using the A/B Testing Method

An A/B testing method is an action of research, and like any other research, you need to come up with an assumption first, and only then can you test whether that assumption is correct or not.


If you conduct an A/B test amidst the phrases “buy today” and “buy now,”  there’s a high chance that you will not get a real answer because there’s only a small difference between the two, as far as the user is concerned. Not unless you have enough traffic and time to reach statistical significance, then maybe you’ll get the accurate answers that you want.


On the contrary, if you start with good search queries like “should I appeal to the emotions or the sense” or “will lengthy headlines perform better compared to short ones” it’s likely that A/B test results will teach you about your users’ behavior. It’s not just all about which gets more clicks and be of higher value.


Try and Rephrase Your Ad if the Test is Unsuccessful

Make drastic alterations or rephrase your ad completely if you weren’t able to reach statistical significance in your A/B test. Set aside your old message and try an entirely new one.


If the Ad Didn’t Work, Check if There Are Differences Between the Keywords

In general, your ad group will consist of more than one keyword, and the statistics of the ad that you’ll see are the average of all the keywords.


If you’ll notice that one of your ads work better or worse than the others, be sure you apply the Keyword or Placement segment and check if there’s a particular keyword that’s far from the average range or that significantly affects it.


Put CTR on the Line First

Pay immediate attention to keywords with low CTR because it’s the statistic that affects the quality score (QS) of keywords the most.


The quality score of keywords is a major factor that concerns with how often your ad will appear, how much you’ll pay per click and at what positions. You’ll pay ‘fines’ if you have a QS score that’s lower than 7.


Poor CTR will also cause Google to minimize your ad servings for the simple reason that if people don’t click on your ad, you’re not making money for Google. Hence it’s not worthwhile for them to serve your ad.


 Add Negative Keywords

Think about which phrases you want to hide, and add them as negative keywords on ad group level or at the campaign itself.


For instance, if you’re selling an affordable product, consider adding the words “expensive,” “high-end,” “premium” etc. as negatives to avoid your ad from appearing on the result pages for searches that contain these words.


Check your Search Lost IS (Rank)

Apart from checking this stat at the campaign level, you can also view it at the keyword level too. It will help you to determine how many more impressions your keyword fails to receive due to low ad rank.


In this case, check whether your ad is relevant enough or not to that particular keyword. If it isn’t, transfer it to a different ad group with a more relevant ad. Check also if the average position of your ad is high enough, if it’s low, it could be that people just don’t see your ad and don’t click on it as a result which eventually leads to low CTR. Of course, you must also check if your bid is sufficient or not.


Check Your Average Position

Average position, in principle, is a stat that’s worth checking beyond all elements of the account – from your campaign to ad group, down to the keyword level.


Check your 25 most high spending keywords in each ad group at least twice a week. And perform a bid optimization as follows:


  • If your CPA higher than your target CPA, contemplate reducing the bids of keywords by 25% with an average position of 1-2. There’s no point in showing up at the top if it’s not generating profit for you.


  • On the other hand, if you find a CPA that’s under your target and keywords at the position that’s lower than 3, you can increase their bids by 25% to get more impressions and get the ad show in higher positions.


  • If your campaign fails to take full advantage of its budget, you can increase the bids of keywords by 15% to 25% with an average position of 5, provided that their CPA didn’t reach your target CPA.


  • If your keyword is still not performing well, make sure that it’s relevant enough to your ad. If not, transfer that keyword to another ad group with a more relevant ad copy.


II. The Don’ts Of Running a CPA Marketing Campaign On Adwords

The Critical Dos and Don'ts of Running a CPA Marketing Campaign - Don't

Most digital marketers know that besides blogger outreach services, incorporating Google AdWords is a feasible avenue to drive traffic to their sites. Check out the following stats from Hubspot below:


  • 6% of consumers check on Google ads when looking for things to buy online.
  • 7% is the average conversion rate for the search network and 0.89% for display network in AdWords across all industries.
  • 91% is the average clickthrough rate for search and 0.35% for display in AdWords across all industries.
  • $2.32 is the average CPA on search and $0.58 on the display network in AdWords across all industries.


The figures are promising. However, it can be expensive if mishandled. Thus, you need to use appropriate measures to make sure your campaign is going in the right direction. Follow the following ‘don’ts’ below.


Incorrect Grouping of Keywords

One of the biggest mistakes people make is not using ad groups. They lump all of their keywords into one ad group and show everyone the same ads instead of dissecting their ads into groups according to similar types of keywords.


If you will not divide your keywords into separate ad groups and just lump them together under one ad copy, you can’t customize the ad and tailor it for the term that users may search for. Thus, it will be easier to monitor and optimize your campaigns if you break up your keywords and ads into themes.


Using Improper Keyword Matches

The next biggest mistake that people make is using the incorrect exact match, phrase match, or broad match keywords.


Here’s the thing: AdWords permits you to add keywords to your campaign using one of the methods above. You can add them as an exact match, phrase match or broad match.


  • An exact match keyword functions just like how it sounds. The term should exactly match the keyword that you enter in AdWords.


  • A phrase match keyword means that keyword phrase must show up in the search as a whole phrase in the same and exact order that you enter it.


  • A broad match means your ad will appear in search results for as long as the keywords you enter show up in the search in one form or another. To key in a broad match term in AdWords, you can just enter the term without any punctuation marks before or after the term.


So, why should you care about all of these? You need to care because the type of match you use will affect your ads on a big scale. An exact and phrase matches often give greater conversion rate, but they can only deliver few impressions, which means that you may not be able to reach as many people as you need.


On the flip side, a broad match can deliver more impressions, but it’s more inaccurate since it shows up in terms that aren’t a tight fit for your ad or products.


In other niches, the number of people looking for what your product or services are low, which means that if you limit your keywords with exact matches, you’re not going to yield more traffic. Whereas, if you have excessive broad match terms, you will not be able to obtain a high enough ROI on your ad campaign.


Relying Too Much on Numbers Than Your Creativity

Falling head over heels with your ad copy can be a problem sometimes. No rule says you shouldn’t. It’s fine actually. But if the numbers tell you otherwise, you need to do some serious reflection here.


You need to test your copy on a daily basis. You can try with two different headline variations, the same copy but a different call to action or the same headlines but different body copy. Testing different variations helps you identify what works best. Sometimes, introducing a benefit increases conversions or click-throughs.


Other times, a different headline improves your results. You can never tell unless you test them. If you’re not that confident, you can employ help from different blogger outreach platform to help you facilitate everything.


Not Bidding On Your Own Brand

It is another cringe-worthy mistake – not bidding on your brand! Seriously? You just assume that since you already rank for your brand, you don’t have to advertise for it. Well, that’s one way to look at it.


Another way is the realization that if you’re not going to advertise for your brand, other companies will do it. They will use the name of your brand for an ad group and target your visitors. You’ll rank first in the organic results, but your competitors could be directly advertising above that results. Hopefully, you get the picture.


Not Acknowledging the Lifetime Value of the Customers

If you’re not computing the LTV (Lifetime Value) for your customers, there’s no way for you to find out how much you can shell out on AdWords per acquisition.


For example, say your LTV is worth $10. It means that you’ll earn an average of $10 over the lifetime of doing business with your customers. If you’re spending $4 per acquisition, it’s ok, because you’re earning more than you’re spending. However, if your LTV is only worth $6 and you’re paying $4 per acquisition, you’ll go out of business.


The majority of companies are unaware of their LTV so they can’t define what a good CPA is. If customers will stay with you for an average of six months and pay $30 every month, you’ll have a $180 worth of LTV. For such case, you’ll be ok even if your Google CPA will reach $100. It all depends on what’s the LTV is for your business and what you’re selling.


Not Testing the Optimal Ad Position

It’s great to stand in one of the top two ad positions if you aim to enhance branding. On the flip side, if your goal is to acquire the best results, it’s better to stand in the 3-5 position.


Is it possible? Is it feasible to get better in a lower position than first or second? Yes, it is, for the reason that people tend to click on the top two positions. And whether they’re seriously interested or not, they’ll click. If your ad is in the 3-5 position or possibly lower, then it’s not the first thing people will see.


Sometimes things work great if you’re standing on one of the top two positions, but other times, positions on 3-4 generates a better return. If you’re not going to test, there’s no way to identify which ad position suits best for your business.


Not Knowing Who Your Competitors Are

Another critical mistake that you need to stop doing right now is not knowing who your competitors are. You need to find out which ads they’re using, the keywords they use, and what their landing pages look like.


Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and find out which ad you’re most likely to click – yours or your competitor’s? Once you know, click on your competitors’ page (although it’s ideal that you do it without actually clicking the ads of your competitor and make them pay for it), examine their landing pages, and compare it to your website. Then take note of the things you find.


Too Much Expectation From Adwords (Will Hurt You)

Did you ever reflect if you’re too dependent on AdWords? If not, it’s good that you should. Most people with small budget expect to launch the next big business with only a fraction of a budget in hand. Other times they want to get in front of a broad audience but only have $100 to $200 to shell out per month. Be realistic. It’s not going to get you very far.


If you have a minuscule budget, you just can’t test your ads. Wait until they start performing well. It’s rare that anyone can nail a campaign right off the bat. It takes time to optimize and run your campaign to enhance your return.


Not Directing the Visitors to the Right Category or Product Page

It’s probably the biggest mistake of all that many people commit with AdWords – not directing customers to the right category or product page. Instead, they bring everyone to their homepage.


Remember that no matter how pretty your homepage is, you can’t just directly take people in there, particularly on e-commerce sites where you have product and category pages. It’s wise if you direct people to a landing page or category or product page where people will immediately see a direct match to the ad they click.



The Critical Dos and Don'ts of Running a CPA Marketing Campaign - Takeaway

A well-managed campaign can keep your store or company in business, but a poorly-managed CPA campaign can cost you more than it brings in. It all boils down to how smartly you can manage your campaigns and how much you know about AdWords. When in doubt, refer to the following dos and don’ts above and you will have a guarantee that you’re far from floundering in the sea of failed CPA campaigns.


Author’s Bio:Patrick Panuncillon

Patrick Panuncillon is the proactive mind behind LinkVista Digital Inc., a startup that provides various services in digital marketing, contact support, and web development. Apart from his corporate duties, he is also a writer by heart and loves to spend his free time writing just about anything related to his field and generously contributes them to different business blogs and business websites. On his downtime, Patrick embarks on a camping trip with his family.

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