Maximize Your PPC Budget
Maximizing your PPC budget should always be a priority, regardless of the industry you're in or the product you sell. This post is being published during the covid19 crisis, meaning many businesses are functioning at a limited capacity or had to shut their doors temporarily. Many companies have stopped advertising, while others are taking advantage of the new market and lack of competition.
If you are lucky enough to be able to operate during the current situation, this is how you can make the most of your resources and maximize your budget.
Set clear, realistic conversion goals. Most importantly, prioritise them. PPC is not just about driving sales or increasing brand awareness. While we should definitely aim to achieve as much as possible with as little budget we have, it's crucial to prioritise your objectives and focus on the ones that would serve you best or work for your current situation.
Your business survives off sales, not likes, not shares, not brand awareness or uniqueness. What keeps you afloat is money coming in, so you should make that your top priority. While driving sales doesn't mean switching off brand awareness campaigns, it means you should focus on results and quality metrics more than engagement. This is especially important for shopping and display campaigns.
If your business suffers because of low search volumes or simply not being able to operate, focus your efforts on brand awareness instead. If your existing or potential clients don't need your services yet, you can continue to provide value for your customers and build your marketing lists until better times come.
It might be a great time to take advantage of lower CPC while your competitors don't advertise and dominate the market. Stopping ads to save money is like stopping clocks to save time - don't lose on potential clients by trying to save on advertising costs, especially if your business relies on PPC or paid advertising more than anything else.
Set up your campaigns correctly. Now is a great time to reevaluate your paid traffic and the clients you're targeting. As we mentioned above, optimise for results - this applies to everything from keywords, to geo locations and bidding strategies.
When you reevaluate your Google ads or paid social, think about what bidding strategy and attribution works best for you. Automate your bidding strategy if your account has enough data and set up automation rules to keep track of your account's performance.
Ad Schedule. Whether you sell sleeping pills, clothing or insurance, there are optimal times and worse times for your business - take a good look at how your account is performing during different hours and go beyond cost per conversion or CPC. Compare the basket value or actual conversions, such as sign ups.
Schedule your campaigns into 6 hourly blocks for the times you want to advertise. If you run ads 24/7, you can still segment the daily schedule into 6 blocks of 4 hours. If your business generates leads and you need them during 9 to 5, you can segment the schedule into commute to work, morning work hours, lunch time, afternoon slow hours and commute out of work, something like the screenshot below
Geo targeting. Check whether you target people who are interested in your location - the default option by Google ads. While this feature may be useful to some advertisers, it isn't for most. Opt out from locations which eat up your budget and bring no value.
If you advertise nationwide, your account would still perform differently in different cities or counties. For optimal control over your account and easy location bid adjustment, target all cities or counties individually. It is a lot of work to set them up individually, but it will pay off and you can easily export targeted locations to other campaigns too.
A nice little feature of geo targeting is excluding small areas, particularly where your competitors' offices are. You just need your competitors' postcodes. This might be a difficult task with everyone working from home, but keep reading to learn how to exclude returning users from your PPC. Maximizing your budget sometimes means spending a little extra on click fraud protection too.
Alternatively, you could bid even higher on competitor locations, for when in-store clients are doing a quick price comparison from their mobile. Customise your ad extensions or copy for those looking for a better offer.
Account structure is another crucial part of PPC set up and directly affects your budget. How you set your campaigns and ad groups directly affects how much you pay per click, as well as how many people you can reach. This goes beyond the quality score metric and includes ad relevancy, landing page experience, as well as your bids. To make the most out of your available PPC budget, make sure your website is as user friendly as possible.
The simplest way to set up campaigns efficiently is by grouping keywords into SKAGs - single keyword ad groups. Usually different match types for the same query would have similar costs and it makes it easier to make your search ads and extensions as relevant as possible. SKAGs are usually said to increase quality score and user experience, resulting in higher impression share and lower cost per click. SKAgs make customized landing pages easier to optimise too.
Track every single aspect of your campaign, from setting up utm parameters to bounce rate on GA to returning customers. Set up your campaigns and Analytics goals so you track not only what brings in revenue, but other valuable metrics such as reaching check out pages, bounce rates as well as contact form submissions and newsletter sign ups.
Check your search terms & ad placements. You pay for search terms, not keywords. If your negative keywords list isn't up to date, you're most likely burning money on terms which aren't likely to convert at all. Your PPC campaigns could be getting clicks for people searching for jobs, learning materials or informational content. Using exact match type is no longer enough to make sure you aren't getting irrelevant clicks, but that's a whole new topic. Dive into your report and look into where most of your spend and conversions are coming from.
Search terms report could also be hiding keywords you didn't know were profitable - if you identify phrases which match your products or service and generate valuable conversions, add them to their own ad group with appropriate ads, bids and extensions.
Placements are not just for display - have you ticked the Search Partners and Display Network boxes on your Google ads account? What you need to know is if that traffic brings value or simply wastes your budget.
Device & demographics. Search terms have different intent and searches take place during different circumstances. You could be wasting money on a device which never converts, when you could have distributed that budget to your best performing devices. Its important to keep in mind that different search terms could have huge differences in performance - don't exclude a device from the whole campaign, unless if it doesn't work for any of your ad groups. If your account is structured in SKAGs, optimizing for devices should be easy-breezy.
We have taken over accounts for websites which were not mobile friendly - the account spend over £5,000 on mobile and got 0 conversions in the space of 14 days.The previous account manager failed to check whether the website was responsive and website owners forgot to mention.
If you are a PPC manager and just took over a new client, inspect it on different devices - losing conversions due to poor speed or a non-responsive site would raise questions like 'Why aren't the ads working?' Here is another example of a campaign we took over, client's service charges no more than £200.
Another report some account managers tend to overlook is demographics - this includes age, gender and income levels for some countries. Even if your product isn't gender specific, you might find that certain terms have better conversions among a certain age group or gender. Adjusting bids for demographics is another easy win when looking to maximise your PPC budget. As you can see below, visitors aged 18-24 have never converted, yet there was no bid adjustment to exclude them.
Demographic adjustments don't end with bid tweaks - customise the messaging for each age range or gender. We already know that certain generations would prefer security over low price, while others are after fast results and low costs. Is your product to be used by women but mostly purchased by men as a gift? Think about your target audiences, check your data and performance and customise your ad copy and landing pages for the best user experience and optimal conversion rates.
Audiences. You can adjust your search campaign bids based on the audience's detailed demographics, interests, what they're actively planning or how they interacted with your website. This includes returning visitors, as well as custom intent audiences and detailed demographics such as marital status, income level, parental status, education and home ownership status. Imagine the possibilities and optimal results you would achieve if you combine bidding on your best keywords and perfect buyer persona.
Audience targeting, combined with the correct placement and display keywords are one of the keys to a successful display campaign using Google Ads.
By using Search Audiences, you can also exclude returning visitors from your PPC campaigns and target them by different means or bid even higher on those who are close to completing a purchase. Excluding returning visitors from your PPC also excludes competitor clicks.
Remarketing. Whether you choose Display Ads only or have an omnichannel approach to reaching existing clients and visitors, remarketing is an excellent choice when you're looking to maximize your PPC budget. Remarketing ads help you stay in the buyers' mind while they consider your offer, do price comparison checks or simply wait for a better time to purchase.
Tailor your remarketing based on how users interacted with your website - exclude those who bounced off immediately, match the messaging to the service or products your visitors engaged with and cap the frequency of impressions.