Knowing When It’s Time To Explore New PPC Engines

By Jeff Allen | @JeffAllenUT | President at Hanapin Marketing

It’s amazing how many businesses we come across that are still Google-centric. They may have a Bing account, but it’s on autopilot, or not on at all. They’ve had all kinds of conversations about expanding into other engines, like Facebook, but nothing has stuck. All of these businesses want to grow, but they don’t have a strategy.


Why? Usually, it’s because they are indecisive about when it’s the right time to explore new channels. AdWords has been good to them, and they’re hitting goals, so why create all that extra work?


Here are my 4 favorite ways to determine if it’s time to accelerate your growth strategy by exploring new PPC engines.


1) Impression Share Lost To Rank Is High, Quality Score Is Averaging 7+, CPA Is Right On Target


You’re never going to get 100% impression share, but how do you know if there’s real growth opportunity for you, versus when you’re getting all you can?


If you’re losing impression share due to budget, that’s easy, increase the budget. But if you’re losing it due to rank, there are two main factors. You have bad quality scores or your bids are too low. If your QS is bad, such as less than 70-80% of your impressions coming from keywords with a 7 or higher, then you should focus on ad copy, account structure, and landing page experience.


If your QS is good, 70-80% of impressions coming from keywords with QS above 7, then you have a bidding issue. You could just raise bids, but what if performance is already on the upper limit of what’s acceptable? If you want a $10 CPA, and you’re at $9.50, you don’t really want to raise bids by 10% to see if you can capture more impression share.


In this case, you are getting the maximum number of impressions at an acceptable cost, regardless of how many you’re losing because you aren’t bidding enough. This is a good sign that you’re getting what you can afford to get out of AdWords, and it’s time to grow conversion volume by looking at new engines.


2) 20% Of Your Budget Goes To Keywords That Are 2x Worse Than Your Top Performing, Non-Brand Keywords


We typically say you should spend 20% of your budget on new channels or ideas. If you have a limited budget you may want to review where you’re spending in AdWords and see if you can cut budget without losing a substantial number of conversions. If 20%, or more, of your funds are being poorly allocated, it may be time to expand into new channels. Here’s how to find out.


  1. Go to the Keywords tab
  2. Set your time-frame (30-days for accounts spending over $500k per month, 60-days if spending over $100k, 90-days if spending below).
  3. Filter out brand keywords using whatever method you use (campaign name, labels, etc.)
  4. Filter out any keywords with 0 conversions
  5. Sort by Cost/Converted Clicks (or whatever column you use as your main KPI)
  6. Average the CPL/CPA (or whatever your main KPI is) of your top 5-10 keywords (there’s usually an obvious break where performance drops, you can eyeball it)
  7. Figure out the average of those top keywords (again, you can eyeball it)
  8. Double that amount, and filter your keywords to only show keywords with 0 conversions or a CPL/CPA of that doubled amount
  9. Look at spend. If it’s about 20% of your total spend, you should consider pausing the money wasters (but being more scientific when you actually are going to start pausing things) and put that spend into new channels.


Depending on your account you may return way too many keywords that only have 1-2 clicks, so they haven’t had a chance to convert. But directionally, you’ll see if you can pull some poorly allocated spend from AdWords and put it somewhere else.


3) Run A Broad Keyword For A Relevant Term For A Couple Days And Check Your Search Queries. Did Any Convert?


If you have budget, and performance is good, you can afford to run a broad match keyword or two, set the bids lower than you typically would, and see if you drum up any traffic for relevant, and hopefully converting, keywords that you don’t already have in your account. I once did this for broad match “Nursing School” and found a wealth of keywords I had missed through other research methods.


If you don’t hit on anything, you may have exhausted all the great keyword opportunities and it’s time to look at other opportunities for growth.


4) Could You Get A Higher “Return Per Hour” Somewhere Else?


Time is the great equalizer. It’s a constraint on us all, but often we think about it the least. Thinking about how many leads, sales, etc. your effort is likely to generate, and then comparing it with alternatives may sound like it slows you down, but it likely will drastically increase your performance.


If something takes 10 hours, and you believe it will get you 10 sales, then your Return Per Hour (RPH) is 1. If another task could generate 10 sales in 5 hours, then you’ve doubled your output to an RPH of 2. If you choose to do more things like the second option and less like the first, you could have a huge impact on sales volume.


Here how to calculate your estimated RPH (eRPH):


  1. Estimate how long something will take
  2. Estimate what the impact could be
  3. Think about how likely it is to be successful
  4. Multiply the estimated impact by the likelihood it would be successful
  5. Divide that by the estimate of how long it will take


In Formula: (Expected Impact X Likelihood of success) / Expected Hours = eRPH


It’s common for people to skip the step where you think about the likelihood of success. But most projects have different success rates. Creating a similarly structured campaign to an already high performer is more likely to succeed than creating an entirely new account and launching your first campaign. It’s all subjective but directionally will get you closer than just ignoring that not everything succeeds.


Here’s a completely made-up example:


Image of campaign activity


In this case, you should absolutely create the Facebook remarketing campaign. It has a strong likelihood of success, and even though it will take the longest, the sales are expected to be strong.