What Happened When We Paused PPC Brand Campaigns
Should you bid on brand keywords? Explore what happened after we paused brand campaigns!
In the spirit of last week’s blog series, I’d like to take our readers back to school with a revisited paid search alphabet. I published a similar post back in August 2012, but I mainly focused on general and/or beginner-level terms. This time around I’ll uncover some more advanced PPC terminology and concepts to keep in mind as you manage your paid search campaigns. Class is now in session!
Recently, Google released new information regarding Quality Score and how that figure is calculated. It should come as no surprise that a portion of that score is to what extent you’re utilizing the tools AdWords has made available to you. Ad extensions are playing a role, and with the large number of them available, it’s not so hard to see them being skipped over or forgotten. Where those ad extensions are relevant for your business, implement and test them across the board like you do other areas of your paid search campaigns.
We are seeing big things from Bing over the last couple of years and that engine is getting more and more robust, both from a search volume and PPC management standpoint. Expansion to Bing (especially if you’re already running Google campaigns) is fairly simple and a great way to add market reach and saturation for your accounts.
PPC campaign management is no longer about click volume or website traffic, nor has it been for a while. Most paid search managers provide conversion rate optimization recommendations (we’re talking on-site here, by the way) but until recently, CRO as a practice was somewhat segmented from PPC management. Not anymore! There are a tremendous number of tools out there that allow for website-based landing page testing to improve conversion rates, and ultimately that’s what makes for long term success and growth.
I covered Bing as an expansion opportunity, but you’ll notice that a lot of what I’m covering today falls into that same theme. Display-based advertising used to have a pretty bad rap, however the targeting layers and various display networks available today make this a significant opportunity. Capabilities like remarketing have also improved the value of display network campaigns, and as such you’re going to want to look in to testing (if you aren’t already).
We’ll be discussing later how automation can make a PPC campaign manager’s life a tad easier, but another way is by brushing up your Excel skills. I’m by no means an expert in that area, but a few of our PPC Hero writers are and they’ll tell you Excel has saved them time and dramatically improved their account performance. From pivot tabling everything under the sun to URL building…Excel is where it’s at.
More expansion! Two years ago, Facebook was truly just starting to get rolling in the PPC world. While we still admittedly have trouble getting Facebook-side support for campaign management and improvement, the targeting capabilities of that engine can make this a crucial venue, especially for B2C or eCommerce brands. The general rule of thumb for social network-based PPC is that these campaigns do require more frequent updates and of course the total volume will be much lower than that from Google or Bing. Those items should not pull you away from testing and expanding in that direction. Get there before your competition!
This is more a sanity tip than anything else, but when something drastically changes in the world of PPC and how you manage it – take a few minutes to complain (that’s probably healthy), but then let it go and get over it. Certainly there are times when the paid search population makes their voice heard as is able to spur further change. That said, you could either spend your time making excuses and continuing to complain or finding new and better ways to manage through those changes. I suggest the latter.
This is actually a two-pronged tip. Not only can you utilize heat mapping software on your landing pages to learn more about how your customers experience and engage with your website, but you can also apply some really exciting Excel formulas and formatting to look at various PPC metrics in a color coded fashion that quickly outlines problem areas based on goals.
Optimizing your account based on conversions and clicks is nothing new, and quite typical in fact. Specifically I’m thinking about ads and copy. What’s the conversion to impression ratio, rather than just looking at the A to B and B to C segments separately? Consider measuring ad tests by impressions to conversion and see what new insights you can compile.
All right, maybe not our Jeff Allen, because he’s ours. What you need to find is someone who can elevate your paid search management game. Jeff is always pushing our team to find new ways to analyze our client accounts and proactively approach them with the best way to grow their business. That’s what makes us priceless to our clients and we wouldn’t be that team without his guidance. (No one tell him I said any of this…)
It’s a fool’s game to try and focus on every single PPC metric, so selecting those data points that matter most will keep you from overanalyzing. Yes – that is possible. For example, Quality Score is of course important. What isn’t important is agonizing over an individual keyword’s Quality Score if you’ve greatly improved ROAS for that term in a sustainable way. ROAS is your key performance indicator (possibly with a few others – CPA, etc.), not Quality Score. Does that mean improving Quality Score might improve ROAS further? It may! Don’t let those small metrics rule the bulk of your time. Stay focused on the top-line, key metrics instead.
I discussed Facebook as a fantastic expansion opportunity for B2C or eCommerce accounts, and LinkedIn is the answer to that opportunity on the B2B/lead generation side. The targeting capabilities are truly phenomenal and as the interface and engine continue to mature we’ll continue to gain further usability. Yet again, getting in this space ahead of the competition (if they’re not there already) could be a deal breaker later.
The longer you’re in paid search and the more mature the channel becomes with time, the greater the ability to see how PPC can and does contribute to your entire marketing scheme. In the last 2-3 years the world of multi-channel attribution in our industry has expanded greatly and gives us the insight to know when cutting off PPC (or pushing it) affects performance of other channels. For example – don’t always look to Display network-targeted campaigns to drive revenue; but watch what happens to your PPC revenue numbers when you pull back those Display budgets…you may see a lagged dip there because Display isn’t opening up the top of the funnel for the new revenue later on.
The team at PPC Hero is all about finding an account structure that works best for you and your campaign performance. That said, we still have our preferences and what we’ve seen work most of the time. One of those preferences is segmenting ad groups by match type, and then utilizing embedded negatives of the complementary match types for each of those groups to more deliberately funnel click traffic to the appropriate (and most cost-effective) match type. This strategy keeps your more expensive match type terms from cannibalizing traffic and driving up spend unnecessarily.
PPC isn’t just about PPC, so this one is short and sweet – where haven’t you looked that could teach you a way to improve your paid search efforts? This could be other marketing channels (SEO, email marketing, social, print…), areas of the business that haven’t been approached from a paid search perspective before, and on and on. You can learn a lot about PPC from completely non-PPC sources, so look ‘em up and see what you can uncover.
Remember that thing I said earlier about finding someone to push you along the proactive paid search road? Here it is again! No one is perfect and you can’t be expected to see every curve on that road a mile before you get to it. What you can do is be the person with the map who says, “Hey – this is about to happen, let’s make sure we’re ready.” This step is crucial to advanced campaign management and will keep the long term relationship growing.
Keyword-level data is super important, but I would argue that the data on the keywords you don’t have in your account may be the more important piece. You probably review search query reports, but how often? And how often do you actually add terms from that report rather than use it to pull negatives to block and tackle for your current keyword scope? Take a few months and pull those reports just twice as frequently as usual and see what you come up with to expand your market! Customers change they way they search constantly, so make sure you’re the one there waiting for them and not your competitors.
Remarketing isn’t a secret, but remarketing to the Search network (particularly via Google AdWords) is just new enough that not everyone may be on board. RLSAs allow you to remarket to those consumers who get to your site within traditional Google search engine results rather than on Display-based sites. This gives you the ability to target more broad and/or head terms (that could be expensive or highly-competitive), but only for those searchers who have interacted with your brand at some point all ready. You could see lower-than-normal CPAs and higher conversion rates through these campaigns.
Not only is Shopping an absolutely integral part of an eCommerce paid search account, but the upcoming full transition of PLAs to Shopping campaigns is bringing this feature back to the spotlight. We’re about to get a little more granular insight to the performance of these campaigns, so even if you’re seeing good results – get ready to dig a bit deeper come August 31st.
Stop trying to do everything yourself! There are more tools available than I could possibly name in a blog post, but you can find technology that helps in bid/budget management, ad copy testing, Quality Score monitoring and a slew of other PPC aspects. Do your appropriate due diligence to find the right fits for your account, but then implement a few that save time so you can focus on manual tasks that can’t be automated.
How are you spending the bulk of your account management time? This is something our team tracks and reports on monthly, mostly to make sure we’re spending the bulk of our hours on direct client account optimization (i.e. not training, in non-client meetings, etc.). Utilization is essentially a question of whether you’re properly focusing your time and can be broken down as granularly as whether you’re spending the right amount of time on keyword research versus ad copy writing versus bid analysis and so on.
PPC is a venue that requires on-going attention and resources, whether it’s being managed in-house or through an agency, and no one is going to argue that. Potentially one of the hardest tasks, and the reason expansion opportunities have gotten so much attention in this post, is finding additional lead or revenue volume once you reach the point of diminishing returns in any particular engine. The key here may be the research phase, because if you’re going to expand out and throw new water in the pool, make sure you’re getting the water from the right place and not poisoning the functional well.
You want to prove your value to a client? Show them where you’re able to eliminate wasted budget that you can reallocate to a test you want to run. Every client wants more volume (see V is for Volume, above) but not every client has unlimited budget to go out and find that volume. Our team wrote a formula to help more efficiently catch non-productive spend so we can get the most bang for every buck our clients entrust in our management. Be careful you’re not throwing out non-direct performance contributors with this tactic, but then cut that waste and redistribute it to something that is working or that could work better.
The Hanapin team illustrates this via PPC Hero every day, but additionally with our day-to-day client interactions. We realize paid search is a difficult marketing channel to understand, even more so when you’re not geeking out in it every day like we are. The best way to show the value of PPC is to make sure the people you’re reporting to understand. Take the time to explain what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. You can always dial it back later, but you can’t get a client or account back once they’re gone if they didn’t know what you were doing.
My final expansion push for this particular post comes through video advertising, specifically through YouTube. I don’t believe I have psychic abilities by any means, however I would not be surprised if video-based or YouTube advertising doesn’t become the new mobile sometime in the near future (aka: you’ll not have a choice, really, of whether you want to be in the space or not). As of now, you can get some free view time as an advertiser for those “Skip this ad in ___ seconds” placements and if someone actually interacts with that ad? Now you’re on to something…
Why? Because marketers must stop thinking of themselves as strictly marketers! We’re all in sales to some degree, whether it be as simple as learning how to speak to and position the work you’re doing to a client or asking for more budget for a new account segment test. Take some time in your continual paid search training to sharpen your sales and communication skills – you’ll be a tremendously more successful marketer for it.
Which terms weren’t represented in my glossary above that you would have included? Perhaps a third installation of PPC ABCs downs the road? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
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