Fri 14 Aug, 2015

6 Of The Best Tips For Strategic AdWords Management

As digital marketers it’s hard not to click on a TechCrunch article about the latest big thing in Search marketing and start imagining what it means for our clients. Working agency-side, being at the forefront of the latest trends and what they mean is what we do and what our clients expect.

But the best digital marketers will know that just because something is new, doesn’t mean it is the right solution to our clients’ needs or at least not just yet. There are tried and trusted principles that may not be as “sexy” but are proven to deliver results. We should be nailing them first.

For example, I’ve been in many client meetings where the discussion has centred on Search and then excitedly evolved into PPC more broadly. The client will often want their small start-off budget to cover PPC across an array of platforms, instead of the tried-and-tested ROI deliverer that is Google Search.

But if your client’s not getting the core areas of Search right they shouldn’t yet be thinking about a PPC campaign on a display network or LinkedIN. They should rather spend on Google Search and become sophisticated in its use as Search consistently delivers a larger area of opportunity. It’s our job to keep them on the right track.

It’s tempting to dabble in the shiny new opportunities. From a PPC perspective, new stuff is great but it’s important to nail the core tenets of advanced Search first. It’s the biggest opportunity.

That said, most clients aren’t just starting out on Google Search. Even still, bigger Search spenders often don’t nail it across all areas of advanced AdWords techniques and should take a moment to ensure they’re getting optimal impact from their AdWords campaigns.

So what are the core tenets of strategic AdWords campaign management that often get missed? Here are my top six:


1. Balance the budget

The number one common mistake is when campaign budgets are exhausted early in the day. It can occur when daily budget caps have been entered but the bids have not been monitored or managed correctly. In reality the campaign could be getting twice the number of clicks for the same spend. In terms of optimisation, for the vast majority of campaigns, 100 clicks in position two is much better than 50 clicks in position one.

For example, your client is a retailer and they sell skincare products with a budget of £100 per day. Bidding on their own skincare product names and more general terms is converting well at 2% but bidding on £2 CPCs means their budget runs out at midday. There’re a lot of people searching for skincare solutions! When there is good volume, simply reducing their bids to £1 would likely yield double the clicks and a budget that lasts throughout day. That could potentially mean more sales and a greater return on investment.

2. Focus on value not vanity

“I want to appear in position one to be seen as the leader” is a common example of vanity and there could be brand-related reasons for it. However, from a performance perspective, position isn’t everything as a cheaper CPC means less cost and potentially higher ROI. Position 5 on the right-hand side might be your sweet spot and it will definitely be cheaper than number 1. In the performance-based scenario, perception is not reality. Data is reality

On our Hatch:Search course, we share an excel table that models out your CPC, conversion rate, average order value etc by ad position. It reveals how your core metrics can be positively affected by dropping down from the top ad spot.

3. The hare or the tortoise: choose carefully

Should you accelerate your ad delivery of spread it out throughout the day? Of course it depends on your objectives but, in general terms, we can sketch out two scenarios:

1) ROI is strong and a fixed budget isn’t as important. Go ahead and use accelerated delivery so that you can capture as many converting clicks as possible. Do use the budget as a safety net but ensure that it’s never hit while performance is strong.

2) There’s a fixed daily budget from which you need to wring out the maximum number of clicks. In this case you carefully set bids to a level where they’re coming in on budget and then switch to standard delivery to spread them evenly throughout the day.

4. Trim the fat: time & location

Once again, use data to understand when and where you’re most relevant. If there are times of the day at which your ads deliver the best return, then you need to bid up at these times to drive performance. Going to be out of the office for a few days and no one will be there to respond to customers? Use ad scheduling to pause your campaigns.

It’s the exact same process for geo-targeting — know where you’re performing and then maximise your return by eliminating non-performing areas.

5. The whole truth & nothing but the truth

Make sure that you are bringing all of the data to bear before you make any assumptions. For example, with lead generation campaigns you might have a form-fill on your site in combination with a telephone number. If you just look at your form-fill data you may feel like the numbers are low. However, are people also calling your business? If you also tracked the number of calls the campaign has generated — and Google makes this possible down to the ad level with “Google Call Forwarding” — then the conversion picture might be much rosier.

6. Be in the business of business metrics

You can’t claim success until you establish what success looks like for your business. Clients will often focus solely on campaign metrics such as a strong CTR or efficient CPC without linking them back to KPIs that measure business growth. Oftentimes there’s an obsession over driving traffic with no clear link to more meaningful measurements such as cost-per-action or gross margin. These are metrics that indicate business profitability rather than campaign performance.

Once you have the right business KPIs in place, you need to actually manage your campaigns to them. Did those efficient clicks actually move your business forward? It might sound obvious but it requires discipline.

Set KPIs that provide a direct measure of how your AdWords campaigns impact your business growth. Then make sure you manage your campaigns to those metrics!

So in summary, keep on getting excited by the cutting edge, just don’t let the newest trends and shallow performance metrics distract you from core principles that are proven to work. After all, there is nothing “sexy” about an underperforming campaign strategy. Find out more about how to keep your AdWords campaigns at tip-top performance on our Hatch:Search course on September 28th/29th. There are a few last places available — find out more about it here.

The author & course leader: Jamie Brady is a Digital Marketing Consultant with 9 years experience working in Search and Affiliates. He spent a number of years at the digital performance agency,, where he headed up Performance Marketing. Jamie also does a lot of digital training including several modules for the University of Birmingham