“It depends”. In my 2+ years at Hanapin Marketing, I’ve come to learn that this is a universal truth across the industry. There is no shared magic number for ROI or CPA. There is no perfect CTR or CVR. And there most certainly isn’t a singular strategic approach that can navigate across all industries and account types.
That said, I do think there a handful of search tactics that should reach universal use. From lead gen to E-commerce, awareness goals to last click measurement, every account manager should attempt to implement these six strategies:
- Fight click fraud
- Leverage demographic bid modifiers
- Implement income level bid modifiers
- Combine Dynamic Search With Remarketing
- Use Customer Match
- Test Smart Bidding
Not every single account will be able to capitalize on all of these tips, yet I am convinced that every single account manager should have these options on their radar.
#1: Fight Click Fraud
By some estimates, as much as 1 in 5 clicks are fraudulent. While we’d obviously prefer that 100% of our budget is dedicated to authentic clicks from our target audience, the reality is that many companies are paying for useless traffic from bots, competitors, and even click farms. The first step to combatting this issue is reading up on What You Need To Know About Click and Bot Fraud. Metrics like abnormally high CTRs, underperforming site metrics, and weird referrals in your Analytics report are strong indicators. The second step is fighting back.
Both Google and Bing have built-in safeguards to identify invalid clicks, but the system is undoubtedly imperfect. There are manual processes in place To Fight Click and Conversion Fraud, however the scale at which this can be managed is extremely difficult. The premium solution in this situation is reaching out to a third-party company specializing in eliminating these invalid clicks. Our go-to within Hanapin for such a scenario has been ClickCease. Custom dashboards within the platform make it extremely easy to follow the extensive automated process. Eliminating click fraud is such a simple and effective way for marketers to boost their bottom-line. Vendors such as this essentially pay for themselves.
#2: Leverage Demographic Bid Modifiers
Whenever I onboard a new client, I always look to hear directly from the source who is their target audience. Typically, I hear this: “Ya know, our audience is really diverse. We work with people of all ages and genders”. While maybe this is 100% true, I’ve yet to run across an account that wouldn’t benefit from demographic bidding. Even if your audience spans across all divisions, there is inherently going to be strengths and efficiencies when it comes to paid media.
The New Google AdWords Interface has its drawbacks, but the process of accessing demographic data is extremely easy. Simply click demographics on the left-hand menu and then toggle between age and gender.
From here I like to export the data, pivot, and create a table that illustrates my intended bid modifiers. This works both as an excellent guide for the account manager during implementation, and as an easily digestible strategy document for the client.
I recommend excluding brand campaigns when running these numbers. Low funnel traffic such as this has the potential to artificially skew efficiency metrics such as CVR and CPA.
#3: Implement Income Level Modifiers
Income level data can be found under the same “Demographics” report. While technically it falls under the same umbrella as age and gender, I think it deserves separation in our discussion since it seems to be one of the Underutilized AdWords Features.
Income level data can be extremely important for brands that specialize in a specific price point. That can span the entire spectrum from a luxury airliner to discount shoe retailer. These modifiers give advertisers a chance to maximize traffic in segments that have performed the most efficient.
#4: Combine Dynamic Search Campaigns With Remarketing
Initial set-up instructions and best practices of Dynamic Search Ads have been detailed at length in the past. These campaigns supply an excellent opportunity to drive cheap CPCs while “mining” for new keyword opportunities. Essentially they operate as a discovery campaign while driving additional value through both direct conversions and brand awareness.
A feature that nearly every account I’ve worked on has benefited from is making a duplicate DSA campaign or ad group devoted solely to remarketing. To do so, simply apply a relevant audience and set the delivery method to “Targeting”.
While Adwords typically suggests layering remarketing audiences onto existing content, I prefer to create distinct campaigns with the “Targeting” setting. This ensures that maximum budget is devoted to this valuable traffic. With this setup, I get the best of both worlds — keyword mining and efficient performance.
#5: Use Customer Match
Customer match is a feature that many advertisers have had in practice for a considerable amount of time. In short, advertisers upload email addresses accrued from other marketing or communication mediums to advertise to directly on AdWords. As of recent, advertisers can now upload phone numbers and mailing addresses in addition to email. This should effectively increase the audience size capabilities of most companies.
The obvious application of this feature is to bid modifiers and direct targeting. Clients such as large online retailers or travel companies are able to increase engagement with previous customers. Such a practice has potential to generate and maintain brand advocates.
On the other hand, a major complaint of Customer Match is that even the largest of retailers have trouble creating scalable lists. Furthermore, accounts focused on lead generation have no need for repeat customers. In this sense, Customer Match should be used in a negative sense. Upload lists of existing customers or previous low quality leads to use as an exclusion. Quit paying for clicks that are simply existing customers looking for “Support” or a link to the homepage so they can log in.
#6: Test Smart Bidding
I have a confession to make: up until six months ago, I fought the adoption of automated bidding like it was my mortal enemy. Hanapin does an excellent job of creating uniquely tailored manual bid strategies that work through a Bid Template. We’ve even taken multiple steps to automate this hands-on process. All that said, the success we’ve experienced with these tactics has made some of our account managers reluctant to adopting automated strategies.
Roughly six months ago I relented and took the advice of our wonderful AdWords reps. To my excitement, the strategies I adopted either beat previous bid management or matched it. Even in a scenario in which the new strategy just barely matched manual updates, this a major win. For one client I have, the division of their company requires multiple accounts. Manual bidding was a timely process. The opportunity cost of not switching was extremely significant. Here are a couple quick suggestions regarding a few of these strategies:
- Target CPA: Use when there is a “hard” CPA goal and you’re looking for a more conservative approach.
- Target ROAS: Use when there is a “hard” ROAS goal and you’re looking for a more conservative approach.
- Maximize Clicks: Use when you’re seeking brand awareness or do not have conversion tracking data.
- Maximize Conversions: Use when the budget is constrained. There is potential for wild CPC fluctuations here if you set your budget maximum too high.
- Enhanced CPC: Use when you’re not ready to leave manual bidding in the dust, but you’re slowly realizing that robots and machine learning are the future(and the present for that matter).
In short, automated bidding saves so much time that even a neutral result will yield a positive impact on the account. Keep in mind that all of these strategies rely on machine learning, a process that runs best when there is significant conversion volume.
Every account manager should consider each of these six tactics for their accounts. Some applications may be impossible for certain clients, but the time required to implement these strategies is minimal yet the potential impact is maximal. From fighting click fraud to pairing DSA with remarketing, I’d love to hear your feedback and additional tips. You can find me on Twitter @Will_Larcom.
Cover photo courtesy of Rafael Gonzalez