Paid search is more competitive than ever
Paid search is a highly-competitive marketplace, with more than 160 billion monthly Google searches and 95.3% of clicks going to the top four results. Digital ad spend worldwide is expected to reach over $375 billion by 20212, so the pressure is on to boost performance and increase conversions, all the while making sense of the data to measure ROI and validate paid search as a high-value channel. To successfully navigate the paid search landscape marketers need to be proactive and learn how to get the best out of the right tools to stay on top of their PPC ‘A-game’ (A for automation). We’ve created this guide to address five top Google Ads challenges and offer solutions that will help you get better results and make your life easier in the process.
YOU WILL LEARN
- Why the ‘machine’ is not your enemy
- How to stay on top of your CPAs for a clearer picture
- The importance of keeping data fresh
- Why Google’s Response Search Ads are your friend
- How to get your dollar to move further with sustainable wins
Taking Control Of The Machine
Don’t let automation leave you on the bench.
In this futuristic decade, the reality of a dystopian machine takeover edges ever nearer. Smart campaigns take the leading role as ‘the machine’ for Paid Search Managers who were previously able to manually access information, and now struggle to make sense of data.
Key information is now black-boxed and campaigns are reaching customers at previously unknown steps in their customer journey, adding to the challenge.
These dark channels and blind spots are pushing the search engine auction further away. While automation means less manual work, the challenge for Paid Search Managers is to let the machines do their work while maintaining marketing goals that align with the company strategy.
Flex your automation muscles
Strength training in the gym is par for the course, everyone needs a machine to build strength.
As more businesses invest in technology, the pressure is on to wield automation, so rather than fearing its arrival, embrace the opportunity it brings. Intuition and instinct can’t be automated, so instead of worrying about losing to the machine, use the extra time to prove your value and do what humans do best – thinking and strategizing.
Don’t be a digital dinosaur and get left on the bench, you may not lose your job to a machine, but you could lose it to a more tech-savvy candidate. If your company isn’t yet investing in automation, consider playing a key role in implementing automation technology.
- Find the right tools to save you time
- Let automation help you implement and improve your strategy
- Use the extra time to prove your ‘human’ value as a strategic thinker
The conversion conundrum
Making sense of the conversion tracking fumble and blitz.
Staying on top of bids and clicks while managing conversion optimization and tracking is an ongoing challenge and, like being on the end of a defensive blitz in football, it can feel like you’re being attacked at every turn.
Various teams and agencies often access Google Ads, so understanding historical data and attribution across channels is no easy feat. You might have a high-performing campaign that has seemingly low conversions, when it’s driving sales across organic search. Low-click ads could have a large volume of impressions leading customers to shop direct or in-store – switching it off would be a mistake.
At the same time, the high-conversion campaigns you thought were performing are double firing (being reported twice) or being attributed to other marketing channels as last-click.
Time for spring cleaning
To go beyond base hits and prove your campaign can deliver a home run – you need to set goals and track progress to stay on top.
The issue is often disparate data sources and inaccurate figures from double reporting on ads that are double firing, or artificially decreased CPAs from tracking set to ‘include in all conversions’.
The best way to get a handle on conversion is to clean up your data:
- Do you understand the frequency and accuracy of your data?
- Is your search data based on daily, weekly or monthly indexing?
- Does your data source have limited search terms and incomplete data?
Once the data is clean, implement the right tools and only use tracking events that add value to your business. Record conversions correctly both in Google Ads and Google Analytics and you’ll finally understand the role your ad plays in moving customers along the conversion funnel.
Wrestling with data reports
Data match-play with no half-time
Paid search campaigns produce a lot of data – every keyword, ad and dollar spent stacks up to create a spreadsheet with data that could fill Madison Square Garden.
You already know that making sense of the data will help validate spend and boost ad performance, but it’s more easily said than done, right? Paid search reports are often bulky and not very useful. Even if you have an almighty beast of a spreadsheet that works for you – chances are it doesn’t align with marketing data across teams and the data itself is old and stale, muddying the picture further.
There’s little time to make real sense of disparate and outdated data sources, so Paid Search Managers continue to do their best guess work under a ‘dark data cloud’ that impacts their motivation and confidence, especially when asked to justify their efforts to the wider business.
Get visual with your data
Keep your eye on the ball with visual data reports that help you tell a story.
The issue is probably not data collection or how easy it is to parse, it’s in the communication of the data. Don’t waste time staring aimlessly at reams of tabled data, it’s time to get visual.
Implementing data visualization and reporting tools will help you make agile assessments, spot patterns and know where to invest your money and energy. Daily clicks might be dropping on a campaign but a visualized trend line gives you that ‘aha’ moment on seasonality and popularity.
Analyzing which search terms are worth investing in is key to the success of your campaigns. For example, why spend your budget on search terms you rank first or even second organically in?
Being able to quickly gather, visualize, and interpret the data will not only help you optimize your campaigns, it will remove that ‘dark data cloud’ and make your life easier.
Keeping ad messaging fresh
Creating copy and content that leads to a victory dance.
Succeeding in paid search without fresh content is as unlikely as winning every soccer match with the same game strategy. Forget the pressure of a penalty kick, Paid Search Managers are constantly trying to hit one goal with many balls on the field. Launching campaigns, optimizing, reporting on performance, spotting trends, monitoring competitors and reviewing top performing keywords to name a few.
Then there’s the constantly moving Google Ads goal posts and rising CPCs. You know it’s important to do A/B copy testing and stay on top of format changes, but when you’re managing thousands of keywords and hundreds of ad groups, you rarely get time to test what works and keep things fresh.
Let RSAs get the slam dunk
You want Google’s Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) on your team. Don’t be a hero, use tools that help you cut corners, so you can start winning.
Implement RSAs across your campaigns, and create A/B testing on your smaller laser-focused AdGroups, to learn what works faster and get better campaign results.
When it comes to creating fresh content, look to your competitors for inspiration. You can emulate their messaging to win on a bidding strategy or completely pivot your content to stand out. Alternatively, you may decide to drop that bid and, like any good small forward on the basketball court, move to where you can win.
If you adopt best practices with your ad content and create impactful landing pages you can also increase your conversions and improve your on-page quality score
Tackling budgets and CPCs
Getting the best out of budget is a constant scrum.
No matter how hard you try, sometimes it can feel impossible to gain points and make it to the touch line.
When you’re competing against major players on top of their PPC game like Expedia, AT&T, Home Depot and GEICO, it can be difficult to get the best bang for your buck. More information, players and automation mean your marketing dollar doesn’t travel as far, and fighting for the customer click is more crucial than ever.
Paid search managers are either battling it out in the major leagues, or struggling to find long-tail keywords and niche terms that offer more sustainable and cheaper win opportunities. A challenge compounded by the need to manage a high volume of campaigns using multiple resources and budgets.
Make time for strategy
Every good athlete builds ‘rest days’ into their regime to build strength and take stock.
The only way for you to stay on top of budgets is to make room for planning and research. Consider your digital marketing and paid search spend with a capital B budget rather than individual multiple budgets. You can then allocate spend in the right areas and target more sustainable wins, which makes your dollar move further.
For example, with more flexibility you may decide to reduce spend on core terms with no competition and let organic search take the wheel. You also need to manage your partners and affiliates to ensure you’re not in an arms race which raises CPCs, when instead you could be chasing value in high-converting and low-competition terms.
It’s time to take the lead and start winning
It’s true that winning with top keywords has become tougher. That managing budgets, getting to the top, winning customer clicks and proving value return through conversions is no easy feat, but like any sport, the underdog can win. Try some of these tactics and invest in user-friendly tools and you’ll soon have a winning strategy to find your PPC A-game with automation.
Get it right and you’ll be able to proactively monitor emerging trends and SERP shifts, spot market opportunities, outperform competitors, stretch your budgets further, create content that resonates with your audience and save valuable time and resources in the process.