Intro to PPC Testing: 5 Ideas You Can Try Before Opting Into Major Account Testing

So your account is performing well, but you can’t help but think there are new strategies you could try in order to see further improvement. Ideas begin to build up on your action items list: Would remarketing help bring back perusing customers and boost conversions? Is mobile worth testing? How should we implement new ad copy and landing page tests? Which new PPC betas are we eligible to opt into? Before you jump into exciting (and sometimes scary) major account testing, here are five ideas you can test right away in your PPC campaigns without having to do much at all!

1. Day-Parting Testing

New campaigns are automatically opted into running ads all hours of the day. But when reviewing your traffic data or your conversion data over an extended period (say, 30-60 days), you may find that a majority comes through during certain hours of the day. Maybe your target audience searches in the morning hours vs. late at night. You may even find that people convert during times you’d least expect. So why not optimize your budget and run your ads during these hours where you see the most return?

Setting up Day-Parting Testing

Day Parting testing can be set up within a campaign under the Settings tab > Ad Schedule. From there, select the red +Ad Schedule button to set which hours of the day you’d like your ads to run for that campaign. You can set variations of hours per day of the week. You can also completely eliminate running ads for entire days – many advertisers test this if they have limited budgets, see low conversion or traffic volume on specific days, or if they don’t have operating hours during the weekend.

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Day-Parting Testing Tips!

  • Start with a wider window to begin with, giving yourself some wiggle room
  • Be sure to note when you began your new ad schedule so you can determine how budget and performance metrics shift by hour of day after implementation.
  • Remember that the hours you target are based off of your account’s time-zone settings.
  • After testing this, you can also add bid adjustment settings for specific hour blocks you are testing in order to increasing or decreasing bids automatically

2. Geo-Bid Modifiers

In the same vein as day-parting, geo-targeting can be an effective way to focus your ad targeting for locations that are performing best. Now, this may be something you are already doing, especially if your offering is only available in a specific country, state, or city. But you can also set bid modifications at the campaign-level to boost your bids for the locations that are most valuable to you – all the way down to the zip-code!

 

Setting up Geo-Bid Modifiers

Geo-bid modifiers can be set at the campaign-level, found once again under that handy Settings tab > Location.  As an example, let’s say I’m targeting the entire United States, but after reviewing my User Location data under the Dimensions tab, I’m finding that my click volume from Seattle is converting really well. Therefore, I want to be a bit more aggressive with my bids for Seattle. By clicking the red +Locations button, I can add in Seattle as a location and set my bid-modifier accordingly

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Geo-Bid Modification Testing Tips!

  • Layer targeting to avoid cutting out too much volume. Moving from targeting the entire United States to just a handful of zip-codes will definitely result in a drop in traffic volume
  • Again, be sure to note when you began your new geo-bid modifier test so you can determine how performance metrics change after implementation
  • This test can also be used to pull-down your bids for specific geos you don’t want to necessarily stop targeting, but do want to be less aggressive in

 

3. Location Exclusions

It happens time and time again – you target a specific geo thinking your ads will only show there. Why wouldn’t that be the case, it seems so logical? Be sure to check how exactly you are targeting your desired locations, as Google’s automatic settings for a new campaign opt you into targeting People in, searching for, or viewing pages about my targeted location – and after reviewing your User Location data, that may be a wider net than you anticipated. To tighten up location targeting and cut out things like wasted spend or junk leads, you can change your settings to only target People within my targeted location. Or, you can add a list of location exclusions quickly & easily!

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Setting up Location Exclusions

Under the Dimensions tab, review your User Location data by selecting it from the View drop-down menu. This can also be done under the Settings tab in the AdWords UI by selecting the View Location Reports dropdown. After parsing through your list and determining which locations you want to exclude, open up your account in AdWords Editor to bulk-upload your location exclusions. This can be done under the Targeting tab > Negatives > Add Multiple Negative Locations. Copy & past in your list following the template and ta-da!

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Location Exclusion Tips!

  • Setting this is fairly straight forward, but remember if you get lost, you can always refer to Google AdWords Editor support
  • Also, be careful to not accidently exclude a location you actually want to target!

4. Enhanced Sitelinks

Enhanced Sitelinks rolled out to AdWords shortly following the update to Enhanced Campaigns. These new Sitelinks allow advertisers to show essentially mini-PPC text ads with their own ad extension links underneath their main ad on the Google SERP. While these sitelinks tend to show mostly on Branded terms which sit at position 1, they are a great way to take up more real-estate and make your ad stand out. As a bonus, they are simple to set up by repurposing other strong-performing copy from within your account!

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Setting up Enhanced Sitelinks

Google allows for up to 10 sitelinks to be uploaded per campaign. Sitelinks can also be assigned more granularly at the ad group level. If the idea of crafting 10 new pieces of ad copy or finding up to 10 ads within your account to use seems overwhelming, start with just 4 ads, as this is the common number of extension links that show. As this is another task that is easiest to do within AdWords Editor, open your account here and navigate to the Extensions tab. Under the Sitelinks tab, you can add in your new extensions. Once completed, you can easily select your block of sitelinks and copy/paste them into other campaigns or ad groups you want to run them in.

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Enhanced Sitelinks Tips!

  • Remember that Enhanced Sitelinks text follows the same editorial guidelines as standard text ads.
  • Also, each sitelink must go to a unique URL – you can’t use the same URL across multiple sitelinks within a campaign
  • Don’t discredit call-to-actions within these extensions’ description lines. You can also use these sitelinks as an opportunity to highlight variations in products or services on your site

 

5. Flexible Bid Strategies

There can be a hefty amount of manual bidding done in order to hit target KPIs, whatever those KPIs may be, such as maximizing traffic, hitting target CPAs, or bringing up ROAS.  To eliminate some of this, Google rolled out flexible bid strategies to help PPC marketers implement more flexible automated bidding to hit their account goals – all the way down to the keyword level. With these new bidding features, your testing can be done on small or large scales, easily turned on or off after seeing results.

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To test flexible bid strategies, I direct you to the talented PPC and Analytics expert who taught me! Check out this great article by Sam James, Point It’s Director of Analytics, on implementing and using flexible bid strategies. Also, if you’re hungry for some more data around these bid strategies, check out Google’s Think Insights case study about how Point It boosted revenue through using flexible bid strategies.

Happy testing, all!

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