This post is a follow-up from my SMX East 2015 presentation “What Would Beyonce Do?” which covered various PPC tactics and tips that I’ve learned over the last year, including:
- What were the important new AdWords updates in 2015?
- What bidding strategies should account managers be testing?
- What are some of the biggest challenges of managing big brand PPC?
- How do you grow & develop a strong PPC team?
- How do you bounce back from unexpected PPC performance drops?
And how did I tie all these tactics together? With a little help from my favorite artist and constant obsession, Beyonce, of course! Let’s walk through my playlist of PPC tactics and ask the question I ask myself whenever I face new PPC challenges or updates – “What Would Beyonce Do”?
#1: Upgraded URLs
One of the bigger announcements from AdWords this year was the move to Upgraded URLs. Destination URLs were put out to pasture and became rebranded as Final URLs as of July 1. Now, AdWords has a separate tracking template that lives outside of the Final URL field. This allows you to make changes to your base URL, maintain tracking, and ads aren’t sent back for review.
SASHA FIERCE TIP:
- AdWords Editor still has that damn Destination URL field floating around, so if you’re building keywords or updating ads, be sure to check that you are putting your URL in the Final URL field. I’ve missed it many a time when updating ads or keywords.
#2: New AdWords Editor 11
Our handy dandy editor tool got a make-over. New features were rolled out with the release of Editor 11, including a new interface, support for labels (FINALLY), call-only ads, and, of course, Final URLs.
- There are a lot more bulk edit and multi-select options with this tool. Building things at scale or applying something across multiple ad groups or campaigns got a LOT easier.
- The navigation moved from horizontal (mimicking the UI) to a vertical one that sits below the campaign tree. It’s not as fluid and I still find myself having to change my behavior to match the new organization. Also, advanced search is not as intuitive as it used to be.
SASHA FIERCE TIP:
- there are some keyboard shortcuts with the new Editor 11 that I just learned about – including CTRL + B to change bids and CTRL + U to change URLs. Pretty handy!
#3: RLSA Can Now Use Google Analytics Audiences
Another updated that made many rejoice – Remarketing List in Search Ads are removing some of the audience targeting limitations and allowing you to use Google Analytics audiences. Yay! Now, not all GA data is available to use…Ginny Marvin called this out in an article she wrote on SEL. There are some restrictions based on privacy policies, such as targeting based on demographics, specific languages, or tech dimensions like operating system, so look into those before you get too excited.
SASHA FIERCE TIP: Is this your first time hearing about RLSA?
- There’s a quick way to begin testing it and getting the most out of it. Duplicate an existing campaign, trim it down to your best performing keywords, write new ad copy, and bid up on a valuable audience like converters or abandoned carts, and set to target & bid so as not to cannibalize your evergreen Search campaign’s traffic. Bam! Easy set up, and campaigns typically see high return vs your legacy campaigns.
#4: Automated Extensions for Shopping Campaigns
And lastly, an update for Shopping campaigns. Automated shopping extensions were announced in August. What are those? They’re new extensions that will show alongside your PLAs and automatically show your info like free shipping or when there’s a price drop on a product in your feed. Shopping campaign’s Promotional Text option within the AdWords UI was retired just recently, so in order to call out promos, you’ll need to use the Promotions Feed in the Google Merchant Center.
There are so many things I could cover when talking about bid strategies, so I’m going to focus on some of the really cool bidding options that Google has built out over the last year or two – and that’s AdWords’ Flexible Bidding Strategies.
What are Flexible Bidding Strategies?
These are automated, algorithmic bidding settings found in the Shared Library – and you should be testing them. There’s some things you can’t do – like the splits Beyonce is doing in HEELS HERE. But you CAN test these. Whether your goal is traffic volume, CPA, ROI, or just driving more conversions. There’s options for everyone! Kind of like how there’s at least one Beyonce song that everyone likes. Don’t even try to fight me on that, you KNOW it’s true.
Flexible Bid Strategy Case Study Examples:
- Industry: Gaming client
- Flexible Bid Strategy: Target ROAS (one of the first to test strategy)
- Goal: Aim to maximize conversion value to hit goal ROAS target
- RESULTS: ROAS up +47 percentage points, with Revenue increasing +8%
Target Outranking Share
- Industry: Consumer Electronics client
- Flexible Bid Strategy: Target Outranking Share
- Goal: Set goal percentage of target outranking share relative to main competitors in last 3 months. Focus was to start outranking competitors following up to Black Friday
- RESULTS: Top of Page Rate increased +5%, Avg Pos improved + 13%, better positioning in 100% of searches on Black Friday, and +3% increase in profits
- Industry: eCommerce client
- Flexible Bid Strategy: Target Search Page Location + Maximize Clicks + Target CPA
- Goal: Drive volume for promotions by targeting page location, increase traffic to brand value keywords by maximizing clicks, and maximize orders on last-click conversion keywords using target CPA
- RESULTS: +65% increase in conversion volume, with CPA reduced 4%.
SASHA FIERCE TIP:
- Flexible Bid Strategies need time to learn, much likeany other algorithmic bidding method. Many account managers don’t know that you can check your flexible bid strategy’s status in the shared library. There are some great graphs to see after collecting some data if your strategy is still learning, or is being limited in anyway.
So you know about some new features, you’ve got some new ideas for how to bid, but what if you’re a big brand? Maybe you’ve tried a lot of these things before, but your environment is a bit more competitive than smaller companies. Let’s talk about some ways in which you can approach PPC if you’re a big brand and trying to get more people to “say your name” and convert.
Big Brand PPC’s biggest challenge in balancing testing with protecting the brand. On the one hand, you want to test and innovate – use interesting CTAs! Try out some new extensions or beta for extended headlines! Do something new to make you stand out amongst so many other ads. But, at the same time, it’s a well-known brand. You’ve got to protect it, and at times that means favoring brand voice over best or newly innovative PPC practices. I’ve been in many a meeting where the discussion is around how to say something is “discounted” or “on sale” without devaluing the product. Or discussions around how to exactly say the product name with no room to move on it – even though it’s too long to fit in the DAMN 25 CHARACTER HEADLINE. So what do you do?
#1: Discuss ad messaging guidelines before launching new ads
Consider both your brand, and also consider external brand if you’re partnering or selling any of then. Many e-commerce resellers run into this – another brand being upset with how you messaged their product in your PPC ads. Ask yourself what’s the appropriate CTA? And always bring it back to what can realistically fit in just 95 characters.
#2: Avoid being generic in your landing experience – searchers notice and bounce off!
Remember that brand protection isn’t only done with ad copy. Think about where you’re landing the user, too. If you drop them somewhere incredibly generic, searchers notice and they will bounce off. Instead, direct searchers to the most relative pages you can. And if you aren’t sure what’s going to perform best, do a split test and see what resonates more with searchers
#3: Communicate across multiple account teams
Many big brands aren’t really just ONE brand – they have multiple product teams or they are a conglomerate of multiple brands. And sometimes, that means overlap in keyword bidding (which brings along the phrase ‘keyword governance’, maybe my least favorite of all time besides “I don’t really get Beyonce”.) Or, for many big brands, there are various PPC teams per region or country. Set up regular auditing and make sure there’s consistency between various groups. Also, don’t keep things siloed – align with other internal teams and discuss bidding tactics and models to determine how to work together.
So now that we’ve talk about what you can do with your account, let’s talk about the people behind those accounts – your PPC team. I’ve been lucky to be a part of and lead fantastic teams at Point It, so I wanted to share some tips on following that mantra of a ***flawless PPC team.
#1: Growing Your Team
- Put in a training model before you need it
- Encourage collaboration & knowledge sharing
- Provide safe-ground for mistakes
- Acknowledge team and individual accomplishments
- “Aim For The Middle” when leading larger PPC teams in order to challenge junior team members and give just enough guidance for senior talent
#2: Think About How To Scale
- Weigh resource-impacting requests based on what the future impact would be if they were scaled larger
- Mix senior talent with junior members
- Share learnings from tests, betas, & new initiatives across account teams
- Encourage both deep diving into data as well as big-picture thinking
#3: Teach Your Team How To Tell The Story
- Mentor your team on how to tell the story when it comes to reporting & analysis
- If your audience (client, internal team, boss, etc) can’t get the main message in 30 seconds, it needs to be changed
- SASHA FIERCE TIP: Get Visual! Too many long paragraphs in emails? Pages of bullets in reports? Encourage your team to use simple visuals like graphs or SmartArt to tell the performance story
Finally, I wanted to leave you all with a Beyonce fighter mentality, a positive look at things no matter if your account has taken a dip in performance. How do you diagnosis the issue so you can bounce back in Beyonce style?
#1: Identify the Problem
- Where did the performance decline happen?
- Keyword level?
- Ad group level?
- Campaign level?
- Combination of many?
#2: Assess Competitive Impacts
It’s important to evaluate the external factors – for example, the competitive impacts. A great tool is an Auction Insights Script from BrainLabs. It allows you to set up a Google Doc, throw in some auction insights & CPC data, and automate visual graphs that you can copy & send to clients, or internally to monitor performance. This can be done for different variations of time – yearly, monthly, weekly, daily. I’ve found it really powerful and especially helpful for explaining how auction insights work (like impresision share, outranking share, pos above rate, etc.) to someone who may not be as well versed in them.
#3: Allow For Flexibility
- Set different KPIs per campaign category
- Consider Branded vs. Non-Branded performance differences
- Set Product Specific goals
- Create Testing Goals to allow for wiggle room
- Set performance thresholds to determine when it’s time to pivot your bidding strategy
- Give yourself room to test, but set guardrails to keep things in check
- Budget caps
- Max CPC caps
- Automated email reports/notifications
#4: Bounce Back in Beyonce Style
And bounce back – remember not everyone is perfect (even Beyonce…though it’s hard to believe). The great thing about PPC is that you can make changes nearly instantaneously. Be proactive with what you do, and then learn from your mistakes if they don’t work. Remember you’re a human being, and share your wisdom (both successes & failures) with the SEM community – it’ll make you better, and people will respect you for it.
So, what did Queen Bey help us learn? There was so much we covered, but I hope this article helped you discover a few key takeaways:
- Wow! New Features! Hey, maybe try out RLSA to remarket in Search and see some great ROI
- Test a flexible bid strategy. Go ahead, pick one! Give it a whirl! And keep an eye on it’s learning period
- Big Brands who do great PPC find that balanced intersection between brand voice & PPC best practices
- Build a strong PPC team who can tell the performance story in 30 sec. if they can’t, mentor them on how to change that
- Bounce back in Beyonce style. Try out BrainLab’s awesome auction insight script to get ahead of competitors entering the auction and react right when they do
- BONUS TAKEAWAY: How I try to be successful is asking myself “hey, What Would Beyonce Do?”
Got questions or want to share some of your PPC tips? Post in the blog comments below or reach out on Twitter (@MaddieMarketer, @point_it).
Also, check out my Spotify playlist with my favorite Beyonce jams at bit.ly/SMX-East-Beyonce-Playlist