In my experience with Google PPC advertisements, testing a variety of bid strategies is an important part of creating a successful and profitable campaign.
There is no ‘one strategy’ which will work for all, and each business offerings are slightly different, whether you are an eCommerce store, insurance company, service provider etc.
So first of all… what is a bid strategy?
A bid strategy is how Google determines what you pay per click – and will be dependent on your business goals and whether you go for an automated or manual bidding route.
In a manual bidding method, you will directly decide what you are willing to pay per click – Google will take the top 6 bids at any given time of the day and place you in the position dependant on your bid amount. The more you bid, the higher the likelihood of you being placed in a high position, therefore receiving more impressions and clicks.
With the growing automated options, you will let Google know what your aims are e.g. Target Cost Per Acquisition that you want to achieve, and Google will analyse historic data to determine your bids with the aim of achieving your target CPA. This sounds all well and good – but automation isn’t always the best method for your business.
What are the different PPC bid strategies?
- Manual CPC
- Enhanced Manual CPC
- Target CPA
- Target ROAS
- Maximise Conversions
- Maximise Conversion Value
If you want a short explanation as to what each of these strategies, it is worth checking out the Google help centre.
PPC Strategies & Techniques for your goals
The great thing about PPC is that you can adjust your campaigns whether you have a small or high budget – obviously you are more likely to succeed with a higher budget as it will give you wiggle room to test different keywords, but that doesn’t make it impossible to succeed with a small budget.
Low Budget & Low Margins
So you are likely to be a small business and just starting out in PPC – you have a small budget and you sell products with a fairly low margin, so what would be the best strategy with PPC in order to get the most for your money.
Initially, I would begin with some manual bidding – using the keyword planner to set bids at the lower end and don’t expect to achieve much more then 10/20% of impression share. You will be placed on positions 3-6, but you will still receive some clicks and at a cheaper CPC.
Once you have built up some data after the campaign has run for a week or two, you can get an idea of the conversion rates – and I’d then recommend setting your campaign to an automated Target CPA strategy, providing Google with your ideal target (but also make it realistic by looking at the previous data).
In an ideal world, you’ll be running an efficient low budget campaign which is achieving your ideal CPA. However, you may need to adjust other details such as your landing page, product pricing, user experience etc. to help you achieve these goals, as PPC can only drive qualified leads but does not guarantee sales.
Aiming for high volume, with a high budget
So you’ve got the big bucks and you are willing to invest your money in PPC to provide sale volumes – well in my view, it is the best place to put your money these days with it being right at the end of the funnel.
Now in terms of bid strategy, once you’ve built up a wide variety of keywords using the planner, I’d be looking to begin with some low bids across the multiple keywords to get an idea of their potential performance.
It is not worth chucking the bid strategy straight on maximise conversions as Google has nothing to go by and it will take a good while for the campaign to be adjusted to achieve the maximum, hence why I’d begin with Manual CPC.
After a week or two, pick out all your good looking converting keywords and remove the ugly, non converting keywords – and change the strategy to maximise conversions.
Maximise conversions will aim to use ALL your budget – and achieve the highest number of conversions possible using all of it. This will mean you are using all your budget and Google will provide the maximum volume you can achieve from it.
However, from my experience this is not always the case – it is something you should aim for and test, but it may be that you feel Manual CPC is providing you with a greater conversion volume, and you may want to make bid adjustments on the ad schedule and demographics yourself.
High budget but you have low margins
In this case, you want to spend all your budget but also want a focus on your CPA to ensure you are profitable. I’d say that this is one of the most common situations I have seen with my clients – but it is also a dilemma which requires a lot of testing to get right.
My strategy would be to keep the whole campaign Manual. This way you can keep adjusting and optimise your campaigns until you hit that sweet spot – from my experience it can take a few months, especially with significant budgets.
This is all about testing and adjusting your campaigns – there is no one route for it and it can take a lot of time and money to get right – but once you get there you will be laughing!
Google seems to be pushing more and more for the automated campaigns, but as you can probably tell, I don’t believe this is always the best option. I like to have full control of my campaigns and bids – and have seen the most success with this. But this is another debate to be had shortly…
The above bid strategy techniques should give you a good starting point to choose the correct one for you – there are a number of other scenarios that focus on stats such as conversion value and ROAS which may be worth playing around with, but I’ve generally focused on Manual CPC, Target CPA, Maximum Conversions and Enhanced Manual CPC.
Thanks for reading guys. If you run an eCommerce store, it is also worth checking out our Top 5 methods for marketing it!