How to Choose Your Google Ads Bidding

How to Choose Your Google Ads Bidding

Google Ads bidding

When it comes to Google Ads bidding, there are a lot of decisions to make. The first one is whether to manage your account manually or choose from a multitude of automated bidding options.

While automated bidding is designed to make your life easier, it’s important to select the option that will work best for you—that is, the one that will best meet your goals and objectives.

The chart below provides a summary how to direct your bidding according to your business goal:

Business Goal Conversions

(Users buy, complete form, etc.)

Clicks (Traffic)

(Bring people to your site)

Impressions (Visibility)

(Show Your ads, but traffic & conversions are secondary)

Bid Strategy Smart Bidding CPC Bidding Impression Bidding
Bidding Types Target CPA (A)

Average pay for conversion

Manual CPC Target Search Page Location (A)
Target ROAS (A) Maximize Clicks (A) Target Outranking Share (A)
Maximize Conversions (A) CPM (A)
ECPC (A) VCPM (A)

(A) Identifies an automated bidding type

I have tried all these, and my favourite by far is the manual option (Manual Cost Per Click). Although time consuming, it gives you full control over your bidding and it’s easy to make changes without major disruptions. There’s more about manual bidding further down this post under ‘CPC Bidding’

Now let’s have a look at the automated options.

Google Ads Automated Bidding

With automated bidding, you don’t have to set your individual keyword or ad group bids. But you also surrender various degrees of control in terms of how much you bid, at what times, and even how much you spend. That said, when done properly, this option works well for most.

How Automated Bidding Works

It’s said that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. That’s the premise that drives automated bidding. Google Ads uses ‘Machine Learning’ to track statistical models of past performance to predict future performance, and automates your bids based on this data. For example, users from some locations using mobile devices might be more likely to click on ads at a certain time of day.

Google uses something called auction time signals to predict the likelihood of someone clicking your ad. Machine Learning allows Google to assimilate a lot of variables very quickly to determine when you should bid high, low or not at all. These variables include:

  • Device
  • Location
  • Time of Day
  • Language
  • Operating System
  • Remarketing lists

Why I don’t use automated bidding all the time

Automated bidding relies on historical performance. If you don’t have any history (as with a new account) it probably won’t work very well at first. It can take some time for Machine Learning to gather enough data to perform well.

Define Your Objectives

For automated bidding to work well for you, you need to know what you want it to do. What is most important? Conversions? Increased website traffic? Impressions?

You need to define your objectives in specific terms. For example:

  • I want X sales lead per month and my budget is Y
  • My budget is A and I need 25 sales
  • I want 10,000 people to see my message each week
  • I want an ROI of 200%

The key here is to choose which objective is most important for your business. That’s right, you can only select one. And while this is a struggle for many business owners, the automated bidding process won’t work with more than one objective.

Smart Bidding Strategy

This is Google’s name for a group of bidding types that encourage users to take an action on a website. For example:

  • Making a purchase
  • Completing a form
  • Sending an email (click email link)
  • Clicking on a phone number
  • Signing up for an email list

Conversion Tracking required

To make any bidding work, you will need to have Google Ads ‘Conversion Tracking’ established. To set up conversion tracking, follow these instructions: https://birdseyemarketing.com/2019/04/google-ads-conversion-tracking/.

Choosing your automated bidding type

Here’s a summary of the different bidding types available:

Smart Bidding Strategies – When You Users to Take Action

Bidding Type Target CPA

(Cost per Acquisition)

Target ROAS

(Return on Ad Spend)

Maximize Conversions ECPC
Description Achieve your desired cost per acquisition Achieve your desired return on ad spend Spend your budget to gain as many conversions as possible. Automatically adjusts manual bids based on likelihood of user clicking

Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)

This bidding type tries to get as many conversions within your CPA as possible. Be careful not to set bid limits too low, because it could exclude you from auctions. It’s best to allow Google to set your bids.

Target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)

This option automatically sets bids based on your target return on ad spend; it will try to get as many conversions as possible within that ROAS.

There are two important requirements associated with this option:

  • Your campaign must have a minimum of 15 conversions in the past 30 days; and
  • You must set values for the conversions you want.

Maximize Conversions

This option will get the most conversions within your budget as possible, and it tries to spend your entire budget. This campaign can’t be part of a shared budget.

If you have a target ROI (such as 2%), you’re best to use Target CPA or Target ROAS.

ECPC

This option works with manual bidding to raise or lower your bids for clicks that seem ‘likely’ to convert.

Bids are constrained by your max CPC (CPA bidding is not constrained by max CPC).

CPC (Cost Per Click) Bidding Strategies — Driving traffic to your website

CPC strategies seek out ways to drive traffic to your website. You will get a lot of visitors, but not all of them will take an action.

There are two types of CPC strategies: Manual CPC and Maximize Clicks. Let’s have a look at each.

Manual CPC

You set the maximum amount you will spend for a click. There are tools available to help with this, including:

  • Bid simulator – Explores ‘what if’ scenarios (for example: how many more impressions or clicks can you expect by setting your bid ten cents higher)
  • Keyword Planner – Estimates traffic and bids
  • First Page Bid Estimates – Determines what you need to bid to make first page

Maximize Clicks

This is a good bid type for those who consistently spend their daily budget. Maximize clicks will take a more discerning approach using auction time signals to move bids up or down based on the likelihood of the user clicking your ad. This is also a good bid type for those who don’t have time to monitor their bids and are willing to let Google update automatically.

DO NOT USE MAXIMIZE CLICKS WHEN:

  • You need to maintain a specific position or cost per conversion, or
  • You can’t set individual bids.

Impression Bidding – Focusing on Your Message.

Impression Bidding types are for businesses that want to reach a lot people quickly. They are most beneficial on Google’s Display Network where image ads do very well.

 

Target Search Page Location Target outranking Share Cost per thousand impressions (CPM) Cost per thousand Viewable Impressions (M)
Gets ads to top of page Choose a domain you want to outrank YouTube & Display

Pay per 1,000 impressions

Awareness, not necessarily click traffic.

Summary: When To use Automated Bidding

In summary, there are three things you need to determine before diving into automated bidding:

  1. Decide which advertising goal is most important to you: Action, Traffic, or Visibility.
  2. Track your advertising performance by setting up conversion tracking.
  3. Determine how much time you can dedicate to Google Ads. If you have the time, start with manual bidding to build up historical performance statistics before trying automated bidding.
How to Optimize Your Google Ads Account: Follow the Money

How to Optimize Your Google Ads Account: Follow the Money

Follow the money to optimize Google Ads AccountThere’s a famous line in the movie ‘All the President’s Men’ where Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) tells the reporter (Robert Redford) ‘to follow the money’ to find the answer. I use this same line anytime a Google Ads tutoring customer asks me how to optimize their Google Ads account without getting overwhelmed by the data.

Of course, my customers aren’t trying to uncover a government conspiracy, but sifting through the mountains of data Google Ads gives you to try to figure what’s working and what isn’t can be daunting. By advising them to follow the money, I’m telling them to follow their costs, starting with the highest ones.

Follow the money: Costs and conversions

To identify your highest cost Google Ads’ campaigns, sort your campaigns by the cost column, then double click the top of the cost column to have Google Ads sort from highest to lowest cost.

Next, look at the number of conversions in each campaign. If you have high costs with few to no conversions, you have a problem worth investigating. To give more context, I’ll often look at the cost per conversion (total cost / number of conversions) column as well. If that dollar value is within an acceptable range, there might not be an issue at all.

When there are no conversions or the cost per conversion is too high

This is where you need to begin troubleshooting to determine the root cause of the high cost versus low/no conversions.

It’s time to go into the campaign’s ad groups. To do this, click into the ad groups and do the same thing we just did in the Google Ads’ campaigns. Sort ad groups from highest to lowest cost, and look at the number of conversions and cost per conversion.

Click on the high cost and low conversion (or unacceptably high cost per conversion) ad group and look at the keywords. Find the high cost, low (or no) conversion keywords. Try to determine why this keyword isn’t converting. Is it too general? Is it a single keyword instead o a group or phrase? Single keywords draw poor quality traffic. Check the search terms report to see what precise terms are triggering your ads to show. If you see terms you don’t want your ads showing for, move those to ‘negative keywords.’

While cost and conversions are a good start for Google Ads novices, there are other metrics mixes you can use to investigate optimization, including impressions and impression shares, clicks and CPC, and many more.

For beginners, Google Ads optimization is easier when we pair down the data to a couple of metrics and then follow those through. The problems start to show, especially when you follow the money.

Segmented Google Analytics Audiences: Your Pandora’s Box to Remarketing

What are your customers doing on your website the first time they visit? Are they looking at specific pages? Putting items into a cart, but not following through with the purchase? Maybe they’re reading your Contact page, but not getting in touch.

That’s ok. Most website visitors don’t become customers right out of the ‘Pandora’s Box,’ so to speak. To convert their interest into a sale, they will need to return to your site.

Remarketing is a very effective and inexpensive way to remind them to return to your site through Google Adwords. But targeting every visitor who lands on any page on your site may not be the most effective way to increase sales.

A better use of your advertising dollars is to set up Segmented Audiences. By targeting only visitors who meet a certain criteria, you are increasing the chances they’ll return and ultimately become a customer.

The more you segment your audiences in Google Analytics, the more targeted your advertising can be. When it comes to remarketing, Google Analytics provides plenty of audience creation options.

Audiences are created using the Audience Builder in your Google Analytics. Navigate from Admin (lower left side navigation panel) > Property > Audience Definitions.

The first audience is always ‘All Users.’ If your All User audience is not set up, follow these instructions.  

Once you have your ‘All Users’ audience, go to the ‘Audiences’ home page.

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Opening Pandora’s Box of Remarketing

There are multiple combinations of audiences you can choose from. The more targeted your audience, the more precise your remarketing campaign will be.

Google Analytics’ ‘Audience Builder’ lets you go deep with segmentation. Let’s take a look at some remarketing audiences you can choose from:

Custom Audience Targeting

If you don’t like any of the standard choices below, you can always just build a custom audience to suit your needs by using the ‘Conditions’ on the Audience Builder home page. You will be amazed at the options available.

I have built many custom audiences to remarket to visitors who:

  • Abandoned their shopping cart;
  • Abandoned the Contact Us page without completing the form; or
  • Visited a group of product or service pages.
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Behavior

This is a powerful audience option because it’s based on what people actually did on your website.

You can target website visitors by:

  • Number of sessions – Visitors coming to your site a lot are likely considering a purchase, but something is ‘holding them back.’ This is the perfect time to give them an offer they can’t refuse.
  • Session Duration (per user or per session) — An indication of website engagement. The longer they are on your site, the more engaged they are with your brand.
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Date of First Session

This targets people who visited your website during a specific time period (holiday period, special promotion period, etc.).  Simply select your desired start and end dates.

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Traffic Sources

Traffic sources are based on Campaign, Medium, Source or Keyword (taken from UTM Parameters) from previous marketing programs.

Using these traffic sources allows you to retarget people who have visited your website from other campaigns run in the past.

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Technology-Based Audiences

This is a great option if you need to reach website visitors who have visited your website with specific technology types. As you can see, it gets quite detailed, from operating systems to browsers (even browser versions), screen resolutions, mobile device brand, and a lot more.

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Demographic Audience Targeting

Despite being, well… boring, demographics are a staple in many advertising programs. This audience builder lets you pick through your standard demographic criteria:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Location (city, province / state, city)

The remaining criteria pull their designations for Google AdWords.

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Just Remember: Minimum Audience Size for Google Remarketing

Google likes big audiences. It takes a minimum of 100 users over 30 days to make presenting ads economical for you and them. So as you set up your remarketing audiences, check to see how many of your website users meet your criteria).  If it’s too small, don’t bother.

Getting Started with Google Remarketing Audiences

Getting Started with Google Remarketing Audiences

Buyers rarely make a purchase the first time they visit a website, so getting them to return to yours is crucial to making the sale. Remarketing is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to do this.

To get started with your remarketing campaign , you will need:

  • Google Analytics, to identify who will see your ads; and
  • A Google AdWords account.

Some Rules / Caveats of Google Remarketing (Check these Before you Start)

  • Google requires an audience of at least 100 users over a 30-day period.
  • Your Google Analytics and Google AdWords accounts must be linked together so Analytics can pass the audience members to AdWords.

Now, let’s begin by setting up your first Google Analytics remarketing audience.

Google Analytics Remarketing Audience Setup

By default, Google will display your audience to be ‘all users’ who visit your website. However, you do not have to enable this audience.

All Users Audience

  1. Log into your Google Analytics account.
  2. On the ‘Home’ page, follow the left navigation panel to the bottom and select ‘Admin’ (it will have a gear wheel icon next to it).
  3. In the middle column (Property), select ‘Audience Definitions.’
  4. From the Audience Definition drop down, select ‘Audiences.’
  5. Create your first audience’ screen will open. By default, Google will create your first audience and name it ‘All Users.’ It’s an audience that captures every user that lands on any page of your website.
  6. Open the dropdown menu under ‘Audience Destinations.’ If your Google AdWords account is linked to your Google Analytics account, you will see your AdWords account listed. Select it, and click ‘Enable.’

To ensure your audience was successfully created, select ‘Audience’ on the Admin main page.

Now you’re ready to set up your remarketing campaign in your Google AdWords account.

8 Google Grants Policy Changes for NPO’s AdWords

8 Google Grants Policy Changes for NPO’s AdWords

If you’re a Not For Profit using Google Grants to fund your AdWords, there are some major policy changes that took effect January 1st .   The Google Grants program entitles Not for Profit organizations to a maximum of $10,000 per month of Google search advertising.

Here’s a summary of the new policy requirements and how you can meet them:

Removal of $2.00 Maximum Bid—Go ahead and bid on higher priced words!

In the past, the highest you could bid was $2.00, which shut you out of many opportunities other advertisers were willing to pay more for.

The good news is the $2.00 maximum can be removed, so you can bid on any keyword you think is relevant.

To remove the $2.00 maximum bid, you will need to switch to an automated keyword bidding method called ‘Maximize Conversions’. This is also good news, as ‘Maximize Conversions’ bidding is designed to increase your bids on auctions where conversions are more likely. On auctions where conversions are less likely, your bidding will be less aggressive. Over time, Google’s machine learning will learn when conversions are most likely.

Want even more good news? You don’t need to manage individual bid amounts; AdWords’ automation does that for you. Here’s how:

Set up Conversion Tracking

This is important! Your bidding will not work without it.

Check to see if you have conversions enabled on your AdWords Account; it’s in the Tools section of the top navigation menu. If you don’t, set it up.

5% Minimum CTR

The CTR (Click Through Rate) is the percentage of people who click on your ads. The percentage is determined by two numbers: Impressions – the number of people who see your ad, and Clicks—the number of people who click on your ads.

The new policy requires a minimum 5% CTR or your account is at risk of being suspended. This sounds scary, but it’s really not.  If your CTR is below the 5% threshold, the easiest way to increase it is to remove keywords with high impressions and low clicks.

  • Quality score greater than 2
  • 2 ad group minimum with 2 ads each
  • 2 sitelink minimum

Let’s take a closer look at each:

Keyword Quality Score Must Be 2 or Greater

This is just a good AdWords practice; anytime you have a quality score less than 6 you should be taking action anyway.

Quality Score is Google’s opinion of how relevant your selected keyword is to the ad and landing page.  It’s always a good idea to make sure those three are relevant to one another.

Minimum Two Ad Groups per Campaign and Two Ads per Ad Group

This is just another good AdWords practice that ‘ups our relevance,’ which improves Quality Score and keeps our Click Through Rate (CTR) above the 5% threshold:

  • Two Ad Groups forces us to improve our relevance instead of just stuffing everything into one.
  • Two Ads forces us to test messages and see which one gets the better reaction (clicks, conversions, etc.)

Use at Least Two Site Links

This is awesome. You should be using more than two anyway. Site links let you showcase important parts of your website at no extra cost.

In fact, site links are just one form of Extensions offered by AdWords; there are many more that help make your ads more visible, and increase that CTR and relevance, including:

  • Call extensions that show your phone number right in your ad;
  • Location extensions that show your address, hours of operation and much more; and
  • Call out extensions that show additional marketing messages.

To set up your extensions, click on the extensions tab and you will get this wonderful feature working for you.

  • Don’t bid on branded terms unless you own them
  • Stop using single keywords
  • Stop targeting “the world”

You Can’t Bid on Branded Keywords You Don’t Own

If you have branded keywords you own, feel free to bid on them and be active in AdWords. However, you will not be able to bid on keywords you do not own, i.e.; competitor names.

Many Single Keywords Not Allowed

Most people’s searches involve more than one word anyway, so disallowing most single word keywords is not that big a deal. You’ll need to look through all your keywords and find those lonely singles, like donate, donation, NGO, charity, non-profit and several more. Either get rid of them or combine them with other words into phrases.

Stop Targeting the World

When it comes to geographic targeting “the world” is the default.  Google Grants now requires you to target your geography… which makes sense anyway.

For each of your campaigns go into location settings and check that Canada / a province or a city is targeted.  Target the area(s) relevant to your NPOs mission.

These changes will require you spend a fair bit more time on your AdWords account maintenance. Let it languish, and you can expect a note from Google Grants suspending your account.

Don’t Let ‘Moss Grow on Your Account’

Until now, managing Google AdWords might have been a ‘set and forget’ task. These new policies mean you will need to pay attention to your account, because if it languishes and goes below the thresholds set out, your account can be suspended.

These policies also probably mean you need to become more knowledgeable about AdWords and managing your account. Google offers some great training at their Academy for Ads. Take the AdWords Basics and AdWords Search training courses to learn more about optimizing and structuring your account better.

Time Needed to Manage Your Account

If you are managing your AdWords account in-house, make sure the person caring for your AdWords account has training time, and most importantly, about 60 minutes a week to regularly work on the account.

Need AdWords Help

Bird’s Eye Marketing is certified with Google AdWords so we can help review your account and help get you meeting the new requirements.

References

From the Google Grants Policy pages:  https://support.google.com/grants/topic/3500093?hl=en&ref_topic=3500091,3500123,3540513,

Other References:

https://searchengineland.com/google-grants-policy-changes-5-percent-click-through-rate-288452

http://www.clixmarketing.com/blog/2017/12/14/big-changes-coming-to-adwords-ad-grants/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=socialnetwork

https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/12/18/google-ad-grants-policy-changes

Remarketing: Those Ads That Follow You Around The Web

Remarketing: Those Ads That Follow You Around The Web

We’re all used to seeing ads online, but do you ever feel like a particular ad is chasing you? You visit a site, and then it seems everywhere you go online, you’re seeing ads for that site.

Well you are, and it’s because the site owner is using an extremely effective and inexpensive marketing technique called ‘remarketing’.

How Remarketing Works

When you visit a website for a business that uses remarketing, the site will drop a ‘cookie’ (small piece of code) into your browser. As you travel around the web, that code is matched with available ads, and chooses an ad to display based on your recent browsing history.

The browser cookie is usually set to expire after the ads have shown a few times.

How Remarketing Can Work For You

When you set up your remarketing campaign, you will define specific criteria for your target audience to meet, such as visiting a specific page, or a group of pages. When a visitor to your site meets this criteria, the cookie gets dropped into their browser. When this happens, they become members of your remarketing lists (you can have many lists), and your ad will appear for them when they visit other websites that display ads.

The best part is, you only pay if your ad is clicked. If they don’t click on your ad, you don’t pay. The cost for a click is generally quite low, but can vary depending on many factors.

Why Remarketing Works

Remarketing is very effective because 97% of buyers need multiple visits to a website before making a purchase or enquiry. This means only 3% of new visitors become customers on their first visit. Getting even a small percentage of the remaining 97% to return and complete a sale can give any business a nice sales lift. Remarketing offers the ideal strategy to do just that.

Reminds People to Come Back to Your Website – A 2nd Chance

Let’s face it. The internet is full of distractions. A visitor to your site may be very interested in what you offer, but after they leave, they may not remember how they found you in the first place. Without the strong brand recognition strategies larger companies have, small businesses can be easily forgotten. Remarketing reminds them of their visit to your site, and why they may want to return.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at how remarketing worked for one of my customers:

This company’s remarketing list criteria was that anyone who visits four or more pages on their site would be eligible to see their ads. When a visitor views at least four pages, they are expressing a significant interest in your business.

Before they began remarketing, about 2.5% of visitors were making sales enquiries. When we added remarketing, their sales enquiries jumped to 3% of visitors, which my customer estimated was an additional $2k sales per month.

Requirements for Remarketing

Setting up your remarketing strategy requires a few steps:

  1. You will need a Google AdWords account and Google Analytics loaded on your website.
  2. Ensure your AdWords and Analytics accounts are linked together so audience information can be transferred from Analytics to AdWords.
  3. Define your criteria for each remarketing list (viewed specific pages or set pages, viewed a certain number of pages, etc.). You can do this in Google Analytics.
  4. Set up a remarketing campaign in Google AdWords.
  5. Have website traffic of at least 100 users over a 30 day period for Google to show your ads.
  6. Create visual ads with a compelling message.
  7. Send those who click on the ads to a compelling landing page, preferably not one they saw when they previously visited your website.

Don’t be a stalker

Remarketing ads can be set so they only display a certain number of times to an individual. Use this feature. If a person hasn’t click on your ad after seeing it five times in a week, it’s unlikely they will change their mind on the sixth time. Stop showing them your ad, or you will be remembered negatively, as a stalker.

Get your remarketing started

The first step is to define your audience, or the criteria for people to see your ads. Google Analytics makes it easy to set up your audience. Go to:

Admin > Property > Audience Definitions > Audiences

Remarketing on Facebook

If you have a Facebook Business page, you can create a remarketing campaign where your ads appear in people’s Facebook feeds after they have visited your website and met your audience criteria.

There are a few Bird’s Eye customers experiencing great success with Facebook remarketing. It’s an effective way to approach previous site visitors. The difference between this and Google is you need to define your audience using Facebook’s powerful Pixel.