The Overworked Advertiser's Guide to AdWords Bid Management

July 23, 2018

If you read many PPC blogs, you know that there are a ton of interesting and clever tips and tricks that you can leverage to squeeze more efficiency out of your online marketing campaigns. The trouble is, if you’re running an AdWords account there's a fair chance that you’re:

  • Running your own business as well
  • Responsible for several other components of your company’s marketing
  • Spending real money on AdWords, but not enough to hire an agency or full-time employee to manage it

This forces you to rule out a lot of those tips and tricks, simply because they won’t have a big enough impact for the time they take to implement – naturally, you have to weigh any optimization efforts you might make against other areas of your business you could be improving.

While understanding that specific tweaks you can make to elements of your campaign (like dayparting, for example) might not actually move the needle for your business, you really need to master the AdWords basics first to get the most out of whatever spend you are dedicating to Google AdWords.

Recently we published a pair of posts designed to help just these types of AdWords advertisers perform some quick tasks to help them get more efficiency out of their AdWords accounts:

In this post we’ll offer a really quick and dirty (and also imperfect, as we’ll mention) means of managing bids within smaller AdWords campaigns, perfect for advertisers who only have a few minutes a week to dedicate to optimizing their AdWords campaigns.

Best Adwords Bid Management Tips

Managing Bids within Smaller AdWords Accounts

First off please note that this is a very simple, quick guide to managing bids within an AdWords account – it’s not designed to be comprehensive or to rival more sophisticated bid management theory or implementation. It’s meant to take a minimal amount of time and to be more effective than what you’re doing (or not doing) currently. A good alternative to this methodology for overworked advertisers who meet the requirements is simply to leverage Google’s free conversion optimizer, which is also imperfect but frequently better than nothing and actually the best alternative given the time commitment it would require to manage yourself.

The quick and dirty alternative we’re proposing here is simply to manage bids by identifying over- and underperformers, then bidding more aggressively on terms that perform well, bidding down terms that don’t, and considering whether to pause the AdWords keywords that don’t perform at all.

The first step here is to make sure you have conversion tracking implemented – once you do you want to use any of a few tools to get a sense of how much you’re paying per conversion via your AdWords spend. You can do this from the interface or within Excel, or you can use AdWords Editor to quickly get a feel for your cost per conversions. Within a search campaign you can highlight the keyword tab and within a display campaign the placements tab to get a sense of where you should be bidding more or less:

AdWords bid management

From here you can sort in a couple of different ways to get some quick insights:

  • Cost Per Conversion – This will give you a quick idea of which keywords or placements are converting in a cost-efficient way.
  • Cost – By sorting by cost and looking for terms with zero conversions you’ll also pick out terms that are total non-performers.

From here you can leverage the advanced bid changes option to change bids on a number of terms at once – for instance you might determine that anything that is converting at over $60 isn’t cost-efficient, so you want to highlight all of those terms and decrease the bids by 5-10%:

advanced bid changes

You can then repeat this process weekly or as you have time, looking at the last week’s data to perform your bid changes.

Best AdWords Bid Management

Suboptimal Bid Optimization

Again it’s important to understand that this is an imperfect means of managing your bids – you’re only looking at certain date-range snap shots and it’s a very blunt means of increasing or decreasing bids, but given that it takes a minimal amount of time and will typically be much more effective than “setting and forgetting” your bids, it can be a better fit for you and your campaign than the alternatives. 

Of course if makes sense for your business, a far better alternative would be to leverage a PPC software platform with bid management software, or professional services, but if that’s not feasible given the size/budget of your campaign/account, quick methodologies like this that you can implement yourself are often worth the minimal time investment they require.

Tom Demers

Tom Demers

Tom Demers is Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Measured SEM and Cornerstone Content.

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