Utilizing Marketers & Technology in your Paid Search Strategy
Machine learning and automation are common buzzwords for digital marketers. The promise of leveraging these technologies? To free human marketers from time-consuming, repetitive tasks so they can do their best work on more strategic endeavors. At Rise, we see great results when incorporating automation into paid search workflows. Paired with the right paid search strategy, and with the right measurement and segmentation in place, you’ll be able to drive better, longer-term performance.
At Rise, we recommend iteratively testing and refining your paid search bidding segments. In fact, we’ve seen this tactic elevate conversions for our clients as much as 80%, all while maintaining or reducing target Cost Per Lead (CPL). But, before you dive headfirst into fully incorporating automation into your day-to-day, you’ll want to make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success. We laid out five best practices you can establish to confidently leverage the full power that automation and new technologies have to offer!
1. Set Up Measurement Framework
We’re big fans of a great measurement framework, but when it comes to automation, it’s crucial to tailor this framework in a way that bidding algorithms can understand. Essentially, automation tools are only as powerful as the data you feed them: That’s why, in addition to tracking online micro-conversions, you’ll also want to include closed-loop qualified leads, store visits, phone calls, and other meaningful first-party data sources or metrics into your overall framework. This will allow for a far more complete picture of campaign performance.
It is also important to have the right engine attribution strategy for different conversion points. This will enable bidding algorithms to have full insight into different touchpoints that lead up to desired conversions. Non-last-click attribution models, like data-driven attribution, are an ideal way to enable automation to glean more helpful and relevant insights.
2. Create the Right Segmentation to Help Automation Learn
While correctly structured bidding algorithms can most certainly help marketers save time, they also require a fairly high conversion data density in order to be successful. If you’re lacking the conversion volume you need to identify meaningful performance insights from your conversion data, a human specialist can help to create performance strategies using campaign segmentation. This allows for testing different hypotheses around the value different keyword groups drive, which will help you iteratively optimize a campaign.
Creating segmented bid strategies that have different performance thresholds and constraints around maximum and minimum bids— as well as seasonality adjustments— allows a human operator to optimize their bid strategies through inputting more business-relevant constraints. Rise’s cross-channel optimization platform, Connex®, provides the agility needed to evaluate the performance of different segments and re-balance bid strategy constraints right at the moment it matters most. In fact, we built Connex Alerts to provide marketers a real-time way to be notified of if and when specific segments exceed or fall below important KPIs across channels. Using Connex allows marketers to quickly feed automation tools the most up-to-date data— and continuously improve the strength of their efforts.
3. Monitor and Adjust Budgeting
Allocating budgets for bid automation is one of the biggest challenges marketers face in paid search. On one hand, campaigns bidding too aggressively may run the risk of losing out on valuable impressions due to budget constraints. Conversely, campaigns that don’t bid competitively are more likely to be beat out by their competitors. Achieving the correct balance in your bidding strategy means you’ll want to closely monitor search terms that become top contenders, which will help you focus your strategy on the most powerful keywords for your brand’s goals.
Additionally, evaluating search terms and building out robust negatives relevant to your business and keyword target lists can also help elevate the performance of the account. When the account is set up in an organized way, automation platforms like Connex can comb through top converting and top spending words in search term queries at scale, freeing up valuable time for human specialists to optimize.
Want to use automation to take your bidding a step further? Consider Google Ads' value-based bidding (VBB). As a marketer, you know that all conversions don’t provide the same level of value to your business (Think: A customer who purchased one $10 item once, versus a customer who has purchased a $100 item once per month for the last 12 months). With this in mind, VBB allows you to assign dollar values to specific types of customers, and then automatically optimize your bids toward helping you maximize the volume of your highest value customers— because more of your highest value customer conversions means more overall revenue for your brand.
4. Leverage Campaign Innovation Beyond Bidding
Bid algorithms are designed to serve the best ads to the most relevant audiences, but relying solely on their capabilities won’t be enough, especially considering today’s audience-centric environment. In order to get a larger percentage of searchers to click on your ads, you’ll need high-quality ad copy that resonates with your audience's wants and needs. That’s where the proper segmentation comes into play: Knowing how each of your audience segments think and are likely to behave will act as your guide to creating the best messaging that will be most likely to inspire the behavior you want to see.
Newer campaigns, like Responsive Search Ads, can help scale and test different ad copy variations by letting engines automatically combine headlines and descriptions. Google Ads provides RSA reporting capabilities that can quickly organize the results of your ad campaigns, including both individual and combination assets. This will equip you with a more nuanced picture of what types of ad combinations you should test into further in the future.
Additionally, Google’s Performance Max reduces needless guesswork about allocating ad spend by placing and optimizing ads across a variety of different channels in the Google ecosystem. It then compares all ad and creative types in your mix and identifies which is performing best, then optimizes your budget against it, helping you to get the best results for the best possible spend. With these capabilities in mind, this campaign type is another powerful way for marketers to increase brand visibility, expand reach, and easily optimize towards multiple business goals at once.
PRO-TIP: In order to avoid ad blindness, we recommend testing different CTA messaging and frequently refreshing ad copy.
5. Use New Ad Types to Access New Advertising Experiences
Within the past several years, we’ve witnessed a huge rise in new ad types. From video to augmented reality, consumers are faced with a sea of advertising in a variety of formats— meaning you’ll need to pump up the different kinds of creatives and ads in your own mix to stay ahead of the competition. For paid search, knowing how to put Google Discovery Ads (Think: the highly-visual, mobile optimized, clickable ads that appear as you scroll through the YouTube Home and Watch Next feeds) to work in your larger PPC strategy can help you reach your highest intent customers, at scale, and within budget— all in a way that is visually pleasing, highly-personalized, and engaging.
If you’re selling consumer goods or other products, you’ll also want to make sure you’ve got a game plan in place for product listing ad campaigns (PLAs). Serving relevant product ads to shoppers at the top of a SERP gives them the quick and seamless opportunity to click through and buy the products they're actively looking for— thereby helping drive your revenue and ROI.
Continue Evolving Your Search Strategy
Continuously refining your paid search strategy doesn’t just mean freeing up precious time for your human marketers (although we do love that benefit!). Investing more resources into the right talent and tech stack, plus testing out different campaigns and as types, can help uncover additional opportunities to scale marketing efforts and grow your customer base. By focusing on structuring your approach to paid search in a way that is inclusive of automation, you will be set up to future-proof your strategies and drive long-term growth.
Ready to start applying automation to your paid search strategies? Contact us today!
Originally published November 2019.
Updated March 2023.