The Top 5 Commonly Ignored AdWords Optimization Techniques.

In my years as a digital marketer, I always ask myself: Do my search campaigns meet my business goals? How can I improve my search campaign performance under a limited budget? I can optimize campaigns by adjusting daily budget, applying different bid strategies, adding or excluding keywords from a search query report, adding ad extensions, testing ad copies, and setting up deep links, and so on. However, is that all I can do? What other actions can I take to improve search campaign performance?

Here are some interesting optimizations you may be ignoring in your search campaigns.

1. Adjust bids by age

Different age groups can perform very differently. Most people know how to adjust bids by age groups in display campaigns. However, did you know you can do the same thing in search campaigns?

For example, in this campaign, I excluded an age group of 65 or more. By doing this, I maximized my limited budget in other age groups with better conversion rates. As a result, conversions increased by 29%, conversion rate increased by 12%, and cost-per-acquisition (CPA) decreased by 15% period over period.

2. Adjust bids by gender

As with age, performance in different verticals can vary by gender. In the industry below, I saw that women tended to convert more frequently than men. In this case I would want to create gender-based bid adjustments to compensate for the performance differences.

If I set bid adjustments for gender groups, the overall impressions, clicks, and conversion rate will increase. The total cost will not change dramatically, since I set bid adjustment to -20% on male and +20% on female at the same time. You might see conversions slightly drop on the male group. However, by doing this you can maximize your limited budget in a highly converted gender group to lead higher conversion rate than before.

3. Adjust bids by device

Since Google announced individual bid adjustments on desktop, mobile, and tablet in 2016, there has been a debate about whether it’s better to separate a mobile campaign from a desktop and tablet campaign or not.

There are pros and cons of creating a mobile campaign:

Pros: You can control your daily budget more easily and improve your overall CPA. Campaigns usually get lots of impressions and clicks from mobile. You will end up spending inefficiently on mobile in combined campaigns (desktop, mobile, tablet). By separating mobile campaigns from desktop and tablet campaigns, you can make sure that desktop and tablet campaigns have enough budget to run during a day.

Cons: If you already have scalable campaigns in your account and your mobile traffic does not dramatically underperform, then creating mobile campaigns may double your workload without providing any real benefit.

Advice: Review your combined campaigns (desktop, mobile, tablet). Some campaigns may show high CPA due to high spending on mobile. In those cases, you’ll want to separate out the mobile campaigns.

Once split, both mobile and desktop+tablet campaigns will likely show higher clickthrough rate (CTR), higher conversion rate, and lower CPA.

4. Advanced location targeting

Physical location vs. location of interest

It is very easy to ignore this minor advanced location setting. Advertisers usually choose “People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location” as a target, because it’s recommended. However, if you want to target potential customers that physically live in your targeted area, it’s better to choose “People in my targeted location” as your target, and set “People in, searching for, or who show interest in my excluded location.” By doing so, you will spend your budget more efficiently on only the customers that are likely to convert.

After a month, review campaign performance by location types. Campaigns set for physical location only performed higher on CTR and conversion rate, and lower on CPA.

Adjust bids by location

When campaigns run for about a month, check campaign performance by location. Some specific locations may outperform the rest.

In this example, Location A spent a lot, and it did not generate conversions in certain earlier campaigns, I set bid adjustment to -20% in the underperforming campaigns.Cost and CPA decreased by over 50%, and conversion rate increased by 19% week over week (WoW).

Target the right locations

Besides targeting countries, areas, and radius around a location, try using the following two geo-targeting options.

DMA (Designated Market Area): DMAs are conducted by Nielsen Media Research. DMAs cover audiences who also receive TV or radio promotions.

Zip codes: Show ads precisely by targeting zip codes.

5. Setting up an ad schedule

You can adjust your bids by hour of day and day of week to better align with how customers are engaging with your campaigns throughout the day and week.

In this search campaign’s performance, clicks and CTR were higher in the beginning of the week. However, the conversion rate was higher on the weekend. People preferred to search the advertiser’s services on weekdays, and then converted on weekends. I set bid adjustment to -20% on Monday through Wednesday, and +20% on Saturday and Sunday. The overall performance improved. Conversions surged by 300%, and CPA decreased by over 60% WoW.

Are there other AdWords optimization techniques for advanced marketers? What are your go-tos? We’d love to hear from you.

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