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Five Hacks for Hammering Down the Cost of Your CPC Search Ads

Five Hacks for Hammering Down the Cost of Your CPC Search Ads


Investing in CPC search ads? Here are five tips that you may not have considered to help you achieve optimal clicks and quality traffic without devouring your budgets.

Hit the nail on the head with bid multipliers

First rule of bid multipliers: always bid down. No one wants the confusion of having an average cost per click (CPC) that is higher than the set max bid. Make sure the max CPC is the real maximum CPC for the keyword, and use negative bid multipliers to bid down the least profitable areas.

Second rule of bid multipliers: don’t be too granular. There’s no point having a -70% bid adjustment on a postcode when there have only been five clicks in the past six months. Ensure you have a good amount of data to draw reasonable and reliable bid adjustments from.

Third and finally, demographic bid adjustments. You know that ‘unknown’ segment in your gender & age group tab? Bid down on them. The unknown demographic consistently shows lower CTR and CR than that of known demographics. This is an easy win, particularly if you are just starting a campaign and have no data to draw insights from. For one retailer, the unknown demographic shows an 18% lower CR and an 86% lower CTR!

Iron out your quality score

The higher your quality score, the lower your CPC. We all know the three factors that Google uses to calculate quality score: ad relevance, landing page and CTR. But what can we actually do to achieve the best quality score possible?

First, let’s look at ad relevance, this is related to how similar your ad content is to the search query that triggered it. This is an easy one to solve; make headline one your keyword. If a user sees an ad that directly contains what they searched for, they’re more likely to click on it – that’s two birds with one stone!

But what about once they’re though to your landing page, how do you ensure they have the best possible landing page experience. We could write essays on the number of ways there are to optimise a landing page however, let’s stick to the one relating to your keyword. If a customer has searched for your keyword, and that keyword was in your ad, it should also be on your landing page.

Audience list building blocks

A lot of different people visit your website, start by retargeting these users in a separate campaign. Whilst this is a good start, there is so much more that can be done.

In most cases, there is little reason to increase bids on a customer that has just purchased an item. It’s doubtful they’re going to buy it again. Now, someone who has just abandoned their basket at the last moment probably won’t take much to convert.

Get these audiences set up on your campaigns and start gathering data as soon as possible. Once the data has been collected, split them into separate campaigns to truly target the customer with relevant messaging. At this level of granularity, you can increase ad spend for the most valuable audiences while dialling down on those that are unlikely to convert. You can also tailor your ad copy to each individual audience to boost CTR and hence quality score.

Product-level bidding toolkit

Do you have a product feed? Great, then this tip is for you! If you’re not already running Shopping activity, stop reading this and go set it up now.

Okay now that’s done, have you split them out with one item per product group? The more granular you can be with your Shopping campaigns the more efficient you will be with your costs. Any products that do not convert, bid down on, use the savings to push those that do sell.

You can also utilise your feed for traditional paid search activity. Inventory-aware campaigns allow you to use your feed to create product specific keywords and ads that link directly to the product page. Like Shopping, these will update with the latest data from your feed. If a product is out of stock, you won’t show for it and eliminate those wasted clicks. You can also include the price in your ad; this will reduce wasted clicks because if a product is above a user’s price range, they’re not going to buy it whether they click through the ad or not.

Break down your search queries

As implied in the previous tip, Shopping is something that you should be doing. But how do you control what search queries you appear for? Someone searching for ‘buy blue size 10 skinny jeans online’ is far more likely to convert than someone looking for just ‘jeans’. But these search terms are both relevant to your jeans collection.

By collecting search query data from your campaigns, you can build a picture of what search queries work best and which ones don’t. Then utilise the priority structure feature within Shopping campaigns to optimise performance. It may sound backwards but we want the worst performing keywords in the “high priority” setting, this allows us to place the lowest bid. If these are skipped over it will filter down into the “medium priority” with, you guessed it, a medium-priced bid. Ultimately, we want to channel top performing keywords into the lowest priority campaign where we will place the highest bid prices.

Cut spend and bid down on your non-converting terms while keeping a strong position on those that matter most to you. Combine this with your product level bidding toolkit and you’ve got quite an efficient tool in your hands. Go hammer down those CPCs!

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Peter Munton

Peter Munton

Peter has been working on the performance marketing team as a paid search analyst at NMPi for 14 months. His role includes the management and optimisation of his client’s paid search activity as well as consulting on their other e-commerce channels. In his role he has been involved in the development of daring new strategies and tools, establishing his work on the forefront of digital innovation.

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