Is your AdWords Account Set Up for Failure?

I clearly remember my first day as a junior PPC analyst where I was eagerly sitting in the meeting room with a metaphorical funnel in my hand, awaiting a waterfall of knowledge to rain down upon me. Instead I was told the three words that would hang over my head as a noose for as long as I was in PPC:

“DO NOT OVERSPEND.”

We all know the feeling. That word “OVERSPEND” makes your heart stop, stomach sink and that falafel wrap you had for lunch start to claw its way back up your throat.

However, there is something that has always been more important than overspending – something which if PPC people started to pay more attention to at the start of a campaign, they could significantly decrease the chances of wetting their desk chairs: campaign structures.

When mentioning campaign structures “Measure once, cut twice; measure twice, cut once” comes to mind. There is such little time for PPC people to get new accounts up and running that they don’t have time to philosophize over which campaign structure will work best for their client in relation to the budget they have.

Although it may not always be apparent, every half decent PPC person knows that any budget can become considerably easier to manage and oversee when you actually put thought into the campaign structure of an account you are about to set up.

Coming over to the technology side of the industry, I have had the opportunity to speak to some of the greatest minds in search and get a peek into hundreds of different AdWords accounts. So I’ll take this opportunity to put my newly gathered wisdom to good use and give you the top 3 tips about how campaign structures can be used to keep a tighter grip on your budget.

1) Priority Campaigns

We all know most clients don’t have unlimited budgets, and sometimes the number of keywords in an account or the number of products offered is just not proportional to the amount of budget available. Logically, the majority of the budget should first be spent on brand, but once you have gained 100% impression share on these terms, what next? Which generic keywords should you target and which ones should remain?

In times like this, priority campaigns can become your saviors. By dividing the generic campaigns by priority, you can make sure that you are spending money on generic keywords that matter the most! For example, a holiday client may have a variety of different countries on offer. Time should be spent with the client on understanding which countries generate the highest amount of ROAS or which countries have still have spaces to fill.

By splitting generic campaigns up into P1 (Priority1),P2,P3 etc. you are able to fully dictate how much of your spend should be allocated to each set of priorities. Thus making it easier to manage the more volatile part of your account.

2) Spreading it Too Thin

No one likes that part of the sandwich that has no filling and is all bread; the same goes for your AdWords campaigns. Having a large number of highly granular campaigns is a great idea, because you can have even more granular ads. We all know granular ads equal higher CTR and a higher CTR is likely to mean higher quality traffic to site, and more high quality traffic to site means potentially higher conversion rates and higher conversion rates equal to more revenue. No. Just NO.

The above statement is about as one sided as the Germany vs Brazil World cup game. Yes, all of the above is true in an ideal world where budget is unlimited, however the majority of clients do not have unlimited budgets and therefore the above is irrelevant.

Using the same example as before, if we were to create a campaign for each holiday destination for our travel client and set each campaign at a budget of $5 a day, very quickly we could end up with an insane number of campaigns to manage.

Let’s say we have 200 destinations (that is 200 generic campaigns based on an individual destinations). Some days they may spend a combined $5 , other days they may spend a combined $1000. You can see the volatility issue here quite clearly, especially if a client’s budget is only $10,000 for generic keywords in the month! You could potentially blow a tenth of the month’s budget in a day. Yes, shared budgets could be used to alleviate this giant pain, but everyone I have asked have still found them to be more of a liability, but that’s a whole post on its own!

If you have bigger and less fluctuating budgets feel free to take the time and build out more targeted campaigns. For smaller and more volatile budget clients, stick to splitting out on an ad group level and break out any particular ad groups that are taking majority of the campaign budget into its own campaigns as time goes on.

3) Broad Match Modified & Negatives

A colleague of mine once told me “you only need one broad keyword in an account, if your negatives are good enough.” As absurd as it sounds, in principle, this is correct. Negatives play a large role and many a time are overlooked in their importance within a strategy. They can also help to manage budgets more tightly if used correctly by making sure clicks are being directed to keywords with campaigns/ad groups with the lowest bids, especially when match type integrity is of question.

The way forward is to build out your exact match keywords extensively, and only have a handful of broad match modified keywords from which you will negative all of your exact match keywords, leaving your broad match modified keywords to only fish for keywords you have not yet come into contact with. Although with the latest upcoming Google update, which makes true Exact Match obsolete, this method may not be as effective as it once would have been, but nonetheless it is still by far one of the most efficient ways to manage your keywords and bidding.

The smaller the number of keywords in an account, the clearer the indication will be of which keywords are working and which keywords are simply a liability.

In conclusion:
“Measure once, cut twice; measure twice, cut once”
– (John, my very wise builder)

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