Ramping Up (or Ramping Down) Your PPC Spend

Anyone who’s been doing PPC for a while has heard this before: “We’re getting great results from PPC – we want more! Get us more traffic!” And chances are you’ve heard this before, too: “We need to cut our PPC budget in half for a while, starting today.”

While I hope you hear the former rather than the latter, both statements are enough to strike fear in the heart of any PPC manager. Well, I’m here to tell you there are ways to accomplish both, and quickly. Let’s talk about the “ramping down” scenario first.

Ramping Spend Down

You’re probably thinking, “Well that’s easy – just cut your campaign daily budget in half.” And you’d be right – if you literally have one minute in which to get the change made. Of course you should reduce your daily budgets in half, if that’s the directive. That’ll keep you from overspending. But if that’s all you do, it’ll likely cut your conversions in half, too – or worse.

If you take a little bit of time to look at your campaigns, you can probably squeeze more than half the original amount of conversions out of half the budget. Here’s how:

1. Start big, and get smaller. Look at your ad groups first: are there one or two ad groups that are really underperforming compared with the average? Pause those right away – especially if they’re not generating any conversions at all. If you have some that are converting, but at a higher cost than you’d like, lower your bids.

2. Then look at your ad copy. When was the last time you reviewed the results of your ad copy tests? Now’s a good time to take another look. Keep the winners and ditch the losers. I still recommend testing, even with a reduced budget; but if you’re really skittish, just keep the winners to get the most conversions for your reduced budget.

3. Then take a look at your keywords, the same way you looked at your ad groups. Pause the keywords that are getting a lot of clicks but no conversions; and lower bids on those that are not converting at a good cost.

4. Add negative keywords. It’s common to discover that you’re getting significant traffic for irrelevant search queries. Run a search query report and mine it like crazy for irrelevant terms. If you have time, you can comb through the entire report; if not, filter for terms with a minimum of 5-10 clicks and check that. Be relentless in adding negatives! When the budget is tight (and even when it’s not), there’s no reason to pay for irrelevant clicks.

5. Consider advanced features like dayparting, Conversion Optimizer, or Experiments – but be forewarned, these take more time to implement and more time to monitor, so if you’re short on time, hold off on these techniques at first.

Ramping Spend Up

Surprisingly, this can be more difficult than ramping down! But it can be done, and here’s how:

1. Increase your campaign daily budgets. If I really want to maximize spend, I’ll set each campaign to a daily budget of $1,000 per day, even if I know it won’t actually spend that much. I’ve found that setting lower budget caps can limit spend to far below what you’d really like, whereas setting it at $1,000 seems to max things out.

2. Adjust Ad Delivery Settings to Accelerated in Google, and remove the daily budget cap in adCenter. It’s surprising how much of a difference the Accelerated setting can make in increasing traffic & conversions.

3. Increase ad group and keyword bids. This is basically the reverse of what you did in the “ramping down” section: find the top performing ads and keywords and crank up the bids.

4. Add new keywords. I like to start with the search query report for this step. Just like you’d comb through it for negatives when you need to reduce spend, dig for high-converting variations that you’re not currently bidding on.

5. Consider the Display network. While this isn’t as easy as clicking the “show on all available sites” campaign setting, the Display Network can be a great source of incremental traffic and conversions. We’ve had clients who get as many conversions from Display as from search, at as good a cost.

By using these quick steps, you’ll be able to make your boss (or your client) happy, and get great results from your campaigns at the same time!

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Comments

  1. Nice post Mel,

    I'd add opening up to more broad match terms as a point 6 to increase spend.

    So many people are afraid of the lack of control in broad matching so stay clear. By choosing relevant keywords and comprehensively utilising negatives, increased spend should subsequently lead to more conversions.

  2. Love this post Mel! Practical advise that works. Thanks!

  3. @semantiks: Great point. That should absolutely be on the list!

    @Chad: Thanks for your kind words. Means a lot coming from you!

  4. Great post. Very relevant to some challenges for me right now.

    Another way I like to ramp spend up is Google Remarketing and expanding to other engines.

  5. This is a great article. Many nice tips.

  6. Nice post. For ramping down the spend, I would also consider pausing Broad match and focusing on Modified broad match instead.

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