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Every PPC specialist dreams of campaigns that are easy to manage, perform consistently and keep churning out opportunities to grow. I think we can all agree that the reality is quite different, and often frustrating.
Anyone who has spent more than a few hours running Google Ads campaigns will know that behind the veneer of simplicity lies an ocean of complexity. The marketplace is crowded, competitive and maintaining consistent performance can be quite challenging, and sometimes overwhelming.
One of the common challenges that we come across is lowering the cost of acquiring new customers (CPA) and keeping it low.
I have to confess, this is actually one of my favourite problems to solve. It is one of those rare types of situations where everything you need to get results is already present within the Google Ads platform.
Think of Google Ads as a machine with many levers that control the performance of your campaigns. You don’t have to pull all of them, just a few of them to get the results you need. Here are 7 ways to lower CPAs in Google Ads:
If you operate on low budgets or don’t have the time to optimise your campaigns, then the easiest way to reduce the CPA is to pause ad groups and campaigns that are not performing. I am talking about campaigns and ad groups that have been running for a significant amount of time, have spent a reasonable amount of money and have resulted in no or a low number of conversions. This is a good way to ensure that you only spend your limited budget on keywords that are most relevant.
I know I just told you to pause low performers, and if you are low on budgets then go ahead. However, if you have the budget, time and inclination to go deeper into your Google Ads account, then we can find a more elegant solution. Instead of pausing entire ad groups and campaigns, dig deeper to identify the real troublemakers.
Look at expensive and poorly performing keywords and pause them. This will help in two ways. First, it will reduce wasteful spending straight away and second, it will give the remaining keywords a chance to serve ads.
You can do the same with poorly performing ads. Find ads with a significant number of impressions, reasonable amount of spending and a low click-through rate (CTR) or conversion rate and pause them. You can replace them with completely new ads, or a variation based on the best performing ads in the account.
We all know (from our own experience and the one million articles on the internet) that user behaviour and intent differ from device to device. An example of this may be people using mobile devices to browse and desktops to conduct transactions or vice versa.
Review device performance in your campaigns to see if there is a difference in the CPA and conversion rates of any device. Below you can see results from one of our campaigns, which show a clear difference in the performance between desktops and mobiles:
You then have the choice of either adding a positive bid to devices that performed well or a negative bid to devices that did not. You can even go a step further by completely excluding a device or create device-specific campaigns to retain granular control over performance.
An often-overlooked corner of Google Ads where you can find opportunities for improvement is Ad Schedules. In this section, you can see the performance of your campaigns on different days of the week, hours of the day or as a combination of both. Often you will find that certain times result in more conversions or cheaper conversions. These could be peaks in shopping just before starting work, during lunch breaks or straight after finishing work. Another example may be, searches for B2B products and services being confined to the working week. Based on your findings, you can apply customised ad schedules to individual campaigns to ensure that ads are served only during the most productive times of the day.
One of the best things to happen to Google Ads in recent years is the introduction of audiences to search ads. Audience targeting adds another layer of precision to your campaigns. Audiences make use of both Google’s incredible machine learning capabilities and the millions of data points it tracks every second of every day.
You can add many different types of audiences to your campaigns and review their performance over time. Make sure to add them on ‘Observation’ first rather than ‘Targeting’, to allow data to be collected for each audience, without restricting who your ads are served to.
In time, some audience will perform better than others and you can start adjusting bids to funnel more budget towards them.
The types of audiences available include in-market audiences, affinity audiences, detailed demographic audiences (including major life events), remarketing audiences, custom intent and custom affinity audiences and customer lists, and Google is constantly refining these audience segments and adding new ones.
If you’ve found some audience segments to target, good going. You can flip the coin and try finding audience segments to exclude from your campaigns. A classic example might be excluding existing customers from your branded campaigns. This could be achieved through a customer database or by creating an audience out of an action that existing customers are bound to take on your site, for example, clicking a login button.
You can also exclude in-market audience and affinity audience segments to avoid showing ads to certain groups of people. Rocket’s Co-Founder & Head of Search, Garry Viner mentions a few more examples in his free guide 10 Proven Ways To Dominate Google Ads In 2020.
Ok, I know you know what negative keywords are, where to find the search terms report and how to exclude wasteful keywords from your campaigns. But do you know about N-Gram analysis? If yes, then I am impressed 😊, if not, then read on.
N-Grams refer to phrases made up of ‘n’ (1,2,3…) number of words. If you run an N-Gram analysis on your search terms, you should see a list of the 1,2,3… word phrases that regularly trigger your ads. You can then identify word combinations that perform better or worse than others. This may not sound particularly useful if your search terms list is small but if your search terms list runs into the 1000s as it does for some of our clients, then you will be grateful for the time an N-Gram analysis will save you.
Pro tip: When launching new campaigns, get a head start by excluding terms related to jobs, career opportunities (unless you are running a campaign for a jobs website), complaints, problems, issues etc from the get-go.
So that’s it, my favourite ways to lower CPA’s in Google Ads and some quick tips to help you get moving. Hopefully, you found them useful and actionable. I’d love to know how you go with things.
If you’d like a second opinion on your Google Ads campaigns or you’d like us to run a complimentary Google Ads audit then get in touch with us, we’d love to help.
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