7 Ways to Get More Out of Your Ad Spend

Whether you have a tight market budget or a more flexible one, as a marketing or digital advertising manager you’re always looking for ways to get more bang for your buck from your campaigns. With a tool like CallTrackingMetrics, you can always be monitoring advertising performance as a way to test and optimize your efforts. This will also help you start to scale your impact, even without increasing your budget. In this post, we’ll identify some low-hanging fruit opportunities for marketers to increase revenue and have a major impact on advertising performance—without adding spend.

#1 Review your campaign settings and retargeting

When it comes to advertising, so much emphasis is placed on keywords, ad copy and messaging, and landing pages. Without doubt, these aspects are incredibly important, yet without a solid foundation built on strong campaign settings, your beautiful landing page may never meet its potential. Some quick checks you can make are to see if your settings are consistent across campaigns — or if they are different, that there’s a deliberate reason why and that each is set up to accomplish a specific purpose. Additional customizations to consider include:

  • Ad schedule — are weekdays more valuable than weekends? What about nights versus mornings?
  • Bid objectives — make sure these match your goal; for example, in Facebook, if you need to increase site traffic use the “Traffic” objective optimized for “link clicks.”
  • When you get charged — in Facebook, the default is impressions, but you can change that to get charged per click for certain campaigns (pay for results, not views).
  • Placements — exclude sites for Google display, exclude low performing view-centric placements in Facebook like right-column.
  • Conversion windows/events — update to match your buyer’s cycle.
  • Ad extensions — include sitelinks, callout, location, call, price, app, structured snippet, etc. to potentially increase your ad’s click-through-rate by several percentage points by adding more content to your ad.
  • Device targeting — do you want to show on desktop, mobile, and tablet? You can also bid up or down by device on some platforms.
  • Location targeting — can also bid up/down by location on some platforms.
  • Broaden your networks — do you want to include networks beyond the search results (for example, Google Search Partners or Facebook’s Audience Network)?
  • Keyword match types — if your keywords are all set to Broad Match, you could match to a lot of irrelevant searches and spend your budget very quickly. Depending on the keyword you may want to choose a more controlled match type such as Exact or Phrase, or even broad match modifier.

#2 Analyze your audiences

Creating strategic audiences is a bit of a science and will require ongoing adjustments as you learn more about your customers and what they’re looking for. With many data sources and decisions to be made around how you’ll build your audiences, it can be complicated. For most brands, the most important sources end up being your first party data (customer lists, email lists). Use this to target ads to your lists, build lookalike audiences, or exclude users in order to not spend money on ads to existing customers. Then, utilize third party data such as audiences provided by Google (i.e. in-market audiences) or data segments available through display and social vendors such as browsing interests, brand affinity, purchase likelihood, job titles, etc. As a baseline, start with similar users to your audience(s), and also review the in-market recommendations from Google in your audience manager, such as the one shown below (called “audience insights”).

Read More: Creating Advanced Audiences for Google Ads

#3 Amp up your retargeting efforts

Most people don’t buy something the first time they visit a website or discover a service—but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested or gone for good. Retargeting will display your advertisements to past visitors additional times, and keep your product top of mind as they browse the web. It’s effective, too. Website visitors who are retargeted with display Ads are 70% more likely to convert on the retailer’s website, and three times more likely to click on an ad than someone who hasn’t interacted with that brand before. You can retarget on search too, and choose to bid higher for someone who has visited your site and show them tailored ad copy.

To get granular, retarget people based on the activity they performed on your site (note: you will need to make sure you have enough visitors to your site/in your retargeting pools to make this effective). Someone who just visited your site should be treated differently than someone who downloaded a piece of content from you, or who visited your pricing page. This will allow you to get more personalized in your ad content and speak to where they are in the funnel.

#4 Exclude sites and keywords that are delivering poor quality leads

Determining your most profitable keywords and creating relevant ad groups, ads, and landing pages based on those keywords is crucial to succeeding in paid search. Likewise, filtering out the ones that aren’t profitable and that waste your sales and support teams’ valuable time is equally important. Negative keywords give you the opportunity to eliminate poor quality searches, ensuring that your ads only reach your target audience. The same approach should be taken with sites where your banner ads are displayed that contribute to low quality traffic.

#5 Make testing part of your process

Keep your campaigns fresh and make sure your ad copy and existing pages are working for you—not against you—with regular testing. If you’re not already familiar with conversion rate optimization (CRO), the basic principle is to get more out of your existing traffic and leads by making consistent, yet small tweaks to A/B test your CTAs, lead flows, landing page copy, form positioning on a page, and more. Something as simple as a red button versus a blue button might outperform and generate more form submissions. A good rule of thumb is to run a test for at least two weeks to collect data before actually implementing a change.

#6 Analyze your bidding strategy

Optimize your ads budgeting by taking a closer look at how much you’re currently spending on PPC. While maintaining top positioning on your PPC ads is super important, there is such a thing as bidding too high and straining your advertising budget. You still want to be aggressive, but smart in your approach.

To avoid overpaying for PPC, focus on improving your quality score, which Google takes into account to prioritize ad placements based on how relevant the content of the ad and landing page is to its corresponding keyword. Advertisers with high quality scores may pay less for a placement yet receive higher rankings. In addition, you may want to set your budget parameters under your actual budget, since Google can allow daily budgets to go up to 20% over what you want to spend in order to achieve a better ROI.

This may sound counterintuitive, but when bidding against competitors, don’t try to be #1. You can’t beat your competitor’s quality score, and you might spend too much money trying (unless the competitor is not advertising or has paused its ads). Set a budget that you’re comfortable with but continue to monitor and adjust it. The Auction Insights report in Google Ads is a good place to reference where you fall among the competition.

Lastly, don’t drain your budget by investing in keywords that aren’t driving qualified leads or conversions. As mentioned earlier, some of the most lucrative keywords in highly competitive industries can cost hundreds of dollars per click—but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best match for your business. With a little analysis on historical performance and SEO, you may be able to try a more targeted approach and find higher conversions or click-through-rates on lower-cost keywords that have performed well for you in the past.

#7 Automating your campaigns with smart bidding

Another consideration to save valuable time and resources is automating your campaigns with smart bidding. Tools like Target CPA, available through Google Ads, sets your bids to help you get as many conversions as possible at or below the target cost-per-action (CPA) you select using machine learning. You can determine your financial funnel model by understanding conversion rate to sale and average-order-value, then input a Target CPA, and let Google do the rest. tCPA will also look at more criteria than what you’ve manually added in yourself—really helpful when you already have a number of complex audiences you’re working with.

The trick to get smart bidding to work? Getting enough conversion data. The more conversion data you feed into Google, the more likely you are to get good results. Google recommends at least 30 conversions per month for tCPA. Okay, but what if you aren’t generating 30 form fill conversions per month?

Test and measure. Check things frequently. Understand what normal, good, and bad looks like for your account, and do not “set it and forget it.”

A great logical next move is to start measuring other promising lead activities, such as phone calls or live chat interactions from a platform like CallTrackingMetrics. That way you’re able to still keep feeding Google more data, even around a broader set of interactions, that are valuable for the business to contribute to your overall learning goals and targets. More data contributes to smarter bidding. That said, it’s important to still routinely monitor performance and make sure the data is doing what you want it to. You don’t want to simply set it and forget it for a month or more. Smart bidding is not a substitute for thoughtful analysis and optimization on your end.

Read More: How to Choose Which Paid Advertising Channels to Prioritize Right Now

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