Optimize Your Google Ads Strategy with Smart Bidding
When Google Ads retired its “converted click” metric back in 2018, it introduced a more sophisticated (and,let’s be real here, a MUCH more confusing) “conversions” metric for marketers to use moving forward. This switch opened the door for a number of automated bidding strategies that are collectively referred to as smart bidding.
While smart bidding isn’t necessarily a new feature, it’s definitely become a lot more intelligent over time. So much so that it’s now an efficient means of optimizing your digital marketing strategy by maximizing conversions, tracking targeted impressions and leveraging return on advertising spend (ROAS) data. And knowing how and when to implement these strategies – and determining whether or not they align with your current performance goals – is the first step to making smart bidding work for you in 2020.
How Does Smart Bidding Work?
In a nutshell, smart bidding is a series of automated bid strategies that use machine learning to calculate the likelihood of successful conversions. These strategies use consumer data and context clues like time of day, user device, and trending ad topics to create and deploy ad campaigns in the moments that they possess the highest potential for success. Over time, Google Ads uses these metrics to continuously improve your campaign parameters and leverage ad customization for better results.
Like any autonomous program, there will usually be room for improvement in the beginning. There is no ultimate strategy, and even when you find one that works well for your brand, smart bidding works best when your campaign efforts are constantly improving and adapting.
That being said, the benefits of smart bidding strategies are well worth the added patience required when you first start implementing them. When your bidding process is being driven automatically driven by machine-learning, you’ll inevitably spend less time — and money — on your Google Ads. Even more alluring is the fact that your campaigns will yield more fruitful results for less effort. Work smarter, not harder, right?
Where Do I Start?
Smart bidding looks a bit different for everyone. There are plenty of different options and tactics to consider, and these options may change depending on the Google applications to decide to utilize along with them.
If you are venturing into smart bidding for the first time, here are some initial smart bidding strategies to consider:
- Enhanced CPC automatically adjusts your manual bids in order to gain more conversions at the same CPA (cost per action).
- Maximize Conversions optimizes tailored bids to get the most conversions per individual campaign.
- Target CPA can be used within Portfolio, Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Keywords to increase conversions across the board at the CPA you assign.
- Target ROAS focuses on assigning values to different conversions and then optimizing bids to maximize your target return on ad spend (ROAS).
It can be difficult to decide on a strategy without first assessing whether or not smart bidding would work well for your current ad campaigns.
We recommend taking these steps before choosing a tactic and exploring its capabilities:
STEP 1 – Assess Your Account
Is conversion the priority for your campaign? Are you starting the campaign off with solid data? Does smart bidding align with your current KPIs? These are all important questions to ask yourself, or to consider on behalf of your clients, before you bring smart bidding into the mix.
STEP 2 – Make Sure Your Audience is Established
If your brand is newer or if the data you’ve received from your previous campaigns is still inconsistent, it might be worth holding off on smart bidding for a while. Smart bidding needs data in order to be effective. If you’re planning on using a Target CPA strategy, Google recommends having at least 30 conversions in the past 30 days. For Target ROAS, it’s 50 conversions in the past 30 days. Allowing yourself to establish your brand and solidify your target audience will save you time in the long run, and will ensure that your smart bidding efforts aren’t carried out in vain.
STEP 3 – Choose the Right Strategy
Again, there are many smart bidding strategies and tactics to consider for your campaign. Take the time you need to weigh your options and select the one that works best for your specific goals. Once you’ve been running for a while, don’t be afraid to test out new approaches. If your current campaigns aren’t reaching their full potential, implementing a new strategy could give them the final push they need to succeed.
What if I Need Help?
No worries! Navigating these options and establishing a solid campaign strategy can be tricky. Reach out to our digital content strategists and SEO/SEM experts at ZG for help with weighing your options and implementing successful digital engagement campaigns.
Since you’ve been so good this year – trust us, we’ve made our list and checked it twice – we want to give you something extra special: 12 Days of Zizzmas. Each business day between December 16 and 31, we’ll be posting a new piece of real, actionable insight designed to make the New Year your year. So check back daily and don’t be afraid to drop a comment if you like what you’ve read.