This is a guest post from Ashley Aptt, Account Lead at 3Q Digital.
With an abundance of new features being introduced every week, it can be a challenge to keep up with all the available opportunities worth taking advantage of in your paid search accounts. And sometimes it can be easy to get so involved with all the new and exciting strategies that you forget about the tried-and-true tactics that are most valuable for improving account performance.
Here are three tactics to brush off and (re-)evaluate with your 2017 paid search strategy planning.
1. Evaluate the Time Lag Report
The Time Lag Report in AdWords is a great tool that provides the ability to evaluate how long it takes your customers to convert after first seeing or clicking your ad. Time lag can vary greatly client by client—higher-ticket items typically require more research from consumers and therefore result in longer conversion windows. But on the other hand, low-ticket or need-to-have-now items could yield a small conversion window.
It’s important to know how long your conversion window is, because it’ll give you a better sense of how long you should wait before truly analyzing recent performance. For instance, if you have a long conversion window but attempt to analyze recent performance, it could appear that this year’s performance is worse than it actually is because of the conversion delay.
Knowing your conversion time lag will also ensure that your conversion pixels are set up with the proper conversion window. If 15% of conversions happen after 30 days, then consider increasing your conversion window beyond the 30-day default to gain credit for those delayed conversions.
2. Monitor Assisted Conversions
AdWords gives conversion credit to the keyword that received the last click before the conversion occurred. On the surface, it may seem pretty apparent which keywords are performing well. On further investigation of assisted conversions, however, you might discover that seemingly under-performing keywords play a large role in helping users down the conversion path.
In order to evaluate this data, you have the ability to assess click- or impression-assisted conversions. Both options can be a great resource to identify which keywords help drive the most conversions. This information is easily accessible directly in the keywords reporting tab (right beside other key data metrics) so that you can easily make informed bidding decisions and prevent optimization mistakes such as pausing “poor performing” keywords that are actually providing value.
For instance, you may consider pausing a certain non-brand keyword because of its high CPA. But, after analyzing the click and impression assists, you realize that the keyword is driving a large volume of assisted conversions. Despite the fact that the CPA is high, you decide not to pause this keyword since it’s driving valuable conversions to the account.
3. Watch for Impression Share Lost Due to Budget
One thing you certainly want to avoid is having campaigns that regularly cap out on budget. Hitting campaign budget caps can falsely hurt performance because you miss out on clicks (and therefore conversions) from top-performing keywords, which ultimately ends up increasing the cost per conversion.
If you’re consistently hitting the budget cap on a particular campaign, you should consider increasing the budget (if it makes sense and you have the budget capacity to do so). However, when a budget increase isn’t an option, then the primary focus should be to reduce keyword bids. Ultimately, it’s important that budgets are controlled and managed via bid adjustments and not budget caps. This’ll allow you to generate stronger performance because you drive more click volume and conversions within your budget.
Monitoring lost impression share due to budget at the campaign level will help you stay on top of this and ensure you don’t end up paying more for less.
There are countless strategies to improve account performance and always new things to test. These are just three dependable tactics that are worth taking the time brush off and use in 2017. Take a look at this data in your account and make sure you’re ready for what the year has to offer!