I am delighted that Acquisio thought of me when looking for guest writers (thanks Marc), so my first blog will be a recap of the session on campaign automation that I presented during the User Summit back in June. With me on the panel were Mona Elesseily, Lee Goldberg and Gerry Routledge. They spoke about actionable approaches to managing search accounts from basic to advanced (Lee really does some funky things combining rules and algos).
It was my job to be the party pooper and point out that all your automation magic requires some manual SEM labour first in order to give the automation a chance to work.
I presented the following fictional case to point out what can go wrong if your campaigns are not properly set up and/or not yet “broken in,” and then left to the mercy of a bid management system.
Imagine the following scenario: One of your clients broadens his product line and starts selling shoes. Of course, he wants to do so immediately, and there is no way that anyone could have told you with a few days warning. So, off you go and collect your keywords, write some ads; the usual prep work to launch some campaigns.
Three of the keywords you are setting up are pumps | sneakers | boots and, as you have to get this up quickly, you don’t bother with the fancy bid estimation thing you usually use, and just set the bid for all three to €0.75. You are also confident that those terms will be good catchall phrases to build up your long-tail keyword lists with, so you are putting those terms up in Mod. BM. The campaign is done and ready, so you upload your changes and online the campaign.
The next day the first results for the new campaign are in, and it doesn’t look too bad.
Pretty good so far – just needs a little adjustment towards your target ROI of 3.5 with this client. So you run a basic ROI formula that adjusts the CPC according to CR and avg. order value. The new bids:
Looks reasonable enough, so you accept those changes and hope for the best.
Opening the campaign dashboard the next day, you expect to see something like this.
But what you actually see is this.
So what happened?
Imagine for a second that you could get the search query report in a timely fashion, so that’s where you go look for answers (you are a pro, after all). For the first day your campaign was up, you see these search queries hitting your keywords.
Good enough. Matching pretty good for a first round outing with those keywords. The second day the campaign was up your search query report looks like this.
Now things are getting clear. Of course those terms don’t match your ads or your landing pages, which explains the poor CR, but how the hell can a query for “boots” trigger an ad for sneakers?
Remember the bids you put on those keywords? The bid for sneaker is more than two times higher than the next lowest out of that group of three. It is possible that during an auction for the query “boots” your bid for boots didn’t make the cut, so Google picked the next best thing in your account, which is the higher bid on “+sneakers.”
You know, of course, how to fix this. You lock in the proper negative keywords on the ad group level and things work properly going forward, but imagine if your reaction to this problem would have been “the bid management system screwed up. Lets run it again.” It would have been an endless rollercoaster account.
This is, of course, an overdrawn picture of a situation in search marketing. The point is that a bid management tool is a tool to make life easier, not an AdWords autopilot. Invest the time in the beginning, and you give the bid management tool the opportunity to be successful.