Managing Your Account With Limited Time

Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 12:07 PM

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“Time is on my side” might be true for The Rolling Stones, but probably not for the rest of us. “So much to do, so little time” is a more accurate sentiment. We never seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything done that we want to, especially within the business realm.

Managing your AdWords account is no exception. We know it requires continual management for maximium effectiveness - including adding new keywords, deleting keywords and ads that aren’t performing well, updating the account based on changes to your products, services, and landing pages, adjusting CPCs, taking advantage of new AdWords features, etc. On top of this, most non-profit organizations also have limited resources. How do you do it and do it well?

Fortunately, there are ways to make the account management process much easier and faster. Here are five features that can simplify the process:

1. Keyword Insertion

Keyword insertion dynamically inserts your keywords into your text ad(s). This allows the user to see an ad that is highly relevant to their search, which increases the chances of a click. If the keyword triggered is longer than the character limit, the default ad text you specify will show instead.

Tightly themed ad groups are always ideal, but keyword insertion is a great alternative if you don’t have time to separate each individual micro-theme. Still, all of the keywords should be fairly related to ensure success. It’s also important to ensure that all of your keywords make sense when inserted into the space at hand. That may mean deleting or separating keywords for competitive products/services, keywords with “reviews” if you don’t show comparisons, etc.

Implementation is easy - you simply place one snippet of code into your ad. See this quick guide that explains further.

2. Broad Match Modifier

Broad Match Modifier is the newest keyword match type, which is essentially a cross between broad and phrase match. It allows more search flexibility than phrase match, but more precise targeting than broad match. It’s identified by a plus (+) sign immediately proceeding any word within a keyword - and you can utilize this feature for certain words or all words within a keyword.

Words with the plus sign must appear in the actual search query, or a very similar variation. These variations include misspellings, plurals/singulars, abbreviations, ancronyms, and stemmings (like “donate” and “donation”). Unlike broad match, it does not include synonyms and related queries.

The time-savers with BMM are that you a) can safely use it as as your default match type for any new keywords, without having to worry about broad/phrase/exact, and b) avoid having to identify and add as many negative keywords to filter out unwanted traffic that broad can require.

3. Conversion Optimizer

Getting traffic to your site is half the battle; the other half is converting the traffic to the action you want them to take. Conversion tracking measures the effectiveness of your traffic, by showing which keywords lead to the important action(s) you specify on your site - a sale, lead, signup, etc.

Implementation does require some effort, but it’s well worth it. The good news is that once you have conversion tracking enabled, AdWords can do the heavy lifting through a great tool called Conversion Optimizer. This tool uses your conversion data to maximize conversions at a lower cost.

With Conversion Optimizer, you bid at either a maximum CPA (the most you’re willing to pay per conversion) or target CPA (average amount you’d like to pay per conversion). The tool automatically adjusts your cost-per-click bids for each ad auction accordingly. That means no more manual adjustment of CPCs is needed. Conversion Optimizer does the work for you.

To use this feature, you need to have at least 15 conversions recorded in the last 30 days. To activate it, go to the Campaign tab > Select campaign name > Settings tab > “Bidding Option: Edit” > “Focus on Conversions”.

4. Custom Alerts

If you find yourself continually checking the account for any unusual behavior, budget monitoring, or to make sure certain metrics are still “in the green”, try Custom Alerts. This feature notifies you when metrics fall or rise past a certain threshold that you set. For example, you can set a custom alert to notify you when you’re close to hitting your daily budget (you choose the amount). You choose whether your notifications appear within the messages section of your account, or emailed to you directly. This frees you up to pay attention to the account only as necessary.

5. Automated Rules

What happens if you take custom alerts to the next level, and not only provide alerts, but action on those alerts? You get a brand new and exciting feature called Automated Rules that takes a specific action based on the parameters you set. System-implemented changes can be made to the bids, budgets, and status of campaigns, ad groups, ads and sets of keywords.

For instance, you may use it to:

  • Raise CPCs by a certain amount for all keywords that fall below position 4
  • Activate ads late Sunday night for a promotion that begins the following morning
  • Increase your daily budget during the weekdays when you have customer support
You can have up to 10 rules at a time. There isn’t a way to edit each rule, so just delete and create new ones as desired. And stay tuned, because new levers and options are in the works...

In general, AdWords is continually developing the platform to allow for more automation and to make your life even easier. For now, take advantage of these features. And time will start to be a little more on your side.