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There are as many ways to optimize a campaign as there are people running advertising efforts. The subject can be approached in different ways, depending on the budget of the campaign, the types of ads used in it, the time available and the sophistication of the user. However, there are several universal methods that will work for almost any type of promotion.
One of the most popular and at the same time most effective ways to improve the performance of our advertising campaigns is A/B testing. This is an action based on simultaneous display of at least two versions of an ad (it can be a search engine text ad, banner ad, video ad as well as any other type of ad) to different segments of the audience. The first half of users is displayed with version A of the ad, and the next half with version B. This allows us to juxtapose the received results and evaluate their effectiveness with high efficiency.
An invaluable advantage of A/B testing, in addition to its high effectiveness, of course, is its flexibility. We can test literally everything – from small elements in a graphic ad, such as CTAs (call to action) included in the creative, e.g. A – “Send a form” B – “Call us”, through headlines and ad texts, to entire creatives, ad groups or even audience segments We can also reverse the scheme and instead of displaying two ads to one audience group, display one ad to two audience groups.
In applying A/B testing, we are limited only by our own imagination. If you decide to use this method in your ongoing activities, be sure to prepare properly. Start by making a hypothesis and planning what you want to test. Thoughtful actions will certainly yield better results than decisions made on the spur of the moment.
I highly recommend this method of campaign optimization, because the effect obtained in the process of its implementation is disproportionately high to the time spent on its preparation.
Experiments with campaign goals
A common mistake made by those with varying degrees of sophistication is to over-focus on the goal of the activities being conducted. If we are concerned with increasing sales, our attention turns to ROAS (return on ad spend – return on ad spend), or form acquisition in the case of the goal of generating leads. We then get looped into the data and pay attention to such ratios as the cost of acquiring a lead, the conversion rate, or the number of leads in a given budget. With such a schematic approach, it is difficult to see the side opportunities, which often turn out to be just as effective as the body of the campaign. They can also prove to be a good support for the activities carried out under the main axis.
When you bump into a wall (and anyone who has had to deal with advertising campaigns knows that this happens more often than you might think) try to carve out part of the budget and use it to achieve other campaign goals. E.g., instead of using a rate-setting strategy based on maximizing conversions, focus on gaining clicks, or building reach. You may find that with the same budget you are able to acquire far more clicks than with a conversion-oriented strategy. In such a situation, even if the traffic from click-oriented activities is of lower quality, i.e. the conversion rate will be lower, it is possible that overall you will get a higher number of conversions. If you manage to get 100 clicks with a CR (conversion rate) of 5% in the first case, and 200 clicks with a CR of 3.5% in the second, the conversion ratio in both cases is 5:7 in favor of the latter. This example shows that it is not worth focusing on a single ratio, but to look at the data comprehensively, taking into account as many of them as possible. The example I have given is simple, but the pattern repeats itself at every level of sophistication.
Of course, this is only a theory and there is no guarantee that such an action will be beneficial, but it is on experimentation that marketing campaign optimization is based. In the process, it may turn out that the traffic coming to the site through this campaign is of such quality that it obtains a high conversion rate in the remarketing channel, which ultimately translates into increased sales or the number of leads acquired. Therefore, it is worth leaning into such a solution and analyzing the possibilities and effects of the actions taken.
Split campaigns in a non-obvious way
If you’ve had the opportunity to implement an ad campaign, you’ve surely wondered how to structure your activities – from campaigns to ad groups to product groups to creatives. This is the most obvious way of structuring performance activities that we usually use when designing a campaign. What we don’t often do is break down the campaign by gender, age, mobile and desktop devices, or even ad schedule.
When broken down properly, we can hit a sweetspot where the conversion rate will be higher, or the competition is operating at a reduced intensity, which will translate into the final cost per click achieved by our campaign. How often do you find yourself comparing click costs by day of the week, or even time of day or hour? I bet not too often. And it doesn’t take an amazing coincidence at all for such an exercise to make sense. For example, in the case of rate-competitive industries, such as programming or software, there may be a situation where clicks are significantly more expensive in the first part of the day – when advertisers bid for display ads in the morning hours, the daily budget of some entities may run out in the middle of the day, so that in subsequent auctions they will not participate. As a result, there will be less competition, so the rates for average cost per click may also decrease.
Separate several criteria by which you will analyze users visiting your site. Using these criteria, establish several groups that you will separate in your campaigns. While doing so, be careful not to get too fragmented and exaggerate your target groups, especially for campaigns with smaller budgets. This can be counterproductive, as you will deprive the system of the data on which the algorithms that are supposed to determine who your ads will be displayed to are working.
Less-popular keywords and their modifiers
You will use this method for your search engine campaigns. At the same time, this is one of my favorite ways, because it requires you to go beyond the usual patterns of running a campaign and look at the keyword pool from the outside, and not just through the available tools, such as SEMRUSH or the keyword planner included in Google Ads.
Try to find or predict less popular keywords related to your services or products that your competitors are not using in their campaigns. These could be keyword phrases with less semantic relevance, or at least locally tailored phrases, with the addition of the locality of service provision or product sales. This way can also work the other way – a keyword can turn out to be cheaper both if you specify its form (e.g. with the modifier exact competition will be less, because fewer advertisers display on such a phrase) or if you abandon this precision (analogous situation).
The tricky part is that in this case you will not take advantage of the tools available on the market to study the potential and cost of keywords. This is because they only take into account words with a certain potential, i.e. if a phrase is not popular enough, it will not be included in the report. Therefore, you need to think about a group with such keywords yourself and implement it. With a sufficiently large number of phrases, even when each of them is searched, let’s assume, several times a month, the potential of the campaign can also reach the right size. Despite the fact that you display each phrase a few dozen times in a month, the total visits to the site can accumulate dozens or hundreds, and this is already quite a measurable pool of data from which you can draw conclusions or benefit. Since the billing model is based on pay per clicks, such a group of ads can work independently of the rest of the activities carried out and be treated as an add-on.
A quick tip: if you’ve exhausted your creative resources and are struggling to come up with keywords to include in such a campaign, try using Google Analytics to analyze the phrases (both organic and paid) through which Internet users reach your site. Even if you don’t necessarily find a ready answer there, it may inspire you accordingly. Another way to explore such a keyword pool is to use a broad campaign based on words with a proxy modifier. Working with the strategy of setting rates with maximum CPC, you can get low-cost traffic and verify what phrases your audience is using, then cross-reference them with information from the keyword planner.
Search-new-ways – always-can-improve
In the text, I have outlined the more and less obvious ways to improve your online campaign efforts. These are just a few of the many possibilities available. When choosing the methods you will consider when working on your campaigns, try to first determine the goals you want to achieve, and only then select the tool you intend to use. You may be able to hammer a nail with a drill, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it in a simpler and more effective way.
Marketing strategist and SEM specialist with experience in team management. He has been involved in performance marketing for several years. His favorite area of interest is data analysis.