4 Quick Moves to Reduce Adwords Spend

4 Quick Moves to Reduce Adwords Spend

With the new year, you might find your campaign spend running high. This happens because your inventory is much more productive during Q4. But now that the new year is here, the share of keywords driving conversions is going to start declining. Here are four quick ways to reduce spend on non-productive keywords and free up spend. I prefer this method to larger-scale lowering of bids or budgets because it lets you keep keywords with Q4 conversions running at a strong position. You can then use normal bid management to sort the winners from the losers as the new year progresses.

For all these moves, I suggest using at least Q4 2011 as your date range.

1. Quarantine low quality score keywords with high impressions, poor CTR and no conversions

Low quality score keywords are contagious. Their poor performance and higher minimum cpc lowers the quality score of the ad groups they are in and skews metrics. We only move the non-converting ones right now but you should schedule a review of the converters for later to see if you can boost their QS.

I’d suggest doing this in Adwords Editor. You’ll be able to use custom filters and move these keywords as a group. There is a shot of the filters to your right. Notice that I make sure that CTR is greater than zero. We want to focus on the ones that are costing us money.

Moving these keywords into a separate dump campaign can help you in two key ways:

  1. You will reduce average cpc for the effected ad groups.
  2. You will have more campaign budget for higher quality-score keywords.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]In all of my accounts, I have a campaign called PausedforFix. This is my dump campaign for ad groups or keywords that I think have potential but need some TLC.[/box]

2. Reduce bids during poor converting hours

Day-parting is one of the most effective strategies I know for reducing campaign spend. Every account has spots in the day where clicks continue to come in but conversion rates are extremely low. You will have to discover your own day-parts but reducing spend during those periods to 80%, 75% or 60% (depending on ROI) will help you save money that you can then spend during more productive times of the day.

You can do this campaign by campaign using segments in Adwords or get an overall look by checking in your Analytics account.

Use Hour of Day under Time in the Adwords Menu

Day-parting is an extremely customizable strategy that scales well. Once you know the “bad spots”, you can stop throwing money away during poor performing time periods. At the same time, you will have more to spend during more productive periods.

3. Set bids on good average position (1-3), high CTR, high cost & no conversion BROAD match keywords below their 3 month average CPC

This one is a little trickier, but I’ve found that it will reduce your spend substantially while sometimes improving conversion rates.

In any campaign, there are going to be keywords that look good (high QS, good landing page, good CTR) but never seem to give you a return on investment beyond traffic. These keywords are generally high-cost generators.

The problem may be that they are broad matching to too many queries and so not generating targeted traffic. This move will let you test that while also reducing spend. I’m not saying that you should ignore building negatives, but that takes time and we are looking for a quick spend reduction.

You will have to figure out your threshold for lowering these because they may represent a sizable amount of traffic. But you will see an immediate decline in spend on these keywords because you will:

  1.  Be spending less per click
  2.  Showing at a lower position so you get less clicks

Also remember that we are only lowering ones with a good average position (usually top of page or top of right-side), so you will see some traffic decline but nothing that you can’t compensate for by driving more traffic to converting keywords or bidding up lower position keywords to see how they do.

4. Pause keywords with high bounce rate landing pages

Some pages just don’t work for visitors. At least not for the keywords that you are using. Sending money to pages that visitors immediately leave is just a waste of money. You should try to figure out why they are leaving, but right now we want to stop this cost from accruing.

As an alternative you can do this by keyword , but because the emphasis here is on “quick”, I say use a Destination URL report from Analytics.

Before you start analyzing, you should do some filtering. It’s safe to to exclude the homepage and you will want to set some threshold for visits in order to be fair to low traffic pages. The traffic threshold will vary by your vertical and goals but the median visits for landing pages (excluding home brand traffic) might be a good starting point.

Here is an example set of filters for the Destination URL report in Google Analytics:

Because we are doing 100% bounce rate, you don’t have to filter for no transactions, but you can if you want to be extra careful.

Once you have this report, you can search for any keywords with the URL in Adwords Editor and pause them. If you see a pattern in the destination URLs, then you could also try swapping the URLs but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Every Analytics or PPC Management Program will let you do a similar report to the Destination URLs one in GA. In Coremetrics Search and Omniture Search Center, you go to the landing page reports area and drop in the metrics that you need.[/box]

We Can All Use a Few Extra Bucks

I got started with these tactics because I found that I had several new ideas that I wanted to test, but hadn’t received new budgets and didn’t want to overspend. I went looking for some quick ways to grab a few dollars without changing the overall performance of the account. I’ve used every tactic in here and it works. You can also adapt all these tactics for periodic account reviews.

I hope this helps you get off to a good start and gives you some more ways to keep spend under control going forward. If you have any other quick tips about reducing spend then share them in the comments.


4 Quick Moves to Reduce Adwords Spend by