5 Tips For Managing Your Large AdWords Accounts Like a Pro
This week (I'm a little late) and next, I'll be exploring some tips and tricks for managing larger accounts. In particular, I'll be focused on workflow.
With every new feature that AdWords releases, my workflow changes drastically, but usually in a good way. Let's take a look at some of the ways I make managing larger client accounts just a little bit easier. I'll start off easy and obvious and then move to the less obvious.
1) Use labels to group campaigns into reporting categories.
I doubt I have to convince anyone to use labels these days. Labels can be used for quite a few neat things in AdWords (including scripts), but their most powerful feature is in reporting. I'm not sure about you, but the majority of the stakeholders I work with do not care about campaign-level performance, let alone ad group or keyword performance. Many department managers I work with want to know how their product categories are doing, not about the campaigns that ensure their success.
For example, a shoe retailer might put all men’s shoe campaigns into a men’s shoes label, all size 9 shoe campaigns into a size 9 label, etc. This has resulted in the biggest streamlining of our reporting since AdWords was born. Find out what matters to your stakeholders (it's usually not at all what you think it is) and use labels to report on those, not the nuts and bolts.
2) Scripts & Auto Bidding (even if you don’t know how to script)
I've spoken before about scripts and automated bidding and I really cannot reiterate this enough. If you’re not testing bidding strategies automatically, you’re losing out. For many, the challenge with scripts is learning the language. I’ll be the first to admit, they’re not easy to grasp in the beginning. However, you don’t need to learn the language to get started. You can use automated rules right in the AdWords interface.
3) Custom Bid Strategies
It’s incredibly simple to test different bidding strategies and implement them with a click using automated rules. What’s even better is custom bid strategies. These are a whole slew of additional creative ways to make rules about how you want to bid. Have a look at some of the bidding strategies our clients have set up, and think about how they could apply to your business and/or competitors:
4) Separate the Functions of Ads & Extensions
This might take a little bit of explaining but once we figured this out, it was a game changer for us. Many of our clients are high volume: thousands of campaigns and, most of all, many hundreds of different product range promotions and sales which vary each quarter. We used to have a team manually rewrite new ads for each promotion/sale. This was very laborious and time intensive. We decided to test another approach.
Instead of editing a set of campaign ads and extensions with new promotional text, we decided to only change the extensions. After all, we’d worked hard all year split-testing and finely tuning the ad text for the highest CTR possible, why edit them now? Campaign-level ad extensions were performing well too, so no wriggle room there either. Or is there?
So what we did was add promo-based content to the ad group level of each promotional campaign. While there’s a certain amount of initial redundancy to this, it’s made easier with AdWords Editor since Editor now supports most extensions. We also scheduled these promotional extensions (usually sitelinks, callouts and structured snippets) to end on the day the promo/sale ended. Any missing extensions, we just pulled the best performers from the campaign level and scheduled those to end on the end date too. Now, when the campaign end dates hit, the campaign defaults back to the campaign-level sitelinks automatically.
Essentially, we used the extensions for what they were designed for, highlighting promotional offers and defaulting to the campaign-level offers when the promo was over. This freed up significant time and, coupled with the ability to upload feeds, we can now have product managers write the promo content for their campaigns and we can just upload it and schedule it in the shared library.
Finally, we added one campaign-level sitelink with the sale promo. This negated the need to change the main text ad.
The results were startling. Not only did we see the expected CTR increase in sale-related extensions, we saw a higher CTR increase in the original ads coupled with sale-themed extensions than we did with promotional ad text coupled with sale-themed extensions. We’ve tested this hundreds of times across a wide variety of accounts and it’s almost universally an improvement. Try it, and it will make your life easier and your customers happier.
5) Switch to Shared Budgets
This brought about far more organizational awareness of the AdWords channel than any other change we’ve made to client accounts and it really surprised me. Switching to shared budgets lets you see at a campaign or label level how the account is doing in terms of budget. It’s a fairly basic report to your or me but that’s the point.
I was wondering why showing clients the shared budgets page was getting so much attention, so I did a mini survey to find out why. In retrospect, it’s pretty obvious. It turns out though that most of our clients are afraid to go into their own AdWords account. They see the vast number of campaigns we create and the blitzing colours of the labels and the wall of numbers that is our custom columns. They simply don’t understand it and I get that.
However, the shared budgets page in the shared library is seen as “outside” AdWords, a place where the purse string holders are not afraid to go in case they break something. All it took was a simple link in an email, or if you like, a scheduled report directly from the shared budgets page.
So there's my 5 tips for today. Not too tough to implement, right? Join me tomorrow where I'll be going into some more advanced topics on managing your AdWords account like a pro.
Skydiving and travel obsessed. Director of digital marketing agency Redfly, based in Dublin, Ireland. An marketing agency that specializes in AdWords management, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.
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