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Would you help me improve my overall strategy?

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# 1
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Hello everyone,

 

I would like to share and discuss with you the strategy that I use to build my campaigns on the Search Network.

 

I hope I'll be clear and synthetic - do not hesitate to ask me questions to deepen.

 

After every point, in italics, I have placed some food for thought.

 

So:

 

1) IDENTIFYING SERVICES TO PROMOTE
This is clearly the first step. There is little to say about it.

 

2) CREATE A FIRST LIST OF WORDS
Having in mind the services, I create a list of words. I do this step using brainstorming and KeywordEye tool (free version). This tool is very useful because it shows the same suggestions from Keyword Tool Planner but displays them in a visual manner: big word = high volume; green word = little competition; and so on.
> There are other tools to implement the first phase of brainstorming?

 

3) CREATE A LIST WITH *ALL* THE WORDS SUGGESTED BY GOOGLE
I put the words found in step 2 in the Keyword Tool Planner. One by one. For each of them I fetch ALL the suggested words in the first 3-5 pages, using the "Copy to Clipboard". Then I get a txt with thousands of words, some of which are duplicate or bad - does not matter for the moment.

 

4) FILTER AND GATHER WORDS
In this step I use a PHP script created by me (string functions + regular expressions; no special effects) to filter out unnecessary/double words and group the remaining ones in appropriate groups. Then I get 7-15 groups containing a few dozen words each. Each group is tightly focused on a specific need. The "useless" words will be inserted into the negative words at campaign level.

 

5) APPLY 3 MATCH TYPE
Each word is changed via 3 different match type: modified broad / phrase match / exact match. So the number of words in groups triples.
> Am I wrong to act so widespread?

 

6) WRITE THE ADS
For each group write at least 3 ads highly relevant with the need detected by the words of the group itself.

 

7) SET A (LOW) OFFER
I set a very low offer; the same for all words. Let's say 0.30€ (0.40$)
> You also start from a low bid or use another approach?

 

8) IMPORT INTO ACCOUNT
Words and ads are all handled by my script, which generates a csv file that I can load in AdWords using AdWords Editor.

 

9) CAMPAING ADJUSTMENTS
I set geographic target / language / daily budget / eventual extension. I don't use any automatic optimization proposal from Google because I prefer to have more control over everything.
> Do you use AdWords automatic bid functions? How do they work for you?

 

10) CAMPAIGN STARTS (SLOW BID ADJUSTMENT)!
Initially, Google will not be happy with my low offers and propose a minimum bid for the first page. I choose the words with [first page minimum bid] <= 2€ and I get up the offer to [minimum bid for the first page ] + some cents. I begin to get the first impressions, clicks and conversions. If the specific market sector requires it, I raise the offer further following the same procedure. This procedure last about 7 days.
> Are there any scripts that you use?
> Do you like my general approach (start with lots of keywords, bid low and then incrase slowly)?

 

11) OPTIMIZATION
When I reach a considerable number of impressions/clicks I begin to optimize. For this phase, maybe I should open another post - suffice it to say that I do two jobs in parallel:
A) Ad Groups: I look at the statistics of each group and try to optimize ads and keywords by hand; here I use intuition more than anything else.
B) Keywords: I export all the words on excel. I add a column with a formula of my own invention that takes into account the main parameters: (0.8 * QS) * (0.7 * CTR) * (0.6 * (1 / AVGCPC)) * (0.4 * AVGPOS); I order this column so you can see immediately the words with higher performance, those that I have to improve, those that have not yet collected enough data, those badly-performing that I have to set in pause.
> What script / formulas / excel do you use to optimize the offers?

 

What do you think about my strategy?

 

Criticisms and suggestions are welcome! Smiley Happy

2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Would you help me improve my overall strategy?

Community Manager
# 2
Community Manager
Hi Marco,
This looks like a great strategy! I wonder what the rest of the Community thinks!

Kathleen

Re: Would you help me improve my overall strategy?

Top Contributor
# 3
Top Contributor

Hi Marco,

 

Wow, outlining a complete search network strategy could be quite a challenge but I'll play along here a bit and try to give you a few things to consider.

 

I think there is something to be said about determining the objective of the campaign prior to any of the items you listed below.  Of course identifying the services (or products) is completely necessary but identifying the goal of the campaign is first in my opinion.

 

I think your steps for keyword research and the actual build out of the campaign structure is perfectly fine. I would not consider ad extensions as an afterthought, they should be included prior to launching any campaign. There are many ways to conduct research and many philosophies on how to group keywords for the best performance.  I think you'll likely be fine following the steps you outlined.

 

I did immediately recognize that you seem to have left out a couple of pretty important items though. I have no idea if that was intentional or not but I'll try to give my thoughts briefly.

 

- Budgets and bidding - without understanding your potential CPC's and setting a proper budget early on (during research phases and goal setting), I don't see how you can just decide to bid 0.40 to start the campaigns. In some verticals, you'll need minimum bids of $20 - $0.40 isn't really going to do a whole lot in those cases. Waiting until you load up the account to find out first page bid estimates could be a big mistake if you find out that you don't have the budget to support your efforts. You need to make sure you have enough budget to generate enough clicks which will convert at a high enough rate to keep your campaigns profitable or at least worthwhile to continue running. 

 

- Conversions!!!  I don't think you mentioned this at all...how are you tracking conversions? Leaving branded and general "drive traffic to my site" kind of campaigns aside, you have to ask, What is a conversion? For me, his is part of the initial identification of the goals of the campaign.  Are you driving web leads, phone calls, website purchases etc...conversion tracking, whatever that looks like, is a must prior to launching any (sure there are exceptions) campaign. IMO - all the CTR & QS calculations in the world will not tell you how successful your campaign is without knowing how many conversions you are generating. There needs to be clear expectations between you and your client, you work together to determine and understand how many conversions need to be generated in a specific time period for the budget allocated.

 

I could likely go on and on here about each little detail that I find helpful, but unfortunately, I can't.  Smiley Happy  

 

Over time, we each develop our own techniques and methods for executing campaigns.  I hope that my ideas/thoughts here are helpful.  

 

-Tommy

 

 

 

 

Tommy Sands, AdWords Top Contributor | Community Profile | Twitter | Philly Marketing Labs
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Re: Would you help me improve my overall strategy?

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# 4
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Hi Tommy,

 

you reply was really helpful! In detail:

 

I would not consider ad extensions as an afterthought, they should be included prior to launching any campaign.

 

Right! I will edit the strategy (before I want to discute some other points here)

 

Budgets and bidding - without understanding your potential CPC's and setting a proper budget early on (during research phases and goal setting), I don't see how you can just decide to bid 0.40 to start the campaigns. In some verticals, you'll need minimum bids of $20 - $0.40 isn't really going to do a whole lot in those cases. Waiting until you load up the account to find out first page bid estimates could be a big mistake if you find out that you don't have the budget to support your efforts. You need to make sure you have enough budget to generate enough clicks which will convert at a high enough rate to keep your campaigns profitable or at least worthwhile to continue running.

 

Very useful and *crucial* suggestion! How can I make a "procedure" from this point? Let's try:
7) SET A PROPER OFFER
I put all keywords into the Keyword Planner [Get forecasts and review plan], set location/language and play with bid/daily budget parameters in order to 1) estimate *prudently* the cost of the camping and 2) set an average bid that I'll use as CPC for my campaign.
> But this does not consider eventual bid increases that -for sure- will happen after [see step 10]
> Do you think I should use the Estimator in a more specific manner -for example- getting an estimate for each group? Or do you suggest a totally different way to get this estimate?

- Conversions!!! I don't think you mentioned this at all...how are you tracking conversions? Leaving branded and general "drive traffic to my site" kind of campaigns aside, you have to ask, What is a conversion? For me, his is part of the initial identification of the goals of the campaign. Are you driving web leads, phone calls, website purchases etc...conversion tracking, whatever that looks like, is a must prior to launching any (sure there are exceptions) campaign. IMO - all the CTR & QS calculations in the world will not tell you how successful your campaign is without knowing how many conversions you are generating. There needs to be clear expectations between you and your client, you work together to determine and understand how many conversions need to be generated in a specific time period for the budget allocated.

 

You are totally right here! I've always tracked conversions (thank you page, phone call from mobile version of the landing page) but I've never completely fulfilled the responsability to well define the convertion with the client. Till now!

 

Thank you again for your feedback

Re: Would you help me improve my overall strategy?

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# 5
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Thank you KathleenG!

Have you some idea regarding the questions I've put after some steps?