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Five ways to slash ad spend and achieve results right now

You know what’s great about PPC? Even when your account is in the dumps, you can make small changes that can have a big impact on its performance and your ad spend.

And sometimes all it takes is a little bit of creativity.

So in the spirit of making small steps to improve your PPC, and building on my tips from last month, I’m going to share with you five ways you can get creative to save ad spend (and even make some money through more targeted advertising) in your PPC account.

The usual

Most PPC professionals know the usual ways to cut wasted ad spend, and hopefully you’re doing the following on a regular basis:

  • Managing your negative keywords (in my PPC operations guide, I recommend this be a monthly task for most)
  • Managing and excluding irrelevant sites from your Google Display Network campaigns (daily is good here for most)
  • Filtering out non-converting and/or sky-high cost-per-acquisition keywords, ad groups and campaigns

But, have you thought about things like:

  • Excluding countries from remarketing campaigns?
  • Tiered bidding?
  • Ad delivery options?
  • Ad scheduling?
  • Testing ad positions?

These things can help you manage ad spend even more. Let’s look at those closer now.

1) Country exclusions in remarketing

Sometimes when you set up a remarketing campaign, even though you’re just targeting the US, you’ll often see traffic from other countries and it’s because they’ve been to your US website.

One of our client’s remarketing campaigns had a ton of traffic from countries outside of the US and Canada, but they’re not actually doing business in other countries, so we just excluded those.

By excluding countries outside of the U.S. and Canada, we were able to shave off a pretty penny.

2) Tiered bidding

Tiered bidding is one of those things that PPC pros usually have either a strong preference for, or don’t do at all. At my agency, we typically always do tiered bidding, but most of the accounts we inherit haven’t.

The gist of it is this (and here’s a good article on the nitty-gritty details): you can use multiple match types to bid on the same keywords to help control budget.

Say you use three match types: exact, phrase and broad. The idea of using tiered bidding is that you spend more money on the terms that are highly relevant. In turn, AdWords is going to give more play to the keyword type you’re willing to spend more on.

The exact match should be very targeted, whereas broad match will likely bring in some irrelevant terms. That’s why you’re going to bid lower on broad and higher on exact match, like the following example:

  • Exact match $1
  • Phrase match $0.75
  • Broad match $0.50

If you’re looking at ways to save money and focus on the more targeted traffic, you might consider this tiered bidding plan to get you there.

3) Standard ad delivery

Ad delivery options determine how quickly you want the ad platform to use your budget each day. With AdWords, there are two settings, standard and accelerated:

  • Standard delivery (the default option) tries to show your ads throughout the entire day to make sure that you don’t spend your whole budget in the morning and cause your ads to stop showing for the rest of the day.
  • Accelerated delivery tries to show your ads more quickly until your budget is reached. With this option, your ads can stop showing early in the day if your budget is spent.

At my agency, we almost always start with accelerated ad delivery with the goal of maximizing our chances of ad impressions while the demand is there.

On a few occasions, though, we’ve stepped out of our comfort zone to try standard delivery, and it can work well to save ad dollars—especially when you have a highly competitive space with a lot of search volume throughout the day.

4) Ad scheduling

Speaking of ad delivery, ad scheduling gets into the days and hours that an ad can show, and can help you boost conversions in a pinch.

At my agency, our go-to strategy is to deliver ads on all days at all hours (which happens to be the default setting in AdWords).

Normally with this setting, you’ll see things naturally slow down when the demand is not there. Going with the default setting tackles what happens when the outliers are looking for your services or products after hours.

For example, one of our B2B PPC clients can spend $1,000 a day Monday through Friday, and as low as $100 per day on the weekends. And they do get some leads that trickle in on Saturdays and Sundays, so why not grab those low CPA leads when possible?

Recognizing that sometimes you’ve got to tighten the belt even more, it’s simple to pause ads on weekends or during the late night and early morning hours with ad scheduling.

5) Ad position

Google officially changed the way desktop ads display in the search results in February 2016. No longer in the right-hand side bar, ads now display above and below the organic listings (up to seven ads with three being the average for the top area).

If you’re trying to save a little cash, don’t be afraid to test by targeting a lower position on the page – like Position 4, even if that means you’re at the bottom of the page.

Early results show that Position 4 still gets play, and early tests that my agency has been performing show ad spend is way down for Position 4, but revenue is holding steady.

On the mobile side, we used to always vie for Position 1 (or else you might as well not have been on the page at all), but lately, we’ve been seeing three ads show up before the organic listings on a mobile device, so you can play with your ad position there as well, and possibly save some dollars.

Get creative

Sometimes, saving on ad spend and bringing in more targeted conversions is all about creativity and being willing to test.

Ultimately it’s about using the knowledge of the business and your understanding (or the help files!) of the features available to you to come up with a system to reduce ad spend while bringing in more targeted buyers.



by Pauline Jakober