When you scale your AdWords accounts, you start to find even some of the most basic tasks start to take up huge amounts of time. I remember stepping up from managing smaller AdWords accounts with a few hundred ads (where I could easily keep track of my split tests in a few minutes per day), to some much larger ones where there were tens of thousands of ads. It would have taken me literally hours a day to review each one by hand.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The key to keeping on top of your AdWords accounts when you scale is Automation. And, one of the most straightforward ways to automate tasks is to use AdWords Scripts.
So what are the best AdWords scripts? Here are the 10 I absolutely could not live without:
This is hands down one of the best AdWords scripts ever written. It allows you to automatically record your Quality Score once per day so you can keep track of your historical quality score without having to purchase any software.
And, not only does it help you keep track of your historical Quality Score,it also allows you to create a dashboard within Google sheets that shows you your current quality score distribution and impression weighted Quality Score.
The script provides a number of settings that you can change to add further charts to your dashboard, such as click-weighted Quality Score.
Split testing when you have a few ads is not a problem, but when you have 10,000 or even 100,000 it becomes a big problem. This automated ad creative testing tool makes it easy to keep track of all of your split tests.
It works by analyzing the ads within an ad group and making a calculation as to whether there is statistical significance. This can be set to test a range of different metrics such as CTR and conversion rate.
Once statistical significance has been reached the script labels the ads as either “Current Champion” or “Loser 95% confidence”. It can also be configured to email you to say that a split test has finished.
One of the limitations of AdWords is that you can only use 6 different bid buckets per day, but you are likely to find that your conversion rate changes hourly.
There is however a workaround for this using AdWords Scripts and the Google Sheets API. It allows you to set the different bid modifiers for each hour within Google Sheets and then import them using the API into AdWords to change bids 24 times per day.
There are a significant number of industries where AdWords performance is affected by the weather (literally!) such as automotive, travel, home improvement, retail and many more, and for maximum ROI is it essential to change bids to reflect what’s going on outside.
This script allows you to increase or decrease your bids based on the weather in the location where a user is searching.
Most merchant feeds allow you to pause your Google Shopping ads when they are out of stock but there is no similar functionality built into Google search.
This script allows you to pause ads that are linking to out-of-stock products by scanning the page for the “out-of-stock” piece of code.
Seeing trends within your search query reports is fairly straightforward when you have a small AdWords account, but this becomes a lot more complex when you have millions of different search queries to review.
The solution here is to use something called N-Gram analysis, which allows you to see the aggregate performance of individual words or phrases. So, for example, if you are selling Alloy wheels, you would be able to see the performance of all of the search queries that contain the color “silver” for example.
Keeping track of your competitors is fundamental to AdWords success, however, it can be time consuming on larger accounts. The solution here is to use this competitor tracking script that allows you to map your competitors’ impression-share over time.
There are several limitations of using AdWords experiments. For instance, not being able to test the campaign settings themselves. This AdWords script provides a workaround in that it allows you to test virtually anything.
It works using labels. The results of the tests can be reviewed within the dimensions tab and will look like this.
This AdWords Script allows you to see how your AdWords performance changes hour-by-hour in the form of a heat map so that it is easy to visualize.
This script has also been updated so that you can see the performance of each device (mobile, desktop and tablet) hour-by-hour.
Most readers will know that visible Quality Score is made up of “expected CTR,” “landing page experience,” and “ad relevance”. This script allows you to visualize how your account is doing based on these three metrics so you can see which aspect of your account needs to be improved.
If you are interested in learning more about AdWords Scripts here are some good resources:
We all know this Valentine’s Day trope: Hard worker forgets to buy loved one a Valentine’s Day treat and scrambles at the last minute to get them something they’ll adore. Don’t let your PPC advertising leave you scrambling on V-Day either. Coordinate and automate cross-channel campaigns ahead of time, so you don’t have to do a thing on Feb 14:
1. Set up your ad copy for months, weeks, and then days and hours before Valentine’s Day. You probably even want day-of ads for those last-minute folks (you can always give a gift certificate or shipping confirmation for that fancy watch, right?). Then, schedule your ads for the specific times they should be running and shut them down during non-peak performance windows. For those day-of ads intended for people leaving work and grabbing something on the way home, make sure you’re adjusting for the location/time zones you’re covering.
2. Combat ad fatigue by cycling in fresh creative automatically. After someone has seen the same ad of a kitten wearing a necklace for two weeks, it’s time to feed them something new (no matter how cute it is)!
3. Automatically shift budget to high performing campaigns. The Valentine’s Day rush only comes once a year and you don’t want to waste a cent!
4. 48% of searches for Valentine’s Day on Bing in 2016 came from mobile devices. Make sure you’re optimized for mobile with ad extensions, attractive mobile ads, and automated alerts for phone calls or impressions so you can see who’s buying on-the-go.
5. Valentine’s Day breakups happen, and so it must be with some of your ad copy. Prune and pause underperforming copy based on spend and CPC (for example), without having to lift a finger.
6. Sit back and relax (or maybe run out a buy a gift for your sweetheart with the time you saved!).
Learn the “PPC Rules You Must Use” from Stephanie White of Hanapin Marketing
Managing ad campaigns can be pretty tedious, especially when your time is spent making the same campaign changes on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Luckily, Google and Bing offer a way to automate your tedious campaign tasks using rules to automatically make optimizations for you.
In this week’s #PPCPodcast, we chatted with Stephanie White, Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing, about automating ppc account management. Before White was PPC master at Hanapin Marketing, she was an entrepreneur starting her own jewelry business back in 1999. In 2004, instead of hiring a marketing specialist, White took it upon herself to learn profitable online marketing. These self-taught skills, ranging from web design to email marketing to PPC advertising, led her down a fruitful career working with talented marketers from ReachLocal, John Eagle Dealerships, and now Hanapin Marketing.
Check out White’s 5 must-have AdWords Automated Rules for every PPC account. Learn how she uses Automated Rules to save time, money, and sanity.
What the heck are Automated Rules?
Automated Rules are a series of actions you can choose to automatically perform across your ppc campaigns. To run these Automated Rules, you’ll need to define what conditions must be met for the rule to fire and apply these automatic changes to your account. Use rules to make changes to your ad statuses, budgets, bids, keywords and more. PPC managers are under a lot of pressure to deliver results…quickly: with clients’ increasing demand for deeper campaign performance analysis and insights combined with growing paid search and social platforms. The ability to automatically perform routine tasks, means you spend less time manually monitoring each campaign’s metrics and more time focusing on ppc strategy and optimizing growth opportunities.
The 5 Must-Have Automated Rules for Every PPC Account
Increase or Decrease Budget on Specific Date/Time
Use this rule if you either have additional budget you need to spend by a particular date OR if you want to automate increases or decreases to your budget on the first of the month.
Schedule Promotions to Run During a Set Time Period
Create an automated rule to adjust CPC bids for a particular ad group. This will come in handy when you build promotional campaigns for the holiday season. In your ad group you want to include keyword combinations for your product and any holiday terms. For example: Black Friday car deals, New Years car sales, Happy Honda Days, Christmas car deals, etc. Use a rule to automatically enable this ad group 2 weeks before the sale and end 1 week after.
For B2B clients: Be wary of the times you choose to schedule your ad campaigns
- B2Bs should schedule campaigns to run only during business hours. But if there is a weekend event your target audience will be attending, schedule your ad campaigns to run during the event’s timeframe.
- If you need to spend budget quickly, consider creating a rule to increase budget and schedule your campaign to run constantly for a short burst of time. Analyze the data and see what happens
Reduce Bids for Keywords with a High Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
Save time manually adjusting bids with a rule that will automatically reduce bids for keywords with extremely high CPA, but have zero conversions.
Increase Bids for Converting Keywords Below First-Page Bids
This is a great rule to have in your time-saver toolbox. Let’s say you have a keyword with high conversions, but just dropped below first-page bid. You can create a rule to automatically apply a 10% bid increase to all keywords that have over 10 conversions with more than 50 impressions and quality score greater than 5.
Set Up Email Alerts for Drastic Changes in Your Campaigns
Avoid ppc account surprises with performance-based email alerts that fire based on your most valuable KPIs. Set up an email alert to notify you of any drastic changes to your account, campaigns, ad groups, ads, or keywords.
Hopefully you’re now able to set up, test, and iterate on these automated rules to save you time and money. These rules are intended to make your ppc life easier because you won’t have to spend so much time doing the manual ppc account tasks, your time can be better spent thinking about your overarching ppc account strategy and how to optimize campaign performance.
What’s Growth Marketing?
I was fortunate to attend this year’s Growth Marketing Conference, a fairly intimate event when it comes to marketing conferences. With only 250 tickets available, attendees had the opportunity to personally meet and nerd out over Growth tactics with any one of the 28 speakers. Panels included growth industry leaders such as Andrew Chen, Neil Patel, Jon Miller, and Dan McGaw…just to name a few.
We kicked off the morning with a fireside chat with Andrew Chen and Bubba Murarka titled, “Why Most Growth Hackers Just Can’t Hack It.”
One of the overarching themes many of the speakers focused on was the importance of finding product/market fit. Without it, you will not grow. Chen, known for his straightforward analogy, happily shared this quote:
“Growth is a magnifying glass. If you have a diamond and you put it under a magnifying glass, then you’ll make something big and great. But if it’s just a tiny piece of shit, then it’s just going to be a big piece of shit.”
It makes sense why Growth Hacking, a term coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, has taken off in the past few years. Ideally, once a company has found product/market fit, they then look for ways to optimize growth. This requires allocating resources to specific areas that have been identified as the most viable levers to pull for exponential increase in revenue.
The Google Trends report for the term “growth hacking” clearly shows us the interest in this newly created business function.
Building a Growth Team
Chen went on to describe how a growth team functions within an organization. A true growth team works cross-functionally and includes a product manager, marketer, engineer, data scientist, and designer. Normally, this team works independently of marketing and product to allow for the autonomy to design tests and influence the product roadmap.
Panelists like Juney Ham (CMO, Hired) and Archana Agrawa (Head of Data Science and Growth Marketing, Atlassian) focused on the structure of growth teams and how to organize for success.
For example, Atlassian plans to grow 20x, from 5 million monthly active users to 100 million monthly active users. Agrawa shared how she structured her growth team and the essential competencies to reach that level of growth.
You should model your growth team around these four areas of expertise:
- Data Science
- Develops predictive analytics and focusing on multi-touch attribution.
- Marketing Analytics
- Responsible for business insights and recommendations.
- Data Engineering
- Implements testing at all states of the customer lifecycle.
- Growth Product Marketers
- Focuses on messaging for activation, journeys and in-product experience.
The success isn’t determined by the number of signups, but rather by active product usage and how to drive that usage into conversion. Without the right foundation of structure, competencies, and process, growth initiatives will inevitably fall flat and fail to provide business value.
Metrics that Matter
As a SaaS growth marketer I really enjoyed listening to “How Thought Leaders Get Explosive SaaS Growth” panel with all-stars like Shira Abel (CMO, Cyara), Scott Heimes (CMO, SendGrid), Elizabeth Yin (Partner, 500 Startups), and Tim Matthews (VP of Marketing, Incapsula).
On the topic of metrics, speakers shared insights on which KPI’s matter the most for optimal startup growth. Elizabeth Yin, without hesitation, noted churn rate as the most important metric because investors judge the scalability of a business based on product stickiness. You can focus resources on acquisition efforts to grow the number of leads, demos, and signups; however, if you’re unable to retain those initial customers you acquired, then you’re actually costing your company more dollars. A leaky conversion funnel is a strong indication time and resources are dedicated to the wrong customer stage lifecycle. Tim Matthews followed up on this same thought with CAC Ratio and why retention rate is a sure-fire metric to measure growth’s success.
The conversation then shifted to top-of-funnel tactics and how to fill the sales pipeline with qualified leads. The most recent trend is to leverage marketing automation as a means to increase the volume of incoming leads. While this has made the job of the marketer easier, automation has caused a degradation in quality, wasting time and creating noise in metrics data. It doesn’t matter if there’s a high volume of leads in the sales pipeline if they are not going to convert into customers.
Scott Heimes talked about the power of analog marketing tactics. Heimes divulged how to segment based on lead quality to determine which contacts should receive a more personalized sales interaction and which should be directed to an automated nurture track. For example, when dealing only with 50-100 top tier leads, it can be worth your time to send direct mail to these contacts. These time intensive tactics show that you actually care about gaining their business and has resulted in many new customers for SendGrid.
The takeaway here is to spend a little more time personalizing messaging to your top leads, and optimize your automation tactics to continue filling that top-of-funnel to nurture lower priority leads.
Sara Varni, SVP of Sales Cloud at Salesforce, gave her presentation titled “One Metric Marketing – How Daily Action Can Drive Long Term Success.” Varni shared how focusing on one metric was the key to scalable growth at Salesforce. The biggest challenge to overcome in growth is aligning marketing and sales goals. Echoing a statistic she shared:
“B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies costs 10% or more of revenue per year.” – IDC Research.
When each team is aligned on the same one metric, it’s makes it a lot easier to identify processes that really matter to move the needle.
Varni’s four step process to achieve this is:
- Clarify Organizational Priorities
- Evaluate the Metric Effectiveness
- Gain Cross-Functional Consensus
- Revisit, Revise, and Pivot
When anyone speaks about growth, it usually involves a/b testing. Daniel McGaw of Effing Amazing laid it out clearly, we’re all testing wrong. Or as he would say it, we’re all fucking wrong (that’s his shtick). Along with the numerous and equally humorous f-bombs dropped, McGaw demonstrated any optimization testing must be done with a view of the entire customer lifecycle – retention must be considered, don’t limit success to user acquisition.
As an example, a variation test that results in more signups is great, but how do you know those signups are quality leads and will result in less churn? Maybe your “winning test” actually increases churn 3-months down the road.
To solve for this is not complicated and simply requires connecting your testing tool (e.g. Optimizely) to one of the many analytics tools such as Google Analytics or MixPanel. You’ll then be able to clearly track your test groups throughout their entire lifecycle.
Wrapping It Up
It is clear that growth is ultimately a long term game when building a new team focused on conversion optimization. And it’s not up to one person, or one team, it’s up to the entire company to focus on growth.
The conference can be summed up in these three key points:
- Focus on product/market fit before scaling. (“Nail it before you scale it”)
- Focus on one key metric at a time. Rally your marketing, sales, product, and customer success teams around this metric.
- Build a multi-disciplinary growth team comprised of specialists in their respective fields.
If you want to learn more about the conference, visit http://growthmarketingconf.com. I’ve also listed a few additional resources to check out below: