Mar 22 2019
Basis Technologies

4 Tips for Increasing SEM Spend Without Sacrificing Performance


A common headache for any account manager is a decrease in budget. It seldom feels that we’re faced with extra ad dollars, but every once in a while, miracles do exist. While it may seem like an answer to account limitations, there are some things to look out for concerning budget increases. Any large change to an account can require a secondary ramping up period. Much like when a new campaign launches, larger account changes need to build a history with Google to find a sweet spot in performance. Account managers often look at budget increases as a major change requiring special attention. This issue is magnified if the account was already struggling to spend the budget it had been allocated in the first place. In this article, we list four tips for increasing SEM spend without taking a hit, ensuring your performance stays profitable.

1. Keyword Expansion

The first step to increasing campaign spend is to expand your keyword focus. Auditing the search queries report is the best place to look for new keywords to add to your campaign as it shows you exactly how people are searching for your business. If you’re not regularly auditing the search query report, you could be missing out on potential keywords, and phrasing of keywords, that would add great value to your program. Long-tail keywords are also a great way to broaden your keyword list, as well as increase traffic, for they typically have a slightly lower cost per click and the quality of traffic is higher. This report can further be utilized as a way to find new negatives that can help you avoid acquiring ad impressions for searches that won’t lead to sales. Implement these tactics and you’re a step closer to fully maximizing the effectiveness of your PPC spend.

2. Geography

When setting up any new search campaign, you must enter a target geography to serve your ads. If your account is limited by budget then your geography might reflect that by choosing only the most important radii, cities, or states. If your focus is niche, even when limited by budget, it’s best practice to start with a larger target area, then reduce as needed. Just be sure that you don’t let this run for too long without checking spend.

In cases where budget is not an issue and you have the freedom to leverage national targeting from the beginning, be aware that more isn’t always better. When given the opportunity to expand your geography to other desired areas, keep in mind your goals and needs, avoid adding cities and states you cannot serve just to ensure the budget is spent. You can also take into consideration geo modifiers. These give you the control to increase coverage on areas that have shown positive results and you can also add negative geo modifiers and area exclusions when expanding. Before adopting this method, though, have in mind the regions you do not want, or are unable, to market to.

Whether given a limited budget, or a sudden budget surplus, it is important to remember the goals of the campaign. Setting a campaign’s geography to national is a great way to gain traffic and increase your spend, but may not be what is best for your needs.

3. Remarketing

After a campaign has been running for a few months and it has hit its sweet spot in performance, you likely have enough data to begin a remarketing list. This is a strategic way to improve campaign performance and hit your spend goals. In essence, remarketing can help close the gap between customers that completed a conversion and those who dropped off in the process. The main benefits of remarketing include control over who sees your ads by use of remarketing to your audience list, improved brand recognition, improved ad relevancy, and, in many cases, higher conversion rates.

Audience lists are created in Google Ads or Google Analytics to help find people that have visited your site, or abandoned the shopping cart of your site, for example. Advertisers can utilize remarketing ads in either text ad or display ad format to communicate to their custom-created audience.

Brand recognition is important for any business, particularly smaller companies with a strong competitor base. By utilizing remarketing ads, you’re able to show your brand to browsers that have visited your site before, putting you top of mind. Display ads that match the look and feel of your website are especially helpful in capturing attention from previous visitors as well as new prospects. Remarketing with display ads can serve as an ongoing reminder of your brand.

Remarketing has proven to work well because it gives advertisers the control to create ads based on visitor behavior. If a visitor has shopped on a particular product page, then leaves before converting, you are able to show ads from that same page to that same prospect. By tailoring ads to previous site visitors, your ad relevancy will increase by communicating similar messaging, or images, from your site.

In many cases, remarketing ads produce higher conversion rates. While display ads may not be a good fit for every company, the option to utilize text remarketing ads with tailored verbiage to your target audience is a very powerful tool.

A mixture of brand recognition, compelling ad copy and/or display images have proven to increase conversions. However, it’s important to keep in mind that when setting up a remarketing campaign, it takes time to see an uptick in performance. It’s also worth noting that remarketing ads often have a higher cost per click than regular search ads, and it is strategic to set bids higher for better positioning. When looking for ways to optimize your account, keep remarketing ads in mind!

4. Bing

Bing is often overlooked by advertisers and eclipsed by Google Ads in the world of search. While Google Ads is still the clear leader, Bing has made big moves to bring value to advertisers in the space. Oftentimes, Bing is brought into the picture when advertisers feel they have hit the ceiling with Google, or when budget goals are not being hit. It’s important to look at Bing as an asset, and not a last resort.

Currently, Bing is responsible for approximately 30% of the search market, meaning if you’re not running your ads program on Bing, you are potentially missing out on 30% of ad traffic. A meaningful number. Besides opening your program up to new potential browsers, a significant benefit of using Bing is that the user demographic is older, more educated, and more affluent on average.

A common mistake advertisers make when launching a Bing program is treating their Bing account like Google. While it is easy to import your Google campaign straight into Bing, it is not best practice to mirror bids from Google. Typically, CPCs with Bing are lower, and so if you copy the same bids from Google, you could be setting yourself up for higher than necessary CPCs. If you do not have the same budget flexibility for Bing as you do with Google, it is recommended that you only add the main campaigns over to Bing.

When looking to expand on your traffic potential and spend goals, it is safe to consider the Bing engine as a quality over quantity solution. Do not expect the same volume as with Google, but if you optimize Bing appropriately, the traffic you do get will likely be high in quality.

In Summary

Budget problems are a common issue in any search marketing program. Typically, the issue is not having enough budget, but occasionally the opposite is true. If you’re in the position of managing a program that is struggling to spend, or has recently been granted a higher budget, consider expanding on your keywords, increasing your geography, adding remarketing, and launching a Bing campaign to meet your account’s spend goals while simultaneously keeping performance trending upwards.