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Limited budgets are always a constraint for sustainable growth in a Google Ads campaign, since it limits the number of auctions you can participate in and reduces your opportunities to get valuable traffic and potential new conversions.
Now that we are approaching Black Friday and Christmas holidays it is important to review the status of our Google Shopping accounts to exploit the full potential that this period offers to all merchants. We have prepared our marketing strategy, we have the data feed ready with all the promotional data and we have assigned the appropriate bids for each product. Suddenly, we activate our campaigns and realize in the middle of the day that we have forgotten a very important detail: setting an appropriate budget. For many merchants, the possibility of maintaining a completely open budget is illusory, as nobody wants to miss the opportunities offered on these dates. So what to do in those cases when the budget is strict?
1. Control cost drivers
The answer is quite simple. We must find and control all our cost drivers. A first step could be to use smec’s budget eaters script, which helps you to identify those campaign segments that consume an important part of your budget. Once you identify these products, you only need to reduce your bids by 15% or 20% – depending on their total cost and the amount of products affected. If you use Whoop!, the procedure is simple because you only need to adjust your bidding behavior or set a higher ROAS value for the product segment identified. If you still manage manual campaigns you would have to adjust your bids directly in each affected product group, or directly at campaign level – if you use any other automated solution. However, this is not enough to ensure that your budget will not reach its limit after a couple of hours.
After adjusting the main cost factor – your bids –, you can then proceed to investigate other dimensions of your Google Shopping campaigns. A good place to start are your device modifiers, as their impact on the cost structure is significant but simple to manage. Depending on the structure of your account, you can use the modifiers directly at campaign level or ad group level – I personally recommend using the modifiers at ad group level to avoid reducing the traffic segments with good performance. And make sure to focus on those ad groups that generate more than 20% of the total cost on each device. If you are a Whoop! user with a device split, you will only need to adjust the bidding behavior and ROAS value in the general strategy.
2. Negative keywords, bid modifiers and generic traffic
Furthermore, the holiday season usually brings a significant increase in traffic. Most consumers across different industries tend to continuously search for the products of choice in the weeks before Black Friday. Naturally, this generates a significant increase in cost that negatively impacts your budget. To avoid this leading to a limited budget, we recommend a continuous examination of negative keywords, since it is common – during these dates – to fall in generic traffic which usually does not generate a high conversion value. If you want to see the impact of generic traffic on your account, I recommend exploring our sunburst graph in Orbiter.
A good method to identify negative keywords is to calculate your conversion rate and then divide 100 by this value. As a result, you will have the number of clicks necessary to achieve a conversion, i.e. 35 clicks. Once you have this value, you just need to check your search terms report and filter by clicks higher than this value, and conversions lower than 1 (or 0.1 in case of special attribution models such as DDA). This will lead you to getting those search terms that do not bring value to your account – which can be added as negative keywords. Just be sure to save these terms as exact matches.
Finally, you could also adjust bid modifiers in locations and the ad schedule. However, there is no general rule on how to act here, as it varies from industry to industry. In principle, you should use negative bid modifiers in locations where you do not offer delivery – to avoid unnecessary traffic – or in places where your competitors traditionally have greater branding i.e. a higher share of physical stores.
Regarding the ad schedule, it is worth to make sure that you show your ads in times when your customers usually look for your products. If you are a B2B store, it would be worth to show ads only during office hours or to have negative bid modifiers in the specific hours that usually do not generate conversion volume. You can identify these segments by reviewing your Google Ads reports – filtering by days of the week for the last 90 days. This will help you to better visualize those time spans when you do not generate value.
3. Final recommendation
Here is a piece of advice we always communicate to our clients, instead of setting an ad schedule per day, you could split the same day in periods of 4 hours (6 in total). This simple but powerful change will help you identify trends within working days, setting more specific bid modifiers in highly profitable or expensive time periods that will increase your overall account efficiency.