PPC Automation Best Practices To Get the Most Out of Your Paid Campaigns


In 2020, Smart Insights, in collaboration with CommuniGator, came out with the State of Marketing Automation in 2020Opens a new window report. According to the report, the proportion of businesses not using automation in 2015 (24%) reduced to 12% this year. Automation helps marketers save significant time and money and achieve higher returns by automating certain tasks and processes. The same holds good for pay per click (PPC) advertisements.

Over the last few years, companies such as Google have invested heavily in PPC automation. This is evidenced by the plethora of automation options available, from automating campaigns and researching keywords to suggesting ad copies, campaign analysis, and reporting. Having said that, to succeed in PPC automation, there are certain best practices you need to follow. Here are a few automation best practices to reduce wastage and improve conversions.

Learn more: How To Optimize PPC and SEO To Boost ROI By 25%

1. Identify Your Automation Goal

Before automating your PPC campaign, identify what you want to achieve from automation. Is it a challenge you face, such as being unable to find the keywords that are reaching your target audience for which you need a solution? Or is it a particular process you want to improve through automation? Automation capabilities vary from tool to tool. Identifying what you want to achieve from automation helps you identify the right tools and technologies.

Besides why you want to automate, it is also worth determining what is worth automating. According to an article by Frederick Vallaeys, co-founder, Optmyzr, in Search Engine Journal, there is a good way to identify what you can automate. Draw an X-Y grid where the X-axis depicts the time a task consumes, and the Y-axis represents how often the task is performed, Vallaeys explains. Now, add the various PPC activities you would like to automate onto the grid, such as identifying keywords, creating copy, managing bids, testing ads, and reporting. The longer it takes to complete and the more you do an activity, it is a good candidate for automation, he adds.

Here is a sample grid.

Tasks worth automating

Source: Search Engine JournalOpens a new window

2. Invest in the Right Technology

If you are talking about PPC or search engine marketing (SEM) automation, it is necessary to empower your team with the right tools and technologies. As pay-per-click campaigns become more sophisticated, more automation options will become available. Hence, it is crucial to identify the right automation tools.

Here are a few PPC automation tools you should consider:

    • Google Ads Editor: This is Google’s in-house ads interface and an essential tool if you use Google’s PPC campaigns. It handles several tasks, from bulk edits and campaign optimization to automated bidding.
    • Microsoft Advertising Editor: Like Google’s in-house tool, Microsoft, too, has its own home-grown tool. Hence, if you use the Bing search engine, you should have this tool. With Microsoft Advertising Editor, you can easily import your Google Ads into the tool and get started.

Besides the search engines’ in-house tools, it is always good to have a few third-party tools to help you save time, reduce ad spend wastage, and improve campaign performance.

Here are a few third-party PPC automation tools you should consider:

    • SEMrush PPC Toolkit: This is a comprehensive PPC campaign management software toolkit. The tool helps you plan a campaign, research keywords, and competitors. The tool also allows you to see how you are performing against your competitors and improve your campaign to outperform them.
    • Swydo: Swydo is a reporting tool that makes a PPC manager’s life easy. It helps you automatically integrate data sets from different sources like Bing Ads and Facebook Insights. The tool also allows you to monitor your customers’ key interest points and translate them into reports. Further, the tool enables you to schedule your reports to be automatically sent out to your stakeholders.
    • Wordstream PPC Advisor: If you do not have a big staff or big budgets for your PPC campaigns, this tool is a good option. The tool offers integrations for Google and Bing ad platforms along with social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The tool also offers landing page optimization, data analytics, and report building.

3. Feed the Right Data

For automation to work correctly, your tools and platforms need the correct data so that they can make the right decisions. For example, you can set up smart campaigns if you have data from existing campaigns. Your smart tools can learn from the existing data. As you run more iterations, your automation tools can learn from them.

The best data for your tools to learn is conversion data, such as clicks, click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), cost per conversion/acquisition (CPA), and lifetime value (LTV). Other helpful data you can collect include the number of phone calls received, lead forms filled, an order being completed, and even volumes of conversions to clicks.

For example, you may want to measure how many times a user clicks your ad before converting. Keep in mind that some types of conversions are more insightful than others, and you should know how to identify them. For example, a “book a consultation” action is more valuable than just clicking the ad. If you do not know which action or conversion data is more valuable, you may be feeding your tool or machine the wrong data, leading to unsatisfying results.

Learn more: 5 Marketing Automation Trends That Will Dominate the Industry in 2021

4. Use Automated Bidding Strategies

Your PPC campaign is more than just a string of keywords and copy. The right ads need to match the right audience. And this takes significant research and planning about your audience’s buyer persona, interests, and journey. If your bid does not match what they are looking for or is not on point, your campaigns do not perform well. Further, if your bid is very high, it can easily eat into your ad spend and increase acquisition costs. If it is very low, you may be missing out on potential high-value customers.

Hence, consider using automated bidding strategies. These strategies can help you identify the right bids you can use to improve your results at an affordable price.

There are many automated bidding strategies, including maximizing clicks, maximizing conversions, and targeting CPA. The ‘maximizing clicks’ strategy focuses on gaining as many clicks as possible for a budget you have set.

A pro-tip is to keep the bid cap, which is 10% of what you set as a daily budget. The “maximize conversions” strategy focuses on maximizing your conversions for the budget you set. To succeed in this strategy, you should have enough data and conversion tracking installed.

In the ‘“target CPA” strategy, bids are optimized to drive maximum conversions, but at a target CPA you define. In this strategy, you have some say in deciding how much the conversions should cost.

Here are a few automated bidding strategies available on Google Adwords.

Automated bidding options

Source: Google AdsOpens a new window

5. Always Monitor Campaign Performance

Just because you automate your PPC campaigns does not mean your job is over. This is because, much like humans, tools, and algorithms, too, have their limitations and flaws. Tools make decisions based on data and logic, while your campaign optimization requires both quantitative analysis and qualitative context.

Further, automation makes campaign optimization and management happen fast. While this is an advantage, the flip side is that things can go wrong fast as well. If you are entirely dependent on automation to do everything for your campaign, you may see diminished results, a loss on your campaign spending, and a negative ROI. Hence, it is always necessary to keep an eye on how your automated campaign is performing.

So, how do you monitor and measure the success of your automated PPC campaign?

If you have newly automated your campaign or parts of it, progress and results may not be evident immediately. In such a situation, you will have to use the automation tool across a few iterations of a single campaign before the gains from it are visible.

Having said that, the automation tool always has a scope of improvement, especially through constant learning if it is AI-based.

Further, remember that your strategy, goals, and metrics should inform the tool and not the other way round. The metrics and KPIs you identify determine the success of automation. A few metrics usually tracked in a PPC campaign include CPC, CTR, conversion rate, and total conversions. Tracking these metrics over time can help you determine the ROI on automation.

Learn more: The SMB Technology Lineup: Top Marketing Automation Tools Shaking Up SMBs Beyond Q3 and Q4

Over To You

PPC or SEM automation is, undoubtedly, a game-changer if you have an abundance of campaigns to run and tasks to perform. It frees up your time so that you can focus on other important marketing activities. However, keep in mind that you cannot set it and forget it when it comes to PPC automation. You need to keep feeding your tools the correct data and monitor the performance to improve it. Hence, use the automation best practices mentioned above to achieve better results.

What other practices can help you make the best of your PPC automation? Share them with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .