Budget management and tracking your spend on a daily basis is one of the most efficient ways to keep your hands firmly on the controls and to ensure that you guide your account safely through the inevitable turbulence of a month in Paid Search.
So, come the first of the month there is a long line of demanding clients waiting in the departure lounge, their impatience fueled by caffeine and their indignation at the lack of allocated seating. It is at this point that you, as the pilot of PPC flight 9to5, have the opportunity to distinguish yourself from the budget airlines of this world. Without the proper preparation your flight will land €1000 away from its target spend, and you’ll find yourself explaining why you’re allocating a replacement bus service.
The first step in ensuring you are prepared for the journey ahead is to agree realistic goals with your client based on the allocated budget. With the appropriate research into the average monthly searches for your keyword lists, as well as estimated click through rate and cost per click, you can with some degree of accuracy, predict the rate at which an account will spend its budget. By proactively sharing this information with your client you can guide their expectations in terms of clicks, conversions and overall cost.
As with most things PPC related, research is paramount. Therefore, it is worthwhile checking the weather conditions before take-off. A variable such as seasonality, an upcoming promotion, or anything which may impact upon the performance of your account is information that must be taken into account when forecasting.
Finally, your budget must be allocated efficiently and in cohesion with the structure of your account’s campaigns and ad groups. Setting contingencies can be useful to ensure that your priority campaigns such as ‘Brand’ have as close to 100% impression share as possible.
Despite all of our pre-emptive efforts, predicting the performance of any account is far from an exact science, so vigilance during take-off can help alleviate passengers’ stress levels and give cause for unanimous unclenching. During the first week of the month is it essential to be aware of how your accounts are performing and to be proactively optimising at the earliest opportunity. If it becomes necessary to increase spend, then checking your lost impression share due to budget is usually a clear, top level indication that your bids are too low. Delving deeper into the account and monitoring your average position, performing regular search query reports and keyword analyses, are also essential parts of the account management process which should positively impact upon click through rate, cost per click and cost per action metrics.
When it comes to decreasing spend, introducing daily caps is an option when immediate impact is required, but this shouldn’t be relied upon as a budget management tactic. A stomach churning roller coaster ride with drastic ups and downs does not make for the most comfortable journey. A more time consuming but admirable course of action would be to make use of the under appreciated dimensions tab, and look into your performance by day of the week or time of the day. With this information at your fingertips you can create effective ad schedules which can ensure your budget is being spent at the most profitable times.
As tempting as it may be to sit back and let your accounts cruise along on autopilot, it is at this point that your budget management skills can be acquitted most effectively. In the middle of the month you are reliant on your budget tracker to provide accurate indications of how efficiently your budget is being spent and whether to expect an easy landing.
Re-engaging your client and evaluating performance so far, as well as managing their expectations for the coming weeks will help you to update your goals and optimise your accounts effectively. If an account is under-performing and under-spending then adding to the budget is simply not an option. In order to avoid complete engine failure and a crash landing it’s advisable to land that particular plane sooner rather than later by cutting the budget back. If however, an account is overspending yet performance stats are notably high, then with the consent of your client you should fly onwards and upwards to the shining ROI in the sky.
In conclusion, provided you have been proactive and efficient in your budget management strategy you should be primed and ready to bring your PPC plane back down to earth in a smooth and uneventful landing. However, the most important thing to remember is to never.EVER, celebrate your success by playing a cringe-worthy fanfare recording over the tannoy.