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Best Bid Strategy For Google Ads

Selecting the appropriate bidding strategy for Google Ads is paramount to campaign success. Without a clear understanding of how to manage your bids effectively, there’s a real risk of depleting your entire budget and ending up with no results.  

Over the years, automated bidding strategies have consistently outperformed manual bidding. This shift highlights the significant impact of AI and machine learning.

The transition towards automation in bid management not only reflects advancements in technology but also aligns with the increasing complexity of user journeys and data constraints.

In this article, we aim to guide you through the various Google Ads bidding strategies available, offering insights on how to leverage them to enhance your campaign results.

Understanding Bid Strategies in Google Ads

Bid strategies in Google Ads dictate how you pay for user interactions with your ads, such as clicks, impressions, or conversions. These strategies can significantly influence the success of your advertising efforts.

Automated bid strategies are typically set at the campaign level. More granular optimizations can be found at the ad group level.

Let’s break down the core strategies available, providing a clear starting point for advertisers looking to optimize their campaigns.

Manual CPC (Cost-Per-Click)

Manual CPC allows advertisers to set their maximum cost-per-click bids for their ads. This strategy gives you direct control over how much you’re willing to pay for each click on your ads.

Best For: For expert advertisers who prefer granular control over their bids and have the time to monitor and adjust bids based on campaign performance. 

 You may want to use manual CPC as a fall back if you started with automated but did not get sufficient performance. Manual CPC also gives you complete control over bid modifiers so it would be a use case if specific targeting need to be modified for business purposes. For example, you may want to bid more aggressively for local customers if they have a higher likelihood of becoming return customers.

Enhanced CPC (ECPC)

Enhanced CPC is a semi-automated bidding strategy that adjusts your manual bids up or down based on the likelihood of a sale or a conversion. Google automatically adjusts your bids, aiming to get you more conversions while trying to follow your manual bid.

Best For: Advertisers who are looking to improve their conversion rates without fully relinquishing control over their bid amounts. Requires conversion tracking / conversion value set up. You have the option to instruct the algorithm to either boost your manual cpc bids aiming for conversions or conversion value.

ECPC is the middle ground between automated bidding and manual bidding. You would use ECPC to transition off manual CPC bidding or if you want some assistance in conversions but still control CPCs by keyword.

Maximize Clicks

This is an automated bid strategy aimed at getting as many clicks as possible within your budget. Google sets the bids to help your ad receive the maximum number of clicks within your specified budget.

Best For: Advertisers focused on driving traffic to a website, especially useful for increasing brand awareness or building website traffic for  additional marketing. Google won’t consider quality or relevance of the traffic so you may get skewed results. Always remember to set a maximum CPC bid as you’ll get outlier clicks which could cost a fortune and burn up all your daily budget.

This strategy is best applied when there is no conversion data. It be also be used for campaigns with limited keyword volume ensuring you maximize traffic from the available impressions.

Maximize Conversions

Maximize conversions is an automated strategy that sets bids to get the most conversions for your campaign.

Best For: Advertisers may want to use this strategy when they launch new campaigns with no data. Maximize conversions helps advertisers discover the real cost per conversion  which can guide them into setting appropriate targets. Google won’t focus on efficiency which can affect profitability. The only control would be the budget you assign to the campaign.

This strategy is best applied when there is no conversion data. Maximise conversion is also great for generating results at the cost of efficiency. This is usually a fit for time sensitive businesses (eg. sale periods) or rapid growth (eg. start-ups before a valuation). 

Target CPA (TCPA)

Target CPA aim to maximize the number of conversions at the most cost-effective rate. TCPA uses historical information from your campaigns to automatically set bid amounts that achieve an average cost per acquisition (CPA). 

Best for: Advertisers with specific cost per acquisition goals and sufficient conversion data to inform the automated bidding algorithm. This strategy focusses on efficiency as it allows you to set targets, plan performance and forecast expected results. 

This strategy is best applied when there is ample historical conversion value data but you don’t have conversion value or revenue values assigned to the conversions. You’d use TCPA when you have strict targets such as a fixed budget target and a fixed number of conversions you need to generate. Dividing budget by conversions will give you the target CPA you need to set.

Target ROAS

Target ROAS strategy aims to maximize revenue while targeting a specific return on ad spend. It automatically adjusts bids to achieve an average return on ad spend that you set as your target. 

Best For: It’s suitable for businesses with clear revenue tracking from their ads. Target ROAS ensures your campaign activity is profitable but also gives you levers to optimise towards conversions that drive higher profit margins. 

This strategy is best applied when there is ample historical conversion value data, allowing the algorithm to make informed bid adjustments to meet specific ROI objectives. The campaign will concentrate on reaching a particular Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), thereby prioritizing conversions that yield the highest investment return.

Maximize Conversion Value (MCV)

Similar to target ROAS, this strategy focuses on the conversion value instead of the number of conversions. 

Best For: Advertisers looking to maximize the total value of their conversions. This strategy is particularly effective for businesses with varying conversion value. The downside to MCV  is missed conversions that are lower value.

MCV will prioritise high value items in your inventory or the conversions that generates the most revenue. For example, a SaaS business may choose MCV when it discovers it’s Book A Demo conversions generate more revenue than account signups. As a result, they choose MCV to get more Book A Demos.

Best Practices

Use this simplified process to determine which bid strategy you should use:

Campaign Launch: Focus on acquiring as much data as possible. Use Maximise Clicks or Maximise Conversions to collect data and control efficiency using the campaign budget. You should uncap campaigns and prevent  restrictions during this phase.

Move to the next step if sufficient conversion data is collected. If are unable to move to the next phase consider:

  • Reviewing campaign tracking.
  • Consolidate campaigns.
  • Review keyword strategy.

 

Campaign Scaling: Adjust and experiment with Target CPA or Target ROAS when you are looking to scale efficiently. By this time, you should have clear targets generated from your launch data. Tighten your integrations and begin generating insights into what campaigns are generating the most revenue.

Maximize Campaign Revenue: Continue with Target ROAS or Maximize Conversion Value when you accurate revenue data and can clearly identify campaign profitability.

Final Thoughts

We encourage you to explore and experiment with the different bid strategies to discover what works. To be honest, there is no one size fits all solution to bid strategies and accounts rarely follow a linear growth pattern. You need to be agile and adapt to market conditions to give yourself the highest chance of success. You can dive deeper into Google bid strategies and unlock the full potential of your campaigns by exploring our comprehensive Google Ads lead generation course.

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