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How long for new firm to ramp up AdWords campaign

     
4:54 pm on Apr 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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We recently switched firms that manages our AdWords campaigns. AdWords is terra incognita for me (trying to get up to speed, but....)

So we had a budget. They have full access to our account and historical data and campaigns etc.

In the first month they only managed to spend to about 65% of budget. In the second month they spent 47% of budget despite being told that if there was good ROAS we would actually be willing to exceed budget. Then in month three they were on track to 70% of budget.

We have terms with great cost per conversion where the cost could triple and still give us excellent return, but several of those terms have notices that they bids are too low to appear on the first page.


So... is this reasonable that it would take three months to ramp up to full spend? In the meantime we're not seeing the sales volume we're used to when our campaigns are up and running at full speed.
5:24 pm on Apr 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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hmmm... it sounds to me that it's already time to switch management firms again... I can't see why a company couldn't find ways to spend your budget IF what your saying is correct. That being that some of your keywords are showing that their bids are to low to be on the first page, and that they have a history of good return. I can see trying to start low and ramp up bids over time to get the best possible CPC for your return, but three months seems a long to me. I've heard of firms going through small bid adjustments over time just to show that something is being done in the account. Then again, I'm not looking at your account either and maybe they have concentrated their efforts elsewhere before looking into bids... still even if they started concentrating on negatives and further keyword research they still shouldn't be neglecting your current CPC for existing keywords... to tell the truth it's actually low hanging fruit and should be one of the first things addressed... which keywords have the best return and what can we do to increase that return even more?...maybe bid adjustments. After that look into Quality scores and ways to improve there...maybe campaign reorganization into relevant Ad Groups with relevant Ad Variations and landing pages. After that more bid adjustments after your Quality Scores have had time to adjust. Then negative keyword research... and the checkoff list goes on depending on what you are already implementing in your account. I guess it's really hard to say for sure without knowing exactly what your current firm has actually accomplished during the first three months... If all they have done is small bid adjustments I would say it's time to move on.
5:35 pm on Apr 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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For context, I'm one department and don't control the contract, just the campaigns for my department, but the situation caught the attention of the people at the top levels and some pretty clear directive was given to the firm. They seem to be responding now.

I can look at the whole change history of course. Mostly it is bid management. I haven't seen any keywords added (pos or neg).

They started with a massive reorganization, essentially deleting existing campaigns, creating all new ones (and vastly reducing the number of campaigns which may be a good thing).

Like I say, I don't know much about AdWords, but if it were an SEO job, I would start by watching the current site, measuring performance, keep it up and running and then start my experiments. I would have expected a similar approach to AdWords.
8:55 pm on Apr 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I agree with Saxman, it does sound as though they're neglecting low hanging fruit.

Are the tracking code snippets installed on the site so they can see the return on ad spend in the AdWords reports?
11:28 am on Apr 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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OR, they are trying to be responsible with your money. They could be trying to find the lowest cost with the highest return. Most of the complaints about adwords accounts is the cost is too high.
1:19 pm on Apr 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Just playing the other side, as toidi says, it is possible to make a campaign more effective without spending all the budget. Been there, done that. But, of course, it does depend upon how good and effective the original campaign was in the first place. So many factors come into play, including seasonal, QS, etc., it's difficult to have a one-size-fits-all in AdWords.
2:40 pm on Apr 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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sorry to disagree guys... but if you are historically showing good return on some specified keywords, and then your production decreases when bids are lowered... it's a fairly easy call to see that you need to increase your ranking by increasing your bids back to where they were especially if G is telling you that your bids aren't high enough for first page rankings. Can we work on improving QS... sure, but it sounds to me as if this client is looking for some immediate results and low hanging fruit is the best way to accomplish this while still making changes to increase QS which will in turn have a positive effect on their end CPC. Also... three months to determine a sweet spot for your CPC to get optimal return, no matter how you cut it, is way to long a period for evaluation. These changes could be determined within 4 weeks time (1 month) or possibly 2 months if they have a lot of keywords (however we are just talking about one department here)... three months is overkill for just bid adjustments and should raise red flags. At the very least, if I were this client, I would question their strategy during our conference calls and ask for a planned course of action before making a decision to move on from them. They should have a plan in place moving forward for a new client, and if they don't... then I'm sorry to say you should cut your losses.
3:22 pm on Apr 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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TheRealSaxman you're right, if it's showing a good return. Efficiency is the point I was trying to make.
3:45 pm on Apr 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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but if you are historically showing good return on some specified keywords, and then your production decreases when bids are lowered


Pretty much. Without giving too many specifics, some of these keywords that Google flags as having bids too low to appear on the first page have costs per conversion on the order of 1% of a the revenue on a sale and less than 1% of lifetime customer value (so including costs and repeat business).

I would question their strategy during our conference calls


This has most definitely happened and by people a lot higher up than me. Having been on the contractor side (but again knowing almost nothing about AdWords) I'm trying to find the right level of patience/impatience.
4:46 pm on Apr 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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have costs per conversion on the order of 1% of a the revenue on a sale and less than 1% of lifetime customer value (so including costs and repeat business).


What's the mechanism by which info like that is being fed to the AdWords managers?

I gotta say, those are enviable stats and yes, there's definitely room for some more aggressive bidding.

------------

It's worth noting that when AdWords says the bids are too low for the first page, you often get on to the first page anyhow. What has the average position been recently for some of the keywords you're wondering about?

For me, one of the priorities for a new account is an intense hunt for negative keywords. If they haven't been doing much about that yet, it's a gap that needs attention.
2:30 am on Apr 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I think this is all getting straightened out. They were actually pretty close with the 25 other accounts. Our fell through the cracks, which given that it is the second largest, led to all the gnashing of teeth. They seem to be getting it on track and have actually been the ones pushing to schedule calls with us now to make sure everything is on track. I think they were a little embarrassed by what happened on our account and are trying to get it back in order.

Also, they have pretty good data to show that a healthy part of our revenue drop was due to a tracking code getting dropped (not their fault). We had a large uptick in revenue attributed to direct and they looked at which landing pages were concerned and one of them was our checkout confirmation page. Obviously, the only way that makes sense to have a sudden surge in revenue attributed to direct on that page (like a big jump from previous months) is because a cookie is getting dropped and the tracking chain is broken.

Also it turns out that some of the data I was missing since they took over (cost data and therefore ROAS) was only affecting my account. Everyone else in their company and mine could see it fine. Nobody knows why, but after a month of not seeing it, it magically appeared during a call with them for reasons none of us could fathom.

As for those stats, that's from a specific phrase that was a standout because of the amazing return and the fact that the bid was too low to be on the front page.

After this very rocky start, I think things are settling down and we're getting on track. So in their defense I'll say they are running fast to make amends and they did take over a huge account not necessarily in terms of spend (though I think most people would consider it a large spend), but in the sense of having 26 (I believe) business units that all operate independently who all have their own websites and marketing teams and so on and they onboarded all of them essentially at once. We just happened to be the ball the got dropped.

I did want some perspective though as AdWords is complete terra incognita to me... or at least it was. The plus side to this is that I've finally rolled up me sleaves and started learning the rudiments.
4:37 am on Apr 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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learning the rudiments


Recommended reading :

- Google's own training for AdWords (also Analytics, while you're at it)

- Recent editions of books by Brad Geddes (our very own Ewhisper) and Perry Marshall.
3:14 pm on Apr 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the suggestions.

Brad's book arrived yesterday.

I did some of Google's AdWords training many years ago, but never really used, have forgotten all of it, and it's no doubt changed a lot.
4:02 pm on Apr 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Brad's got clarity and insight like very few others. Imo, his article list here is required reading for SEMs:
[searchengineland.com...]
12:08 am on Apr 18, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thanks RhinoFish - I'll jot it down for future reference once I've gotten a better handle on the basics from his book.
7:47 pm on Apr 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Brad / eWhisper is great indeed...

I just wish there was more easy-access stuff out there of his that wasn't behind a paywall (or multiple years old!)
 

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