How to choose the right bid strategy for your PPC goals

With so many bid strategy options offered by the popular PPC platforms like Google Ads, its easy to be overwhelmed and unsure which to choose. The options can seem endless; from target CPA and ROAS strategies to Cost per Click or Maximise Conversions strategies as well as many more.

With so many options, how are you supposed to choose the strategy that is right for your campaigns? Well, that depends on your goals.

We’ll take a look at the most common types of bid strategy and when you should be using them.

What is a Bid Strategy?

Essentially, bid strategies control the way you compete in the ad auction and there are two main categories; manual and automated bidding. Each works differently to display ads for relevant searches and both have their advantages and drawbacks, some of which we’ll look at below.

Manual Bidding

Manual bidding is a bidding method that lets you set your own maximum cost per click (CPC) for your ads. This gives you more control as you can set the maximum amount that you could pay for each click on your ads.

With manual bidding, the maximum CPC set is used by Google when determining whether your ads appear in search results; if your bid is too low to compete, your ads won’t be shown. This means that manual CPC bidding requires a lot of time to optimise keyword bids to ensure your ads are appearing for relevant searches.

Automated Bidding

Automated bid strategies look for ad auctions that are more likely to lead to you hitting your KPI. With automated bidding, your keyword bids are altered by Google, using their advanced machine learning and algorithms, when the desired outcome is more likely.

Whilst it may seem daunting handing over control to Google algorithms, automated bid strategies save lots of account management time and advanced AI means that great results can be achieved.

Interested in machine learning? Learn 5 other ways machine learning and AI can improve your PPC campaign performance.

What are your campaign goals?

Before deciding which strategy to use, it’s important to consider what you want to achieve from your campaigns:

  • Conversions: If you want people to take a specific action on your site, like making a purchase or completing a form, your main campaign goal would be to drive conversions.
  • Clicks: If you want to drive traffic to your site, your campaign goal would be to generate clicks through from your PPC ads.
  • Impressions: If you want to increase brand awareness and are less focused on driving traffic, your campaign goal would be to maximise impressions and visibility of ads.

Which Bid Strategy Should I Choose?

Whether your focus is on getting clicks, impressions or conversions, there are bid strategies to help achieve your goals. Let’s take a look at 7 different strategies, how they work and the types of campaigns they’re most effective for.

#1 Enhanced Cost per Click

Campaign goal: Clicks & Conversions

Generate more conversions from your clicks with the enhanced cost per click, or ECPC, bid strategy. ECPC works by increasing keyword bids for clicks that seem more likely to result in a conversion and lowering your bids for clicks that seem less likely to convert.

Good to know: You can set a cap on bids when using ECPC to control the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for each click.

#2 Maximise Clicks

Campaign goal: Clicks

Maximise Clicks aims to deliver as many clicks as possible within your budget by automatically setting bids using machine learning and algorithms. Again, you can set a maximum CPC limit to control spend.

#3 Maximise Conversions

Campaign goal: Conversions

Maximise Conversions aims to deliver as many conversions as possible within your budget by automatically setting bids using machine learning and algorithms.

Google Ads uses historical campaign information and evaluates contextual signals present at auction time to find an optimal bid each time your ad is eligible to appear, in order to get the most conversions.

#4 Target CPA (cost per acquisition)

Campaign goal: Conversions

With the Target CPA bid strategy, Google Ads aims to get as many conversions as possible at the target cost per acquisition (CPA) that you set.

If you have historical conversion data, Google Ads will recommend a target CPA based on your actual CPA performance over the last few weeks. You can choose whether to use the Target CPA recommendation or to set your own.

#5 Target ROAS (return on ad spend)

Campaign goal: Conversions

With the Target ROAS bid strategy, Google Ads aims to get as much conversion value as possible at the return on ad spend target you set, by optimising bids to generate higher value conversions.

To be eligible to use Target ROAS bidding, most campaign types will need at least 20 conversions in the past 45 days, but for optimal results, it’s recommended to have at least 50 conversions in the past 30 days.

Good to know: Some conversions may have a higher or lower return than your target, but Google Ads will aim to meet your ROAS target overall.

#6 Target Search Page Location

Campaign goal: Brand Awareness / Impressions

Bids are automatically raised or lowered by Google Ads to show your ad at the top of the search results page or on the first page of search results to maximise the visibility of your ads.

Whilst the main goal isn’t to generate traffic, it’s likely that you’ll get more clicks from your ads when they’re appearing in the top positions. Because of this, you should also expect to see an increase in cost.

#7 Target Outranking Share

Campaign goal: Brand Awareness / Impressions

If you notice a competitor’s ads always seem to display in a higher position than your own, this strategy can help overcome the issue. Bids are automatically raised or lowered by Google Ads to help your ads outrank ads from another domain.

Good to know: You can only target one domain to outrank with each bid strategy.

Let’s Recap

Hopefully, you now know which bid strategies to use to meet your PPC goals, how they work and what you can achieve by implementing them.

Try Maximise Conversions, Target CPA or Target ROAS if your goal is to generate conversions. The Maximise Clicks and Enhanced CPC strategies work well for campaigns where the focus is to drive traffic. If maximising visibility is your aim, then Target Search Page Location or Target Outranking Share are your best bets.

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