How To Make Sure Your Agency Is Running Your Facebook Ad Campaigns For Success

It’s never been easier for brands to pay to get advertising messages out on Facebook (or any other online platform). Facebook ad campaigns are simple to set up, relatively inexpensive and increasingly user-friendly.

The good news here is that pretty much anyone can manage a Facebook ad campaign. The bad news is that pretty much every marketing agency will say they can manage your brand’s Facebook campaigns. But just because someone can launch a campaign on Facebook, doesn’t mean they can run it well.

I’ve seen this play out plenty of times. At Mindstream Media Group, we’ve had multiple brand partners come to us with concerns about their Facebook campaigns run by other agencies. One of the common issues we run into is that brands aren’t sure of exactly what to look for to find out if their campaigns are set up correctly.

To help you make sure your Facebook ad campaigns are set up for success, we put together the questions below for you to consider as you audit your account. Ideally, the answer to each question will be a resounding “yes.” If you find yourself answering “no” too often, it may be time to change up your strategy (or the people running it).

Related content – Three Sure-fire Reasons Why Multi-unit Brands Need Facebook Advertising

Facebook ad campaign strategy

Does your agency have a clearly-defined strategy?

Think about the results you want your Facebook campaigns to achieve. Do you want to build awareness, drive consideration, generate leads? Whatever you’re looking to accomplish, make sure your ads align with your business goals and advertising objectives.

To illustrate this point, here are a few advertising objectives matched with Facebook ad types or settings that help accomplish them.

Facebook ad campaign strategy

Whatever you have in mind, make sure your agency understands your goals and has a clearly defined strategy to achieve the right results.

Are you using ad scheduling?

With Facebook ad campaigns, you can optimize the timing of your ads based on your audience’s behavior or business operations. Optimizing your schedule will help prevent you from wasting money by serving ads when your target audiences won’t see them or when you’re closed.

Facebook ad scheduling

Have you optimized for ad frequency?

Finding the right ad frequency (i.e., the number of times a Facebook user sees your ad) is a delicate balancing act. You want users to see your ads enough times to become aware of your brand and interact with the message, but not so much that ad fatigue sets in. This is critical because if engagement goes down, so can your ad relevancy score which means your costs will increase.

Facebook ad campaigns – targeting settings

Are you using location targeting?

This is an especially important targeting setting for multi-location brands and small businesses. If your brand mainly serves consumers near one of your locations, you don’t want to waste money serving ads outside your target markets.

Also, make sure your agency appreciates the difference between “People who live in this location” vs. “People recently in this location.” If you’re trying to only reach homeowners, using the latter setting might be a waste of money.

Targeting different users by geo-location with Facebook ads

Are your Facebook ad campaigns segmented by audience type?

Within your account, you can run different Facebook ad campaigns targeted towards different audiences and based on different goals. Make sure your agency is segmenting these campaigns properly so your different audiences only receive ads with messaging geared for them.

For example, here are two audiences you’ll want to segment into different campaigns:

Are you using Custom Audiences from customer lists?

One type of audience we didn’t mention above is existing customers. If you’re looking to use Facebook ad campaigns to drive repeat sales, make sure your agency is uploading your existing customer lists. Creating segmented campaigns and ad sets that target these customers is important because you want to make sure they’re seeing ads geared for them.

These Custom Audience lists will also help you build lookalike audiences, which brings us to our next question…

Are you using Lookalike Audiences?

Lookalike Audiences are an effective way to reach users who are likely interested in your business because they are similar to your existing customers. And, if you’re already using Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences are easy to set up. Simply upload your Custom Audience list and select the Lookalike audience setting in Facebook’s ad center.

An important setting on Lookalike Audiences is the audience size range (see graphic below). For lead generation campaigns, you typically want this setting to be very low; for prospecting campaigns, you may want to open it up a little bit.

Facebook Lookalike Audiences – Audience Size Setting

Are you using audience suppression?

Audience suppression allows you to exclude specific Facebook users from seeing your ads. When used correctly and ethically, this tactic is an effective way to make sure you’re only serving ads to the most relevant users. Here are just a few ways you should be using audience suppression in your Facebook ad campaigns:

  • Suppressing existing customers in new customer acquisition campaigns
  • Suppressing prospecting audiences in retargeting campaigns and vice-versa
  • Suppressing Facebook users that aren’t likely to take profitable actions on your ads (e.g., your employees or consumers outside your target markets)

Facebook ad creative

Are your campaigns using the right ad formats for your business goals?

Facebook offers a variety of different ad formats you can use. You just need to choose the right formats for your business goals and advertising objectives. Here’s a quick overview of a few of the more popular Facebook ad formats to help you decide if you’re running the right ads:

Facebook ad campaigns – choosing the right ad creative - v2

Also, make sure your ads display properly on all devices, especially if they’re running on Instagram! Ads built for the Facebook News Feed can show very differently on Instagram and may improperly represent your brand or the substance and intent of your original ad creative.

Are you running video ads?

On Facebook and all over the internet, consumers are watching more video every year. Cisco predicts that by 2020, more than 75 percent of mobile data traffic will be from video.

According to Facebook’s research, users are drawn to mobile video on Facebook and Instagram because it connects them to a community, offers relevant content and makes them feel excited and engaged. If your brand is advertising on Facebook, give consumers the content they want by creating video ads featuring your products and services.

Do you regularly rotate out your ad creative?

While it may take multiple instances of seeing your ad for a consumer to take action, seeing the same message too many times can be offputting. To make sure you’re exposing audiences to fresh messaging, find out if your agency is rotating your ad creative on a regular basis. Also, find out how many ads you have in your rotation.

Do your ads have high relevancy scores?

Facebook grades the relevancy of your ads on a 1-10 scale based on how audiences respond to your ads. When audiences take positive actions like watching a video or completing a conversion, your score increases. The higher your score, the less you have to pay to serve ads.

On the flip side of that coin, lower scores could mean higher costs. If your campaigns are running ads with scores under five, you may be losing out on inventory and paying too much to deliver your ads.

Facebook Ad Campaigns – Relevancy Scores

Do you have a creative testing strategy?

Finding the best messages to engage your target audience can be demanding. You need to test various images and video, ad copy and calls-to-action to find the right combination of components that inspire people to take action.

Find out what strategy your agency uses to test your creative. If they haven’t come up with a plan, it may be time to find a partner who can.

Measuring performance

Is your agency able to match revenue and actual sales data to your campaigns?

Vanity metrics like clicks and video views can be insightful for brand awareness campaigns. But, if your goal is to generate leads and drive sales, your agency needs to be able to track bottom-of-the-funnel conversions properly.

At the most basic level, this means being able to track post conversion activity and actual sales data. Going a step further, it means being able to track which campaigns, ads and tactics drove the most profitable conversions to optimize your efforts in the future. Make sure to ask your agency if they have a process in place to match back this data.

Have you set up appropriate conversion windows?

Facebook’s Ad Manager is able to attribute actions that users take away from one of your ads (e.g., making a purchase on your website), even if that action didn’t happen right away. This is a valuable way to track your ads’ impact on future and indirect sales.

By default, Facebook attributes these actions to an ad for one day after it’s viewed and 28 days after an ad is clicked. To find out which settings work best for your campaigns and advertising objectives, answer a few questions like:

  • Is this consistent with the conversion windows from other channels in your overall marketing strategy?
  • Does it make sense to count a view-based conversion for your business goals or campaign objectives?

So, how did you do? If you found yourself answering “No” to too many of the questions above, call in the pros at Mindstream Media Group. One of our social media advertising specialists would be happy to look under the hood and provide recommendations to amplify your Facebook ad campaigns.

3 Sure-fire Reasons Why Multi-unit Brands Need Facebook Advertising

The takeaway: Facebook advertising campaigns offer multi-location brands plenty of opportunities to reach the right local customers. If you’re not currently advertising on Facebook, read this post to find out what you’re missing.

According to the company’s internal data, Facebook has more than 2.3 billion monthly active users. I think we can all agree, that’s a lot of people. But if you’re a multi-location brand marketer who is decidedly underwhelmed by that figure, then this article is for you.

Multi-location businesses like restaurants, retail stores and healthcare brands don’t need massive audiences. Your marketing efforts (and dollars) are best spent on campaigns geared toward hyper-targeted audiences – i.e., consumers who are both interested in your products and near one of your locations.

But that doesn’t mean Facebook advertising campaigns aren’t right for multi-location brands. As globally popular as Facebook is, it’s still very effective at reaching specific audiences and driving conversions at the local level – when it’s done right. To prove this point, here are three reasons why advertising on Facebook is an excellent choice for multi-location brands.

No. 1: Facebook advertising offers sophisticated location targeting

Facebook advertising campaigns make it easy for multi-location brands to target local audiences for hundreds or thousands of different markets. With Facebook’s location targeting, you can hone in on users by country, state, city, ZIP code and more. You can also upload locations to target in bulk, which is especially handy for multi-location brands.

Facebook advertising – location targeting options

On top of that location targeting, you can also target different types of local consumers based on their behavior (e.g., whether they live in your designated areas or are just visiting). Here are the settings available in Facebook advertising campaigns to target different users based on their location.

Targeting different users by geo-location with Facebook ads

No. 2: Facebook advertising drives local leads

It’s not just the targeting options that make Facebook advertising campaigns a valuable tool for multi-location brands. Facebook offers several ad types and objectives designed to reach nearby consumers and drive local leads.

Here’s an example of an ad type you can use to drive local leads for your multi-location brand:

Facebook Offer Ads

Facebook Offer Ads help multi-location brands and local businesses drive both online and offline sales by promoting special offers to target audiences. Consumers can claim these promotions with a click of a button and redeem the offer in a variety of ways:

  • Bookmark the offer on Facebook
  • Receive an email copy of the offer
  • Get notified when they’re near one of your locations or when the offer is about to expire

Here’s an example of this ad type at work for a multi-location brand we work with. Recently, we implemented Facebook offer ads for GoWireless – a Verizon Wireless authorized retailer with more than 700 stores across the United States.

The results were impressive. During the two-month campaign, the campaign led to more than 45,000 offers claimed and reduced cost per in-store sale (CPIS) figures by 65 percent compared to standard Facebook link ads.

Using Facebook offer ads to drive in-store sales

Related Case Study – How Mindstream Used Facebook Offer Ads to Boost In-store Sales for GoWireless

No. 3: A decline in organic reach is driving brands to Facebook advertising

In 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a major update to the platform’s mandate.

“The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook Post. “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media.”

Translation: More posts from friends and families (because who doesn’t want to know more about your uncle’s thoughts on politics, right?) and less content from businesses and publishers.

We wrote about this update to Facebook’s News Feed at the time and the trend continues. This drop in organic reach means brands and publishers need to go beyond organic social posts to reach Facebook users – i.e., paying to promote content (almost makes you wonder if there was an ulterior motive behind Facebook’s decision).

While ad spending on the platform has plateaued, brands are still dishing out plenty of dollars to reach Facebook users. Which means that even if you’re not currently advertising on Facebook, chances are your competitors are.

Facebook advertising revenue in the United States

Facebook advertising revenue in the United States

So, if you don’t have any Facebook advertising campaigns running, you have some catching up to do. If you’re interested in bridging that gap, contact Mindstream Media Group and we can help you put together a Facebook advertising strategy that will drive local leads for your brand.

If you’re already advertising on Facebook, we can also help you improve your existing campaigns. Contact us today to find out more, or check out our next post on how to audit your Facebook ad campaigns.

How to Crush the Local SEO Game with Optimized Location Pages

For multi-location brands, location pages are a fundamental component of a comprehensive local SEO strategy. These pages serve as vehicles to help local consumers find the information they need to contact your business and make a purchase. To make sure your location pages are up to the task, you need to optimize both the on-page content and behind-the-scenes technical components to make each page easy for visitors to use and search engines to understand.

Local SEO tips - optimized location pagesWhy you need to optimize your location pages

When local consumers need to purchase products and services from nearby businesses, they turn to search. Almost 80 percent of holiday shoppers in the United States turned to online search prior to shopping at a physical store. And this isn’t just a seasonal trend, shoppers rely on search year-round to help them learn about products and services they want to buy and find the businesses they want to purchase from. In fact, almost half of all Google searches have local intent.

Optimizing your brand’s location pages helps increase your visibility in these searches by improving your rankings in both local map pack and organic results.

Local Map Pack Results and Organic Search Results

But, optimizing these pages isn’t easy. Google is constantly updating its algorithm, meaning the local SEO strategy you employed yesterday could be obsolete today.

With that in mind, we’ve provided some updated local SEO best practices to help your brand create and optimize webpages for each of your locations. In this post, we’ll cover:

  • Best practices for the content on your location pages
  • Technical SEO best practices for your location pages
  • External SEO factors impacting your location pages

Note: we’re focusing on local SEO tips, but overall SEO best practices like mobile friendliness, site speed, etc. still apply to location pages.

Local SEO best practices for location pages – optimizing content for consumers

No. 1: Create in-depth content

To fully optimize your location pages, it’s important to populate them with in-depth content that’s unique, relevant to potential customers and easy to navigate. Keep reading for a few tips to help you build out that content.

Average word count on top ranking landing pages

No. 2: Include up-to-date NAP data on your location pages

Make sure consumers can find you by providing the location’s NAP data:

  • N – Business name
  • A – Location’s address
  • P – Location’s phone number

Importance of providing NAP data on location pages

For extra credit, embedding a Google map with the location’s geo-positioning can help improve search engine rankings and help users find your store. According to a recent study, 17 percent of top-ranking local pages have embedded a Google map on their landing page.

No. 3: List your hours of operation

Driving to a business to find out it’s closed isn’t a great consumer experience. Make sure that doesn’t happen by letting consumers know when you’re open by adding business hours to your location pages and updating them for any seasonal changes. 

No. 4: Add images and videos

Adding relevant photos and videos can do wonders for location pages. Photos and video help improve search engine rankings (especially if you include alt tags to describe the images to search engines), and they enhance the user experience by providing consumers visual inspiration to buy your products and services.

Importance of adding images to location pages

No. 5: Add product and service descriptions

You don’t necessarily need a specific product or service page for each location, but you definitely need to make sure consumers know what you sell. You can use your location pages to feature and describe specific items or product and service categories (ideally accompanied by images and/or videos).

No. 6: Guide consumers to conversion

Ideally, visitors to your location pages shouldn’t have any trouble figuring out how to convert. Include strong calls-to-action to encourage consumers to complete specific actions like calling your business, getting directions to your location, requesting a quote, etc.

Going beyond telling visitors how to convert, you should also make sure the content is easy to navigate. All other elements being equal, pages that have key information organized in a logical and intuitive fashion are more likely to earn conversions.

Technical SEO best practices – optimizing for search engines

No. 7: Make your location pages easy to understand

Crushing the local SEO game takes more than just creating in-depth content, you need to make sure search engines know what that content means. Don’t get me wrong, search engines love content. But if search engines can’t figure out what a page is about, they can’t determine if it will help a searcher answer a specific question.

Luckily, there are ways you can help search engines crawl, index and understand webpages. Before we dive into what those are, let’s first dissect what we mean by each of those actions:

Website crawls

To determine which sites go in their results, search engines start by crawling a list of web addresses from previous crawls and from sitemaps provided by webmasters.

According to Google, as “crawlers visit these websites, they use links on those sites to discover other pages. The software pays special attention to new sites, changes to existing sites and dead links.”

Website indexing

For webpages to end up in search results, search engines need to find them during one of their crawls. From there, they index each page based on its content. Again, let’s turn to Google for some additional detail:

We take note of key signals — from keywords to website freshness — and we keep track of it all in the Search index. The Google Search index contains hundreds of billions of webpages and is well over 100,000,000 gigabytes in size. It’s like the index in the back of a book — with an entry for every word seen on every webpage we index. When we index a webpage, we add it to the entries for all of the words it contains.

Reading a webpage

Search engines are getting more intelligent by the day. But, they’re not sentient just yet. This means that even if they can read text and numbers on a webpage, they might not know what they’re reading. For example, look at the following sequence of numbers:

800 555 1234

Most of us humans would see these 10 digits with that grouping and intuitively understand it’s a phone number. A search engine, however, might not. To make sure search engines can understand important information like this on your location pages, make sure to include the following technical SEO elements.

No. 8: Optimize your title tags

Title tags act as just that for your page – a title. Use these tags to provide visitors and search engines a concise description of your location pages including the name of the business, the geo-location of the store and the main service and/or product.

Importance of including location in title tag

No. 9: Don’t forget about meta descriptions

Meta descriptions haven’t directly impacted search rankings for some time. However, search engines often show descriptions in the preview snippets for organic search results, so it’s important that this copy entices users to click through to your site.

No. 10: Optimize your URL structure

The way you structure the URL of a webpage can have a significant impact on local search engine rankings. For location pages, the best practice is to use the parent domain ( along with the location page (

No. 11: Add header tags

Header tags are like secondary titles that help organize a webpage’s content and help communicate the main topics of the page to search engines and users. H1 tags should be placed as close to the top of the page as possible and should include geo-modifiers and targeted keyword phrases.

No. 12: Leverage the power of Schema Markup

Schema Markup is a shared semantic vocabulary of tags (or microdata) that you can add to the HTML of your location pages to help search engines read and understand web content. These tags allow search engine crawlers to identify text as essential local business information like:

  • Local business type
  • Address
  • Areas served
  • Reviews and aggregate ratings
  • Business hours
  • Product details

Importance of adding Schema Markup to location pages

External local SEO factors

No. 13: Optimize your local SEO citations

Local citations are any mention of your business locations on the web. These mentions could be any combination of your company name, phone number, address, zip or postal code and website address. Citation Signals (consistency, volume, etc.) were the fifth most important ranking factor for both local map and localized organic results, according to Moz’s 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors.

There are two main forms of citations:

Structured Citations (i.e., local listings)

Your business information (NAP) on a business listing directory. Example sites for structured citations include:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • MapQuest
Unstructured Citations

Your business information (NAP) on any other site that’s not specifically a business listing directory. Common examples where you’ll find unstructured citations are blogs, magazine/newspaper sites, wikis, etc.

No. 14: Monitor and manage your reviews

Having a stable of positive reviews can significantly impact your brand’s local SEO performance. Review signals (quantity, velocity, diversity, etc.) were the third most important factor for local map pack rankings and the seventh most important for organic local rankings, according to Moz.

Make sure your brand is monitoring and replying to reviews across locations. You should also encourage customers to leave positive reviews.

Related: The Importance of a Strong Online Presence for Local Brands

No. 15: Add high-quality backlinks

Backlinks are links coming into your website. Incoming links to a website are considered to be one of the most significant ranking factors in Google’s search algorithm (if not the most important) because they represent a vote of confidence from one site to another. And, the higher quality domains linking to you, the more valuable the link. According to Moz’s 2018 local SEO ranking factors, link signals were the top ranking factor in localized organic results and the second most important factor in local map pack results.

Number of backlinks to top ranking location pages

Download our free infographic for a helpful resource to reference when optimizing your location pages

How to create optimized location pages that dominate local search results

This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated with new information and tips to help your brand connect with local consumers.

Want to crush the local SEO game for your brand? Contact Mindstream Media Group to learn how we can amplify your brand’s presence in local search results.

[APRIL 2019] What Multi-Location Brands Need to Know About Google’s March 2019 Core Update

It’s been just over a month since Google released a core algorithm update that sent shockwaves through the search engine optimization (SEO) industry. Originally dubbed “Florida 2.0” by speculators, Google promptly renamed it the March 2019 Core Update (ostensibly to make it easier for everyone to grasp).

Um… Thanks, Google?

Let’s be honest, Google’s clarification on the update’s nomenclature didn’t really provide much in the way of actionable insights for brand marketers. So, to help clear things up, let’s look at how the March 2019 Core Update has impacted a specific type of business – multi-location brands.

Three takeaways for multi-location brands from the March 2019 Core Update

No. 1: Site engagement is a lot more important now

Every Google algorithm update has its share of winners and losers. To the victors go the spoils of increased search visibility, which inevitably leads to more site traffic. With the March 2019 Core Update, the winners appear to be websites with better engagement metrics like time on site, pages per visit and bounce rate.

March 2019 Core Update Winners and Losers - Site Engagment

What you can do

Multi-location brands should work to optimize webpages across their sites – especially location pages. Provide all the information potential customers could need about your brand’s products, services and locations. Make sure your location pages include up-to-date hours of operation, contact information and links to get directions.

No. 2: Understanding user intent just became a lot more crucial

Optimizing your site with all the information a consumer could need is important. But it’s also important to take it up a notch by optimizing your site for user intent, especially post-March 2019 Core Update. This means making sure that the content on your site addresses specific queries searchers use to find answers related to your brand.

What you can do

Start by analyzing the searches you want your site to rank well for and determining the intent and expectation behind each one. Then, make sure the content on your webpages matches those expectations.

Navigational searches: Queries where the searcher is trying to contact or visit nearby businesses. Increasing visibility in these searches is crucial for multi-location brands. To make sure your content matches searcher intent:

  • Optimize your location and other pages with all the information a potential consumer could need.
  • Add links so searchers can easily get directions to your locations.
  • Add click-to-call buttons and other calls-to-action to make it easy for searchers to contact you.

Informational searches: Queries where the searcher is looking for additional information about the products and services they’re interested in buying. Here are a couple of things you can do to make sure your site adequately answers these types of searches:

  • Create and optimize in-depth product and service pages.
  • Add images and video to provide searchers a visual representation of your products and services.

Transactional searches: These types of queries signal that a consumer is ready to make a purchase. To optimize for transactional searches, make sure your site provides a seamless path to purchase. (If your website doesn’t have a way for consumers to buy online, go back to the navigational optimization tips to make sure they can easily contact one of your locations.)

If you need help optimizing your website to improve your search visibility and attract more visitors, contact us to learn more about our SEO services.

The trustworthiness of your brand is still essential for search visibility

Another winner of the March 2019 Core Update appears to be sites with strong brand profiles that focus on broad topics. Which means the losers here are smaller, niche sites focused on sub-topics. Based on this trend, Google seems to be favoring sites that adhere to the Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) guidelines that were central to a previous core update

What you can do

Building consumer trust in your brand involves a lot of different efforts, some of which we already touched on – like creating website content that matches searchers’ expectations. The goal of these efforts should be to position your brand as the go-to resource on topics related to your products and services.

One way to do this is to create a wealth of high-quality content around all the topics related to your brand. Don’t settle with just creating product and service pages for your website. Instead, own related topics by creating a library of content like blog posts, e-books, videos, podcasts, infographics, etc. for each of your products and services.

If you need help creating this content, contact us to learn more about our Content Marketing solution.

A closing thought on Google’s March 2019 Core Update

While the tips above will help your website’s visibility post-March 2019 Core Update, there’s so much more you can and should do. Given that Google relies on hundreds of ranking factors and has a variety of types of search results, improving your brand’s overall visibility requires a comprehensive search marketing strategy that encompasses a variety of paid and organic efforts. If you want to learn more about what it takes to crush the search game, contact Mindstream Media Group to talk to one of our local search, SEO or paid search experts.

Manual vs. Automated Bidding Strategies – Which is Best for Your Google Ads Campaigns?

When it comes to advertisers, Google is eager to please. The search engine truly does want to help you market your business in every possible way and streamline those efforts as much as possible, which is why Google has developed automated bidding strategies to help you manage your paid search ad campaigns.

Google touts automated bidding as an excellent solution for advertisers who want “to save time managing bids based on hundreds of signals.”

According to Google:

Automated bidding takes the heavy lifting and guesswork out of setting bids to meet your performance goals. Each type of automated bid strategy is designed to help you achieve a specific goal for your business.

These bidding strategies can help your brand achieve goals like:

Increase site visits

Using the Maximize Clicks setting will automatically optimize your bids to help drive as many clicks to your ads as possible within your budget.

Increase visibility

The Target Impression Share setting will automatically set your bids to show your ads “on the absolute top of the page, on the top of the page or anywhere on the page of Google search results.”

Get more conversions with your cost per acquisition (CPA)

The Target CPA setting can optimize both Search and Display campaigns to drive conversions at your desired CPA target.

Increase conversions while staying in control of your keyword bids

Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC) automatically adjusts your manual bids to help you get more conversions at your desired CPA.

Meet target return on ad spend (ROAS) for different conversions

Ad campaigns often have various conversions that have different values for your brand. The Target ROAS automated bidding strategy helps you drive conversions based on their value while staying within your ROAS goals.

The value of these automated bidding strategies

Each of the strategies above may focus on one particular result, but they have a common goal – to help campaigns reach their overall maximum potential in a way that saves time for those managing the campaigns.

The way automated bidding strategies work is by driving the most potential from your keywords at a set maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid – the amount you are willing to spend to appear for a given search term.

You may notice that after you “flip the switch” to enable one of these strategies, your keyword-level maximum bids drop to the lowest that they can go – which in most cases is $.01. Then, your bids will slowly adjust/raise each day to see how the auctions bear out for your campaign.

What’s happening is the algorithm is trying to learn to the best possible performance at any given cost. It’s enacting the theory that if the tide rises then all ships must rise with it. It usually takes about five days for the algorithm to get fully up to speed. While this is happening, the Google Ads platform will tell you how many days are left within the little talk bubble above “eligible.”

Google AdWords-Automated Bidding Strategies-Learning


The problem with automated bidding strategies

One of the most significant issues with automated bidding strategies is that bids will keep rising if you don’t set a ceiling. Meaning you could end up paying $40 a click for a term that would probably net a $10 click if you used the good ole fashion “manual CPC” model. If this were poker, you would be betting on every hand and raising every time. Sure, you might win a few pots, but it’s going to cost you big time in the long run.

Don’t get me wrong; automated bidding strategies are a solid temporary solution if you need to jump-start a campaign and don’t have a lot of spare time to manage bids manually. But, a more hands-on approach can save you a lot of money in the long run by finding more ideal bid limits for your campaigns.

You might be saying “This sounds great, but I have a business to run.”

I get it – you want to do manual CPC but don’t have the time to do the calculations. To help you out, here’s a quick primer on getting started with manual bidding strategies. And, if you need additional help, you can always reach out to Mindstream Media Group to have one of our paid search experts take a look at your campaigns.

Related: 17 Questions to Ask When You Think it’s Time to Hire a New Paid Search Agency

Manual bidding – another way to manage Google Ads campaigns

Google tried to make it as easy as possible for you to take control of your Ads account and optimize bids for specific keywords and ad groups. In the Ads dashboard, clicking on the button below will open up a handy-dandy little chart that tells you what you would get with each CPC increase. To find this chart, head to your Google Ads dashboard and click the chart icon directly to the right of the ad group or keyword.

Google AdWords-Setting manual CPC bidding

When you click on this icon, a bid simulator will open up that looks like this:

Google Ads -Keyword Bid Simulator

Now you will see what bid levels will drive performance. In the example above, the keyword will net an estimated 15 impressions at the current maximum CPC. (Depending on the situation and bid, you can see the estimated number of clicks, conversions and impressions.) To find out how increasing your bid will impact performance, click on a higher CPC and watch the impressions grow and the traffic flow.

Manual vs. automated bidding: which is better?

All in all, automated bidding is a temporary solution that delivers mixed results. If you are running a smaller account with only a few campaigns, go for it. But, in the long run, manual bidding is the best long-term solution for most business accounts.

There are, however, a few situations where automated bidding strategies make the most sense. For example, automated bidding rules are a great way to manage efficiencies within your Ads accounts. You can use automated controls to monitor a keyword’s impressions compared to its CTR and conversions. If the CTR and conversions are too low, you can set an alert that will notify you to go in and take a closer look. If you think the keyword is underperforming, you can then manually pause it. This tactic is helpful if you have a large paid search account and need to focus on top-performing terms.

So, while manual bidding is more likely to be the way to go, there are instances where it’s worth employing automated bidding strategies. It takes time to know when to use which bidding strategy, but there are so many more ways to manage your account than just flipping a switch and hoping for better results. If you are unsure which method is best for your Google Ads campaigns, you should consult an experienced paid search agency to find the strategy that works best for your business.

This post was originally published in April 2018; it has been updated with new information to help you find the best bidding strategy for your Google Ads campaigns. 

Do you want to learn more about finding the best manual or automated bidding strategies for your Google Ads campaigns? Mindstream Media Group is a Google Premier Partner. Contact us to find out how we can help improve your paid search campaigns.

17 Questions to Ask When You Think it’s Time to Hire a New Paid Search Agency

Ever get a funny feeling that your brand’s Google Ads campaigns or other paid search campaigns could be better? Maybe you’ve been with the same paid search agency for a long time and performance has dropped as the agency has grown complacent. Or, maybe you’re regretting going with that agency who promised the same results and service as the other five agencies you vetted but at a much lower price point. Or, maybe your campaigns are doing just fine, chugging along with decent enough results to stay off the radar even though you know they could be performing better.

Whatever your reasons are, it’s a good idea to regularly review your search campaigns and the agency or agencies running them. To help pinpoint what to look for, we put together this list of 17 questions to ask yourself to find out if now is the time for that review.

See also: [Infographic]: 17 Questions to Ask to Help Decide if Now is the Right Time for That Review

The questions are broken down into four subjects – account management, campaign structure, partnerships and performance reporting – so feel free to skip ahead if you’ve had specific pain points.

Account management

Need a new paid search agency-Account Management

Building successful paid search campaigns starts at the top with high-quality client service and communication. If you think your current agency’s account management is lacking, ask yourself the six questions below to know for sure.

No. 1: How big is the paid search or paid media team running your account?

It’s the agency’s responsibility to appropriately staff your account with the right number and blend of team members. Too few team members and you run the risk of things falling through the cracks and mistakes being made. Too many team members and you’ll end up paying a higher management fee (or your account will become unprofitable for the agency, which means the relationship is probably doomed anyway).

There are a variety of factors that determine how many people an agency will need to appropriately run an account. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula to spit out the right number. The important thing is to make sure your agency has figured out that number for your account and is able to explain the logic behind it.

No. 2: Do you have one dedicated team member charged with the overall strategy of your campaigns?

Depending on the complexity of your account, it may be necessary to bring in multiple paid search specialists to handle day-to-day operations across campaigns. However, there should always be a senior team member directing the overall strategy to keep the team on the same page. Make sure you know who that person is at your agency and have your account manager bring them in for major strategy meetings and performance reviews.

No. 3: Do you have one dedicated team member in charge of strategies across your digital marketing campaigns?

If your paid search agency is also managing other marketing efforts like social media advertising, display campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO), etc., it’s important that they dedicate one person (usually an account executive/manager or digital strategist) to coordinate with each product team. It’s this person’s job to make sure strategies from across your campaigns align to provide maximum ROI for your brand.

No. 4: Are you in the account finding issues and telling your agency to fix things?

If you’re constantly having to audit your paid search account for basic issues and opportunities to optimize your campaigns, that’s a clear sign your agency isn’t performing as well as they should.

No. 5: Is your agency having constant performance issues and/or not taking responsibility for their mistakes?

To be fair, even the best agencies are bound to make the occasional error throughout the course of the campaign. But, if your agency is making too many mistakes, making a lot of big mistakes or not owning their mistakes when they do make them, it may be time to start looking elsewhere.

No. 6: Is your agency prepared to scale into other channels?

This gets into a much larger debate about the value of hiring an agency that specializes in paid search vs. a full-service agency that can manage a variety of marketing campaigns. The argument for the specialty shop is since that’s their only focus, they know it better than most. However, full-service agencies typically have teams dedicated to specific marketing solutions with account/project management specialists to coordinate.

Going with a full-service agency allows you to scale efforts and align strategies across marketing channels. There’s significant value in having the person managing your Google Ads campaigns sitting a few desks away from the specialist managing your Facebook ads or programmatic display campaigns. (And, even if those team members are in separate offices, internal collaboration is still way smoother than trying to coordinate with other agencies.)

Campaign structure

Determining if you need a new paid search agency - Campaign Structure

How your agency organizes your campaigns is a big factor in determining success. Here are some questions to help you determine if your campaigns are set up for success or haphazardly thrown together.

No. 7: Are branded and non-branded keywords segmented?

When consumers conduct searches that include your brand name, it’s fair to assume your ads will perform a lot better than when someone conducts a general search related to your products and services. To conduct a fair analysis of ad performance and optimize your campaigns accordingly, make sure your agency is segmenting branded and non-branded keywords.

No. 8: Are prospecting and retargeting efforts segmented?

You should also set up separate campaigns for different audience targeting strategies. If you’re targeting consumers based on demographics, geo-location and behaviors (i.e., prospecting) and retargeting visitors to your digital properties, make sure those two audiences are separated in your account.

No. 9: Overall, is your account structured in a way that makes sense?

Structure and hierarchy are crucial for Google Ads accounts. While there’s no single perfect way to structure a Google Ads account, there are a lot of wrong ways. If the answer to either of the questions above is no, or you see any other red flags, then it might be time for a more in-depth audit. If you’re not a paid search expert and you’d like to do additional research on campaign structure, Google provides plenty of resources on Ads best practices for you to double check your agency’s work.

Cheatsheet – here are a few basic Google Ads best practices your agency should be leveraging:
  • The account should be split into separate campaigns anytime different settings are needed (e.g., different budget or location targeting).
  • Campaigns should be organized into ad groups by distinct themes, products, services, etc.
  • Each ad group should include relevant search terms and at least three or four related ads.


How to Optimize Location Pages Blog - Featured Image

Part of the reason top paid search agencies consistently execute successful campaigns is they work with industry-leading partners and leverage the most sophisticated tools available. Ask yourself or your agency the following questions to make sure they work with the best.

No. 10: Is your agency a Google Premier Partner?

Google’s partner program helps connect brands with agencies that have passed Google Ads product certification exams and are up to date with the latest product knowledge. Google has two levels of partners – standard and premier – and partners can specialize in a variety of product areas.

On the Google partner page, you can search for either type of partner and check out each agency’s specializations. For example, if you go to Mindstream Media Group’s partner page, you’ll see agency specializations for Search, Mobile, Shopping and Display Advertising, plus all of our individual certifications.

No. 11: Does your agency use bid management software or do they manage budgets manually?

For more complex paid search accounts like those for decentralized multi-location brands, bidding tools are an absolute must. If you have a large or complicated account, make sure your agency is using bid management software to automate routine tasks, optimize campaigns based on the elements that are driving the most value and scale campaigns strategies across locations.

Related – Automated vs. Manual Ads Bidding

No. 12: Does your agency use a call tracking solution?

Call tracking solutions enable advertisers to record and analyze phone calls from paid search campaigns and other marketing efforts. If one of your business goals is to drive calls, make sure your agency has set up call tracking for your campaigns.

No. 13: Can your paid search agency integrate call tracking with other campaign management tools?

But just having a call tracking solution isn’t enough. To make sure you’re getting the right calls, find out if your agency is using a call tracking solution that integrates with other campaign tools. This integration will allow you to identify the campaigns, ad groups and keywords that are generating the most valuable calls (i.e., the ones that produce sales), along with which efforts aren’t providing value.

Campaign performance reporting

New Paid Search Agency-Campaign Performance Reporting

It’s important that paid search agencies take the time to explain campaign performance and have the ability to provide you 24/7 access to reporting. Ask yourself these questions to make sure your agency’s reporting is up to par.

No. 14: Does your reporting show a holistic picture of all your marketing campaigns?

Whether your current agency just manages your paid search campaigns or multiple marketing efforts, it’s important that they’re able to provide comprehensive performance reporting. If they do manage multiple efforts, their reporting should show the relationship between each to paint a holistic picture of how those campaigns work together to improve performance, increase conversions and drive ROI for your brand.

No. 15: Does your agency’s reporting focus on accurately tracking leads and conversions?

Top-of-the-funnel metrics like impressions and clicks can be a valuable indicator of performance but they don’t really tell you whether a marketing campaign is doing what it’s designed to do – increase conversions and drive sales. If your agency’s performance reporting focuses too much on these types of metrics and not enough on high-intent actions like calls, form submissions and visits, it may be time to ask why.

Accurately reporting bottom-of-the-funnel metrics can be difficult and no agency has a perfect system. But as tracking systems become more sophisticated, it’s important that your paid search agency is dedicated to measuring the key performance indicators that provide the most value to your brand.

No. 16: Does your agency use an attribution model that’s customized to meet the specific needs of your brand and accounts for the entire customer journey?

It’s important that your agency attributes performance to the right marketing effort, campaign, ad group, etc., and is able to understand the unique journey consumers take to become your customers. Rarely do consumers view, engage and interact with a single message from a brand. Often, it’s a multi-step process that helps consumers move through a complex buying journey. It’s important that your agency understands that and is able to deploy customized attribution models that match your business model.

Final question

No. 17: How do you feel about your current paid search agency and campaign performance?

If the answers to many of the questions above seemed like a big swing and a miss, it might be time to review your agency partners. Switching can be complicated, but if you’re having reservations about your current agency, don’t let that stop you from finding out what another agency could do to drive better results for your brand.

See also: Signs Your Agency is Slacking

This post was originally published in April 2018 and has been updated with new information to help your brand analyze the performance of your paid search campaigns.

If you noticed too many red flags, contact Mindstream Media Group today and one of our paid search experts can work with you to take a deep dive into your Google Ads account and identify ways to amplify your campaigns.