Arianne began her talk by cutting right to the chase – automation is here, and everyone working in PPC needs to embrace it. Automation will allow us to get more done, free up time, and enjoy our jobs more! Ultimately, anyone who remains a Luddite will simply get left behind in the Automation Revolution.
What’s In Our Automation Toolkit?
Arianne went on to outline some of the tools that we can use to that we need to automate our work – what she called our “Automation Toolkit”:
- Based on a brief show of hands in the room, very few people are currently using scripts in their accounts. A huge number of scripts are available online for free and can provide some extremely powerful insights and make analysis much easier.
- Arianne mentioned a range of plugins which can make the life of a digital marketer much easier; Supermetrics, ASAP Utilities and Bing Ads Intelligence to name a few. She advocated the use of Bing Ads Intelligence in particular for keyword research and traffic estimation.
- Data Visualisation
- Somewhat surprisingly, the first tool Arianne mentioned was Google Sheets. Though this is not strictly a data visualisation tool, she made the point that it is great in terms of shareability. Supermetrics was mentioned again here for automating a range of reports, alongside Google Data Studio and Microsoft Power BI.
So with our automation toolkit established, Arianne moved onto how we can automate our bidding. She began by mentioning the use of campaign experiments to test a range of smart bidding strategies. While it’s important not just to leave your experiments to run indefinitely, you should also bear in mind that they need time to settle in and will require regular monitoring. At this point she asked for another show of hands for people who were using smart bidding strategies in their campaigns – the number was again surprisingly low, with agencies making up the majority of users.
Alongside bidding strategies, Arianne pulled out a few specific scripts for which make bidding automation much easier:
- Weather based bidding: This script was created by the AdWords developers, and can be a game changing tool for any accounts with performance dependent on the weather.
- Position based bidding: This can be useful for bidding for an optimal position identified for ROI reasons, or potentially for maximising visibility and brand awareness.
- 24 hour bid scheduling: This script allows an account to bypass Adwords’ scheduling limitations and lets bid changes be automated every hour.
With our automated bidding tools established, Arianne moves on to automating analysis via the use of scripts:
- N gram analysis
- The n gram analysis script breaks down thousands of search queries into 1 word, 2 word, 3 word phrases (and so on). This is an extremely powerful means of identifying trends in your search queries, for example queries which regularly convert, and is very useful for providing context for different search terms.
- Landing page selection
- Using scripts to score all the keywords on a webpage based on relevance – particularly useful for improving this aspect of quality score.
- Seasonality & trends
- Breakdown by campaign performance by month, device and more! Excellent for spotting trends.
- Hourly heat maps
- This script will generate your key metrics broken down by hour, providing great insights on performance throughout the day. Use this in conjunction with the 24-hour bidding script to build a highly targeted ad schedule in an extremely efficient way.
- Auction insights
- This script downloads a report from Google and provides feedback on how your auction insights trends have changed over time. This is also useful for measuring how your average cost per click has changed in response to changing competition in the SERPs.
- A/B testing
- This script can split test almost anything in your account, making it a powerful and time saving optimisation tool.
Working on the premise that very few reports are ever fully read, if at all, Arianne recommends spending more time focusing on insights of a report – the ‘why’, rather than the ‘what’. The less time we need to spend pulling the data to put in a report, the more time we can spend on analysis and producing insightful, high quality commentary. The data which is included in the report should always be focused on the metrics which are valuable to the stakeholders of the business. What data they need to see for them to get value out of the report? If you haven’t already, ask them!
So What Do We Do With All Our Extra Time?
While Arianne’s “achievable goal” is to use automation to save time, she says her “ultimate goal” is full automation. And rather than aiming to put us all out of a job, she talked through what she terms “The Magnificent 7” ways we can better use our time:
- Focus more on the client’s business objectives
- How can we turn these objectives into measurable PPC goals with a realistic timeframe?
- Channel strategy
- Spend more time evaluating whether paid search is really the right channel for different clients. Could their budget be put to better use with paid social, or using video campaigns? Taking time to look at the bigger picture could revolutionise a client’s marketing strategy.
- Look beyond last click. What place does AdWords have in the wider marketing mix? Analyse how and why AdWords affects the overall conversion volume to get deeper insights about the success of your campaign performance.
- Which audiences do you already have? Do you need more? How do you get more? How do you best address your customer personas?
- Using your newly built out range of audiences, create audience specific copy! You wouldn’t speak to a 17 year old in the same way as you’d speak to a 65 year old in person, so why would you do it with your ad copy?
- Landing pages
- Take the time to analyse your landing pages. Are they really the most suitable page you could offer users? If not, why not build some better ones!
- Develop new skills
- Have you always wanted to learn to code? Master Google Tag Manager? Broaden your skills, and become the most well rounded marketer you can be.
Ultimately, the aim of a digital marketer should be to add value to their client’s business in the best possible way. It’s clear that automating some aspects of PPC management is the way forward, so if you haven’t already – now’s the time to get on board. Automation is here to stay.