Expert AdWords Bid Strategies for Driving ROI and Building Brand Awareness

Max Braglia - December 31, 2014

As with any ad platform, marketers fail and succeed in AdWords based on the strength of their strategies. Bid strategies in AdWords should begin with your specific needs, goals, and budget. Depending on what your needs are, there are two main bid strategies in AdWords – one that optimizes for ROI and one that optimizes for branding.

In this post, we’ll look at both strategies and some specific bidding tactics that can be deployed with each strategy.

Goal: Optimizing for ROI in AdWords

Optimizing for ROI is extremely important for marketers with strict budget constraints. But this process takes time to perfect – not to mention eagle-eyed focus.

It starts with bidding on a broad set of keywords and gets refined as you divert budget from keywords that are not performing as well to keywords that are bringing in the most revenue. To begin, you must perform keyword research and build your campaigns based upon the assumption that these keywords will drive clicks. This is the data collection period – you are giving yourself enough time to test these keywords in order to see what performs best, usually 3 months.

Once you know which keywords perform the best, it’s time to move budget toward those keywords, and bid aggressively for them. (Please see below.)

Goal: Optimizing for Branded Terms

Of course, not all marketers have to bring in a specific dollar amount per dollar spent. For some, it’s more important to maximize their exposure for specific keyterms. Usually these are branded terms, but they might even include generic keywords that align closely with your brand.

For example, in a branded campaign, you might bid on:

  • Branded terms
  • Branded terms + product names
  • Product names
  • Generic terms specifically aligned with your brand that you want your brand to be associated with. For example, a community college might bid on “continuing education classes.”

AdWords Bidding Tactics for Either Scenario

There are two main bidding tactics to deploy in AdWords – manually managing bids and flexible strategies – that enable you to maximize exposure depending upon your goals. Manually managing your bids gives you greater control, as you’re able to get a feel for what’s happening within the campaign and adjust your bids based upon the users’ actions. Manually managing bids is definitely the way to go in the beginning of your campaign when you’re establishing a benchmark.

Meanwhile, flexible strategies enable you to maximize exposure for various goals, including:

  • Maximizing clicks.
  • Outranking share. (This option helps you to automatically outrank your competitors for any given keyword.)
  • Reaching the top of the page. (This is most important for branded keywords.)

What you do should be largely determined by your purpose – and your budget. Because the use of flexible strategies may drive up your cost-per-click, it’s important to think critically as you deploy them. When running a campaign focused on ROI, you shouldn’t use flexible strategies until after your 3-month benchmarking period when you’ve determined which keywords perform best.

Once you’re employing these strategies, it’s important to continually analyze the data to ensure you’re bidding on keywords that help you reach your strategic goals – no matter what they are.

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