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Automated Rules: The Elephant in the Office

First and foremost, I’d like to acknowledge the elephant in the room. You may not be able to see him, but he’s over there in the corner, trying his best to blend in with the neon green walls in the Smarter Searches office (which is no easy feat!) The elephant to which I am referring is the fact that I, Alison Ross, search engine marketer of approximately five years, is not the biggest dabbler in PPC automation. Yes, you heard me right: PPC automation is not my strongest area of expertise. However, that’s not to say I don’t believe in automation. I have my reasons.

Firstly, if you’re just delving into pay-per-click, automation can be a little intimidating. There are “rules” and you have to know your way around the interface in order to discover where automation lives. There are foreign terms, symbols, frequencies, and a plethora of other details that are involved in automation. So, in my earlier years of PPC management, automation intimidation got the best of me.

Secondly, once I overcame the intimidation factor, I was obsessed with having control over every aspect of my accounts. I didn’t want Google – or other people, for that matter – to be poking around my accounts making changes. If something worked, I wanted the credit for it, and if something didn’t work, I was prepared to take the fall. Even if I initiated the rules in AdWords, I wanted to see the changes take place before my very eyes (I know, I know, control freak!)

After several years of being in this mindset, I finally decided enough was enough. Automated rules obviously existed for a reason, so why should I be above them? If they didn’t work out, I could always remove them. And let me be the first to tell you, I’ve set up quite a few automated rules, and I’ve only had to remove less than a handful, and it had to do with reasons outside of performance.

So, if you’re late to the automated game like I was, here are a few helpful rules that will break the ice. Don’t worry, nothing I list here will be too difficult or overwhelming. Baby steps!

#1 – Increase Your CPC Bids

This is the first rule I experimented with. It’s simple, it makes sense, and it’s necessary to remain competitive on Google. In this automated rule, Adwords reviews the account’s active keywords and increases bids wherever needed. For example, I set up a rule a couple of months back that was extremely beneficial to the account. Since there were so many keywords in the account, I was having a hard time making sure all of the keywords were on the first page. Therefore, I created a rule to “Raise bids to first page CPC” using data from the previous day, with the requirements that the first-page bid wasn’t over $10. Since then, over 400 changes have been made without having to touch a thing. Perfect!

#2 – Pause Underperforming Keywords

The reason for this rule is to review and deactivate keywords that aren’t helping your account. Different PPC managers have various acceptable timeframes for knowing when to pause a keyword, but I like to use the 90-day maturity rule. For my account, it made sense to create the rule “Pause keywords under 1% CTR”, running the rule monthly, using data from the 90-day maturity phase I referred to above. I can’t tell you how much time this saves when it comes to auditing!

#3 – Send E-mail for Ads

There are many different reasons you could use this rule – if CTR or conversion rate isn’t up to par is a great reason to do so – but I like to use it for disapprovals. Ad disapprovals are easier to miss than I’d like to admit, so receiving an e-mail notifying me when AdWords has caught these disapprovals is a huge benefit. I like to run this particular rule weekly using data from the previous week. You can also have ads that are “Under Review” sent to you as well, which could be a good feature for display ads that sometimes take a little longer to get reviewed and go live. Beautiful!

#4 – Change Daily Budget

cmoAdmittedly I have not used this rule in my accounts, but that’s only because I’m able to be in my accounts on a weekly basis and make necessary budget adjustments by hand. However, I imagine this function would be great for PPC managers who are in charge of over 100 accounts. As long as your monthly budget doesn’t fluctuate too much, it could be very useful to create the rule of increasing/decreasing daily budget to hit the desired monthly budget.

Automated rules aren’t so scary, are they? When used correctly, they can save PPC account managers some serious time. Just know they aren’t meant to replace your job, they are meant to assist it.

What are your favorite automated rules? Our team would love to hear them!