Whether you are an agency or an in-house PPC manager, if you work with an account that has a budget cap on it you have probably (accidentally) slipped over that budget at one time or another. It’s especially difficult when your client wants you to toe the line but not go over.
Obviously, a no-cap account is nice. “As long as you keep it profitable, just bring in conversions.” Ok, sounds great! Truth be told, especially for SMBs, this isn’t always a reality. You may have an account in which you constantly battle with budget caps daily and in which the client is not yet ready to invest more money into it. This is why Adwords allows you to set a budget on your campaigns.
Adwords Budgets 101
For the uninitiated, Adwords budgets get a little weird at times. Since they can only be set to a daily budget, you have to do some math to figure out how you want to break up your cost (Adwords suggests 30.4 as the ideal number to divide your monthly budget by). As you’ve probably noticed, the daily budget isn’t really an exact science. By Adwords own admission, these daily numbers can be automatically changed to go higher or lower than your daily limit. I’ve seen more than one person on twitter asking why their daily spend is more than their daily budget! See the official Adwords explanation for this below (and click on the image to be taken to the Adwords help page I pulled that from).
What this means for the small advertiser or client is that you have to either (A) keep a close eye on things and pause your campaigns when you hit your budget or (B) set campaign daily budgets to individually add up to your max budget. (A) is problematic for obvious reasons, (B) is problematic because PPC advertising and traffic is a little more fluid than that and you are going to end up losing traffic you would have wanted to receive because of low daily budget caps on individual campaigns.
Adwords Shared Budgets FTW – Remember, Sharing is Caring
What’s the solution? Well, awhile back Adwords released the idea of shared budgets. You are probably familiar with these, but I have found them invaluable for client accounts with budget caps. Even then, in the past, I generally just set 1 massive shared budget for the account to keep me safe for the month. I mean, what else could you do?
A Shared Budget Strategy
As I’ve looked into shared budgets more, I’ve developed a few strategies that you may find helpful. These strategies are meant to put as much budget as possible into the best performing parts of your account.
Here’s the deal though, at some point you’re going to need to get numbers in front of your client/boss and help demonstrate how the one thing keeping them from making more money is your budget cap. However, in the meantime, hopefully one of these shared budget strategies will help get you through to the day when the cap comes off.
Strategy #1 – The Great Network Divide Shared Budget
This budget might be a great place to start in a new account. It’s almost insultingly simple. Let’s say your budget is $100/day. Make 1 shared budget of $60/day and add all of your Search Campaigns to it, then make 1 shared budget of $40/day and add all of your Display Campaigns into it. All you are doing is separating your Search & Display campaigns out. If Search demonstrates higher conversion rate but keeps hitting its budget, then shift $20 a day over to it… or whatever, you get the point!
Strategy #2 – The Profitable Campaigns Shared Budget
This budget is a great one for an account you’ve had running and are familiar with. Go through and measure campaign profitability. Make a list of the guaranteed, consistently top-performing, high CR, low CPA, high profit, etc, etc, etc, campaigns and then create 1 shared budget for those. Then take the rest and lump them into your “Lower Conv” shared budgets. Keep in mind, I’m not referring to those campaigns you should pause, I’m talking about the troubled ones that you need, but that tend to shift around more in quality. Also, if you happen to have a campaign in the Lower Conv shared budget that starts doing better, than graduate it up to the High Conv shared budget (or vice versa). This is a great way to make sure most of your funds are being spent on the most likely to convert campaigns in a capped account.
Strategy #3 – The Shopping Focused Shared Budget
This is for e-commerce accounts only (take a hike, lead-gen). As Google gives more and more SERP real-estate over to Google Shopping, Shopping has become an essential part of any e-comm account manager’s strategy. If you manage an e-commerce account with a budget cap then try putting your Google Shopping campaigns into a shared budget and the rest of your campaigns into another shared budget. Heck, break up your Display, Search, and Shopping into 3 shared budgets!
Strategy #4 – The Single Campaign Domination Shared Budget
This is for the account with multiple campaigns in which a single, dominating campaign continually shines through as a conversion champion. Set that campaign up to pull as much budget as it requires and throw everything else in a shared budget (or 2!) to bring up the rear.
Now that you’ve read through this, you’re brain is probably churning with ideas. What about mixing up Strategy #2 & #4, why not try multiple single budget campaigns and all the rest in 1 shared Low Conversion budget? Great, what are you waiting for?! Get creative, figure out what makes your campaigns unique and together, create a few shared budgets and go crazy!
Did this post resonate with you? Want to tell others about your new found love of shared budgets? Simply retweet below (and make sure to follow @PPCKirk too while you’re at it!).
— Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk) August 20, 2014