When I do PPC webinars, I always like to open with a quick poll. In a recent webinar, I asked attendees to fess up to how much time they spend working on their AdWords account every week. The results were very promising:
Almost 9 out of 10 (87%) of respondents said they do at least some work in their account every week. Sounds pretty good, right? Everyone is diligently working in their PPC accounts!
Not so fast – it doesn’t take a genius to realize that self-reported activity isn’t always reliable. Few people exercise as much or eat as little as they claim to. I wondered if PPC marketers were overestimating the amount of time they spend in their AdWords accounts — to the detriment of their results.
How Much Work Are PPC Managers Really Doing?
To test these claims, I decided to check the Change History logs in some live AdWords accounts. For this informal study, I looked at around 400 accounts of advertisers who recently became WordStream customers, setting the date range for the 30 days prior to their signing up with the software and essentially just counting up the number of changes in the account.
In the following graph, “Activity Index” is a count of the number of changes in an account weighted according to the types of changes being done within an account. For example, it takes longer to create a new text ad than it does to change a keyword bid, so I’ve weighted ad text changes more heavily. Finally, I’ve plotted the activity vs. monthly spend to get a sense for how activity varies with account size.
It’s important to note that there is already some selection bias going on here. Advertisers that would proactively sign up for an educational PPC webinar or start using PPC management software are already more likely to be actively engaged with their accounts than the average AdWords user — so you’d expect this group to be on the more active side.
Here’s what I found:
Sadly, even these proactive advertisers aren’t doing regular, consistent work in their AdWords accounts. On the contrary:
- Weekly activity – Not so much. Over half of advertisers did nothing at all in a given week.
- Consistency – Only 1 in 10 advertisers consistently worked on their accounts over a 90-day period.
- Agencies – You’d think that agencies would do better given it’s their full-time job; but, I found there was very little difference on average in activity between agencies and advertisers.
- Big Spenders – The chart above shows that having a larger monthly budget correlates with more regular PPC optimization work — but still there are still a lot of big companies spending millions on PPC that are doing next to nothing in their account during the month!
As I suspected, most advertisers and agencies have a drastically inflated view of the amount of time they spend working to improve their PPC campaigns.
Why You Need To Be Doing More
In my experience, consistent account activity is the number one indication of whether or not your AdWords account succeeds. Advertisers that log in and work to optimize their campaigns at least once per week inevitably do better than those that ignore their accounts for months at a time.
So, if you want to log better results from paid search, resolve right now to log into AdWords at least weekly and focus on at least one of these areas of account optimization:
- Keyword Expansion – Stagnant ad groups won’t help your business grow. Regularly comb your search query report for relevant new keywords to add to your account.
- Bid Optimization – Raise bids on top performing keywords and lower bids on weaker, more costly keywords to be sure you’re making the most of your budget.
- Negative Keyword Research – If you’re not using negatives you could be wasting up to 30% of your ad spend. Google is greedy, so you need to filter out terms that don’t work for your business.
- Ad Text Optimization – The first ad that comes to mind is probably not the best you can do. Try sensational, emotionally charged ads or new features like Offer extensions. Ads can make the difference between a 0.3% CTR and a 3% CTR!
And so on. There’s always more to do, but you don’t have to do it all at once – you just have to make steady, iterative progress. Something is better than nothing — which is what your competitors are thinking as they work on their accounts.
I think most in the industry already understand that “set it and forget it” is not a viable PPC strategy; yet, the majority of us are failing miserably when it comes to actually executing. So, what the heck?
PPC Managers: Stop being so lazy! :)
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