Get Smart with Smart Bidding

Smart Bidding is a prime example of revolutionary machine learning technology that helps marketers use campaign automation for optimization.

Through the Google Ads Smart Bidding platform, marketers can use data-driven bid strategies to optimize for conversion volume or conversion value. Machine learning evaluates search behavior and contextual data (among other factors) to fuel powerful strategies such as  Target CPA, Target ROAS, Max Conversions, and Enhanced CPC.  

But Smart Bidding isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it tactic. While machine learning helps provide automated options and optimization opportunities, it requires human intelligence and oversight.  

As a representative of JUST Media, I was invited to present our expertise around this subject for SMX West – the premier search marketing conference on the West Coast. Programmed by the Search Engine Land editors, the agenda featured 85+ unique and tactic-rich sessions covering SEO, SEM, and digital commerce marketing.  

My insights session, “Get Smart with Smart Bidding,” delivered three actionable objectives for the audience to use this tool in generating more traffic, leads, conversions, and sales:  

  • Objective #1:  How to start using Smart Bidding in B2B campaigns and maintain the approach during seasonal swings in demand

  • Objective #2:  The advantages of a Smart Bidding approach in B2B marketing 

  • Objective #3:  The importance of applying audiences in Smart Bidding 

Before we go deeper into these three areas let’s first establish a prerequisite for marketers to being Smart Bidding: having Conversions in the first place. In our experience, conversions are a lot easier with consumer marketing than business-to-business. Private individuals fill out forms with higher frequency because they usually have autonomous buying power and an immediate product or service desire. On the contrary, B2B brands have a much longer conversion cycle and purchasing committees – which means sales forms are filled at lower rates.  

How do you create conversions in an account where the sales lead cycle is 9 – 12 months? We’ve done this for dozens of B2B brands and can for yours too. First of all, customer lists can be uploaded into account. Secondly, think of a person accessing any gated content as a conversion. Event registrations? Those can be conversions too. Additionally, always set up engagements with “Contact Us,” “Request Demo,” and “Free Trial” as conversion metrics as well.  

How to Start

Enabling is easy. Use account alerts and select a comfortable tCPA. When the smart bidding algorithm has reached 95% confidence interval in signals your account will push through an alert. From there navigate to campaign setting (bidding section) and the system will suggest a tCPA. You can adjust it to match your agreed upon campaign goals. 

How to Maintain Smart Bidding

B2B seasonality is notorious. You’ll need to know how to keep the campaign moving when demand drops off. During these dips in activity, the algorithm will start lacking data to bid efficiently. You can simply switch the setting back to eCPC bid and the system will adjust bids to optimize for action, as opposed to bid-to-action. Either way, we recommend updating your CPA every two weeks regardless. 

Applying Audiences

Another tidbit of info is that audiences are no longer automatically included in the range of signals taken into account by the smart bidding algorithm. They used to be when Smart Bidding was first introduced. They are no longer automatically included. By overlaying your important audiences in the smart bidding campaigns, you explicitly permit the algorithm to use the in-market or affinity, remarketing, or any other special audience (like custom intent for instance) audience membership as a signal.

By now we hope you’ve seen that enabling Smart Bidding and tracking B2B conversions through Google Ads is easier than you might think! By overlaying your critical audiences and monitoring the campaign during slow-downs you can boost conversions, increase sales, and maximize awareness with Google Ads Smart Bidding. 

Need more help applying Smart Bidding in your accounts? Talk to JUST and we can help get you some big wins with this approach!

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Posted on February 21, 2020 in Just Blog, Just Media

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