When it comes to PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, marketers are always looking for ways to improve performance. The goal is to optimize the account continuously, finding ways to save money and spend more efficiently. Anyone with PPC experience knows that there are countless ways to do this, including adjusting keyword bids, setting daily ad schedules, adding negative keywords, and so on.
Why is it that one of the most obvious ways to spend more efficiently is often overlooked? While everyone is spending time making little tweaks to try and push the needle forward, they often lose sight of the bigger picture, which is the account’s overall budget allocation throughout the year. Using both historical data and competitor’s data and being prepared to adjust on the fly, you can ensure that you are not limited when business is booming and that you’re tightening up and maintaining discipline during slower seasons.
SEASONAL BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS
The most common tactic employed when trying to optimize spend throughout the year is seasonal budget adjustments. This is especially true in the vacation rental industry. Many travel destinations experience busy seasons where it is important fill all vacation rental properties, meaning it is important to allocate additional ad spend to these months.
Property managers near ski resorts need to ensure that their winter ad spend budgets can keep up with increased winter demand. If budgets are limited during these important months, it can mean leaving easy money on the table. On the opposite end of the spectrum, once the ski season ends and the snow begins to melt, these destinations tend to experience a lull in traffic. This can be a good time to reduce bids and budgets to save up for the next big push. This is also a good opportunity to shift focus toward homeowner acquisition as opposed to reservations.
On a similar note, it is also important to understand how specific holidays affect performance. Holidays should be considered their own entities, and even during a slow month or season it may be important to jack up budgets for a brief period to ensure maximum efficiency.
Sticking with the ski town example, April and May (a.k.a. “mud season”) tend to be very slow booking months as snow is melting, but Memorial Day can lead to a nice influx of visitors, especially if the specific town is hosting an event. Thus, it is important that spend begins to increase leading up to Memorial Day to ensure that your budget is keeping up with traffic.
It is also important to keep an eye on competitors and their actions, as it may be an important factor in how you spend your budget. If a competitor begins to increase their budget and bids, it is going to lead to an increase in CPC for your account. If this is during a busy period, it may mean that you need to increase the budget even further to keep up. Even though it’ll be more expensive to generate conversions, many times it is too profitable of a time period to let the competition win.
BE PREPARED FOR CHANGES
Lastly, it is important to be able to adjust strategy on the fly due to unforeseen circumstances. While a lot of the previous examples involved using historical data to formulate a plan of attack, things can change out of the blue because of unforeseen weather events, natural disasters, or other large-scale events. I imagine most businesses in Houston would have benefited from completely pausing ad spend during and in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, as the focus of the entire city shifted squarely toward recovery. Similar things can be said for locations dealing with forest fires, mass protests, and so on.
All in all, the moral of the story is that an easy—but often overlooked—strategy for improving account efficiency is better allocating your overall budget throughout the year. Be prepared to take full advantage of busy seasons and important holidays and to spend more efficiently during slower time periods. And most important, be ready to adapt to any unforeseen events. By being prepared you can continue to decrease the amount of wasted spend in your account and improve overall efficiency.