Live from #SMX East 2014: Breath New Life Into a {Tired} Paid Search Campaign

By Heidi Smith | Oct 1, 2014
More Articles by Heidi

PAID SEARCHHas your campaign evolved over time, and you don’t recognize it anymore? It’s probably time to unclutter and revamp the campaign (or account) for maximum productivity. This session at SMX East provides insight into how this can be done in a variety of ways.

Competitive Research to Pump Up Your PPC

Julie Friedman Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon), President of Neptune Moon, discussed her strategy for performing competitive research to “pump up” your existing PPC campaigns.

  • Determine where your campaigns stack up in the competitive landscape. This can be done with the Auction Insights in the Keywords Tab of insights
    • Allows you to look at your auction data as well as your competitors, including overlap rate, position above rate, top of page rate, etc.
  • After you complete your initial analysis, go outside AdWords to gain perspective and more information. Julie recommends to “be a searcher” by performing searches in major engines for:
    • Branded terms
    • Competitors
    • Top target keywords
  • Use a power tool to help analyze their ad copy and give you insight into their keyword targeting, CPC, and position. Tool examples include SpyFu and SEMrush.
  • Evaluate your competitors landing page experience
    • “Battle for the undecided will more than likely not only look at your page, but at some point your competitors.”
  • Don’t forget mobile
    • Research on mobile devices too – landing pages will look different and sometimes the competition is different as well.
  • Consider running a competitor campaign in AdWords
    • This isn’t necessarily for clicks and traffic to your site, but for data – impression numbers on branded terms can give you insight into your competitors.
  • New versions of all ads (Test!)
  • Plan a mini-competitive review quarterly
    • The competitive landscape can shift and evolve quickly, new competitors can come out without notice, so be ready for it and expect it. Quarterly or consistent reviews of your competition can help you prepare for those changes.

When a Mature Account is a Tired Account

Susan Waldes (@suzyvirtual), SVP Client Services at Five Mill, discussed what to do when a mature account becomes a tired account. There’s “nothing left to do” – so where do you go from there? Susan explained how to dive into new layers of data to give you something exciting to talk about again, while continuing to optimize your campaigns and gain additional insight.

Invigorate by Exposing Hidden Data

  • Household Income Targets: You can select 6 separate tiers of household income targeting for every geographic location that you target. For example, you can target average household income 41-50% in Colorado, average household income top 10% in California, etc. Once you collect enough data on this new targeting, you can do a few things to analyze the data and continue to optimize your campaign(s).
    • Action Items:
      • Add bid modifiers
      • Segment further by looking into device data by household income. As Susan pointed out, take the data further by using it to develop new personas and strategies that didn’t make sense before, but now they do because of the new data you’ve collected and dug into for analysis.
  • Remarketing List for Search Audiences (RLSA): Create the lists based on your client or company – for example, you can do all visitors, visitors that converted in the last 60 days, etc.demograhpic audiences
    • Action Items:
      • Add bid modifiers
      • De-prioritize or prioritize based on data analysis
      • Test new ad copy based on your findings
  • Demographic Audiences: You can add these different data layers to gain additional understanding of your Google Display (and Search) Network audience demographics. Main demographics to implement to collect data on include age and gender.
    • Action Items:
      • Add bid modifiers
      • Landing page and ad copy testing

Whether You’re in a Rut or Groove, Make Moves

John Lee (@john_a_lee), Managing Partner of Clix Marketing, began by discussing being in a rut versus being in the groove. Which one are you? Are you blind to performance and industry changes? Is your optimization check list the same every week or month, and are you unwilling to try new things? If so, you’re probably in a rut. On the other hand, do you think performance is okay, and everything is “fine”? Things are going well, but not exceptional? You’re in the groove, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be doing more. Here are John’s tips to optimize your campaigns, regardless of where you are at.

Campaign Audits

You should always be doing this, but make sure you are doing so effectively. Don’t just go through the motions – if you’re going to go through the trouble of performing a campaign audit, do it right and make it count.

Change Account Managers

If you’re in-house, see if you and a co-worker can switch campaigns. If you’re in an agency and the main account manager, ask a co-worker to look over the account and see what insight they can provide. It can help to get a new, different, fresh perspective on a tired campaign.


  • Try new features
  • Try new channels
  • Do your keyword, placement, and audience research again
  • Brainstorm new ideas
  • Test, Test, Test

Communicate and Be Proactive

  • Check in with clients and decision makers
  • Regularly review and revise goals
  • Don’t ignore poor performance or missed deadlines.
  • Two-way transparency = ask for it!

It was an interesting session with a variety of perspectives on how to revitalize tired campaigns. Do you have your own strategies that you’ve seen success with for your own campaigns? Find me on Twitter or Google+, and join the #SMX conversation!

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