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My Ad Optimisation Tricks to Increase Conversions for Low-Volume Ad Groups

Posted on the 07 February 2013 by Onqmarketing @onqmarketing

Increase adwords conversionsOne of the things I personally dislike about AdWords is the idea of low-volume campaigns. I’ve disliked working with low-volume campaigns so much, that I essentially neglected optimizing them at all.

It wasn’t too surprising that I neglected those parts of my managed campaigns however. I’d look at an ad group with 100 conversions a month and then note that a 10% increase would result in 10 extra sales. This of course, in comparison with observing a 50-click ad group that only potentially could generate an extra sale per month for me if optimized. It’s evident why I put these efforts on the backburner.

A Year Ago I Had a Revelation

Optimising Low Volume Ad Groups

I was looking through the campaigns of one account. I often just sit and stare while clicking through date ranges, dimensions, etc. and it really is amazing the trends you pick up this way. It was at this point that I noticed the combined clicks from my low volume equaled 10-20 percent of the overall search clicks within the account.

I then calculated the amount of conversions I lost every month because my avg. search campaign conversion rate wasn’t reaching those low-volume ad groups. The amount was pretty high.

I calculated that I could roughly garner 10-20% more conversions by optimizing the low-volume ad groups so their conversion rates were well-aligned with the campaign average.
An Example of the Calculation:

7 ad groups with a total of 200 clicks (conv. rate = 1%)
3 ad groups with a total of 2,000 clicks (conv. rate = 4.5%)

My low-volume ad groups produced 10% of total clicks, but only 2.2% of total conversions within the campaign.

By increasing the conversion rate to an average of 4.5%, I could theoretically add 7 more conversions every month (a 10% increase).

I don’t know about your account, but if you had a way to increase conversions by 10%, then I’m sure your boss or Client would be very happy.

Why I Hate Low-Volume Ad Groups

One of the things I love about working with Google AdWords is the decisiveness with which you can test.

I love seeing how small edits in my ads affect the conversion rate. I loved it when I first found out that having a high CTR would typically result in a low-conversion rate.

I love being able to analyze my way to the optimal ad scheduling settings for an account and see numbers improve significantly the week after I perform my changes.

I love it all.

These things all have to do with statistics. Low-volume is statistics’ worst enemy.

Any data you accrue can prove to be corrupt or outright misleading if you don’t have a sufficient amount of data to gauge. This has directly resulted in me not liking to work with low-volume ad groups. It takes way too long to find optimal ad texts, bids, match types… and when you finally think you’ve got it all down pat, you’re still dead wrong in your analysis.

Low-Volume Doesn’t Deserve the Same Attention

Adwords Optimisation

Normally, you can get far larger performance increases if you optimize your bread and butter ad groups instead of your low-volume ad groups.

You’re therefore more likely to have big performance gains by allocating your time to where it matters most. What normally happens after some time, is that your bread and butter ad groups perform so well that you don’t get much out of optimizing them further (except for the standard optimizations and follow up).

This is the perfect time to take the lessons-learned from your bread and butter ad groups and implement them in your low-volume ad groups.

I’ve listed some of the steps that I take to get more out of low-volume ad groups so everyone can follow the same formula.

My strategy mainly focuses on optimizing your AdWords ads, as it’s usually the best way to increase conversion rates.
1) I Routinely Pause Ads When the Ad Spend is 1.5 – 2 Times Higher than my CPA Goal
If I look through my low-volume ad groups and some ads have an ad spend higher than my CPA goal, I then pause the ad. No matter if there’s only one conversion associated with the other ad – it doesn’t matter. The spend is just too high and I’m not waiting around to find out what’s wrong.

If the CPA is too high (1.5 – 2 times my CPA goal), then the ad also needs to go away.

I will try to analyze if I can get the same results by lowering my CPC bid, but in most cases, you want your low-volume keywords at the very top so that they generate the maximum amounts of clicks.
2) If the Same Ad Has Been Consistently Under-Performing in Other Ad Groups…
One thing I’m a big fan of is trends. I spot trends a mile away and AdWords is full of them.

I often use the same ads in many ad groups (with small modifications for Quality Score reasons) in order to spot trends. I will often then see the same ad under-performing in split tests in my bread and butter ad groups.

After seeing a particular ad lose out in every single split-test, I then proceed to also pause that ad in my low-volume ad groups.

The only thing that can refrain me from stopping a positive trend-dropping ad would be if it significantly out-performed the other ad in that particular low-volume ad group.
3) When the CTR is Too Low to Make It a Viable Long-Term AdWords Ad…
Some ads simply just have a too-low CTR in order to ever make it work long-term. Over time, the Quality Score would become too low and the increase in CPC would paralyze profitability.

Often, you can make decisions based on CTR a lot earlier than with conversion rates. By making a decision based on low CTR, you will be able to proclaim the ad as the winner much sooner than if you wait for conversions to register. At that time it might be too late.

However, make sure to review your keyword list for high-impression keywords that are lowering your CTR. This can be due to broad match usage, missing negative keywords or it can just simply be an irrelevant keyword.
4) Review Further Back Than Just Your Regular Optimization Cycles
A threat that presents itself to many AdWords Managers is that they don’t look further back than the immediate optimization cycle.

In the accounts I work on right now, I have optimization cycles of two weeks. I set up an experiment, check it after a week for major flaws and after two weeks, I act based on the results.

Some ad groups simply don’t get enough clicks/conversions in two weeks to allow you to make a sound decision. If you therefore always just set the time frame to the last two weeks, then you’ll miss out on important optimization data to consider.

Use Labels to Discover Ad Groups with Longer Optimization Cycles

When labels we’re rolled out, I was ecstatic. They have proven to be such a time-saver that I find new ways to use them every other week.

I often use labels to categorize ad groups with long optimization cycles. I use the following labels:

(i) 7-day cycle
(ii) 14-day cycle
(iii) 28-day cycle
(iv) 56-day cycle

I always gauge full calendar weeks for my optimization cycles. Some campaigns have very different performance results on certain days so keeping to a certain optimization date will ultimately yield the best results.

Increase the Lowest-Level Average of Your Account

A lot of results can be found just by making sure that the lowest-level average of an account is just as high as that of the high-volume ad groups’.

There are several ways to make sure that your low-volume ad groups get the same attention as your bread and butter ad groups.

A good strategy to implement is using different campaigns for high and low-volume ad groups. This will help you notice any discrepancies within your account.

By taking on a macro approach to your AdWords campaigns, you can often up an extra 10-20% in conversions every month. If your search campaign is already performing at maximum levels, then squeezing the last couple of conversions out of your campaign will be a solid goal to pursue.

My Ad Optimisation Tricks to Increase Conversions for Low-Volume Ad Groups
Andrew LolkView My Other Posts
Andrew Lolk is the CMO at, a search engine marketing agency specialized in paid search management for small and mid-sized businesses. Get more insights from Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewLolk or add him to your Google+ Circles +Andrew Lolk.

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