Mastering Smart Bidding + Broad Match for Lead Generation PPC
Explore automation and AI to maximise your ad campaigns.
Matt Paid Advertising Specialist
Sep 01, 2023
We all want more customers to come knocking on our (digital) doors and one of the quickest and sure-fire ways of getting these leads is via PPC advertising.
In contrast to the patient game of SEO, paid advertising campaigns can bring in leads almost instantly and by using online advertising platforms like Google Ads, it’s possible to build a consistent pipeline to fuel business growth.
But, let’s not paint it all too simple. The truth is, sourcing high-quality leads from PPC can be tough - particularly if you’re in a niche market. Entering a crowded landscape has its own difficulties too.
There are ways to navigate these challenges however, and in this blog we’ll detail how leveraging Google’s automation through smart bidding and broad match can extend reach, unlock cheaper clicks, and grow your lead volume.
What Is Smart Bidding?
Google has been nudging advertisers to embrace automation within Google Ads for years and while initially met with scepticism, some of these automated features are now considered highly effective and efficient.
One such feature is smart bidding. A subset of automated bidding strategies, smart bidding refers to bid strategies that use Google’s AI, and contextual signals, to optimise for conversions and conversion value e.g. leads or sales.
The following smart bidding strategies are available:
Maximise Conversions - automatically sets bids to get the most conversions for your campaign budget.
Maximise Conversion Value - automatically sets bids to get the most conversion value for your budget.
Maximise Conversions with Target CPA - automatically sets bids to get as many conversions as possible at the target cost-per-acquisition set.
Maximise Conversions with Target ROAS - automatically sets bids to get as much revenue as possible within the return on ad spend targets set.
Each of the above strategies are utilised by the team at Eyekiller to help some of our diverse range of clients better reach their goals and objectives.
What are Broad Match Keywords?
To put simply, keywords are words or phrases that identify your service or product. They are used to determine who your ad is shown to so it’s important to select a list of the most relevant terms to target ads to the right audience.
Once you have your keywords, you next need to decide on the appropriate match type. There are three available; exact, phrase, and broad and all have varying degrees for how strictly they have to match the target keyword.
To illustrate, lets say the business we are advertising is a VR training company that specialises in workplace safety training. A great keyword may be something like “virtual reality safety training”.
The table below describes the strictness of each match type and example queries that would trigger ads for the target keyword.
So, What’s the Benefit of Broad Match?
You may be thinking why should we add broad matches if we’ve identified what keywords we want to target? Or given that broad match has potential to show ads for irrelevant queries, what's the benefit?
Given the intricate nature of lead generation PPC in the B2B and SaaS sectors, characterised by complex sales cycles with numerous touch points, several noteworthy benefits of using Broad Match emerge:
Specific B2B target audiences result in lower search volumes and higher competition for keywords.
Broad match in PPC offers extended reach and captures leads that may have been missed.
It benefits niche businesses and helps small businesses in competitive markets find cost-effective converting queries.
Broad match also reaches top-of-funnel searchers who are searching for solutions without specific details.
Effective lead nurturing funnel adjustments are essential for successful PPC campaigns. Any good account strategist would then make adjustments to campaign structure to build an effective lead nurturing funnel.
Broad Match Uses Unique Signals
One of the biggest benefits of broad keywords is that they are the only match type in Google Ads that weaponises a unique set of signals that Google collates through thousands of data points. These signals include:
Other keywords in the ad group - the system will look at other keywords you’ve added and use those as a steer for what search terms broad keywords trigger for.
Previous user searches - the system will take into account what a user has previously searched for e.g. if they’ve previously searched for a VR training service, they could show users a broader term like “interactive training”.
User location - using real time data of the users location, the system will find relevant geographic queries e.g. “VR training companies belfast”
Landing page - the system will review your PPC landing page to better understand the context of your business and use this to find relevant queries.
Using these signals, Google says they can understand the intent behind a user's search.
What About the Negatives?
The early days of broad match were quite frankly, laughable. Do some quick digging online and you’ll find some funny queries like how a company targeting “swimwear” ended up showing ads for the query “swimwear made out of bananas”.
Google’s algorithms have gotten smarter but there are still times when broad can be well, a little too broad and before you know it, you’ve depleted your budget on terms very unlikely to convert. This is where human intervention comes in. At Eyekiller, we check search term reports daily and add any irrelevant terms as negative keywords.
By nature of opening up your brand to more searches, broad match keywords also tend to cost a lot more than their counterparts.
Combining Smart Bidding + Broad Match
To unlock the real benefits of broad match (and control its weaknesses), you need to combine it with the smart bidding technologies discussed earlier.
For instance, when you combine a strategy like Maximise Conversions with Target CPA and broad match, you’re giving the algorithm flexibility to find converting terms but giving it a rule to adhere to. When implemented correctly this allows businesses to discover growth opportunities while still hitting KPI’s.
It should be noted that this isn’t a one size fits all approach. It works best in accounts with lots of historical conversion data, or when new clients have sufficient budget to gather enough clicks that “train” Google’s algorithm into identifying what works.
Further, accounts with a high volume of conversions per month will see quicker results but this doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t work for smaller businesses too.
Knowing the right time to activate broad match and smart bidding is crucial, particularly for businesses just starting out with PPC. Implementing too early could wield unfavourable results.
Eyekiller’s PPC management are focused on feeding as much data as possible into Google Ads. Using extensive keyword research, we create campaigns running exact and phrase match only and use an automated bid strategy designed to source a significant volume of clicks.
Google’s machine-learning is at its best when it has access to quality data so during this period we monitor search terms closely and exclude any irrelevant queries to guarantee quality traffic. During this stage it’s also paramount to correct any conversion tracking issues.
When keywords start bringing in results, a conversion-focused strategy is switched on to try and capture more of those search queries. If there’s a low-volume of key conversions like form submissions, micro-conversions e.g. important page views or time spent on site metrics can be counted to train the system into recognising highly engaged users. In theory, this should then lead to more completions of those higher-value actions.
During this time, refinements to landing pages and ad-copy can be made in order to reflect the data seen within Google Ads. For example, if a lot of conversions come from a particular search term, landing pages can be edited to mention this phrase specifically.
This is the time to start activating a smart strategy like Target CPA or Target ROAS. Average cost-per-conversion or return-on-ad spend figures from the prior two weeks are used to inform what targets are assigned. From here, Google begins to chase users it predicts will convert in line with these targets. It’s important not to set an unrealistic figure as this could result in a sudden drop in performance.
Layering in broad match during this period gives the algorithm freedom to seek out and explore other queries it predicts will convert at similar rates. This is what fuels lead generation growth, as new queries are discovered.
To take this strategy even further, it’s possible to pass CRM data into Google Ads and use this to inform the smart bidding process.
If a lead comes from PPC which is then tracked through the pipeline in a CRM like Salesforce, data can be passed back to Google Ads to say the original ad click resulted in a sales-qualified lead or even final sale.
It’s best practice to assign a value to these actions which would then allow a value-based bidding strategy to be activated. Google then prioritises and chases similar leads to achieve a higher ROAS.
Conversion value rules are another level of optimising for revenue. For example, if internal data suggests lifetime value is higher for customers who come from Desktop devices in Manchester, you can tell Google to bring you more of these leads.
Value-based bidding is generally the de-facto for Ecommerce but transferring this to B2B transforms Google Ads into a powerhouse tool for lead generation too.
The role of automation and AI is more powerful than ever within PPC but to unlock their full potential for lead generation, human supervision is essential. Machine’s still make mistakes and critically, need steering to keep up with changing client objectives and external factors like seasonality or demand.
Recent rumours suggest Google may soon make broad match the only option, or remove keywords altogether and focus on signals. Therefore, businesses who test now look set to get ahead of competitors and unlock growth opportunities.