Posted by James Lee on 10th September 2014

Keyword bidding strategies for the seasonal business can be tricky

Seasonal businessWhen conversion cost is a primary consideration in selecting your bidding strategy, ROI based bidding tends to be one of the most popular approaches. This strategy can be extremely effective but there are a few pitfalls to avoid particularly if your business is seasonal and you utilize seasonal keywords. With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, you’ll soon be developing your seasonal ad campaigns. Before you do, I offer some tips and tricks for avoiding one of the pitfalls associated with seasonal keywords and an ROI based bidding strategy.

The challenge with seasonal keywords when using ROI based bidding is that they will be penalized for marginal performance during ‘off-season’ time periods and can only be ‘rescued’ manually with an inflated bid price. To avoid this pitfall and the need to manually ‘rescue’ keywords, it is necessary to use an alternative keyword bidding strategy, which is rank driven bidding with rules based on conversion count, cost per conversion, QS and CTR.

Here is an example of how this approach could be set up. First you would select ‘rank driven’ as the bidding strategy for your campaign and default max bid to control the top ceiling of your bid price. Next, you would group keywords into three tiers with two rules set based on cost per conversion. The top tier would have the lowest cost per conversion and be characterized by superior keyword performance. The bottom tier would represent an unacceptable cost per conversion. Because rank driven bidding is primarily controlled by the rank of ad position (1 to 10) it will keep keyword ads in play unlike ROI or conversion based bidding. Then when keyword performance returns to an acceptable level going into the sales season, it will adjust itself without human intervention.

There are two other approaches for controlling keyword bidding when using a rank driven bidding strategy. The first involves setting a max bid price of each tier group. For example, for the top tier you would assign the highest max bid price at 30% higher than the campaign default max bid. For the bottom tier you would apply a max bid that is 30% below the campaign default max bid. This adjustment of max bid allows rank driven bidding to be in check with cost per click while still setting target ad position.
See an example of this approach below.

Keyword group       Target rank    Max bid
Top tier                     1.5 or 2        $5
Campaign default     3                  $3
Bottom tier                5 to 10         $2

In addition, branding keywords are generally low cost and perform ideally. They can be set as the keyword level position goal with top rank, but with a lower max bid than the top tier group. For more info, sign in below or visit the site.

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