Making Your Small-Medium PPC Data Work Like Big Data

Big DataThe phrase “Big Data” has been all the rage recently. Companies talking about using their Big Data to make decisions based on well, large amounts of data, to yield big results in their businesses. Great! Sounds like fun right? But what if you don’t have big data? What if you’re like the other 99% of businesses out there that collect, manage, and operate on medium to small data? Can you still make those large impactful changes? Of course! It just might take a bit more effort, time, and patience.

In the PPC industry, many managers fight this same problem. We don’t always have the large data sets we would like when making optimizations on an account. But the show must go on and changes need to be made to keep our accounts progressing. Below are some tips to help you make your medium data seem larger and help you continue to make optimization decisions in your PPC accounts.

Aggregate Your Data When Possible

Aggregating is basically bringing together a like group of data to make decisions. You can apply this at many different levels. Say you’ve got multiple identical campaigns with different geographic targeting. Aggregate the data into one report and make decisions based on your entire market, not just one at a time. If you’re running campaigns in Google AdWords and Bing Ads, pull that data together and look for trends based on both channels. The same can be done at the ad group level. If you’ve got multiple different product types in the same campaign, try labeling the ad groups by product then aggregating the ad group performance data to make optimization decisions based on product.

The big point here is to make sure you’re adding in similar, supplemental data. In the example above, Bing Ads and Google AdWords are two separate engines with different audiences (supplemental) and speak the same language (similar): clicks, cost, conversions. These two data sets can be combined seamlessly and can make your data set larger.

Bring in Data From All Sources

Data-WarehouseIn the point above, I mention bringing in supplemental data. Here I’m talking about complimentary data to help make decisions in lower volume areas. Using data from your external lead system, Google Analytics, or any other additional point with different metrics can often help make your PPC decisions a little easier.

Say you’re trying to improve your lead quality. One good place to look might be the AdWords Keyword report in GA. Do some of your keywords with large numbers of conversions have a high bounce rate and low time on site? Either you’re killing it with your landing pages or you might be getting leads from people who aren’t necessarily ready to buy. It might be time to lower bids on those keywords, take a deeper look into their specific search queries, or update landing page and ad copy to be more exclusionary and get rid of those lower quality searchers.

Take Small Actions on Small Data, Medium Actions on Medium Data

More often than not, with more data comes more confidence in the decisions made based on that data. Many PPC pros talk about taking action on your data only once you’ve reached a statistically significant difference. Although that’s a great rule to follow, you’re not always going to get there in a reasonable amount of time. To mitigate, make smaller changes more often. For example, rather than waiting the 3 months for your 3 variations ad test to reach significance, make smaller differences in copy, run only 2 variations, and determine a winner every couple of weeks.

Check Back Sooner on Less Firm Decisions

This mostly applies to those business owners or account managers who aren’t in their accounts all day every day. On decisions your not quite as firm about, check back at more frequent intervals to see how your progress is coming. If you usually only check in twice a week, maybe take a peek each day just to see if you’re changes are working the way you wanted them to.

Remember Everyone’s Just Making Best Guesses

No matter how much data you have and how confident you are in your decisions, you’re still just making a best guess. We can’t always predict what’s going to happen from day to day. It’s one of the things that makes PPC so fun and so frustrating all at the same time. Always take your data with a grain of salt and make the best decisions you can. Taper your changes to reduce your risk but don’t hesitate to make changes simply because of a lack of data. Fail fast, learn from your mistakes, and continue progressing your accounts.

What ways do you make your smaller data sets work for you?