Target CPA campaigns on Google Ads allow advertisers to use automated bidding to increase the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns on Google using both Display advertising and search advertising.
At Digital Marketers we have used target CPA on various lead generation campaigns for a number of years. We would like to share some tips and results with you. Target CPA campaigns can be extremely effective and can overtake any standard search campaign by a considerable amount.
Many of the campaigns we run are lead generation campaigns. We build and manage the landing pages on behalf of our clients. It is always better for us to do this as we are in complete control over important things such as page load speed, the layout of the page, adding dynamic header etc. We split test everything and run the entire end to end lead generation process for clients. What they get at the end of it is fresh, real time, hot sales leads sent via API into the CRM.
What is Target CPA bidding in Google Ads?
Target CPA bidding allows you to set your ideal cost per lead, it will then get as many leads within your target cost per lead as possible. It uses advanced machine learning to automatically set your bids. It uses real time signals to determine bid price based on your conversion data. For example if females in Manchester using an android at 5.30pm are more likely to convert on your website it will increase the bids to get this user through. More can be read about target CPA here.
Display Target CPA
As we all know display campaigns can be notoriously hard to crack. With such massive reach advertisers can spend thousands trying to find an audience that converts at a reasonable price on their sites. If they don’t have thousands to blow on testing then it can take months of running small budgets trying to find the best audience to run.
Well…… thanks to a recent change by Google this has become a thing of the past. Google Ads now allows you to pay for “leads” using Display Target CPA. We have found this has been a bit of a game changer. It has allowed us to get an enormous amount of impressions and clicks without worrying about spend. We no longer pay those clicks, just the leads. This means that we select the audiences we think will produce the goods, select the amount we are willing to pay Google for a lead and then smash the audiences with a range of creatives we split test.
Something to keep in mind here, don’t try and beat the system by paying peanuts for leads. It simply won’t work. If Google isn’t making money from serving your advertising you can wave goodbye to the traffic. Select a reasonable sum that you are willing to pay and let it work its magic.
By using Target CPA and only paying for conversions you can very quickly find which creatives and audiences are producing the value. We then tend to break these out into their own ad groups and refine it further.
Make sure that you have your conversion tracking setup correctly. If you get it wrong it could cost you a small fortune. If you are generating leads then we would HIGHLY recommend using phone validation on the form to ensure that you are only paying Google for working phone numbers that you can call. If you need form validation, you can either set this up yourself or have a chat to the guys at data 8.
Target CPA on search campaigns
We have had some fantastic results using target CPA for search campaigns. Recently in almost all cases running 50% split tests with our main search campaigns, target CPA wins.
However one thing to note here, it would be advised not to use target CPA on a new campaign. We have found every time we do this, selecting Target CPA as the bidding method it can take forever to get volume. Often the Lead price will be wildly more expensive than you intend. It will freak a lot of advertisers out and they will switch it off after a couple of days of inconsistency. I don’t blame them, we used to do this.
It wasn’t until we started split testing our main campaigns with Target CPA and leaving it on for at least a month or 2 did we start to see the real value in it. We would recommend you do the same. Run your normal search campaigns for a while, optimise them as best you can and try and get a sustainable lead cost that your business is happy with. When you have this implement a 50/50 experiment on the current search campaigns using target CPA as the bidding strategy. Then…. Leave it. Leave it for at least a month or 2. There will be points when you feel like switching it off, but don’t. Let it run and eventually you will see the magic. The more data it has and the longer it runs the better it gets.
Let’s have a look at some real results using Target CPA bidding
Display Target CPA
This campaign below has been incredible! We run this for one of our clients at Digital Marketers who are in the festival and events business. Last year Google accounted for 15% of their marketing budget. Facebook was their golden ticket to selling out their festivals. However this year the game has COMPLETELY changed. Facebook made some changes to their advertising which meant it was far harder and far far more expensive to promote the events. At exactly the same time Google released some changes that revolutionised the campaigns for this client. Changes to YouTube, Pay for leads, smart campaigns, many but I won’t go into them all now.
Back to this campaign, you can see that it has generated 48 million impressions, 173 thousand clicks, 12,622 conversions and an unbelievable 7.27% conversion rate from display! The best thing about it is that the cost we pay for leads is a fixed cost. We originally had the CPA set to £5, dropped to £4 then dropped to £3.50. Bear in mind that we pay more to find the volume, then start reducing it slightly as time goes on. DO NOT make drastic changes or else the volume will vanish and it will be hard to get it back.
Gone are the days of waking up in the morning, checking the campaigns and having your heart skip a beat when you see the cost per lead has gone wild over night. Doesn’t happen. We know exactly how much the leads have cost, we just wake up and see how many were generated. We are so content paying £3.50 for leads on this campaign that we have increased the budget to allow Google to spend as much as it possibly can each day.
Target CPA Search
Here is a real example of target CPA working for search campaigns.
This is the same client, selling festivals in Europe. You can see that the split test (50/50) is almost a whole £1 cheaper than the original search campaign. More volume, cheaper leads, more sales, better return on ad spend. It has been a real winner.
At first when this client reached out to us we we were alarmed at the cost per clicks. Their lead cost was well over £100 and we knew that we would have to spend thousands getting some real results in for them. Luckily for us all they didn’t have to wait long. The results came in pretty quick!
Our strategy was simple and extremely effective.
- We rebuilt their landing pages using our own templates. This took them from a slow snails speed to lightning fast, loved by Google. We can then benefit from all the quality score benefits, mainly the reduction in CPC.
- Added some dynamic headers to the landing pages
- Built the search campaign in single keyword ad groups. We can explain more about this in another post.
- Ran search for a few months and optimised manually using enhanced CPC as the bidding strategy.
- We then implemented a 50/50 split test with target CPA
When we first did this split test we turned it off pretty quick. We re visited again and shortly after turned it off. The cost per lead was wild and the split test was burning budget making the client fairly nervous. After a very long conversation and all sorts of ideas on the theory behind target CPA we decided to switch it on again ….. And leave it.
As you can see now Target CPA on this search campaign has converted £13.80 cheaper over the past 30 days than the original search campaign. It worked after holding on, gritting our teeth and learning how to be patient.
Since running these campaigns the clients cost per sale has reduced by 66%. We have taken it a step further and optimise against metrics more meaningful than cost per lead. We optimise against contact rate, lead value and sales to maximise their return on investment.