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The 80 / 20 Rule: Mastering PPC Optimisation When Time is Scarce


Bing Ads / August 07, 2014

80/20 Rule







So you’ve got a gazillion keywords, ad groups, ads, campaigns, targeting options and more to optimise in your PPC campaigns and you’ve only got 20 minutes to spare. Sounds like panic attack waiting to happen! Or does it?

Ever heard of the Pareto principle? No? How about the 80/20 Rule? Still no?

Ok it’s hopeless, you can start hyperventilating.

Just kidding. I’m sure most of you have come across this nifty little principle and might have even put it to good use on a few occassions. In a nutshell, it works like this: 80% of effects come from 20% of causes. Or more practically, 80% of the results you get come from 20% of actions you take.

So going back to your daunting PPC problem of optimising that massive account that’s making you cower in the corner. You ask: How can I harness the powerful 80/20 principle and show that PPC monster who’s boss within those precious few minutes I’ve got? Easy.

Step 1 – Fry the big fish

Once you’ve figured out what you want to optimise (CPA, Conversion volume, ROI, CTR, etc.), go top down starting with the areas of the campaign that have the most data to work with.

Let’s take optimising click-through rate (CTR) as an example. Say you want to improve the CTR because frankly it sucks right now. Keeping the 80/20 rule in mind, go to the adgroup level and sort by impressions from highest to lowest. Doing this will very likely reveal the 20% of adgroups that drive 80% of the impressions where you’ll have the biggest impact if you’re able to improve the CTR.

Why is this powerful? Because you get to focus on the major problem areas first without being distracted by the other 100+ adgroups with much less impressions that are crying for your attention.

Step 2 – Rinse and Repeat

Once you’ve mastered step one you can use it over and over again for any number of optimisations you need to tackle.

Want to pay less per conversion? Sort by the areas of the campaign that cost the most so you can see which of those are not driving enough conversions or assist conversions and take action.

Looking for more sales or leads? Dig into the parts of the campaigns that drive the most conversions at an acceptable CPA (Cost per conversion) and go to town: boost bids, isolate top keywords, write stronger ads, etc.

Bonus – 80/20 on Steroids

Want to speed things up even more? Use filters to exclude high volume areas (the 20 percenters) that are already working well, so the poor performers stick out like the sore thumbs they are.

In both AdWords and Bing Ads, you can save these filters so you can call them up on the fly for future, time-saving optimisations.

If you want to get really fancy you can even use automated rules and adwords scripts to put some of that 80/20 magic on autopilot and being the pro that you are, you’ll use these with caution of course.

So there you have it, the simple yet powerful 80/20 rule that will make you look like this guy every time:

PPC Success








A caveat: Just because you’ve mastered 80/20 PPC optimisation like a boss doesn’t mean you can ignore the other 80% of your campaigns. Make sure to schedule in some time to optimise the rest or you could risk getting caught off guard by an effect we like to call “death by a thousand blades”. But that’s a story for another time, so stay tuned!

Got questions, comments or a kick-ass example to share? We’d love to hear from you!

And speaking of sharing, that’s what all the social icons are for – use ‘em to your heart’s content.

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