Submitted by Patrick on Thu, 11/15/2018 - 13:17

If you are already advertising your law firm on Google Ads and hope to spend your advertising budget more efficiently, consider testing automated bidding. Google Ads offers a plethora of automated bidding options for advertisers. Automated bidding does exactly as it sounds—it automates your bidding with the hope that machine learning automation will be more efficient than a human advertiser at campaign optimization.

Legal advertisers who switch their campaigns to an automated bidding strategy hand their bidding reins over to Google’s machine learning algorithm and that algorithm will adjust their bids in real time, based on whether or not it thinks a specific query will advance the marketing goals of the firm.

Types of Bidding Strategies

There are several types of automated bidding strategies (Target ROAS, Maximize Conversions, Maximize Clicks, Target Search Page Location, Target Outranking Share, Target CPA, and Enhanced CPC). The automated bidding strategies used most often by legal marketers are Target CPA (tCPA) and Enhanced CPC (eCPC).

tCPA: CPA stands for “Cost-Per-Acquisition.” In the legal world, an “acquisition” would be a case lead (most often a contact us form or a phone call). Target CPA means you set a desired cost per acquisition, give 100% of your bidding control to Google’s machine learning algorithm, and then the algorithm tries to generate conversions as close to that desired CPA as possible.

For instance, if your CPA goal was $20.00 per lead, a tCPA bidding strategy would try to get you as many leads as possible for around $20.00 apiece. Google can’t guarantee this price, so oftentimes advertisers see their actual CPA either rise above or dip below their target. Overall, this bidding strategy forgoes almost all human control of one’s keywords.

eCPC: CPC stands for “Cost-Per-Click,”—or the maximum amount Google can charge you for a click of one of your ads. When starting new campaigns, most advertisers choose “manual CPC” bidding strategy where one sets a maximum bid for the keywords he or she targets. eCPC is similar to manual CPC except Google’s machine learning has the ability to step in and raise a bid beyond the maximum CPC if it feels a certain search query will lead to a conversion.

Likewise, the machine learning algorithm can also choose to lower the maximum CPC bid if it feels a certain search query is ineffective. Google can’t guarantee that your average bid will be at or below the maximum that you set, though the machine learning attempts to keep average CPC below that maximum. This bidding strategy gives some control to Google, while allowing the advertiser to be able to adjust individual keyword bids up or down.

When Should I Test Automated Bidding?

Automated bidding is not the best strategy for every advertiser to use. If you search “Google Ads Automated Bidding” you’ll probably find a myriad of varied and sometimes inflammatory articles arguing in favor or against automated bidding. Like all advertising strategies, automated bidding may be worth testing depending on your marketing mix, advertising goals, and tolerance for risk. You should only test automated bidding if your law firm has conversion tracking enabled, at least one hundred monthly conversions per campaign, limited seasonality, CPA as the top KPI, and a large(ish) budget.

Conversion Tracking: In order to enable automated bidding strategies, you need to have conversion tracking enabled. “Conversion tracking” is a snippet of code placed on a website that “fires” whenever there is a successful conversion. Google uses conversion tracking in its machine learning algorithm when adjusting bids.

If your law firm relies on a lot of phone calls to generate conversions, phone call conversion tracking, in addition to regular conversion tracking, is critical. Phone call conversion tracking is an additional snippet of code on a website that tracks when a user calls a phone number on a landing page. That call will then be rerouted by Google and a “conversion” will “fire” when the phone call surpasses a certain amount of time set by the advertiser (IE a conversion will “fire” if the call lasts longer than 90 seconds). You should already be tracking conversions, but more importantly, you are required to track conversions if you wish to use an automated bidding strategy.

At Least 100 Monthly Conversions Per Campaign: Next, if you wish to test automated bidding, you need to have a history of conversions already. Google recommends that, before switching a campaign to automated bidding, you should be generating at least 15 monthly conversions within that campaign. The machine learning algorithm relies on your campaign’s history to make bidding decisions, so the more monthly conversions a campaign has means the better the automated bidding machine learning will be.

Though Google recommends at least 15 monthly conversions per campaign in order to utilize automated bidding, most advertisers recommend having a minimum of 100 monthly conversions per campaign before enabling a test. If your firm generates fewer than 100 conversions per month per campaign, you should steer clear of automated bidding.

Limited Seasonality: Seasonality, and the changes that align with seasonality, will disrupt automated bidding. Automated bidding relies on a consistent campaign history to make bidding decisions. If you have a history of advertising interruptions on holidays, or see significantly greater (or fewer) conversions some months compared to others, the algorithm may not be able to plan for that. If you project sharp changes to your campaign’s performance, it may not be worth it to test automated bidding. On the other hand, if you see pretty consistent conversions regardless of the time of year, automated bidding may be worthwhile.

CPA as the Most Important KPI: KPI stands for “key performance indicator.” It is the metric you use to determine the effectiveness of your advertising. CPA is a common KPI that law firms use to judge the effectiveness of their advertising. If you are trying to maintain a certain CPA, automated bidding may be worth a test.

There are other KPIs that automated bidding doesn’t take into account. If you are a Social Security disability attorney, for instance, the age of the clients signed through advertising is important. If you are generating hundreds of leads at a good CPA, but a majority of those leads come from people age 70+, automated bidding wouldn’t be able to adjust away from that age. If you’re a personal injury or workers’ compensation attorney, automated bidding strategies will not be able to adjust bids whether or not the case falls outside the statute of limitations. You should keep in mind all your KPIs when determining whether or not to test automated bidding.

A Large(ish) Budget: The last factor you should consider before testing an automated bidding strategy is your budget. Machine learning requires an uninterrupted steam of advertising. If you find that your campaigns are consistently limited by budget, an automated bidding strategy may not be worth testing.

Why Should I Test Automated Bidding?

At this point, you may be wondering “Why should I even test automated bidding?” It seems as though there are a lot of factors that make automated bidding ineffective. Automated bidding isn’t useful for every advertiser, but if you have conversion tracking enabled, at least 100 monthly conversions per campaign, limited seasonality, CPA as the top KPI, and a large(ish) budget, there are potential benefits to testing an automated bidding strategy.

At the heart of automated bidding is the assumption that machine learning can outperform human optimization. In addition, automated bidding strategies adjust bidding in real-time, meaning you’ll only pay the big bucks for searches that have a high potential to convert. With automated bidding, you give up control of your campaigns in exchange for (hopefully) more efficient advertising. It is also important to note that automated bidding relieves the advertiser from having to manually adjust bids. That could mean you have more opportunity to connect with clients, work on a case, or just relax. Automated bidding isn’t a “set it and forget it” strategy, but it does let the machine learning do some additional advertising legwork.

Consider High Quality Lead Generation

Testing automated bidding involves a considerable amount of risk. If you are an inexperienced legal advertiser, creating and managing a Google Ads account may seem too risky of an investment. If that is the case for your firm, or if you are simply looking to supplement your current marketing mix with an additional channel, consider purchasing legal case leads from eGenerationMarketing. We are committed to providing your firm with high quality, exclusive legal case leads for a low price.

We currently offer Social Security disability, personal injury, workers’ comp, and employment law case leads nationwide. If you’d like to learn more about our lead pricing and availability, give us a call today at 617.800.0089.

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