I’ve seen it a number of times. Accounts that appear to be working fine with campaigns that appear to be hitting all the relevant KPIs but have the annoying limited by budget status. What do you do to tackle limited by budget campaigns? Well, there isn’t one answer to this question and the exact strategy you take to get your campaigns out of the limited by budget status will depend on your wider strategy and the opportunities you see when doing your analysis. I’ve added a list of suggestions of things you could look at when tackling a limited by budget campaign – some are more realistic to do than others.
What does Limited by Budget mean and why are they a problem?
Before we get into the suggestions, let’s look at what Limited by Budget basically means. Basically it means that the budget you’ve set for a campaign is not large enough for the campaign to show for all searches relevant to that campaign with the current bids. As a result, if the campaign is set on an Accelerated Delivery, then the ads for that campaign stop showing sometime during the day when the budget cap has been hit. If the campaign is set to a Standard Delivery, then Adwords will show your ad sometimes and not show it during other times during in order to make the budget last throughout the day. In any case, it means that your ads are not showing for all the traffic that Adwords has is able to provide for the keywords you’re targeting. With this in mind, here’s some things you can do to tackle a limited by budget campaign:
Increase the budget
Starting off with the most obvious, just increase the budget. As long as the campaign is achieving its’ KPI targets, then by increasing the budget, (in theory) you should get more traffic that hits the same performance KPIs as before. Make sure you only do this on campaigns that are already hitting your KPI targets though. Increasing the budget on an unprofitable campaign will produce more of what you’re already getting from that campaign at the same unprofitable rate.
Is there another campaign that isn’t spending all of it’s budget? Or perhaps there is a campaign that performs worse than the campaign in question that isn’t limited by budget. If there is, then perhaps you can take some of the budget out of these campaigns and give it to the campaign that is limited by budget.
I had a client come to me with a number of campaigns limited by budget wanting more leads but didn’t want to spend anymore. Their previous agency had told them that the only solution for them to get more leads was to add more budget to their limited by budget campaigns. This would increase their overall Adwords spend and subsequently increase the agency’s fees seeing as though they charge on a percentage of Adwords spend. I identified areas where we could drop bids within the limited by budget campaigns by looking at high CPA terms and very high average position terms. By doing so, the client lost some impression share due to rank but was able to get more clicks for their budget from the same keywords that they were previously running and subsequently got more of the leads (that they were already getting) at a lower CPA. This is normally my ‘go to’ tactic when dealing with minor limited by budget issues but if you’re campaigns need a lot more budget then you may need to incorporate other methods as well as just dropping bids.
Pause the poorest performers
In a limited by budget campaign, all keywords are not showing as often as they could be due to budget issues. This means you’re good keywords within that campaign could be showing more often and your poor keywords could be showing more often. By pausing your poor performing keywords within that campaign you allow for the budget that would have been given to them to be given to the stronger performers. This should mean more conversions for the same budget as before.
Split out the poorest performers
If you don’t want to pause keywords, then how about moving the poor performing keywords in another campaign? This way you can allocate more of the available budget to the top performers making sure that they are not limited by budget and whatever is left over can be given to the poor performing campaign.
Dive into your Search terms report
Take a look in your Search terms report to see if there’s any high spending terms that are performing poorly. You may address these keywords by either blocking them out or splitting them out and giving them a lower bid so that they eat up less of the budget. The second thing to do is to look for irrelevant traffic to block out. This will prevent the budget from being wasted on irrelevant traffic and therefore free up more budget to go to the traffic that converts.
Switch off Display Select or Search Partners
Whatever your opinion on Display Select and Search Partners, if they’re active within a limited by budget campaign then take a look at their performance. If they’re performing worse than the search network then by switching them off, more of the budget can be given to the search network which should get you more conversions for the same budget.
Switch from Bid Only to Target and Bid on your Audience list
Did I mention the suggestions would be getting more radical as the article went on? As a general rule audience lists perform better than searches not in an audience list because they’ve already had some kind of interaction with your brand (they’ve been on your website, signed up to your mailing or interacted with your Youtube channel or app etc). Therefore by switching to target and bid on your limited by budget campaign, all your budget can be allocated only to your lists which are likely to convert better and non of it will be taken by the traffic not in your lists which is less likely to convert. In my experience, switching to Target and Bid cuts out a lot of traffic though and it wouldn’t be the firs thing I’d try unless the performance of the campaign is already very poor.
Identify poor performing segments
Is there a particular Audience, hour of day, day of week, device, age, gender, location that performs much more poorly than everything else within the limited by budget campaign? If there is, then perhaps we can save money by applying a reduced bid adjustment in that area – or better still, can it be excluded completely? This will allow you to reduce bids smarter by penalising only the poor performing segments and not doing a blanket bid reduction.
In Summary …
In summary, all the strategies mentioned above look at either finding areas to cut back, splitting things out or just increasing the budget. So the next time you have Limited by Budget campaign, don;t just let it sit their not being addressed. Take action and you may find yourself able to get more traffic and conversions for the same spend.