Q: Google Ads Says I have to Maximize Clicks first to get data before maximizing conversions. True? I am nervous that Google just wants to make me pay for useless clicks for no good reason. Does the ad really need to "learn" about my conversions by maximizing clicks first, does that make sense?

A: Ah yes, many patients come to me with questions like this. While I understand that it can be hard to trust Google, in this case, their diagnosis is correct. Your PPC doctor reccomends starting new campaigns on a maximize clicks bid strategy, then moving to maximize conversions once your campaign has generated some conversion data. This is because new campaigns don’t have any conversion data associated, so the algorithm doesn’t have data to inform what keywords and audiences do and do not convert on your ads. Therefore, it cannot optimize your campaign for conversions until it collects data on what does and does not convert.

On maximize clicks, Google’s algorithm will serve your ads to people based on your keywords and targeting settings, as well as other real-time auction signals. It will then acquire data on who does and does not convert. Make sure your conversion tracking and conversion goals are set up properly even while on Maximize Clicks so that Google can learn what types of people do and do not convert for your business. Be sure to set a CPC bid limit so your campaign doesn’t burn too much money while on max clicks. A $2-$3 bid limit will usually do the trick, but this doctor recommends a more analytical approach. Look at the average CPC for all the keywords in your campaign and set a bid cap near the high end of the most expensive average CPC so you don’t lose out on traffic. That said, keep an eye on spend and decrease your bid cap if needed. Google can spend up to twice your daily budget, so keep a watchful eye.

After 3-4 weeks on Maximize Clicks, you should see a decent number of conversions generated. I’d say the algorithm needs at least 30 conversions before you should switch to Max Conversions. After a few months on Max Conversions, I recommend adding a target CPA either at the campaign level or the ad group level. Look at historical CPA over the past 30-60 days for each ad group. Does actual CPA vary significantly from group to group? If so, you’ll want to set a separate CPA target for each ad group.

If you want to achieve more efficient CPAs, set a target 10-20% lower than your historical CPA. The CPA target you set should be no more than 20% more efficient than your historical CPA, as setting too tight of a target will suffocate spend. If/when the ad group’s actual CPA hits the target, you can decrease the target by another 20% if you want to get even more efficient. Continue this stair-stepping approach until you hit your desired CPA. If you experience any strange or unexpected symptoms during the process, just reach out to your PPC doctors with questions. We’re here to help!

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