Whether due to the holidays, a vacation, product availability issues, or simply not having the bandwidth to keep up with demand, there are plenty of reasons to temporarily shut down your PPC. In fact, a fairly common scenario here at Red Racer is that a new client signs on, we take over their PPC, and they just aren’t prepared to handle the dramatic increase of new customers. As self-aggrandizing as that sounds, it’s true and something we have to be very conscious of. So here are 4 things we’ve learned the hard way about pausing your PPC without causing too many headaches down the road.
1. Expect a slow ramp up and lots of babysitting when you resume
Even though pausing and resuming a campaign, adgroup, keyword, or ad won’t affect quality score or historical data, it will almost certainly affect performance. Unfortunately, a successful PPC campaign doesn’t have an ON/OFF switch; it’s more like landing and taking off a helicopter. No matter how well you land (pause your PPC), once the rotors stop spinning you can’t expect to jump in and instantly be in the air. And the wrong kind of landing can mean never taking off again.
This performance delay happens because the rest of the world probably didn’t shut down their PPC. Paid search platforms like AdWords and Bing use complex algorithms to determine which ads to show alongside which searches. In addition to cost-per-click bids and keyword targeting, those algorithms rely on user behavior and performance data to display the right ad at the right time. If your campaign is shut down for more than a few days, your data gets stale and must be reestablished. This means it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months for your metrics to level out, depending on your budget and click volume. Even then, where exactly your campaign performance levels out depends on other shifts in the market, like keyword trends and competitor bids.
2. Use automated rules to schedule your pause
AdWords and other big PPC platforms have a variety of tools that can automate almost every aspect of your account. You can set up complex rules and triggers to make predetermined changes to your keywords, ads, campaigns, or anything else and it can be overwhelming and confusing. Fortunately, those same automation tools can also be used to make very simple rules, like automatically pausing or enabling a campaign on a specific date.
To set this up in AdWords, select the campaign(s) you want to pause and click the “Automate” button right below the line graph and click either “Enable campaigns when…” or “Pause campaigns when…”, depending on which you want to automate. In the rule options box that opens, remove the requirements by clicking the “X” and choose “One time” from the Frequency drop-down, then enter the date you want your Campaign to pause or resume. Make sure you give it a descriptive name so you (and anybody else who looks at your account) can easily recognize it later. We recommend using the email notification to give you a heads up when it runs, just to avoid any surprises down the road. Then click “Save” and you’re all set.
3. Plan ahead as much as possible
This is probably good advice for business and life in general, but it has some specific applications to pausing your PPC campaigns. The most common issue we run into with clients is realizing the need to pause just after some other digital marketing effort, like launching a blog or releasing a new product. There’s almost never any real or lasting damage, but it can decrease overall efficiency and require some scrambling. So basically a normal day in the marketing world.
However, one thing that can suffer from stopping and restarting PPC campaigns is A/B tests and other experiments. Gathering actionable, statistically significant data from a test is much harder than it seems and it’s easy to compromise without realizing it. So either wrap up any tests before the pause or be prepared to scrap whatever data you’ve gathered so far and start over when your PPC resumes.
4. Business realities are more important than marketing metrics
Honestly, this is probably a reminder most small business owners don’t need because nothing is more important or significant to them than the day-to-day realities of running their business. But internal marketing teams at larger companies and external agencies are often insulated from the details of the latest P&L sheet or just unaware of other budget priorities. Their job is to get more impressions, clicks, and conversions this month than they did last month, and shutting down PPC for three weeks is pretty much the opposite of that.
But even though seeing that temporary dip on the line graph hurts the data analyst / straight-A student that lives inside each of us here at Red Racer, we’re always willing to do whatever it takes to support our clients’ larger business goals.
The best-case scenario is that you’ll never have to pause your PPC and can continue watching those clicks and customers increase forever. But the reality is that we don’t live in a best-case world and sometimes we just have to shut it down for a little while. If you find yourself in this situation, hopefully our experience will help make your PPC pause as smooth as possible.
What’s been your experience with pausing PPC? Do you have any questions about temporarily shutting things down or any other aspect of managing a PPC campaign? Leave a comment below or shoot us an email, we’d love to hear from you!