Building an AdWords Mobile Strategy

Posted by Wes Mills on January 07, 2014

In search engine marketing, both desktop and mobile deserve their own strategy. Generally speaking, the desktop volume will always exceed mobile. But this doesn’t mean you should roll your mobile strategy under the desktop’s umbrella. If you want to maximize your ROI and optimize your spend, pay attention to and learn your mobile audience.

A micro-to-macro approach

There’s no “one size fits all” for marketing — especially digital marketing. Every industry is different. Every location is different. Competitors are different. That’s why your micro data acts as the groundwork for any strategy. The most valuable insight can be derived from the data in your own AdWords or other PPC account.

The macro data is important, too: it puts your micro findings into context. The weather, economic trends, time of year, and even things such as crime rates may have an effect on your account performance. Macro data is always best at answering the question “why?”.

If you’re a statistician or love numbers just as much as I do, use chi-squared and Student’s t-test to learn which metrics are statistically significant in your mobile segment. This is where you can pull in macro data like weather and more to see if it has any statistical significance on your conversion rates or click-through rates. 

Analyze your data and learn your mobile audience

Before implementing any type of strategy, the first thing that needs to take place is research. Extract your keyword data into pivot tables. Before exporting, besure you have the device segment on and all of your relevant columns are visible (like conversions, for instance). This will allow you to define who your mobile audience is. Learn everything you can about the mobile and desktop audience, such as:

  • peak conversion times
  • cost-per-conversion
  • conversions by location
  • etc.

The more insight you can pull from the data, the more thorough your mobile strategy will be.

Contrasting your findings for desktop and mobile against each other and highlighting the differences will provide a solid framework for your mobile strategy. If you find that there are no differences in your account, you have some testing to do.

Leverage bid adjustments

Google AdWords gives marketers an unbelievable amount of customization through bid adjustments. Bids can be adjusted for device (mobile and desktop), locations (postal codes, cities, and other geographic areas), and schedule (time of day, days of the week, and hour of day).

This is where the pivot tables are key — you can break down your mobile conversions by all of the above dimensions. Looking at your CPA (cost per acquisition) alongside your conversions is something you should do before making any bid adjustments. For instance, you probably don’t want to bid higher on a location where your CPA is already high.

An important note: bid adjustments do “stack” on top of each other. For instance, assume you have an ad group where all mobile devices are adjusted 20% higher, Wednesdays are adjusted 15% higher, and between the hours of 6pm and 8pm is 13% higher. A $1.00 bid on any given keyword would become a $1.56 bid for mobile users searching on Wednesday between 6 and 8pm. 

Cater to mobile users with device preference

One of the best features for mobile strategy in AdWords is the device preference when creating an ad. Google allows you to specify whether you want an ad to show on just mobile devices or both mobile and desktop (there are no desktop only ads). If you know that your mobile user segment usually searches on-the-go, you can test different CTAs (calls to action) that are tailored to someone who’s already out of home.

I strongly suggest A/B testing to see what works and what doesn’t. There’s a high probability that the same ad will have different performance on mobile than desktop.

When creating ads and landing pages for mobile users, keep in mind that 77% are in a location to already have a computer available to them. Convenience is always going to be a major factor when it comes to mobile users.

A dynamic strategy: expert level

Utilizing scripts within AdWords is the cherry on top of your mobile strategy. I’ll preface this with saying that the bidding schedule and options AdWords as built in will satisfy most marketers’ needs. But with AdWords scripts, things can be as fine-tuned as you need.

Going to back to my point above about using statistical analysis for macro data, scripts allow you to really leverage anything you find of significance. But the best part — it’s all dynamic. Bid adjustments can fluctuate based on the data you’re grabbing.

If you’re not familiar with AdWords scripts, I recommend an earlier blog post: Getting Started with 4 Easy AdWords Scripts.

We’re AdWords experts

I hope this article provided you with a plethora of actionable insight for you to implement in your own AdWords account. But if you find yourself still struggling with AdWords and PPC, we can help!

We have expertise in reaching success with accounts of all sizes. Reach out to us for an absolutely free consultation

[Images: iPhone via David Erickson, Legos via Craig Rodway


Get thought-provoking and actionable insights to improve how your firm makes a connection with your customers.


The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.