As digital or performance marketers, we know all too well of the KPI or goal that we need to achieve for each week, each month, each quarter or each campaign. Normally these subsequent goals tend to increase with each successful time period, as we often ask ourselves how else we can do better for the campaign so that we can achieve XX% increase QoQ. These 3 strategies are dedicated to us, the search marketing warriors who strive to the best of our ability to pace towards achieving our goals.

The strategies below are for optimising conversions, which is a main goal for most search marketers, but most of the strategies in this article should also be applicable to other goals like clicks and impressions.

1. 开源节流 (kāi yuán jié liú), a Mandarin idiomatic expression which means to increase sources of inflow and decrease outflow

Pardon with the mandarin text, but like many Singaporeans who learnt mandarin as a second language, this idiomatic expression is the best way to describe this strategy.

To start, we would need to 开源(kāi yuán), which is to open up all available channels for conversion, using up to or exceeding your allocated daily budget. Don't worry about exceeding your campaign daily spending initially as you can scale down your spending for the rest of the time period for your allocated budget while bringing in a similar number of conversions each day as you 节流 (jié liú), which is to increase the spend efficiency in your campaigns. This way, you can scale up your campaigns while keeping to your allocated budget.

So, what are some of the ways we can 开源(kāi yuán) open up the channels for conversions? Briefly, here are some of the things you could do:

  • Campaign settings to increase reach using location targeting, language targeting
  • Campaign settings to scale conversions, use tCPA (target CPA or conversion optimiser) bidding, make sure that you have two weeks of solid data to use this and Optimise for Conversions for ad rotation
  • Audience targeting, increasing your bid adjustments for best converting demographics and remarketing lists
  • Increase budget for your best converting campaigns and for converting campaigns limited by budget, increasing max CPC above avg. CPC for campaigns using manual CPC bidding
  • Increase bid adjustments for devices that are converting well
  • Uploading new display creatives (this is display advertising, but display banners is still in Google AdWords) to scale conversions
  • Keyword expansion, which I would elaborate further in this article

Now that you opened up most of your search campaign channels for conversions, your spending should be increasing. Do make sure to monitor your spending so that it does not skyrocket too much and scale down wherever you need to. Depending on how long is the time period you are given to work with your allocated budget, you could let the campaign run for 1 weeks to 2 weeks (ideally 2 weeks) so that you can gather enough data to know where exactly to 节流 (jié liú), decrease the outflow of money.

To do a 节流 (jié liú), do a deep-dive into your campaigns, focusing on:

  • Which are the top spending campaigns that are not converting. Identify the non-converting top spending keywords in the campaigns and pause them.
  • Which campaigns are bringing in small number of conversions with crazily high CPA, depending on your campaign goals, analyse whether the high CPA justifies the small number of conversions they are bringing in. Should the high CPA not work for you, pause the keywords or campaigns.
  • Some campaigns, like campaigns bidding on competitor brand keywords, spends money crazily fast, is scalable but at a crazy high CPA. Depending on your budget and conversion goals, you could try not to overbid and decrease bids below the avg. CPC.
  • Should you be bidding on search partners in your campaigns, you might want to consider not doing it to increase efficiency.
  • Plot out the demand of conversions by the hour (which hour of the day your customer converts) and adjust your bid accordingly to the demand in the ad schedule. Depending on the nature of your business, you could bid up during hours when your customers are converting and decrease the bids during non-peak hours.

Your spending levels should decrease over time, effectively lowering your CPA, while keeping your conversions similar to the initial supercharged level.


2. Load Balancing using Share of Cost vs Share of Conversion

As digital marketers, we are often constrained by a target CPA and campaign budget. Thus, it is important that we master the art of load balancing, making efficient use of our allocated spend.

As shared in an earlier article about Share of Cost and Share of Conversions, it is a simple yet effective way in maximising your conversions using a minimal budget. Calculate the share of cost for your campaigns over all campaigns and compare this with the share of conversions for the same campaigns. You should see something interesting. Should the share of cost be more than the share of conversion for a campaign, it is not efficient when comparing to other campaigns. The best campaigns are those with which the share of cost is much lower than the share of conversions and are contributing a significant amount of conversions to your goals.

For campaigns with high share of cost and low share of conversions, do a deep dive into the campaign and look at which are the top spending keywords, especially those that are not converting and pause those keywords.

Calculate the amount of money that you saved from pausing the non-converting keywords and allocate an increase in budget to:

  • Top converting campaigns
  • Converting campaigns with low CPA
  • Converting campaigns limited by budget

This load balancing strategy would help you to increase the efficiency of your spending significantly, achieving a lower CPA and to scale up conversions using the money that you saved.


3. Scale Conversions by Keyword Expansion

One effective way to scale conversions is by keyword expansion, which is to increase the number of relevant keywords to capture a larger group of customers.

You could use these 3 ways to expand your wealth of keywords:

Google AdWords Search Terms

  • Search terms are keywords which your customers are using when searching in Google, and often, leads to a conversion in your website. Thus, most of this keywords are important to your business (I will explain why some keywords are not important).
  • In the Google AdWords website, go to the Keywords tab for all campaigns > Search Terms tab, to look at the search terms keywords which are relevant for your business and add them into your existing campaigns. You could also create a Search Terms campaign dedicated to these new converting keywords which your customers are using.
  • Given the keywords in your campaign, the search terms feature is an amazing way of mining for keywords which could bring more conversions to your business.
  • Be careful though: depending on the nature of your business, some of the keywords which are suggested to you by Google may not be relevant to your business. So, make sure you go through the search terms when you add them.

Google Analytics Search Queries

  • You could also mine for keywords from Google Analytics, under Search Queries. When your Google Analytics account is synced up with your Google AdWords account, go to the left column > Acquisition > AdWords > Search Queries to look at which are the top converting keywords for your business.

Google Search Autocomplete for Long-tail Keywords

  • This is maybe the simplest way of mining for relevant keywords for your Google AdWords account. List up a few generic keywords which are relevant to your business. These would be the core keyword to the list of long-tail keywords you are going to mine. Long-tail keywords are essentially keywords which are long-form and though the search volume are much lower (which is why they form the long tail of the graph) they bring in a small number of conversions at an extremely low CPA. Chunk up these small number of conversions and you are building yourself a good stream of conversions inbound.
  • Google a generic keyword and let the Google Search Autocomplete feature do the job of listing the top searched long-tail keywords for you. Play with the feature by using different core keywords and build a list of long-tail keywords



In essence, these are the 3 strategies that would help you achieve significant efficiency improvements to your CPA and scale up your conversions:

  1. 开源节流 (kāi yuán jié liú), to increase sources of inflow conversions and decrease outflow of spend
  2. Load Balancing using Share of Cost vs Share of Conversion. Analyse your top spenders and save those money for your top converting campaigns.
  3. Scale up conversions by keyword expansion

I hope these strategies would be helpful for your search campaigns and that this article could serve you well in times when you need it.

Feel free to let me know how I could improve my strategies and share your strategies too. After all, we are always learning to better ourselves.

For other articles like this, you can go to my Linkedin Profile

or these articles:

9 Search Engine Marketing Metrics You Need to Know

An Introduction and Benefits of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)



About the Author: Bryan Ong

Bryan is currently a digital marketing manager focusing in Singapore and global (US, Australia, Dubai) markets and has proven in his career to overachieve targets greatly while maintaining CPA efficiency. His specialities are SEM, SEO, Facebook Marketing and Content Marketing. He is also awarded a government scholarship, is a published author of a motivational book and a TEDxSingapore speaker.