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  • Writer's pictureAlfred Simon

Performance Max - The Lead generation guide

Updated: May 13, 2023


While PMax works well for eCommerce and delivers good results, we can't say the same about lead generation.


My experience is that Performance Max is a hit & miss for lead generation, especially when discussing B2B clients.


This guide will show you how to get the most out of it and generate more quality leads for your business or customers. This article is the second part of the Performance Max guides.



How does Performance Max work?


We have known for many years now that Google wants to shift more and more to automation. They claim that it will be better for everyone.


I won't say they lie, but I would take this with a grain of salt.

Anyway, this post is not about arguing, so let's gloss over this and focus on the topic.


Google made many steps toward automation in recent years, but Performance Max is a giant leap.


I won't discuss in detail how this campaign type works because there are other great resources about this out there. If you want to learn more about it, read this excellent guide from AdChieve or the guide from Google itself.


The main idea is that you provide some photos, ad copy, and videos. You will then decide the daily budget and the bid strategy.


As a final optimization touch, you can show Google your preferred audience, and the AI will take care of the rest.


It sounds straightforward, but trust me, there are many other things you can do.


Let's see how we can fine-tune this automation beast.


Find the correct structure for your campaigns.


In eCommerce, a good structure is essential to drive good results. For example, we can split products based on margin/profit and other aspects. If we take the correct approach, we can make much difference.


The world of lead gen is a bit different. The structure of the Performance Max campaigns won't make a huge difference. However, we can do a few things to get more lead actions or lower the cost per lead.


I stumbled upon many different ideas and structures for Lead Gen Performance Max. There is no right and wrong solution, so I will share with you what worked for me and what I have tried.



1. The Simple one - One campaign, multiple asset groups


As the name suggests, this is relatively straightforward.


You create one Performance Max campaign, and inside the campaign, you create different asset groups.


When we talk about different asset groups, I think it's essential to keep it simple. Since we don't get any insights (yeah, I know, it's frustrating), it's hard to see how the asset groups perform.


I would create one asset group focused on clients who don't know your business yet and another focused on retargeting.


It can be varied in many ways depending on your business. If it makes sense to create different asset groups based on demographics, then do that. For example, create specific asset groups for men and women.


The simple one - Lead gen structure for pmax campaigns

Just keep it simple.


Since we don't have any insights, it's hard to evaluate how the single asset groups perform.


I run this strategy at one client of mine.


Performance Max - Lead Gen Setup

As you can see, I only have one campaign with one asset group. I kept it basic, but it delivers incredible results.


Lead Gen Performance Max Results

The CPL is lower than the search campaign and delivers many lead actions.



2. The micro and macrostructure


It's a common practice in the lead generation business to nudge potential clients to take a small step, like signing up for a newsletter, downloading a whitepaper, or watching a demo.


These micro-conversions are less valuable for your business, so you don't want to spend the same amount on these conversions.


Google doesn't understand the varying values of conversion actions for your business. With this strategy, you can separate the micro conversions and macro conversions and create a funnel with your campaigns.

  • The first PMax campaign for micro conversions using broader audience signals. It also allows you to widen your reach and find valuable new customers.

  • The second campaign focused on the actual lead actions with a tighter audience signal.

Important to set the tCPA/tROAS low in the first campaign and a lot higher in the second.


Note: Use tROAS if you use value-based bidding. Recommended!

The micro and macrostructure lead gen performance max

2.1 Case Study - Performance Max - Micro & Macro Lead Generation Structure


I used this strategy at one of my B2B clients, and the results were amazing. I used the below setup in this case.


The Setup:


Campaign 1: Micro campaign - The traffic maker 🚶‍♂️


-Relevant but broad audience signals(in-market, affinity,custom segments etc)

-Campaign-level micro conversions: Add to cart, requesting a demo

- Maximize Conversion bid strategy without CPA


Campaign 2: Macro campaign - The money maker


-Only using the remarketing lists & 1st party data as audience signals

-Only using the main conversion action as a goal

- Maximize Conversion Value bid strategy with tROAS (Each lead has a value attached to it, and we also use CLV)



Performance Max - Micro and Macro structure


3. The new clients in the focus structure



Sidenote: It's good to have robust first-party data to make this work, but if you have that in order, give it a go.


I recommend running this on a different campaign, so with this, we come to the below structure:


Bid only on new clients performance max structure

One of the Performance Max campaigns focuses on new clients, using broader audience signals and a different tCPA or tROAS. The other campaign focuses on new and returning customers.


Note: You can combine the 2nd and the 3rd structure. They are more or less the same, depending on what kind of conversions you track.


4. (Situational) The audience split structure


With this structure, you can test a bit better different audience signals.


I recommend this approach in 2 situations:


1. If you want to test completely different audiences


Since we don't have any insights on the asset group level, this gives you a better idea of how different audience signals perform.


I recommend using it if you have obvious differences between audiences and want to see how they react to your ads (For example, pro bicycle riders vs. commuters). However, if there is much overlap in your audience signals, I would stick to one campaign.


2. If the CPL between audiences differs a lot


Let's say you know from historical data that the male audience converts a lot easier and at a lower CPL than the female audience. So, in this case, I would split this into different campaigns so you can bid differently.


If the difference is not significant, I will stick to one campaign, but if there is a more considerable difference in CPL might be wise to split them.


Maximize Conversions or Maximize Conversion Value?


The crucial thing is to decide which bidding strategy to use.


This question you can answer quite quickly.


Do you attach value to your lead actions?


If the answer is yes, I recommend using Maximize Conversion Value. I had good results running lead gen campaigns based on a value-based bid strategy.


However, it's essential to keep an eye on the number of conversions you get. If you don't have many conversions might be reasonable to use Maximize Conversions and turn to value-based bidding later.


Also, if you have a new account, let the campaign run on Maximize Conversions and change to Maximize Conversion Value when you have more conversion data.


Value based bidding in Performance Max campaigns

Help Google, upload your first-party data.


This is not just advice for the Performance Max campaigns. Instead, this is a bit of general advice in this day and age of PPC advertising.


The more data you give to the algorithm, the faster it learns and delivers better results. If you have an extensive client list, upload it to your Google Ads account to help the machine learning.


Keep in mind to consult with your legal team about this. Make sure you do this in a privacy-safe way; otherwise, you might end up in trouble.


If you don't want to use client match lists, you can still activate consent mode or enhanced conversions to help fill in the data gaps.


Use Enhanced Conversions for Leads


This option is an excellent replacement for offline conversion tracking. It's easier to implement, and it's crucial to increase the success of your Performance Max Lead gen campaign.




With this option, you don't need to change your CRM system. Instead, you need to add one additional tag to your GTM account, and you are ready to tell Google which leads are good and which are bad.



Import offline conversions to your Google Ads account


Once again, this is not only for the PMax structure. I think every business that focuses on lead generation should use the function of uploading offline conversions.


What I mean with uploading offline conversions is that you make sure you tell Google which lead actions resulted in a sale.


There are many ways of doing this, but once you set it up, it's a game changer.



You will be surprised how few companies/advertisers use this function, so make sure you stay ahead of the competition and implement it.


Conclusion


Performance Max is a bit of a hit-and-miss until now for lead-gen clients.


It can drive great results and outperform all the other campaign types. Still, it can also deliver a lot of low-quality lead actions.


How you structure your campaigns won't make a massive difference, but you can still play around to tweak the performance.


Don't overcomplicate things: Only use multiple campaigns if it makes sense to your business. For example, you want to bid differently for macro and micro conversions or test different audience signals.


Choose the right bid strategy: Choose the bid strategy that suits your business, but if you can try to attach a value to your leads and use value-based bidding.


Give Google data they miss: Upload your client list or upload offline conversions to help Machine learning identify high-quality leads.


The PMax campaign type is a new best, so we are still trying to break it in. However, these structures are the ones I tested and had success with them.


If you have any other ideas, please feel free to drop me an email!


Have a good one,

Alfred






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