Expert vs. Smart SEM Campaigns: Which is Right for Me?

expert and smart sem accounts feature
Understanding the nuances between Smart Account and Expert Account settings in Google Ads & Microsoft Ads is paramount to achieving success via search engine marketing (SEM). Smart Account settings offer simplicity and automation but have limitations in targeting and customization. Expert Account settings provide granular control and customization options but come with a more complex landscape that can be challenging to master. In this article, we explore the fundamental differences between the two account types and examine their respective best use-case scenarios.

Two primary account types in SEM

When it comes to Search Engine Marketing (SEM), there are two primary account types used to manage campaigns in Google Ads and Microsoft Ads: Smart and Expert. Each account type has its advantages and challenges, so it’s important to choose the best one in relation to the unique circumstances of your individual marketing campaign.

Small Businesses Often Start with Smart Campaigns

Small businesses often begin with Smart Campaigns due to the perceived simplicity and automation, which can be beneficial for those with limited resources and less experience in SEM. The time-saving benefits of Smart Mode can be particularly appealing.

Expert vs Smart Accounts

Expert ModeSmart Mode
  • High level of control and customization
  • Ability to manually select keywords and manage bids
  • Full control over ad copy creation and extensions
  • Granular targeting options for precise audience reach
  • Suitable for experienced advertisers or marketers
  • Streamlined setup process for easy campaign creation
  • Automated keyword selection based on website content
  • Automated bidding optimization for better performance
  • Ad creation assistance and testing for improved results
  • Efficient for advertisers with limited experience or resources
  • Requires expertise to set up and manage effectively
  • Time-consuming manual keyword research and bid management
  • Steep learning curve for optimal ad copy creation
  • Higher complexity in selecting and customizing ad extensions
  • May be overwhelming for inexperienced advertisers
  • Limited control and customization compared to Expert Mode
  • Automated keyword selection may not align perfectly with campaign goals
  • Less flexibility in bid adjustments for specific needs
  • Dependent on automated optimization for performance improvements
  • May not meet the requirements of nuanced advertisers or marketers

Smart Campaigns Offer Convenience, but limited Control

While Smart Campaign settings offer conveniences, they may lack the level of control and customization that some growth campaigns require. Limitations in targeting, bidding, and overall campaign performance may not work for some businesses.  Moreover, relying solely on automated optimizations may not always align perfectly with specific business goals or marketing strategies.  This can be especially true for advertisers lacking adequate data and tracking integrations.

Even Smart Accounts Require Data

Even Smart Campaigns require some data & conversion tracking integration to achieve any form of success in most cases.  Smart Campaigns automate machine learning for a variety of conversion data metrics, including click-through rates (CTR), ad impressions, and user behavior on the advertiser’s website.

The machine-learning algorithms analyze this data to make automated optimizations and adjust bidding strategies in real time. This automation aims to maximize the likelihood of conversions or other desired actions based on the available data.

What happens with 'smart' automation when data is limited or non-existent?

Smart Campaigns are only as smart as their data integrations. A business model based on Lead Generation, for example, would need to pass lead generation data to the Smart Campaigns in order to glean any form of useful machine-learning and automation pertaining to reaching more customers best poised to generate a lead.

Otherwise, the automation will be based on available data from within the SEM account.

Without conversion data, automation will be limited to metrics like ad Click-Through-Rate (CTR). This type of automation will result in machine adjustments of your bids for more clicks.

In some cases, more clicks will equate to more conversions and all will be fine and well. However, for other businesses, more clicks alone may not result in relevant traffic.  These accounts will need to enhance their tracking and data attribution capabilities.

The Importance of Data Integration and Tracking

Despite Smart Account setups serving as the predominant entry point through which most businesses enter the world of SEM, many expert SEM companies, including our team at SEMdeepdive, have found that the opposite approach can be more effective.

Accounts that leverage expert SEM strategies with Expert Account setups from the beginning, often have a much easier time integrating machine-learning automation down the road and to greater effect.

In other words, we have observed that in order for automation to be successful, adequate data integrations with proper tracking setups are required. 

Unfortunately, most small businesses and first-time advertisers lack the necessary tracking setups to facilitate successful ad campaign automation. The bottom line is that even the smartest machines can’t automate for success when they have nothing to automate.

What We Like About Expert Account Setups

Expert Account settings allow for granular customization, including handpicking keywords, fine-tuning bids, and targeting specific audiences. It provides the flexibility to incorporate advanced strategies, experiment with different campaign settings, and adapt quickly to market changes. However, it requires a higher level of expertise and investment in time and resources to manage campaigns effectively.

That said, many larger businesses find that they require both website and tracking overhauls before they can roll out optimized SEM campaigns. This includes implementing proper conversion tracking, setting up advanced analytics, and ensuring a seamless user experience. Expert SEM companies (like SEMdeepdive) can help businesses navigate these challenges and ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place for successful Expert campaigns. By leveraging our expertise, businesses can tap into the full potential of SEM and drive more impactful results.

Get The Best Of Both Worlds With Hybrid Account Setups: Manual with Machine-Assisted Enhancements

Expert mode allows for the hybridization of manual and machine-assisted approaches, creating a powerful combination of precision and automation. By combining manual bidding with machine-assisted optimizations, businesses can achieve the best of both worlds and drive efficient and effective campaign performance.

For example, in many of our Expert Accounts, even those campaigns that are focused on manual bidding strategies, we can still take advantage of Enhanced CPC (Cost-Per-Click). Enhanced CPC uses machine learning algorithms to dynamically adjust bids in real time based on factors such as device, location, and user behavior. This automated optimization ensures that bids are adjusted to maximize the likelihood of conversions or other desired actions.

By combining manual bidding with Enhanced CPC, we can create a powerful hybrid bidding model that leverages our expertise while benefiting from the automated bid adjustments driven by machine-assisted optimizations.

This hybrid approach allows for the best of both worlds, providing granular control over bidding decisions while harnessing the power of machine learning to optimize performance.

Ultimately, this hybridization of manual and machine-assisted approaches in Expert Mode allows our team at SEMdeepdive to fine-tune bidding strategies, adapt to changing market conditions, and drive efficient and effective campaign performance for their clients. It’s a strategic blend of human decision-making and automated efficiency that maximizes the impact of SEM campaigns.

Bouncing Back from a False Start or Unsuccessful Attempt: Don't be Discouraged

For those who have had a bad start or unsuccessful attempt with Smart or Expert Campaigns, it’s important not to be discouraged. SEM can be complex, and finding success requires a combination of knowledge, experience, and the right strategies. By partnering with an expert SEM company, businesses can benefit from their expertise and guidance, overcoming challenges, and achieving success in SEM.

Taking the Leap from Smart Ad Accounts to Expert Ad Accounts: Tips for Success

For those looking to transition from Smart Ad Accounts to Expert Ad Accounts, there are two main paths: venturing alone or hiring an expert SEM company.

We’re happy to give free audits and consults if you’d like an expert opinion with no strings.

If you’re about to go it alone, we wish you the best of luck. Educating oneself, starting small and testing, setting clear goals, implementing proper tracking and analytics, continuously monitoring and optimizing, and staying updated with industry trends are key factors for success in Expert Mode.

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