by Andy Black
Google Adwords is becoming “flavor of the month.”
Not because more business owners are rushing to learn how to use adwords, but because there are any number of consultants, agents, and micro businesses pushing to manage your AdWords campaign for you.
Unfortunately, the fact they know more about AdWords than you do does NOT make them an expert.
After reading this article, you can opt to learn more – or at least know what questions to ask your consultants about their plans for your budget!
1. Determine how you want your website to help your business
Is it to give you credibility for when you speak to people at trade fairs? Is it primarily to showcase your products, or will you be hoping people order online through the website?
Note: you are much more likely to get visitors, on their first contact with you, to give you their email address so that you can follow them up; rather than make sales first time out. You can look at this as a two step marketing strategy, where you are building a prospect list and then trying to move them onto your customer list.
Note too, that you should ideally have ‘customers’ rather than ‘buyers’! A buyer is someone who’s bought from you once, while a customer buys from you regularly.
2. Find out what people are looking for
Perform keyword research to find out what people are searching for, how much traffic is out there, and how seasonal it is.
There will also be typical keyword trails as people learn more and move through the buying cycle, gathering information and moving towards making a purchase. For example: “plasma tv” becomes “sony plasma tv” which becomes “sony xyz plasma tv review” – after which, they’re likely to buy.
3. Perform competitor analysis
Check out all your competitors by finding out what they are bidding on, what their ads are, and what their landing pages are like. Are they trying to make a sale there and then, or are they trying to capture leads?
Create a swipe file for each of your main competitors noting both good ideas and things that you think you can do better at. If you copy the best of all your competitors you are almost automatically best of breed, without even adding your own unique ideas!
4. Perform market research
Don’t waste time and money developing your website, services, or products only to find out later that there is no market for them. Maybe you can set up ad campaigns that send people to special landing pages where you ask them to fill in a survey.
Analysing the survey will give you valuable insights, help you to start building your lists, and give you contact details of well qualified and motivated leads you can follow up with straight away. Ideally you can use the surveys to determine different market segments and create sales funnels and products meeting each of their needs.
5. Focus on the low hanging fruit
Don’t compete on terms everyone else is competing on just because there is a lot of traffic. This traffic might not be for people ready to buy, but could be for people who are in the research phase of the buying cycle.
Often you can be paying more for these clicks than for the “long tail” keywords of someone closer to buying. In less mature markets, these long tail keywords might be ignored by your competition.
6. Review your actual stats
Where should you be concentrating your efforts initially? Your top 20-30 keywords might account for 95% of your traffic. Beware trying to maximize click-through-rates though (see below).
7. Improve through testing
Does each Adgroup have a couple of different ads setup that are being shown evenly? Proper split testing allows you to determine what works best, kill off the weaker version, and create a new one to try and beat the current champion. This not only allows you to continually and incrementally improve performance of your campaigns, but gives you an insight into what is going on in your prospects heads.
Note that you can and should be split testing each step in the sales processs… from ad CTR, to landing page conversion rates, to response to emails sent out, etc.
8. Have separate landing pages for each ad
The landing page should be specific to the ad and what the prospect is looking for. Don’t send people to your home page if they want to know about 21st birthday cards… send them to the 21st birthday cards page.
9. Make sure you get stats from your Adwords campaigns
Don’t be completely handsoff with regards to your Adwords campaigns. If you outsource the setup and management of the campaign then insist on seeing regular stats.
If you don’t, then you will be losing out on valuable market intelligence that can help you to identify where your business can grow and be most profitable. You need to know what is happening within your campaigns since Adwords is much more than a tool to send traffic to your site.
10. Install Google Analytics and get it configured properly
Google Analysitcs will help you determine your conversion rate as well as your click through rate. An ad with a higher CTR isn’t necessarily the ad that will get you the most conversions. You want to maximise your ROI and profits, not maximise your CTR.
Together with your Adwords stats you will be getting more information than most of your competitors… you just have to read it and then act on it!
11. Detemine your average visitor value
Once you know how much a visitor is worth on average, then you know how much you can spend per click. If you have a good back-end system where you build a customer database and increase your repeat business, then you can even make a slight loss on your ad campaigns to get the first sale! (But you need to know your costs and customer value before you can do this.)
Having a better back end sales process than your competitors allows you to bid more for each keyword group, which is a positive feedback loop as you can get a higher ctr which will reduce your average cpc (cost per click), ad infinitum. This can actually mean you can eventually dominate a market segment over time!
In summary, Google Adwords is a powerful tool for getting sales leads and market intelligence yet, like most tools, the results you get will depend on how well you use it.