Maximize Your Return on Investment with Google AdWords
Most businesses want a cost-effective way to bring in more customers. The challenge is to find prospects who are thinking about your products at the exact time that you reach them.
With the advent of Google AdWords, it is now possible to target prospects at the very moment they are thinking about buying your products or services. If someone does a Google search on digital cameras, they only see ads for digital cameras. If someone does a search on organically grown coffee beans, they only see ads for organically grown coffee. Google AdWords enables you to implement strictly targeted advertising.
Read on to learn how to maximize your success with Google AdWords. With proper preparation and execution, starting Google AdWords can be like planting a money tree that will provide your business with a steady stream of revenue.
What is Google AdWords?
Open up a Web browser and go to the Google website. Type in the search term coffee and click search. Essentially, two types of search results come up: on the left and below are the organic search results that nobody has sponsored. On the right side of your browser window and sometimes above the organic results are the Sponsored Links. The Sponsored links are paid advertisements. Sponsored links are always identified as such by the heading Sponsored Links.
As participants in this automated auction, each of these advertisers is bidding for the keyword coffee. They only pay if someone is interested enough to click on the advertisement; if nobody clicks on the ad, the cost is zero. The higher the advertiser bids on a keyword, the higher in the rankings the ad appears and the more likely web seekers will see it. Ranking means visibility, although you do not have to be at the top of the rankings or bid the highest amount for prospects to see your ad and click on it. Your goal is to get the lowest Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and the highest quality clicks (sales and leads) for your budget.
Find your Niche
Sometimes with popular keywords (eg, coffee) there are many companies competitive. On the other hand, popular keywords get millions of searches so there might be enough clicks to go around. The only way to find out if a particular keyword will work for you is to try it. The problem is that many other advertisers are bidding for the popular keywords so your CPC is likely to be high. You are more likely to get a low CPC with more obscure, highly targeted keywords. It will take some thought to come up with the right keywords.
Our coffee roaster would probably want to try the keyword coffee, and watch it like a hawk as it could result in many low quality clicks (not many conversions to leads or sales). If a keyword does not produce high quality clicks after a reasonable trial period (a couple weeks), then remove it; it may even be obvious sooner that a particular keyword is costing money but not producing results.
Perhaps our coffee roaster sells shade-grown coffee that protects Central American songbird habitat. While far far less people are searching for shade grown coffee than just coffee, it is likely to yield a lower CPC and higher quality clicks.
Do some brainstorming and write down an initial list of keywords that matches your market niche. This process of finding targeted keywords will be a useful exercise to help you focus your campaigns and maximize your return on investment.
The first thing you need to get started with AdWords is a goal. Is your goal to make direct sales via e-commerce on your website? Is your goal to capture sales leads that you can follow-up with and make the sale? Alternately, is your goal a combination of both of these outcomes? Once you have determined a goal you need a website that helps you achieve that goal.
Your website should be eye-catching and well organized, and include landing pages for your products or services. To see some examples of landing pages, do a search for your services, and look at what other companies in your market are doing. The landing page can be your main website if your website closely focuses on one product or service you are advertising (eg, this permission-based email marketing website). Otherwise, the landing page should be a page within your larger website that focuses on the specific product or service you are advertising (eg, this page for web hosting).
If you are selling directly from your website, your site should include a secure e-commerce system. Any good, technically competent web design firm can set this up for you.
If you want sales leads, then your site should include a call to action to persuade people to request more information. The way they submit a lead is to click on a link to a lead capture form. You need a form that at a minimum sends you-or the appropriate sales staff-an email but ideally should also create a lead for you in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system such as SalesForce or SugarCRM.
Whether you are selling directly from your website or capturing leads, your website should always have obvious ways to contact you using whatever method the prospect feet most comfortable using: a contact form, email, or telephone. Some company websites make it hard to figure out how to contact them for more information.
It is important to have a number of people – both inside and outside of your company – test your website for usability and ease of use. Prospects should never have to wonder how to buy from you or how to contact you to ask a question about your products or services.
Sign-up for Google AdWords
Once you have a goal, website, and landing page, you are ready to sign up for Google AdWords. Learn by doing. It is easier to write the advertisement and select keywords using the tools that Google provides during the sign up process. In addition, some Web hosting providers have collaborated with Google, and can offer you a free AdWords coupon to get you started.
If you plan to spend at least $ 30 / day on AdWords, Google offers a JumpStart program to help you get started using AdWords. Google JumpStart specialists will help you create a campaign. The cost of the program is $ 299 but Google will apply that as a credit towards the cost of your initial clicks. Not having used JumpStart myself, I can not vouch for its quality though Google generally offers high quality services.
Campaigns and Ad Groups
The Campaign level is where you set your daily budget, language targeting, location targeting, ad distribution preferences, and the start and end dates for your campaigns (if applicable).
The Ad Group level is where enter your keywords and the advertisements themselves. Each Ad Group has one or more ads. Write at least two ads for each ad group so you can try different approaches and compare the results.
In my experience, it has been beneficial to create multiple campaigns so I can experiment with different parameters and compare the results. Campaigns that work well I keep; campaigns that do not work well, I delete.
Choose the language you want to target, and then the countries or territories. This requires some thought. Can you offer your product or service globally, in just the United States, or in just your city or region? You can target your campaign to the world or to specific countries, regions, states, or cities.
For even more precise targeting, you can even target your campaign to a certain number of miles from your business or even an area bounded by coordinates.
Write your Advertisements
You have just a 25-character title get their attention, and a 70-character ad to get people interested enough to want to click on your ad. It is not a lot of text so make it pithy.
Write the Headline, the text of the ad, and enter the Display Link (always link to main page of your website), and then enter the Destination URL (your landing page). The Destination URL might be your main page or a page within your main website dedicated just to selling the product at hand. Below are a couple of fictional ad examples. I do not work in the coffee industry but I do enjoy a good cup of coffee.
Headline: Shade Grown Coffee Beans
Description line 1: Shade grown coffee. Tastes
Description line 2: better & saves valuable rainforest.
Display URL: [http://www.goodshadegrowncoffee.com]
Destination URL: [http://www.goodshadegrowncoffee.com?&utm_id=coff1]
Headline: Shade Grown Coffee Beans
Description line 1: Coffee that tastes better and
Description line 2: protects valuable rainforest.
Display URL: [http://www.goodshadegrowncoffee.com]
Destination URL: [http://www.goodshadegrowncoffee.com?&utm_id=coff2]
To track the conversion rate of your campaigns – ie, how many sales or leads you get for your investment – requires a little preparation. You will need to have your webmaster embed snippets of code to the appropriate pages on your website.
In the fictional advertisement examples I save, you may have noticed the codes in the destination URL's: "coff1" and "coff2". These are tracking codes that facilitate the tracking of a wealth of information by Google Analytics.
Google Analytics, which Google integrated with AdWords, is a very powerful service for tracking the success of both your organic and paid search results for your website. It will help you better understand your website visitors experience in detail. In addition, you can learn what keywords bring in the best prospects, and which of your campaigns are delivering the best return on investment. You can use Google Analytics to track marketing campaigns other than AdWords as well.
Google Analytics is too big a topic to cover much here but I will devote a future article entirely to this powerful marketing tracking service.
Choose Your Keywords
As I mentioned earlier, it is important to pick good keywords. Initially, choose both general keywords and narrowly targeted keywords, and carefully evaluate the results. Keep keywords that are getting you results, and remove keywords that are not working for you. You will probably need to run your campaigns for a while before you will have sufficient information to determine which keywords are succeeding for you.
In the keyword space provided in the setup process, list the keywords or keyword phrases you would like to use. Because people tend to type fast when they search the web, be sure to include common mis-spellings of your keywords. Here are some example keywords that our fictional coffee roaster might use:
shade grown coffee
shade grown coffe
coffee shade grown
shade grown coffee migratory birds
benefits of shade grown coffee
gourmet coffee beans
gourmet coffee beans
organic coffee beans
certified organic coffee
coffee beans organic
mail order organic coffee
To get more keywords enter a keyword into the Keyword Tool Box and click on Get More Keywords. This will generate additional keywords, some of which will be relevant to you and some of which will not be relevant. Keep the relevant keywords and toss the rest.
Now, you have a good starting list. Later, you will want to add new keywords, and remove non-performing keywords. A good keyword is one that yields you conversions into customers or good leads.
Google Search versus Google Content Network
Google AdWords can place your add in essentially two places: Google search and the content network. Google search are results from searches that prospective customers do directly using http://www.google.com . The content network consists of Google partner sites and sites that run advertisements through Google's AdSense program.
In my experience, Google search has yielded much more quality clicks than the content network. The content network is worth trying but I recommend putting it into a separate campaign so you can measure its results against your Google search campaign.
The content network is opt-out, and is not possible to opt-out during the setup process. However, to opt-out of the content network for a specific campaign, you can go back to campaign settings and uncheck the checkbox for content network.
Then setup a separate campaign where you focus on the content network and opt-out of the search network. Compare the results between the two campaigns. It is possible that you will find Google search is more productive than the content network but, of course, your results may be different from mine.
If you want to keep it simple until you are more comfortable with AdWords, I recommend starting with just the search network. Then come back in a few weeks and setup a separate campaign to try the content network, and compare the results to what you are getting with the search network.
Your Daily Budget
Your daily budget for your campaign is the ceiling on your daily spending. You can set this number at whatever you want. It is a good idea to start out with a relatively low daily budget while you refine your AdWords effectiveness. As your ad campaigns succeed and bring you more business, you will likely want to increase your budget.
Start with a daily budget of about $ 10 to $ 15 per day and gradually increase that amount as you fine-tune your approach.
In addition to your daily budget, you will need to set a maximum bid that you are willing to pay as a Cost Per Click (CPC). This requires some trial and error to get right. Being the highest bidder is not really what that you want. Instead, you want to get the most quality clicks you can for your budget. If you bid too high, your CPC will be too high and will eat up your budget too fast; if you bid to low you will not get enough clicks and hence enough sales.
You might try starting with a bid of $ 2.50, and see what happens for a day or two. Then gradually raise or lower the bid, depending on results. If clicks consume your daily budget in a couple of hours, then lower your bid. If the advertisements are not getting many clicks, then raise your bid. Continue this process until you find the optimal bid.
Leads and Sales
What if visitors are clicking on your ad but are not buying or contacting you? That likely means your ad is working but your website or landing page is not persuading prospective customers to take the next step. It can also mean that your product or service needs some work to become more competitive. Compare what you are offering to your competitors.
The simplest things can make a dramatic difference. When your landing page is not getting you conversions, change one thing and see what happens over the next day or two. That way, you can determine which changes work. Do not be afraid to try possible solutions, knowing that some changes will fail and some will work well.
Recently, one of our landing pages was not getting enough conversions so I made some minor changes to the word on the page and conversions started going up the next day. On another page, we replaced our very simple order form with a much more elaborate version. Our sales for that service immediately plummeted. We simply changed the order form back to the simpler version and sales picked up again immediately.
Harvesting From the Money Tree
The Google AdWords money tree is now planed, optimized, and working to bring you leads and sales. What do you do now? Harvest it, of course, by solid follow-through and providing the best possible service for your clients.
Go back from time to time, and take a look at your results. Make adjustments to your budget and bids as needed. Write another advertisement that takes a slightly different tact. Remove an ad that is not producing high quality clicks for you. Make some improvements to your website to see if you can increase your conversion rate.
Practice Kaizen – a Japanese word for continuous, incremental improvement. Even if your Google AdWords money tree is providing good yields, there are always ways to improve its performance.
So pour yourself a cup of good coffee, and get started using Google AdWords today!