I've been lucky enough to consult with several clients who run their own AdWords or have an in-house AdWords team.
I usually get called in because they're not getting the results they anticipated. They’d hoped for a reliable flow of new business but they're paying Google more and more for fewer leads.
I like this work but it's challenging. I’m often talking to people who are smarter than I am. They aren’t AdWords noobs and they know their industry better than I ever will. I've learned a lot from what they've done right and from what they've done wrong.
One mistake crops up all the time: Doing the wrong thing right.
There are loads of tactics - things you can do - for improving AdWords performance:
Most of the people I consult with are executing the individual tactics correctly. They're not making huge glaring mistakes.
When I ask why they chose a particular tactic I get a blank look. They learned the tactic from Brad, Perry or Larry. They read it on Search Engine Land. Or their AdWords rep told them to do it. They find it bizarre that anyone would question something that everyone knows is best practice.
Tactics don't exist in isolation.
You wield tactics in service of the campaign’s overarching goal.
A campaigns can have one of four goals:
A campaign can have different goals over it's lifetime. You might start evaluating if AdWords is a good fit. If it is, you'd move on to expanding to reach more potential customers. Some time later you'd work on making the campaign more efficient.
There is no way a campaign can reach two goals at once. The tactics that further one goal often impede the other.
For instance, if you wanted to increase the reach of your ads you might use BMM or phrase match keywords. This is good for keyword discovery but it's unlikely to reduce your CPA.
Target CPA bidding might be a good tactic for maintaining equilibrium but it's terrible for a new campaign with an evaluation goal.
Every tactic has a trade off. It'll favour one goal over others.
But what happens if you have two goals? Say reduce the cost per acquisition (efficiency) and use the savings to increase the number of clicks (expansion)?
The trick is to set up a separate campaign for each goal.
Your increase efficiency campaign might have SKAGs with exact match keywords. You might use manual or target CPA bidding. You’d tighten demographics and location.
Your expansion campaign might have the same keywords, but as BMM or phrase match and you might bid aggressively using maximise clicks. You could explore the search partners network or even the search network.
You’ve chosen good keywords, written decent ad copy, set up a landing page that should convert. You’re getting impressions and the CTR looks ok but you’ve still not had any conversions. Is this normal or should you worry?
Are you worried that it might be underperforming? Perhaps you've neglected your AdWords account. Maybe it used to do better but now it’s costing more and delivering less. Maybe you’re behind on some updates or not confident that everything is as it should be.
I worked out a process for getting fast results from new AdWords campaigns so I didn't have to worry as much. You're welcome to copy (and improve) my process.
I used to think quality score was vital, but in the year I’ve ignored QS and focussed on other metrics: - our ads have been clicked more often. - Our landing pages are better at turning visitors into leads. - Our clients are getting superior leads from their AdWords spend.
Learn how changes in searcher's intent, network, time of day etc affect AdWords performance.
In the past I relied on a combination of the change history in AdWords, some rough notes and my memory to keep track of my testing. It worked but it wasn't great. It became more difficult as my business grew. I started to feel like I was losing control. I couldn't answer questions about an account without having to root around in Google docs, AdWords and email. Read on to see how I fixed this.