One of the best parts of my business is when a client gets their first enquiry from a Google Ads campaign.
The worst part is the time from launching to that first enquiry. I've used Google Ads to generate more than 2 000 000 leads but I still worry till the first one arrives. It was horrible for the first few years. I'd actually feel sick. I’d upload the campaign to Google, set the initial bids and then check the stats every few minutes.
Over the years I worked out a process for getting fast results from new Google Ads campaigns so I didn't have to worry as much. (I still check the stats on a brand new campaign more often than is logical though.)
This process works for the kind of campaigns that I do - lead generation. Most campaigns have between 2 000 and 20 000 impressions a month on the search network. This is might not work for eCommerce and it's definitely not the right way to launch a defensive Google Ads campaign.
You're welcome to copy (and improve) my process. Here it is.
- Get a generous budget to start the ball rolling. I ask my clients for enough Google budget to get traction. I tell them we need this for the first month or so but that it's likely to be less once the campaign is running.
- Double the daily budget. Google works on a daily budget rather than a monthly budget. Work out the daily budget by dividing the first month's budget by 30.4. I double the daily budget for the first few days. I’ll lower the daily budget or pause the campaign later to make sure we don’t spend more than the client has allocated for the month.
- Track conversions. Google allows you to track how well each keyword and advert works at turning searchers into sales leads. But you have to set it up, it doesn't work out of the box. It's crazy not to do this but I've consulted on loads of campaigns flying blind without conversion tracking.
- Set the bidding strategy to maximise clicks with enhanced CPC. This is one of Google's automatic bidding options. Google tries to get as many visits to your website as possible within the daily budget. I don’t normally set a maximum CPC bid at this stage unless actual CPC is terrifying after the first day.
I’ll usually use these settings for a month or so or until we’ve received somewhere between 50 and 100 enquiries. That gives a solid baseline to compare future optimising efforts.
I’ve had some criticisms about this approach from people who feel it's too simple:
Real men bid manually. That is true. We real men shave with axes, eat our steak rare and manage our bids manually. But sometimes it’s OK to need a hug or use automated bidding. Especially with a new campaign when you have no data to work with and manual bidding = guessing.
Google’s automatic bidding isn’t any good. If it was 2013 I’d agree with you. It was awful in the olden days. Google’s automatic bidding was so bad that a bunch of people built their own bid automation software. I was one of them.
I used to pit my bidding engine against Google’s. For many years my automated bidding engine beat Google’s. But that's changed. Google's automated bidding is good enough for production now and I expect it’ll get even better.
Google will steal my money. Google has no incentive to rip advertisers off for short-term gain. It is true that many smaller businesses pay Google more than they make from the resulting sales. My experience is that this is down to them doing Google Ads badly or Google Ads being the wrong advertising medium rather than malice on Google's part.
It’s not optimal. Correct. This might not be the optimal strategy for the whole life of the campaign. But, you have to have a baseline before you optimise. This is the fastest way to establish that baseline.
For the most part this approach works well. I can normally get the first sales enquiry within a day or so of the campaign going live which makes the client very happy.
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A love letter to statistics
This is for you if you’re interested in making data-driven decisions about your Google Ads. Amy Hebdon, founder at Paid Search Magic, wrote a fantastic article she described a love letter disguised as a how to about PPC data interpretation.
How do you know the best way to split your ad budget between search and display, between Facebook and Google, between one keyword and another?
Does Google rip advertisers off?
I'm not saying that everyone who's paid for Google ads has turned a profit. That's definitely not the case. But, when people lose money on Google ads its likely to be because Google Ads was a poor fit for their business, or because of the way they did Google Ads. I can't see Google risking their future to steal your advertising budget
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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.
Should you advertise on Search Partners?
We check the campaigns we manage regularly to see how much it costs to generate an enquiry on Google search versus search partners. Most of the time it costs more or less the same. Sometimes the difference is huge.