Where to Start (I) - Before you begin with AdWords
Adwords can be a great tool to increase business, sign-ups and exposure for your company. However, your chances of success depend greatly on building upon a good foundation. This article covers aspects you should consider before you start your first Adwords campaign.
Look before you Leap
If there is one thing you should always remember when working with Adwords it is that Google can only deliver potential customers to your site. It is up to you to make good use of those visitors. Over the years I have been working with Adwords customers, one of the most common themes in posting is along the lines of:
“I’ve had 200 clicks this month and not a single sale! Adwords is useless and a waste of money!”
In fairness, I can’t think of a single way in which Adwords will be at fault in this situation. If 200 people have come to the site and none of them have completed a sale, there’s really only two possible reasons:
a) The site doesn't appear relevant to the advertised product/service
b) The site doesn't encourage sales.
The first is largely a matter of Adwords configuration and optimisation and these topics are covered elsewhere within this Wiki, so for the purposes of this article, we’ll concentrate on the second aspect: When the site is relevant to the ad, why don’t people buy?
If there is one other thing I see constantly it is new Adwords users that have started one or more campaigns without doing any preparatory work on their site.
How good is your current website? Do you monitor the performance, examine conversions from visits to sales, analyse which keywords are triggering organic visits, follow visitors from entrance to exit and consider why they leave? These issues may all sound like something for Adwords, but they should be something you’d already be doing before you use Adwords. Your “organic” visitors (those who come to your site via a free search engine result list or referrals) are really not much different from those who will come to your site from Adwords. If you’re not getting good sales from these visitors, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get any better sales from Adwords.
It can often be helpful to think of your website as though it’s a High Street “bricks and mortar” store. Let’s say you open a new shop in a busy town. For the first three months you get a lot of people coming in and browsing around, but only 5% actually buy something. Is it a good idea to then pay for a large advertisement in a local newspaper? Even if you get three times as many people come in, there’s no reason to think your buying ratio (your “conversion rate”) will be any better. You may be able to cover your costs for the advertising, but you may not.
A better approach would be to consider why only 5% buy, try and turn that into 20% and then run an advertising campaign.
It’s not quite as simple as this, of course, as it can (and is!) argued that advertising - especially Adwords advertising - is more directed and focused, so the "paid" visitors could be more likely to buy (any shop owner will tell you that some people are always going to be just “browsers”), but that doesn’t mean there’s not a problem somewhere that should be solved.
Let’s consider just one part of high street shopping that is a personal bug-bear for me. Displaying prices. How often have you been in a shop, seen something you like, then found there’s no price ticket. You look round the shop but there’s no assistant nearby and you don’t want to be embarrassed by taking it to the till only to find it’s way outside your price range. So you put it down and leave. Consider this on a website. I’ve seen countless websites that either don’t show prices, or which hide postage or taxes, or which hide what payment methods are available.
I recently reviewed a site where the payment process was a complete mystery. Once you’d put items in your basket you were asked for personal details, then simply presented with a “Complete” button. There was no indication of where this button click may take me, what payment options I might have or what I may have to pay.
There are really too many aspects of site design to go into here - this article is intended more as a “thought provoking” exercise rather than a complete manual, but here’s some bullet points:
- Make sure you’re measured and analysed your existing site before you run your first Adwords campaign. Don’t pay for visitors that are unlikely to buy.
- Be open, honest and clear. Display total prices clearly, show payment options wherever possible - every page ideally, make it clear what each stage of the payment process is.
- Build a site that loads quickly, which shows the products/services on offer prominently and which makes it easy to find and buy those products.
- Make navigation easy, clear and easy to read.
- Don’t make it difficult to buy.
Just one final thought on that last point. For me it often seems that website builders have spent hours around a table trying to make a site difficult to use or navigate. Visit your own site at least once a month as though you were a new potential customer who knows little about the Internet. Once you’ve got the habit, you may be amazed at what you see.
What should I spend?
If I had a penny for every forum poster that has said:
“I spent $20,000 in the first week with no sales. I demand a refund!”
I’d have enough to buy a newspaper (and if you live in the UK, you’d know that’s a lot of pennies). Remember, there’s no rush, no urgent need to throw all your profits at Adwords from day one. The Adwords system alllows you to set any budget, any end date, and when first starting a new campaign, you should make good use of these features.
Whenever I start a new campaign I do two things:
a) I set a low daily budget - sometimes maybe as low as $5 a day,
b) I set an end date some weeks away (rarely more than a month).
I set a low daily budget initially to avoid wasted money on keywords that don’t “work”. Exactly what this budget should be depends on the average CPC you’ll be seeing - obviously if a “good” CPC is $7, then $5 a day is not going to tell you much. I set an end date in case I fall under a bus before I can optimise the campaign.
Doing this allows you to say:
“We’re going to spend $X over Y weeks”
and know that’s all you’ll spend. Once this is done (and while it’s running) you can analyse the account and tune it so that when you’re ready to set a real budget, you can be more confident you won’t end up with a $20,000 bill for three days.
There’s no limit to how often you do this either. You could run for 3 weeks at $5 a day, then 6 weeks at $20 a day, and so on.
All of this requires that you can.. Measure Your Results, which I'll cover in the next article in this series.
Interested in trying AdWords? Check out http://goo.gl/9kgXy4
AdWords Management Consultant, a Google Partner, based in Dorset, UK, but working worldwide... I'm very proud of having been a Top Contributor for AdWords since 2006 and enjoy being able to help others improve and develop their AdWords usage. I now work primarily as an AdWords Manager & Consultant. You can read my eBook "AdWords Preschool", just search on Amazon.
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