AdWords is one of the quickest ways to inject traffic to your site.
That being said, that doesn’t mean you should do it for just 1-3 months and then stop. Really you should be willing to commit to at least 6-12 months if you want to get the most out of it.
I like to think of AdWords as having 3 stages:
1. Data Gathering Stage
The first stage is a bit of a learning period where you start to gather information and learn about what’s working and what’s not supported by data. You start to see how your account structure is working. Are you able to easily navigate around? Do the different campaigns and ad groups properly align with your website navigation and product/service offerings?
And you start to see how effective your keywords are. Are the keywords bringing in relevant traffic? Should you remove or add certain keywords?
It’s a good idea to have a variety of match types at this point, especially modified broad. Using modified broad keywords will help you discover other potential good keywords. Later on, you may end up honing in more narrowly on just the phrase and exact match keywords and pausing the modified broad ones.
You’ll of course consider all other relevant metrics here too - like ad position, click-through-rate, keyword bids, budget, etc.
The optimisation stage is where you take action on what you’ve learned and hypothesized in the first stage and conduct testing. Be prepared to test if you want to achieve the best results.
You start to refine the account - instead of fishing with a wide cast net (i.e. perhaps modified broad keywords or maybe keywords that are a bit generic and don’t necessarily suggest intent to buy) you start fishing with the best “bait” for your audience.
In this stage, quality score will generally be your biggest focus. (*Note there are quality scores at different levels of the account but we’re going to look at keyword quality score.)
Keyword Quality Score - a score out of 10, is determined by 3 things:
1. Expected click-through-rate
2. Ad relevance, and
3. Landing page experience
To boost quality score, make sure your ad groups are tightly clustered so the keywords are relevant to each other and relevant to the ad.
In general, the landing page H1 Heading should match or be similar to the best keyword. Additionally, the landing page should also provide an opportunity to convert - i.e. have a clear direction of what you want the user to do - say either a call-to-action button or an enquiry form.
In this example, Active Campaign makes their primary call-to-action “Try it for free” stand out with its colour and placement. As a user your eyes are drawn here and the next step of action is pretty clear. There are other calls-to-action down the page but this one stands out as the primary one.
Too often I think advertisers underestimate how much landing page experience comes into play here. You can do everything in AdWords to be successful but if you have an ineffective landing page your campaigns will still suffer and struggle to get off the ground.
Using Google Analytics in conjunction with your AdWords data can give you some insight here. Looking to bounce rate, number of pages per session, time on site, goal completions etc. can provide clues as to what’s happening and see why the user might be behaving the way they are.
For example, in one AdWords account with 5 campaigns, I noticed 2 campaigns were converting whilst the other 3 were not. As I looked to the landing page urls and compared them, I noticed that the 2 successful pages had an enquiry form at the bottom whereas the other 3 pages did not. Instead, they were very long pages with nice imagery but no call-to-action buttons, very little text, no enquiry form - in other words - nothing to direct the user to make the desired action.
Whilst that’s a pretty surface level observation and rather subjective until supported by data, it affects the success of the campaign a great deal and your return on investment (ROI).
Doing (CRO) Conversion Rate Optimisation with Zimpleweb looks into this at a much deeper more analytical level. It tests, measures, and analyses all the different landing page elements, user experience and behaviour to come up with a set of recommendations. These recommendations can then be implemented to improve your landing pages and increase conversion rates and your overall advertising effectiveness.
You can’t really scale your advertising until you know your landing pages are successful and converting the best they can. Without making any onsite changes to the landing pages, you might eventually hit a wall. The good news is that you can make a big change in the success of your advertising with sometimes very little input.
In what I call the “Scaling” stage, you look to scale up the performance of your AdWords account to go full steam ahead and reap the maximum benefits!
By now you’ve tested your ads and optimised those. Your keywords are getting good click-through-rates. Your ad groups are tightly clustered with high quality scores - aim for minimum scores of 7-8s and above.
Your landing pages have been adjusted where needed (using CRO), they convey the right information and encourage the user to convert. You’re getting good conversion rates as well. Now it’s time to scale.
If you’re getting a good return on your investment, i.e. say for every $1 you’re putting into AdWords you’re getting a return of $1.50, $2, $3 or more, why would you want to cap that? The best advice? Increase the ad spend.
To borrow from another article that said it the best, “Assuming you want to grow your business, you should want to make that investment as many times as possible.
The most successful advertisers don’t cap their budgets. They know that effective advertising is one of the best investments you can possibly make in your business” (Main Street ROI, "Google AdWords: How Much Should You Spend?")
If everything’s working as it should, there’s no reason not to scale.
Remember in the beginning when I said you should be willing to commit to AdWords for at least 6-12 months to get the most out of it? That’s because it takes time to really learn about your industry and keywords, optimise and test your account, and then scale that up to maximise your account’s effectiveness. If you’re serious about making AdWords work for you, you know it takes a bit of time.
If you can be patient and willing to change or adapt based on evidence and Google Analytics insights, you will see great returns on investment from your AdWords dollars and be above the competition.
What do you think of the 3 stage approach to AdWords? Got any questions? Let us know in the comments or join us on social media. We love talking about this stuff!
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like Changes to Google’s SERP and What it Means for Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).
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