Nov 12, 2006

Google Adwords : How I Spent My Wad, Burnt My Budget, And Ultimately Became A Complete Chump ...

Well the title says it all.

I was talking with one of the client's of "Graham" -- name changed to protect the guilty; you know, one of those so-called marketing experts -- and he sounded completely exasperated. And I'm not surprised.

He had indeed "spent his wad" on his Google Adwords campaign. Oh dear.

Graham had told him that the more clicks he received, the better his CTR (click-through rate) would be -- because I had previously let Graham into the secret that a higher CTR makes for cheaper clicks. Thing is, Graham doesn't quite know his numbers. He told his client that to get the most clicks, he needed to be at the top spot in his Adwords campaign.

Aaaaarrrrrggghhhh ...

Ok, so high CTR is one of the easiest measurements that Google can record for the relevance of an ad for any particular search term, but when will people realise that to start off with you don't need to pay more to get more clicks from your ad.

Instead, it's all about tweaking the words you use in your Google Adwords ad. Which means testing. Split testing to be precise -- and I'll talk more about this another time.

But once you have a high performing ad, it doesn't mean you need to pay for top spot to get the best revenue ... yes, you'll get more clicks from the top two or three spots, but it will generally cost you much more to reach that high.

The one thing I want to cover today is that no matter what placing you receive with your Adwords campaign, there's no point in paying for more clicks if you're not converting those clicks into revenue.

Let me say that again so you understand this Golden Rule:

If your landing page (the web-page where your Adwords ad points to) isn't converting for you, then you're better off turning off your advert and direct your marketing efforts away from your Adwords campaign, and redirect that effort into getting your web-designer to tweak the landing page until it does deliver the results you desire.

Ok, so what do we want from a landing page?

It all depends on what exactly you want to achieve, but you know what I would do? I'd make sure the web-visitor has no option but to sign up to your newsletter, or mailing list ... commonly known as the squeeze page.

You see, statistically speaking, it's quite difficult to convert a first-time visitor into a sale. It's human nature for people to take 3, 4, maybe even up to 7 visits or viewings before they actually make the decision to purchase.

And what's the chances of getting a visitor to return to your web-site 7 times? Hey, it's hard enough getting them to see our pages just once, never mind more than that!

So what we want to do is offer them something that's worth them handing over their email address in return -- a free report, a free sample, a bonus extra, a secret snippet of information -- something that they wouldn't otherwise find out, and which they really, really need. Because once they hand over their email address, we can take our time to remind them about our products/services/web-site and, if carried out artfully, will convince them to purchase from us. Eventually our marketing efforts will strike oil. Of course you have to have your follow-up and back-end sales process in place before you start buying clicks, because it's here where we will be making our money.

I really pity the guys who pay good money to be top of the sponsored link ladder, only to link to their web-site's home page. You need what's called "deep linking" for Adwords to be effective. If you don't deep link, i.e. sending your visitor directly to the information they're expecting to see when they click on your ad, you're simply making it harder for your potential customer to find what they're looking for ... and remember, they're only a single click away from going back to Google and finding your competitor instead!

And did you know -- and this is the really neat thing about Adwords -- you can measure your ROI (return on investment) via your Adwords campaign manager? Oh yes, and it's easy to do. It will show you the conversion rate of each advert, and even the total revenue you've made from all those clicks. Google make it so easy for you to track the effectiveness of your ads that I'm surprised that more people don't use it.

Check out the options in your Adwords Campaign Manager and look for the conversion tracking. Once its activated, you simply put a small snippet of JavaScript on your conversion page i.e. the place where people complete the sale or complete the sign-up to your newsletter. From then onwards whenever someone clicks on your ad and completes to conversion, you'll see the value of the sale recorded against that particular search term.

If people complete the sale (or sign up to your newsletter, or whatever) without having previously clicked on your Adwords ad, then that particular conversion won't be recorded against the advert, though it is possible to record conversions from your other PPC (pay per click) campaigns if you really wanted to.

And I would suggest that if you don't see any results or conversions after 200 click-throughs, then it's time to re-vamp that landing page ... before you splash out your wad on Adwords!

Now, if you want to know exactly how to track your Adwords ROI, then there are plenty of guides available which gives you step-by-step instructions on how to measure your return on investment for each of your campaigns ...

.. perhaps I should tell Graham to grab a copy before he wastes any more of his client's advertising budget, eh?

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