Google AdWords can be a hugely powerful tool to help you sell products online. Given the right amount of attention (and budget) the platform can generate as much as $2 in revenue for every $1 in spend. But, like everything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If there's one thing I've learned from watching clients - and my own social marketing consultants - use AdWords is that it's easy to waste a lot of money very quickly. That's because the service is complex and inundated with features designed to help advertisers (that's you and me) but which unfortunately oftentimes make it too complicated for the average person (again...you and me) to use.
If you're a business owner and you want to succeed with AdWords it's probably in your best interest to not only set an advertising budget but to also hire someone certified to help you. Or at the very least go for training and be prepared to spend a lot of time - and money - getting up to speed, followed by more time - and money - staying current. Otherwise, you're probably making these five rookie mistakes.
Rookie Mistake #1: You're not selling products online.
When you advertise with Google you can have simple search ads that show up on the side of a page or you can create more visual display ads that appear as banners not only during searches but on more than two million websites and apps. You can even create video commercials that appear during YouTube videos. But unless you're BMW, Microsoft or McDonalds and you're interested in creating a global brand for your product or company, you'll need to make sure your ads are doing one thing and one thing only: selling products. My most successful clients using AdWords are selling stuff online. That's because a good ad will enable a user to click through to a good landing page (see below) and within just a few minutes hand over a credit card number. Don't use AdWords if you're trying to get people to call you, or sign up for a newsletter, or do anything other than buy your product right there and then.
Rookie Mistake #2: You're not doing the math.
I don't care how romantic, passionate or inspired you may be, if you can't buy something for a buck and sell it for three than you're not going to be in business for very long. Good business people are usually pretty good at math. The same goes for advertising with Google. To succeed, you’ll need to go through a calculation to determine your advertising budget. You need to know how many visitors hit your landing page that actually convert into a sale. You need to know your specific gross margin on that sale. Then, after you've monkeyed around long enough to find the right keywords, you need to project out how many impressions you'll get, how many of those impressions will turn into a sale, what your margin is for each sale and then, after taking into Google's Cost per Click, what your net profit will be. Is it worth it? Sometimes advertising on Google costs way more than other forms of marketing. Sometimes a simple tweak to a keyword, demographics or landing page will bring this cost down to a level to where it really is worth it. But you're not going to know any of these things without doing the math - before, during and after your campaigns run.
Rookie Mistake #3: You're only running one campaign.
Notice above how I said campaigns, plural? That's because successful Google marketers are multi-taskers. They are able to do run more than one campaign at a time and not throw all of their eggs in one basket. They run various campaigns using different keywords and targeted audiences. They fail, tweak, fail again, tweak more, fail more, tweak, fail, tweak...and hopefully figure out what works. Then they take the winning campaign and move more funding behind it. This takes time and a personality that is nimble and open to juggling many balls in the air. Just remember that your keywords are being auctioned off against your competitors based on their quality - using factors like impressions and click-throughs, and what you're paying and you're going to have to play for a while to figure out what's working. If you're more of a linear, "get that done first and then do the next thing" kind of thinker then running AdWords campaigns may not suit you.
Rookie Mistake #4: Your landing page is terrible.
We live in a world where people have a very short attention span and there's always another guy who's willing to sell what you're selling quicker and cheaper. Your job is to maximize conversions: when people find your page, you want them to buy and buy right away. This is easier said than done. The page needs to be cool, current and load fast. Your copy needs to be direct and understandable. The headline should be persuasive, but not overkill. You'll want to provide as much information as possible without loading on too many videos, graphics or other animation that slows things down. You'll want your ad headlines to match your landing page headlines and that both use numbers (research shows this is more effective). You may decide to have multiple landing pages from multiple ads to see which is working best. Hopefully, your web developer can do this for you. Otherwise, there are plenty of tools available that will help you build a simple landing page and also track user behavior once they arrive so that you can adjust and make the page better. All of this will affect your scoring with Google and punish the placement of your ads in the future so take this seriously.
Rookie Mistake #5: You're not monitoring and measuring.
Advertising is not just a game, it's a freaking cricket match. It can go on for a long, long time. Effective advertisers know this and dig in for the long term. They lean heavily on tools like Google Analytics. They insert code into their landing pages that track conversions. They're obsessed with analyzing the effectiveness of their keywords and stalking what their competitors are doing. They scrutinize clicks, click-throughs, quality scores, ad ranks, impressions, bids, conversions, costs per click, costs per sale and they do this daily with comparison to multiple campaigns. Because of these actions, they can determine when to turn ads off and on and when to keep campaigns completely manual or to let Google automatically adjust cost per click and bidding strategy based on the effectiveness of an ad.
There are many other mistakes that rookies make when advertising on Google, but these are the biggest ones I see. Focus on these five and you'll be off to a good start. As a final note, I read a lot on online advertising and the best free online guide I've found for using AdWords was written by Neil Patel and can be found here. This guide (and watching my own clients fail, along with me!) was an inspiration, so thank you Neil for the great work you do.