April 18, 2014

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – Conclusion

The 13 Deadly Sins of AdWords affect users of all skill levels and experience. While some may be overcome with a one-time effort, most require constant diligence to truly overcome. Though I have not committed each sin personally, I have seen the effects of each sin when taking over management. Reading these posts you may find yourself guilty of one or more sins. Don’t despair. Regardless of the damage caused, you can still repent and save your AdWords account.

The 13 Deadly Sins

1 Free Robert Hour

If you recall from the Sin of Inexperience, I will give you 1 hour of my time to help you get started on the right path/back on the right path with your AdWords account. Simply email me, righteousmarketing@righteousmarketing.com to get started. You’ll need to let me look in your account (I won’t make any changes, promise!) and then I’ll spend 1 hour analyzing your account and making recommendations based on the 13 Deadly Sins. I’ll send you my recommendations in an email and you implement as many or few as you deem valuable. I am confident they’ll save you hundreds of dollars and I do accept “donations” from grateful recipients.

Google AdWords is a powerful tool. Used properly it has the ability to deliver qualified traffic 24 hours/day, helping you make money even while you’re sleeping. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Don’t fall victim to the 13 Deadly Sins of AdWords.

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #13 Greed

Of all the Deadly Sins, the Sin of Greed is the most fatal. Greed is manifest by out of control bids and runaway content network advertising. AdWords can be a fatal siren beckoning companies toward budgetary destruction.

Relying on PPC

PPC evangelists preach how AdWords can deliver thousands of visitors to your site 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. Greed tempts you to simply spend more and more money to get more and more sales. This philosophy has two major shortcomings:

  1. Eventually you’ll run out of traffic to buy (yes Google does have its limits) or run into a competitor with deeper pockets.
  2. Money spent on PPC clicks is immediately lost after the click. You get no residual value for your money, which means that you have to spend continuously to stay in business.

A Balanced Approach

Imagine in your mind a seesaw. On one end you have your PPC traffic and on the other end you have SEO traffic. At first, your PPC traffic will be really high and your SEO traffic really low. However, the goal is to tip the seesaw so that your SEO traffic becomes very high in relation to your PPC traffic. How much this will affect your PPC budget is up to you, but for an online business to reach a long-term, sustainable trajectory this shift needs to happen.

In summary, the Sin of Greed is derived from the attitude that AdWords can fix everything; a silver bullet. While AdWords can make you very profitable right now, is you succumb to Greed you will be sorry. Repent now or perish!

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #12 Misdirection

25, 35, 35, 35. For many these numbers define the PPC world. 25 characters for your title. 35 characters each for your two lines of ad copy. 35 characters for your display URL. These 130 characters, if used, are powerful. The wise PPC practitioner, however, recognizes the virtually invisible 1024 characters known as the destination URL.

The Sin of Misdirection

The sin of Misdirection is committed when you send clicks to the homepage. The beauty of PPC is that you know (basically) what the user wants. They type it right into the search box and tell you. You have ad copy written specifically for the ad group. Where do they want to go?

Put yourself in the user’s shoes and send them to the specific page that will match the search term and ad copy. It really is that easy, yet so often PPC marketers forget to take this intuitive step. Think of what the visitor’s goal is and then land them on the page closest to that goal.

Why Not The Homepage?

The better question is why would you send them to the homepage? The homepage is designed to fit everyone and therefore is custom-tailored to no one. With the occasional exception of a brand term, most keywords represent an intention. The user is looking for something/want to do something. Homepages are like maps telling people where to go, but you already know where they want to go. Remove that one step. Make it easy.

Perhaps you find that in certain situations you don’t have a good page? Make one. If it’s worth spending money to buy clicks, it’s worth money to produce an optimized sub-page. Don’t commit the Sin of Misdirection by sending your clicks to the homepage.

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #11 Naivety

The sin of Naivety is committed when you place unreserved trust in Google, believing that they will “Do No Evil.” Believing that a multi-billion dollar company has your back is an attractive concept on the surface, but as we learn from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” Don’t forget where Google got those billions.

First Page Bid Lies

Regular readers of my blog know that I have been suspicious of Google’s First Page Bid Estimator since its inception. I ran the keyword tool and would play around with different bids all the time. What I began to notice was that if you used $5.00 as the bid you would see numbers like $4.67 for position 1-3. Okay, I can live with high bids if justified, but then I would put in $2.50 and get an estimate of $2.33 for position 1-3. Ummm… That seems odd.

I figured it was a glitch and let Google slide. However, I began checking it more frequently and noticed that it was more a trend than an anomaly. Basically I just learned not to trust the keyword tool’s bid estimates. No bid deal.

The Deal Killer

The straw that broke the camel’s back (IMO) was when Google did away with the Inactive status on keywords and implemented the Suggested First Page Bid directly into the AdWords interface. Now the suspicious info from Google was sitting right next to my keywords telling me that my bids were too low. But what Google was saying didn’t match the performance statistics Google was displaying.


In short, remember that Google is a publicly-traded company that has stock-holders to please. In this economy they’re looking for revenue and it’s easier to get more revenue from existing customers than getting new customers. Armed with this wisdom you will be able to overcome the sin of Naivety.

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #10 Ignorance

adwords-reports

“When performance is measured performance improves and when performance is measured and reported the rate of performance accelerates.”

PPC advertising is the one element of your online marketing mix that should be 100% transparent. You can see exactly how many clicks each keyword receives, the average cost of those clicks, and AdWords even has conversion tracking that tells you when your clicks turn into conversions (ie sales, leads, signups, etc.) That’s great, but did you know that you can also see which sites on the content network are most effective, which geographic area produces the best clicks, and the exact search term that triggered your ads?

The Sin of Ignorance

If you don’t know where to find the above-mentioned information, you have likely committed the Sin of Ignorance, which is to ignore the Reports tab and its functionality. Google became the search engine of choice because it crunched a bigger index in less time and produced better results than its predecessors. You’d better believe that Google has provided some bitchin’ reporting.

What Reports Are Available?

The AdWords Help explains every report in minute detail. I’ll just highlight a couple of my favorites. First off, let’s see what is available:

Placement Performance

Use this report to assist with the Sin of Foolishness and really take advantage of the Google content network. You’ll see which sites get the most impressions, which sites get the most clicks, which sites get you a healthy CTR, and most importantly, which sites are getting you conversions. When you find poorly performing sites, add them to your list of excluded sites. If you find some good sites, consider creating a placement-targeted campaign that targets only your best performers and pump up the volume with increased bids.

Search Query Performance

Without a doubt this is the most helpful report for keywords. Sure the keyword report will show you how each keyword is doing, but this report will show you which phrases, as entered by the user, are most effective. This report is a treasure trove of hidden gems. Keywords and phrases that you may never have even considered. Some are pure gold and you should add them to your keyword lists. Some are cancerous and you should add them as negative keywords. Either way, as you run this report, mine it for useful data, and make changes according to your observations you will improve your overall performance by leaps and bounds.

Three nuances that will be helpful during your penance. First, the Report Center only holds 15 reports at any one time, so make sure to save reports on your computer if you want them later. Second, when you have constructed a good report, save it as a template so you can run it with a single click. Lastly, you can set a report to run daily or weekly and have it emailed to your inbox. A great way to keep an eye on things without having to login, run a report and wait for it to finish.

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #9 Foolishness

adwords-foolishness

“Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” – Proverbs 9:6

Foolishness

Many would say that all of the 13 Deadly Sins arise from foolishness. However, the sin of Foolishness is manifested most clearly by AdWords accounts which allow the content network to go unmonitored. The content network gives you access to millions of users across the internet. Everywhere from MySpace.com to Gmail you can see the fruits of the content network. However, with great power comes great responsibility.

Bridle Your Content Settings

The reason that you must monitor the content network more closely than search is because the fundamental principles are different. Search ads appear when a user is searching a relevant term. Content impressions come when a user is reading a blog, updating their profile or reading an email. Your ad must interrupt them and take them off course. Therefore, content network ads often must be more in-your-face and attention grabbing.

Content impressions are also at the mercy of Google’s almighty algorithm. While an ad for the local deli is relevant to a recipe on a blog post it isn’t relevant for the news article about the local theater “hamming it up” on the stage. If you don’t pay attention, your ad could be showing all kinds of places you don’t want.

Repentance Is In The Settings

From the Campaign Summary view click a campaign that is running content network ads. Under the campaign name you will see “No site or category exclusions : Add”. Click Add. Here are four very important tabs for controlling the content network:

  • Sites: Here you can manually enter sites where you don’t want your ads to appear.
  • Topics: Google categorizes certain types of sites for your convenience. I recommend checking all 6 boxes.
  • Media Types: Only relevant if you have video ads.
  • Page Types: The effectiveness of these categories will depend on your market. Testing is the best way to determine what to keep and what to toss. Beware of the sins of Laziness or Negligence.

Now you may “go in the way of understanding” and harness the vast potential of the Google content network.

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #8 Laziness

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” – Proverbs 29:18

Now that you have begun to repent of your most grievous sins I will warn you of another sin that lies at the door; the sin of laziness. The sin of laziness is when you fail to record your changes, why you made them, and the what you expect to accomplish with the change.

Knowledge Is Power

In heeding my counsel you have begun utilizing phrase and exact match for you keywords. You have begun testing your titles, your ad copy and your landing pages. Congratulations! Now you need to start recording your changes. It will be tempting to turn off the computer or move on to your next task after publishing out your changes in AdWords, but recording your changes will be crucial to your success.

How you record your changes is entirely up to you. You can write them down on paper or you can make a Word document with your changes. Keep them somewhere easy to find and make your notes as simple as possible.

Four things must be recorded with every change:

  • When – If you’re going to compare performance before the change to performance after the change, you need to know when you made the change.
  • What You Did – You’re making a lot of changes in a lot of places. This ensures you don’t forget any.
  • Why You Did It – There was a reason you made the change. Record it now because you may not remember a month later when you reevaluate your results.
  • What You Expect – This is straight Scientific Method. Record your hypothesis – what you think will happen because of the change. In time this will train your intuition and unexpected results are often the most telling.

PS AdWords logs all the changes you make to an account. Click Tools (under the Campaign Management tab) and My Change History. This tells you what changes were made but not why, so don’t rely on this log instead of logging your changes.

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #7 Recklessness

Having repented of the 1st Deadly Sin by installing conversion code you may feel like you have a perfect knowledge. However, do not be lulled into a false sense of security by the three columns of conversion data this provides. You need to know much more about your visitors to avoid the 7th Deadly Sin of Recklessness.

Recklessness

The sin of Recklessness is committed when one does not use a separate web analytics system in addition to the AdWords conversion tracking. There are a lot of web analytics tools out there from the top-of-the-line Omniture suite to the free Google Analytics. For the purposes of this blog I’ll use Google Analytics as the example (it just happens to work well with AdWords and it’s free).

The main benefits you will get from Analytics are these:

  • Behavior – Implementing goal tracking and looking at statistics like time on site, page views and bounce rate will show you how your visitors navigate and use the site. You’ll see pages that lose visitors at high rates and you’ll see which step in the conversion funnel is leaking the most customers. Knowing this behavior will help you plug holes and increase your ROI.
  • ROI – For e-commerce sites I strongly recommend you borrow the tech guy/programmer to the AdWords team long enough to get E-commerce Tracking working properly. This allows you to capture revenue numbers and attribute them to their sources. This way you know which traffic sources are delivering sales, not just traffic.
  • Knowledge – With recent statistics showing that more and more searches are “unique”, meaning that it is the first time the search engine has received the query, the importance of tail terms is increasing. Analytics allows you to look at the exact search term that brought a visitor to your site. View this report often and feed the best performers into your keyword lists. If you get 15 visits/month from a #8 listing on “the importance of publicity in marketing”, imagine what you could get with the #1 paid listing (which would probably only cost a nickel anyway) at the top of the page.

Repent

If you’re already running AdWords and don’t have Analytics, you can be absolved with ease. Once logged in to AdWords, just click the Analytics tab at the top of the screen. Follow the instructions on the screen to create an Analytics account that is automatically linked to your existing Google account (make sure to check the box regarding cost data). You’ll get a piece of Javascript code. Simply paste this code into the footer of your website (or an other location that is persistent on every page) and you’re done.

P.S. If you need help configuring Goal Tracking in Analytics leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter: @robert_brady

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #6 Inexperience

When your company finally made the leap and signed up for AdWords it was likely the decision of someone in marketing or on the executive team. We all hear the stories of people who sit at home in their pajamas and make thousand if not millions of dollars using AdWords. We see the ads of our competitors and think “I need to be here or I’m losing business.” So the decision is made and the initiative is given to 1) someone who used it a little one time or 2) the low man on the totem pole who can’t delegate it to someone else. Here lies the sin.

Inexperience in AdWords

Inexperience as a deadly sin has an extremely high mortality rate. Very few accounts will survive the next quarterly budget meeting with a newbie at the helm. The first reason, somewhat circular I know, is because this person will commit many other deadly sins and quickly kill the account. The second reason is that AdWords is a demanding mistress, easily as complicated and delicate as any woman. So how does one avoid this deadly sin?

Outsource

Don’t interpret this as a suggestion to hire an Indian firm to handle your PPC. The nuances of the English language are tricky and can make or break an ad. However, I am suggesting you look seriously at a PPC agency. They specialize in this medium and will be able to make improvements much faster than your inexperienced person. Look for a firm or individual that is certified with Google, Yahoo and MSN to assure they’re knowledgeable and make sure they send you regular reports. Reporting is very robust in AdWords and if they don’t deliver results, cut them loose. This is one area of advertising where you should know exactly what your dollars are delivering.

One caveat I’ll mention here is billing at agencies. The industry standard is percentage of ad spend (6-10%). I personally don’t like this model because it incentivizes your manager to spend more and more to make more and more, not necessarily deliver better results. The agency I work for, Vizad Inc., favors a set monthly fee. This works into your budgets more easily and motivates me to be ever increasing your results or I know you’ll stop using me.

The Paradox of Learning

If you are critical like me, you’re probably thinking “But how do I train my new guy to be a good AdWords manager so I don’t have to continually pay an agency?” Great question. The most common answer is to have them read books, browse websites and learn by trial and error. This works (it’s how I learned) but will require your patience and $$$. There are services, like Clickable, that can assist you, but don’t help you learn since the whole process is a “black box.” However, I’ll make you an offer for reading my blog.

The Robert Hour

I will give you 1 hour of my time to help you get started on the right path/get back on the right path with your AdWords account. Simply email me, righteousmarketing@righteousmarketing.com, to get started. You’ll need to grant me access to your account (I won’t make any changes, promise!) and then I’ll spend 1 hour of my time analyzing your account and making recommendations on how you can improve your AdWords account. I’ll send you my recommendations in an email and you implement as many or few as you deem valuable. I will do this for free as long as I can keep up with the amount of requests. You pay me what you feel the improvements are worth. I am confident they’ll save you hundreds of dollars.

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #5 Stupidity

The sin of stupidity is committed when one only uses 1 ad in an ad group. This sin is particularly offensive as it retards growth and progress on a fundamental level. The time saved is minimal, yet the ramifications are colossal.

Use 2 Ads

If guilty of stupidity, your penance involves going into AdWords or Google’s AdWords Editor and writing a second ad for each and every ad group. This seems very easy, but remember that the 25 character title and 35 character lines of ad copy are the most valuable marketing copy you will write.

Possible alterations to consider when you write your new ads include a dynamic title vs. a title with your top-performing keyword. Perhaps one ad mentioning your current promotion vs. one ad discussing the primary benefit. The key is to vary the ads significantly enough to create a measurable difference.

Iterate

Once you’ve written your ads and let them accumulate data you will then delete the underperforming ad and replace it with a new ad. Run this new ad against the old and repeat the iterative process. With each round of new ad copy you will increase your CTR and Quality Scores. Done successfully, you will have rid yourself of the sin of Stupidity.

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