Being successful in AdWords means having the conviction to clearly identify your goals and strategies along with the flexibility and willingness to change your approach to meet the needs of your customers. The following 5 steps reflect the necessity of a detailed, yet flexible approach to your advertising strategy.
Step 1: Set Your Goals
The first step in any advertising campaign is determining what your goals are. In AdWords, not only is it important to define your goals and budget for your account, but to refine your goals at every step from campaign down to keywords. Failing to clarify each step in the process can lead to poorly performing ads, and worst of all, a waste of your hard-earned cash. The best questions to ask yourself when determining goals in AdWords is “What is my potential customer looking for?”, “At what stage in the buying cycle do I want to reach my customers?”, and “What kind of response am I seeking?” Answering these questions will not only help to clarify what kind of campaign you want to run, they will also help you determine your budget allocation, which measurements are important, and what types of ads to run.
Step 2: Determine Your Strategy
There are two main online advertising strategies when it comes to AdWords – building brand awareness and selling your product. These are not mutually exclusive goals when it comes to advertising a business, but they should be separate campaigns within your AdWords account. Many AdWords campaigns focus exclusively on building brand awareness. Advertisers that are focusing on improving the visibility of their brands can structure their campaigns to ensure they are reaching the highest volume of traffic for their keywords.
For example, a branding campaign for a site selling DJ equipment may be set up like this: the seller wants to reach as broad a scope as possible to get his name recognized across music sites, so he chooses generic keywords like “music”, “musical instruments”, and “audio equipment.” Further, since he is trying to get as much response as possible to his site, he will choose a CPM campaign so he can pay per thousand impressions; this way, he can track interest by seeing how many clicks he gets without having to pay for each one. He will then measure success by tracking these clicks on his click-through rate (CTR) measurements, as well as which sites he linked to most, which will enable him to track the amount of exposure he is getting and where the interest is coming from.
Step 3: Experiment
Even though he is focused on his branding campaign, he is getting great CTR results and decides to set up a cost per click to “test the waters” of sales and conversions. This is a great idea, mostly because he is not trying to double his branding campaign as a conversion campaign. This should be its own campaign, focusing on specific keywords targeted at relevant sites in the search and display networks which allows our dj to drive for sales with every click.
Step 4: Be Flexible!
The vast array of reports, tools, and options available on AdWords can be somewhat daunting, but don’t be afraid to act on what the numbers are telling you. Our dj selling equipment might think he is just getting his name out there, but the numbers are now telling a different story. His CPC has reached budget 14 out of the last 15 days, and his conversions are creeping up on several keywords. Meanwhile, his CPM branding campaign is getting a high number of clicks, and is now taking up much of his daily budget. The seller adjusts his bidding strategy to reflect these results, reallocating ad spend from the branding campaign into the more profitable CPC campaigns. He may still utilize his branding campaign to maintain a certain level of exposure, but he has shifted the majority of his daily budget away from it.
Step 5: Optimize
Now he is getting the biggest return on his advertising investment by targeting specific websites based on his incoming URLs, refining keyword lists based on their effectiveness (no more “music” in the keyword lists), and creating multiple, separate ad groups for each group of refined keywords. By utilizing a new CPC campaign for each popular keyword along with manual targeting of specific websites, his ads are being rewarded by Google; the are relevant to the sites they appear on, which in turn improves his overall Quality Score, which then drives down his overall ad costs.
Bottom Line: Set your campaigns according to the goals you have in mind for your advertising budget, but advertisers have to be willing to deviate from the original goals depending on the responses they get and what the data shows. There are so many different ways to measure success in AdWords, and you can’t be great at all of them at once. Each category reflects a strategy, and every advertiser should be aware of which is the most important outcome for them.