When it comes to online advertising in all its forms, your work is never done. Take Google AdWords for example, displaying ads relevant to searches at a point where users are thinking about buying. You can’t find much more effective advertising than that! Yet, without regular monitoring and fine-tuning, even the most accurately designed campaign will stop bringing in the results you are expecting after a while and you will start wasting money.
Google are always updating their products, so it is important to keep on top of the latest features to maintain an edge on the competition. Here are 5 things you should be watching to make the most of your Adwords campaign:
1) Make sure you are tracking conversions across all channels
Tracking conversion rates is one of the most important key Performance Indicators you should keep your eye on at all times, to ensure that you are getting the best possible return on your AdWords investment.
However, with the various channels and devices available to people to access the internet, it is easy to forget to set up your Adwords account accordingly and make sure you are correctly tracking important user behaviour – and this is particularly true for businesses that have separate mobile websites or dedicated apps. Taking into account the fact that mobile searches account for half of all searches and that this number is set to increase, it is evident why you can’t afford not to have this information at your fingertips.
2) Split your campaigns by networks
Google Search, Display and Remarketing campaigns have different characteristics, and combining their results will give you misleading, unhelpful information.
Search campaigns, for example, usually perform better than Display or Remarketing campaigns due to the nature of the advertising being active vs passive. The latter will seem to show lower conversion rates and lower Click-Through Rates – which is normal for that network-, so combining data from both will make it harder to measure results in a meaningful way and could lead to you adjusting your strategy erroneously.
3) Check your mobile advertising performance
Tablets and Smartphones came into our world at a point when a busy, nomadic way of life meant that we wanted to be able to access the internet on the go as easily as from the comfort of our homes. This has led to a veritable revolution in the way we live and shop, and this trend isn’t going anywhere.
While it offers unprecedented opportunities to sell products and services, it is important to understand that competition for advertising space is fiercer on this channel than any other. This is a physical limitation: the screens of portable devices are smaller, and therefore there is less available space.
As a result, mobile advertising costs can be higher, and it is more difficult to rank in a way that will yield results: realistically, if you are not in the top three spots on a mobile device, customers are unlikely to see your ads, and this is why you need to check your performance regularly, to make sure that you’re not wasting money.
4) Use negative keywords
Adwords campaigns are billed on a “Pay-Per-Click” basis, i.e. you will be charged each time someone clicks on your ad and reaches your website, regardless of what happens next. Although you can set a maximum spend on your Adwords account so as not to exceed your budget, it is easy to see how you could rapidly spend a lot of money and not have much to show for it.
Most people will understand the need to be specific enough in their keywords to attract relevant traffic, but the importance of excluding irrelevant keywords is often underestimated. Whatever it is you are selling, people looking for freebies won’t bring in any revenues, yet you will still have to pay for their click unless you exclude terms like “free”. Likewise, unless your positioning is for inexpensive goods or services, you should always exclude words like “cheap”. Other terms you may want to include as negative keywords are “jobs”, “careers”, “recruitment” and possibly educational terms such as “classes”, “training”, “schools”, etc… – unless of course this is what your business is specifically about.
When adding negative keywords, don’t be afraid to be generous with your exclusions of low value search terms, consider spelling variations and mistakes, and the singular and plural forms of nouns. As a sanity check, review your negatives list now and again to ensure you haven’t captured any valuable search terms in the net.
5) Adding extensions
Extensions are additional snippets of information that are displayed with your ad similar to those extra tidbits sometimes shown under organic results. They have been shown to increase click-through rates, but their other great benefit is that, by occupying more physical space on the screen, your ad will be pushing competitors off the page in a digital version of the musical chairs game.
When you are running Adwords campaigns, Google will automatically calculate whether extensions would improve your campaign’s performance –provided your Ad rank is high enough for your copy to appear – and display them along with your ad.
There are two types of extensions: automated and manual.
Automated extensions are snippets like customer service ratings and reviews for example. You have no control over them as they are generated by Adwords automatically so so let’s consider the manual extensions:
Sitelinks extensions can be used to provide a direct link to a specific product category rather than a more generic link. For example, if a web user searches for a washing machine with integrated clothes dryer, you could provide a direct link to that specific appliance range, rather than to a more general product page. It will make for a better customer experience.
This extension is only useful if you have a physical store or location as it gives customers directions to your position with one click. It also weeds out users who may not be relevant to your offering based on location so can save a bit of coin.
Call extensions are particularly useful for lead-generation companies or businesses that take orders over the phone. Displaying a phone number will encourage customers to call but, even better, this extension will be translated into a click-to-call button on mobiles, dialing your number automatically without having to click through to the website.
The App extension is very useful if your business has apps of its own, as it will encourage web users to download it directly. It can be added to account, campaign or ad group level and can also be customised to show only on specific devices.
This extension will be particularly useful for B2C businesses, as it displays a customer rating which will inspire confidence into new customers – provided your reviews are decent of course!
Callout extensions can help you attract customers by highlighting special offers, sales, preferential conditions such as free shipping, 24/7 service or free returns.
Structured snippets extensions
Structured snippets give more information about your products or services, for example showing which brands, or the latest video game, you stock, which can encourage customers to come and visit your website or store. Google even provide some specific customisable snippets to support sales during important commercial times such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday which are perhaps more relevant to the US market.
Adding extensions to your campaigns is free in itself and you will only be charged for clicks on your ad as usual. However, some interactions provided by the extensions carry a cost, such as clicking on the download button for the App extensions; on the call button for the Call extensions; or on a direction icon for the Location extensions. If you are worried this will blow your budget, it is worth noting that Adwords charges a maximum of two interactions per impression for each ad, so if an ad has four possible interactions and a web users click them all, you will only be charged for two.
Trading online has offered businesses incredible opportunities, with access to customers 24 hours a day all around the globe. However, it is also a fiercely competitive world, where it takes a potential customer no more than a click to go and visit one of your competitors. Adwords are an effective way to gain a competitive edge, but like all things internet, it requires sustained effort and regular review, so make sure that you allocate sufficient time and human resources to monitor results and adjust your strategy as necessary.