I recently put in place Google Adwords for my colleagues at the MySQL Consultancy, Shattered Silicon, and there are a few things that I think anyone using Google Adwords for advertising products and services should know in order to avoid wasting any of their marketing budget. All of these things are pretty obvious in hindsight, but if you dive in with no experience, you will likely find yourself wasting a lot of your marketing budget on advertising to an audience that isn’t looking to buy.
Location, Location, Location!
Advertise only in places where the companies can plausibly afford to engage your services. In broad terms, this means that if you are based in and doing business from an OECD country, unless you operate in a niche that bucks this rule, there is a good chance that clients who aren’t in another OECD country – can’t afford you. So make sure you set your advertising campaign to specifically target the countries that are of interest to you and specifically exclude the countries that are not. Of course this is not a hard rule – there could be benefit to including additional countries, e.g. if you have staff who speak the language.
There is another aspect of this – in countries where the economy isn’t doing great, there are more likely to be people looking for work in the industry you operate in who will click your advert on the off chance that you may be hiring. So unless you are struggling to hire remote workers, this is another reason to focus on locations where those expensive clicks are likely to be bringing you visits from prospective clients, rather than prospective employees or competitors.
Which brings us onto the next point.
Exclude Job-Seeker Terms
Unless you are looking to hire, exclude commonly used job-seeking terms, such as “hire”, “junior”, “senior”, “internship”, “training”, “position”, “opening” and any others you can think of. This significantly reduced the number of impressions and clicks which were never going to turn into sales.
Avoid Ambiguous Terms
It is worth investing some time into researching whether there there is a tool with a similar name to the service you are offering. For example, if you are advertising services of a MySQL administrator, you may find that most of the clicks you get are from people looking for the deprecated tool of the same name. Similarly, either avoid your advertising of MySQL performance tuning services or disambiguate it from the MySQL tuning tool.
Ideally, try to avoid such term completely or at the very least use specific rather than broad matching and add exclusions for the words used in things other than what you are trying to market.
Presumably, if you are spending your hard earned money on marketing to grow your business, you are running a commercial operation rather than a charity. So you should probably exclude terms like “free”, “trial”, “download” and other terms typically used in searches for things that people don’t expect to pay for.
Another very obvious optimisation, when you think about it, is optimising by age range. If you are selling a highly technical service aimed at business owners and CTOs, it is unlikely they will be younger than mid-20s or older than the retirement age. So exclude those age ranges from your advert targeting spec.
Use the Price Extension on your Advert
You may think that showing prices of 2-3 of your most popular products puts people off from clicking on your ad, but this is a good thing. If a price tag puts somebody off from your advert, there is a good chance they aren’t looking to buy anyway – so they might as well not cost you for the clicks.
Effect on Impressions, CPC and CTR
If you are doing it right, you will find that your total conversion cost will go down, but at first look counter-intuitively, your CPC will go up and your impression count will go down – because your competitors have already probably already gone through a similar exercise, and you are homing in on the actually valuable impressions that they are also competing for. The CPC in the case I have been working on almost doubled overnight once I applied all of the above optimisations. But the cost per conversion went down overall.
Hopefully, these thoughts will get your marketing efforts off to a smoother and cheaper start than it would have otherwise been.