As Google works to make AdWords easier to use, more and more business owners are starting off managing their own accounts. But most entrepreneurs still don't have a lot of time to spend on all the nitty-gritty details.
The good news is, you don't need a ton of time: you just need to focus on the right things. There’s a large range of items that should be on any dedicated PPC manager’s regular checklist, but for those of you with less time to spare, here are 3 key ways to work on improving your AdWords account's performance and profitability:
Way #1: Focus solely on conversions and cost per conversion.
If you’re pressed for time, mostly ignore all the secondary metrics like cost per click, click-through rate, average position, impression share, quality score, and even clicks and impressions.
I’m sure I’ll catch some flak for saying that, because ignoring these things in the long run can really hurt you. In the long run.
But in the short-to-medium term, focusing on those things is more likely to distract you than it is to help you. Instead, focus solely on your number of conversions and your cost per conversion. The best use of the other metrics is really to optimize those two anyway, so that’s the only reason you should look at them for now.
Way #2: Only pay for the visitors who are doing what you want.
Compare the behavior of visitors from different campaigns, ad groups, keywords, ads, landing pages, geographic locations and device types to see where your ad spend is working well and where it isn’t.
Desired outcomes will vary based on the business, but some of the most common are sales, ecommerce revenue, contact form submissions and quote requests. Secondary metrics like bounce rate and average time on site can be useful too, especially if you don’t have conversion tracking set up yet.
Whichever key metrics you choose, compare them across different groups of visitors to see which parts of your AdWords account are driving value and which aren’t. Then reduce bids or pause underperformers, and move your budget from areas of low yield to areas of higher yield and watch your business improve.
Way #3: Always be testing.
If you’ve spent any time reading about online marketing, you’ve surely heard about the importance of split-testing on your website. Unfortunately, a lot of sites just don’t have enough traffic to split-test their landing pages to a degree of statistical significance – so any results they may get are simply not reliable. With AdWords, though, you’re likely to have 100 times more impressions on your ads than the amount of traffic they actually send to your site, which makes hitting statistical significance on your ad copy much easier.
It’s both free and fast to add new text ads, unlike redesigning a landing page. And with 53% of small businesses optimizing their ads only once per quarter, testing more frequently can immediately put you ahead of your competition.
When you do test, try to isolate the specific pieces you’re testing. If you change both the headline and the first description line of an ad, and that ad performs better, you won’t know which part made the difference. It can work to test an entirely different ad approach against another, but once you find an approach that works well, it’s a good idea to swap out one at a time to see which specific phrasing performs the best. And be sure to run the two different ads at the same time, in parallel, using the AdWords setting to rotate evenly. You should never have just one active ad in an ad group.
To ensure statistical significance, use a free calculator like this one. Because it’s set up for testing landing pages, the calculator’s column headers say visits and conversions, but you can use your ads’ impressions and clicks (or impressions and conversions) numbers to see whether your test was significant.
Out of ideas for ad copy to test? Try these methods:
a) Think like your ideal customer. If you needed the service or product you’re offering, but weren’t familiar with your company, how would you search for it? What are the benefits and features that would be most important to you? This perspective should inform the keywords you bid on, the ad copy you run, and the landing pages you use—all of which should work together as individual parts of your whole marketing funnel.
You can also look at what your customers are saying when they talk to your team or when they leave reviews online, and use their major points in your ad copy.
b) Use your competition. Search Google for your top keywords and look at how your competitors advertise on them. Try variations of their copy or position yourself in the opposite corner to differentiate your company from the others.
c) Use your own landing page copy. Take advantage of all the time you’ve already spent on your on-site messaging by using it in your ad copy. Matching your ad copy promise to your landing page delivery is a good way to build trust and prevent people from bouncing right off the page, too.
While there are many more techniques that can give your AdWords advertising an edge, using the three basic tips above can help any time-crunched manager keep improving their account over time until it’s large enough to hire a more dedicated pro to tackle the advanced issues.
What are some tips you’ve used to optimize your or your clients’ AdWords campaigns? Post your thoughts and any questions you have in the comments below!