If you’re a small business looking to invest in web-based advertising, Google AdWords is the best place to start. Some campaigns can be set up in as little as five minutes.
However, for competitive industries with high value sales such as IT consulting, we typically recommend a minimum starting budget of $1,000/month. Yes, this is not for the faint of heart. This does require that you’re a financially sound business in in stage four or five of the small business success model and that you can earn sufficient ROI from one sale or lifetime value of bringing on a new customer on board.
Or if you’re a fitness club selling CrossFit classes in a major US metro area, you may still face significant AdWords competition, but at a much lower starting rate -- perhaps a $500-$750/month budget would be enough. (To learn more about how to budget for Google Adwords, here’s a great post about it by one of the vendors we use.)
Considering just how powerful this tool can be for your lead generation efforts, and how much traffic it can generate for your website -- that’s not something you can ignore. When properly optimized and matched to your target audience, AdWords creates a steady stream of new leads and potential customers, but it can also be a black hole for your marketing budget when managed improperly.
Google makes it easy to spend money, but to do it successfully, regular time must be spent managing your campaigns. That means daily checks of keyword performance for the first couple of weeks and weekly or bi-weekly checks after this to ensure your campaigns are performing as expected.
When checking your keyword list, there are several factors you should evaluate:
Keyword Relevance – Relevant keywords represent the specific phrases your prospects are searching for when they need what you offer. This usually means 3-5 words that mention your services, location, and possibly a specific problem you might solve.
At the same time, when someone clicks a highly relevant keyword, where do they go on your website? Does your landing page contain those keywords? Is it relevant to the search they just made?
Match Types – With AdWords, you can set Exact Match to show only your ads when users type the phrases you’ve listed, word for word. Using this is more targeted, but at the risk of limiting visibility.
Phrase Match tells Google that you want those words to appear in the exact order that you've listed but Google can add things before and after that.
Broad Match displays your ads for the phrase you’ve listed, but can also add words onto that phrase or trigger your ad for synonyms or near variations.
Quality Score – Each of your keywords will be assigned a quality score. This is based on several factors, including the click-through rate of people who see your ads when searching for that term, the relevance of your landing page when they get there, and how long they stay. This can influence what you pay for each keyword, but can also send a signal that your campaign needs adjustment.
Cost Per Click – What are you paying for each click? It’s easy to look at high level statistics for your campaign and see a good conversion rate and ignore the fine details. But if you’re paying $3.50 per click for a keyword that converts at a rate lower than another that costs only $1.25 per click, you could be missing out on potential conversions.
Negative Keywords – There is a lot of irrelevant traffic out there. For anything other than exact-match campaigns, you should include negative keywords to keep your ads from being displayed in search results that don’t match your services. For example, if you have a campaign “server setup support,” you might exclude the word “videogames” if that’s not a clientbase you want to reach.
The number of options available in AdWords when you dig into the settings can be overwhelming, but if you focus on the items above and check in once a week, you can streamline your spending and optimize results over time.
With the right combination of time invested and careful addition of new keywords, you can ensure you get the best out of your AdWords campaign.
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