For the past twelve years, we've been managing pay-per-click (PPC) - most particularly Google AdWords - campaigns for companies of all sizes and in a variety of different industries.
Fortunately, we've helped each and every one of our clients get more qualified visitors to their websites and turn them into profitable customers and clients, using AdWords, Google's pay-per-click advertising program.
We've proven over and over again that Google AdWords is clearly one of the most effective and affordable marketing tools on the planet... that is, if you know what you're doing.
If not, you're likely to get very poor results (or even"lose your shirt," as we've heard people say). Below is an overview of Google AdWords and more information on the way we approach our working arrangement with clients.
If you have any questions or would like to set up a time to talk with our resident AdWords expert, Mary Scarborough. you can email her directly at: Mary[@]smaic[dot]com.
AdWords - The Great Equalizer
Thanks to the Internet all businesses - regardless of their size - can complete on the global market today. In fact, your business and its products can be in front of millions of people in literally, minutes using one of the most powerful advertising vehicles on the planet - Google AdWords.
But as the saying goes, "buyer beware," because AdWords advertising may seem easy - it takes $5.00 and very little know-how to open up an AdWords account - but it's one of the quickest ways to the poor house, for beginners. Rather, using the medium successfully - and that means achieving a positive return on your investment, require considerable expertise and know-how. And this is where we come in...
Yes, you can be competitive with the big guys and yes, you can learn it all yourself - but it does take time and the learning curve is steep. Often, this unfortunately translates into wasted time and money. In other words, this is one of those times when it's best to focus your attention on what you do best, and allow a real pro to take over your AdWords advertising efforts. If you want to learn more about Google Pay-Per-Click, Google Display Ads and Google Re-marketing just give us a call at 877-904-1656 or contact us here.
Here's more about pay-per-click (PPC) and how we work... In its simplest form, an online PPC campaign is a tool that businesses, individuals, and organizations use to communicate with their target audience(s) in order to drive qualified search engine traffic to their websites. Of the three major search engines – Google, Yahoo!, and MSN/Bing – Google is, by far, the most widely used search engine (Yahoo! is second and MSN is third). Likewise, Google’s advertising programs – AdWords and their content placement/display ad program, AdSense - are the most popular paid-for advertising programs on the Internet today.
That's why we perfect our clients' AdWords campaigns and then move onto the others if we all agree that's a good idea. Following are some very top-level Google AdWords basics:
- In order to advertise on Google AdWords, you must first open an account (adwords.google.com/). You will be charged $5.00 for this and will be asked to submit your credit card information. Once your campaign is activated, your credit card will be billed every 30 days or every $500, whichever comes first.
- Once registered, you can set up one or many AdWords campaigns – each with one or more ad groups and ads.
- Your campaign will be customized by setting geographic parameters, maximum daily budgets, maximum cost-per-click (See Glossary of Terms, Section 7) prices, language preferences, destination and display urls, and more.
- Once live, your ads will appear in search results lists (on the very top left hand side of the results page, under “sponsored searches” or along the right hand side of the same page), along with live links to your web pages. Ads are triggered when search engine users who fit a campaign’s set parameters enter targeted keywords or phrases.
- Whenever your links are “clicked on” users are sent to the designated web page and you will pay an agreed-upon fee – thus, the term “pay-per-click.” Alternatively, content placement, or display, ads appear on web pages, not search engine results listings. Depending on their type (i.e. whether they’re generated from AdWords or AdSense) you'll either pay a flat-fee for “impressions”(the number of times your ad was displayed) or per click.
In order to obtain excellent results PPC advertisers must carefully orchestrate and execute a number of complicated variables - nearly flawlessly. If not, their campaigns perform poorly and they lose money. All effective PPC campaigns consist of the following six top-level elements:
- Highly targeted, relevant keywords.
- Small, tightly focused ad groups.
- Ad headlines, copy & destination urls that mirror &/or support ad group names and keywords.
- Website landing pages with keyword-rich content, page titles & headlines.
- Reliable tracking tools and processes that allow results to be measured, quantified & analyzed.
- “Blended” Strategies: PPC results are greatly enhanced when combined with other solid search engine marketing, or SEM,and SEO strategies.
All of these factors work together to increase – or decrease - the odds that a company’s PPC campaign will generate a positive return on their investment (ROI). However, as is the case with all forms of advertising, there are other external and internal factors that may have a negative effect on PPC campaign results or ROI. Here are several:
- Exorbitant cost-per-click prices due to increases in competition.
- Lower-than-average standard industry conversion (defined as opt-ins, direct online sales, or leads) rates.
- High cost-per-click rates and/or lower conversion rates vs. low average product/service pricing or profits (i.e. products/services with prices/profits that are too low to offset the costs per click and/or low-than-average conversion rates).
- Company’s product and/or service offerings are not what visitors expected, or wanted.
- Advertisers’ websites and/or follow-up sales processes are not “conversion-ready”.
In other words, there are many variables to consider before setting up and maintaining a PPC campaign, and many options to weigh after making that decision. In spite of the low-cost to entry ($5.00) and the relative ease of creating an ad campaign, it is a highly technical and complex form of advertising and one that requires a great deal of objective research, considerable skill and know-how, constant testing and monitoring, and a keen ability to analyze results and make changes accordingly. Unfortunately, the vast majority of AdWords advertisers unnecessarily achieve less-than-anticipated results and a negative return on their investments.
The primary reason for these disappointing results is simple: Advertisers lack the experience, expertise, and skills they need to create and sustain a profitable AdWords campaign. For instance, they lack insider knowledge on Google’s requirements and algorithms; they fail to coordinate their SEO efforts with their PPC efforts; they lack knowledge on finding “money” keywords; they bid too high, or too low, for their keywords; they are not schooled in writing effective ads; and much, much more.
So, what happens? They give up and say, “I tried AdWords and it doesn’t work.” This couldn’t be further from the truth! When AdWords campaigns are set up properly and maintained by seasoned professionals they are among the most affordable and profitable advertising vehicles on the planet! Even better, “well-oiled” PPC campaigns are “gifts that keep on giving” – that is, with just a little bit of ongoing tweaking, they can be sources of profitable traffic for years and years. However, as with all worthwhile endeavors, a considerable amount of groundwork must be accomplished first. Our goal is to develop and maintain a streamlined, profitable, and sustainable Google AdWords PPC Campaign(s) for Your Company.More specifically, we will develop one that:
- Consistently delivers a positive return on the your investment.
- Incrementally increases qualified traffic to your website.
- Uses your resources to achieve the best possible outcome – i.e. get the most for the least.
- Improves your chances for converting strangers into website visitors, and website visitors into qualified leads and or sales.
Very simply, in order to set up your PPC campaign we will:
- Conduct comprehensive keyword (and other) research.
- Finalize initial ad groups & keywords (using broad, phrased and exact matching as appropriate).
- Add negative keywords to filter out unwanted traffic.
- Set campaign parameters.
- Develop ad copy and headlines.
- Activate campaign and enter testing phase.
- Track (begins day 1) and refine.
Following, however, is a detailed proposal on the initiatives we will perform in order to set up and maintain your Google AdWords campaign(s). ** (Although we can also set up campaigns on other search engines, we strongly advise waiting until after Google results are streamlined.)
Phase One: Conduct Comprehensive Keyword (and Other) Research
After we’ve reviewed your company's current website, we will begin our keyword research to get our first list of "seed" words and phrases. Then, we'll come up with additional lists of more focused keywords and phrases, which we’ll use to formulate proposed ad groups. Based on many variables – all requiring further research – we will come up with a final list of recommended keywords and ad groups (as well as “negative” keywords) for you to review and approve. Here are just some of the factors we will consider and the types of questions we’ll seek to answer before completing Phase One:
- Your Objectives: For example, what do you want to happen and how does PPC fit your overall goals? What types of prospects are you targeting? What will you invite your website visitors to do once you arrive on your site? How do you define conversions? How will you track conversions?
- Advertising Budget: For example, is your available AdWords budget sufficient to get the most out of your AdWords campaign, or are there other alternatives that make more sense (e.g. AdSense)? Is your proposed budget “overkill” and is it prudent to add ad groups or expand your keyword lists?
- Landing Pages: For example, can we integrate your PPC ad groups with keyword specific landing pages to improve Google AdWords Quality Scores? If so, what are the current landing page titles? If not, does it make sense to create new landing pages?
- Estimated Costs-per-clicks: For example, are the average costs-per-click reasonable for your budget, anticipated conversion rates, and/or profit margins?
Keyword Volume: For example, is there enough search volume to warrant a campaign? Is the volume too high – and therefore, extremely risky – for certain keywords? What part will negative keywords play in your campaign? Is it best to limit the geographical area for your campaign initially?
Please Note: If, anytime during this or subsequent phases, we believe that a Google AdWords campaign is not in Your Company best interest, we will share our findings and analysis, and offer our recommendations for exploring alternative online or offline advertising solutions.
- Keyword/Ad Group Relevancy: For example, are the keywords and ad groups relevant to your products and services (hint: the more focused the better)?
- Competitive Analysis: For example, are your competitors advertising online? If so, how much are they spending? What keywords are they bidding on? How much are they paying per click? How similar are their products/services to yours?
- Industry and Marketplace Trends: For example, are there seasonal or other types of trends in the marketplace that may affect your ability to drive targeted traffic to their website? Are there new opportunities that they can take advantage of quickly to jump start your results?
- Abuse Prevalence: For example, does your industry have a higher-than-average incidence of PPC abuse? If so, what measures need to be put in place to prevent, monitor, and react to it?
We will gather this intelligence using a variety of free and paid-for web-based tools, such as:
- Google’s External Keyword Tool (free).
- Google Insights for Search (free).
- Google Trends (free).
- Spy Fu (paid).
- Marketing Samurai (paid).
- Quantcast (free).
- Google Analytics (If you company currently has a Google Analytics account, we will request access and review all the data available).
- Google Traffic Estimator (free).
- Quintura (free).
- Keyword Density Analyzer (free).
- Ranks NL Webmaster Tools (free).
Phase Two: Set Up Initial AdWords Campaign
Once you have reviewed and approved all of the keywords and ad groups we’ve presented, our next step will be to set up the PPC campaign within their AdWords account. If you already has an active AdWords account, we will need log-in information. If not, one will need to be created (we are happy to walk you through the process). FYI – it takes just a few minutes to open up an AdWords account. You’ll be asked to enter standard profile information and place a credit card on file. The $5.00 registration fee will be deducted when you open the account, and all PPC costs (if any) will be billed to your credit card every thirty days (or the first of the month, whichever comes sooner.) When we set up your campaign we’ll assign a maximum daily budget – approved by you in advance. Please note, however, that this does not mean that your daily budget needs to be set as high as your finances allow. In many cases, far less is sufficient. Please also note that in any given day Google may exceed your daily limit by up to 20%, but over a 30-day period your daily budget must average out to your maximum. (If Google exceeds your budget by 20% or more, you will be reimbursed the entire overage.) at any time, you may go into your AdWords account and view your billing information, results, reports, and much more. Information contained there is not however, “real time.” There is generally a one to three hour delay (and sometimes more), but in our experience, daily results are usually accurate after midnight. We will perform the following tasks: 1. Create one or more campaigns and specifying all campaign variables, including:
- Geographic Regions (we can target multiple countries or USA only; individual states, regions within states, metro areas, and/or one or more towns, zip codes, etc. In other words, we can target very large or very small audiences.
- Daily Budgets.
- Maximum Cost Per Clicks by Campaign, Ad Group, or Keywords.
- Ad Scheduling.
- Ad Rotations (for split-testing).
- Language Preferences.
and more 2. Set up all ad groups (within campaigns) with appropriate broad, phrased, and exact match keyword phrases 3. Write two ads (for split testing) per ad group complete with destination and display urls 4. Obtain Google Adwords tracking code and merge with your existing Analytics account or create a new one. We will provide this code to your website developer for inclusion on all of their web pages.
Phase Three: Daily Monitoring and Modifying Campaigns
After launch, we will diligently monitor and modify campaigns (every 3 hours daily for the first several weeks)to ensure that:
- Your Company ads appear on the first page of Google search results.
- We achieve the best possible click-through rates without sacrificing traffic quality, quality scores, or conversion rates. To this end, we will add, delete, and modify ads, ad groups, and keywords; adjust maximum cost-per-click bids; change geographic targeting; and the like. (Please note: We will get your approval in advance for any/all suggested daily budget changes – up or down.)
We will also begin with two different ads per ad group. Once we obtain enough data – that is, a statically valid number of impressions per ad - we willkeep the ads with the highest click-through rates (these will become our “controls”), discard the “losers” and test other ads against our controls. We will continue this process indefinitely and/or until results indicate that significant improvements are unlikely. Although we assume that your ultimate goal is to generate profitable product sales, if your website does not currently allow for direct online sales we can help direct you in setting up a shopping cart and payment process. If you do not have a product to sell then the website will serve primarily as a lead generation tool; that is, we assume that visitors will be invited to call or email company representatives, who will then be tasked with closing sales. If so, we will work with and/or advise you on the best methods for tracking and documenting leads generated.
- We obtain the highest possible quality scores – essential to improving Adwords performance. We will achieve this by ensuring that all ad groups and ad copy contain relevant and focused keywords and phrases. Additionally, we will advise Your Company on ways to improve your quality scores which is normally outside of the scope of PPC management (e.g. relevant landing pages, destination urls, etc.)
- Your Company will receive regular and ongoing communication regarding campaign results. We will also provide our objective assessment and analysis regarding the campaign’s progress over time (i.e. whether things are improving or getting worse); our prognosis for its future; and how long we predict it will take to obtain statistically valid data. We will send you Google AdWords generated reports (and show designated employees of your company how to access these as well) and share all pertinent Analytics information as well.
Estimated time required to complete Phase Three tasks: We will continue to monitor (and modify as needed) all elements within your company's campaigns on a daily basis for the length of our contract. During the first 1-3 months we will review results every three hours throughout the day until 6 pm (US Pacific standard time). After that, we will monitor the campaign twice daily unless results dictate more focused attention.
Initial and Ongoing Consultation
We will consult with and advise you as appropriate and needed – via on any/all aspects of their PPC campaign. Since our ultimate goal is to help you achieve their overall business goals, we will offer candid and objective suggestions for improving your ROI (even if that means delaying, minimizing, or forgoing PPC advertising all-together). Additionally, we set aside two hours per month (for six month) for live, one-on-one Adwords tutorials. We will conduct these sessions at a regular and agreed-upon day and time via teleconferences (e.g. skype) and using Teamviewer software (Teamviewer.com offers free computer-sharing, web-based software that can be downloaded in minutes) for 1-5 employees. Alternatively, you can choose to use this time for other types of consultation.
Managing Your Company Expectations
Although we use the most sophisticated and accurate tools available to conduct our pre-campaign research – and therefore substantially minimize our clients’ vulnerabilities and greatly increase their chances for success – your ultimate PPC results will always be far better than your initial results. Here’s why:
- It Takes Time for Google to “Trust” New Advertisers: Keep in mind that Google – and all search engines – are in the “trust” business; that is, their profits depend on their users trusting that Google will deliver relevant search results. In other words, ads that result in more clicks for certain keywords are judged as “more relevant” than ones with lower click-through percentages.
However, high click-through rates aren’t enough to win Google’s “heart.” Rather, advertisers must also sustain these high click through and as importantly, send visitors to web pages that provide the information their seeking (this is the reason why keyword-rich landing pages are so critical to overall PPC success). Advertisers who follow these, and other Google guidelines, are “rewarded” with lower per-click costs, better positioning, increased visibility, and the like. These rewards will have a direct positive impact on Your Company results. However, this process does not happen overnight – in spite of what you may have heard. Google monitors all new advertisers carefully and metes out these “rewards” slowly and methodically during the first couple of months. Additionally, Google rewards advertisers whose ads run consistently over longer periods of time. When we begin your campaign, Google has no way of knowing how long your campaign will remain active. And given the plethora of “fly-by-night” Internet marketers, this is a legitimate concern. In other words, advertisers are also rewarded for consistent longevity – and the way Google measures this is with a “wait-and-see” attitude.
- It Takes Time to Test Variables: Excellent Google AdWords campaigns do not happen by accident. They occur as a result of careful planning, objective research, a great deal of skill, and constant and frequent monitoring and adjusting. And, as all excellent marketers know, this means testing, testing, and more testing. It is our responsibility to test the effectiveness of all legitimate variables such as keywords, ad groups, and ads to learn which ones perform optimally. Over time, we will get rid of any elements that aren’t working well and retain only the ones that are.
- It Takes Time to Obtain Valid Data: It is unwise to alter any element within a campaign until there is enough information to make an informed decision. Therefore, we will not make a decision to delete or pause any of Your Company ads, keyword phrases, or ad groups until we’re confident that our results can be “universalized.” What does this mean? Ad groups with lower volume keyword phrases will have run longer than ones with higher volume keywords before they can be safely adjusted.
In other words, patience and tenacity win this game. And while we will do everything in our power to ensure that Your Company AdWords PPC campaign achieves the best possible results as quickly as possible, you can reasonably expect us to be making small and consistent improvements during the first one to three months of your campaign.
Costs and Fees
In addition to our commitment to do whatever it takes to help Your Company achieve their PPC objectives quickly and affordably, we also promise to look after your best interests at all times, act as responsible and wise stewards of your money and resources, and offer you trusted, professional, and solid advice and counsel. And we believe that our payment policies and fees are strong evidence of these pledges. Therefore, we charge a one-time, “no-surprises” initial research and set-up fee and a very affordable ongoing monthly maintenance fee (with 6-12 month option).
If you’d like to learn more about PPC, display ads, and re-marketing advertising services as well as pricing options, Contact Us by email or call our offices at: 877-904-1656. A company representative will contact you within 48 hours to discuss your project and whether it’s a good fit for our company. If not, we will recommend another source for your needs… even one of our competitors.