I’ve been running AdWords campaigns since 2009 when I graduated college and joined my family’s startup insurance agency…Which happened to open a week after the 08’ financial crisis (but that’s another story).
Over the last six years I’ve audited dozens of AdWords accounts. After that many audits, a few things are clear:
Companies that manage their own internal AdWords accounts almost always lose money
Many agencies don’t really know how to build out an AdWords account—and grow it into a successful and profitable acquisition channel
With surprising consistency—no one measures, reports, or bothers to looks at the data—which is the most powerful aspect of using AdWords to sell more stuff of find more customers.
100% of folks I’ve talked to don’t understand the parrellel or secondary objectives that help you maximize your investment (like learning from traffic that doesn’t convert, understanding your customer personas, prospect intent, sales cycle, customer journey, etc).
ADWORDS IS A BLACK BOX—A REALLY COMPLICATED BLACK BOX
And yet, there’s lots of hustlers out there telling you “you can do it yourself!”…That may have been true six years ago (just maybe)…But today there’s more competition than ever…And you competitors are hiring sophisticated marketers (like me and my team) to outperform you…And, if you’re in a competitive niche (like insurance) you’re toast. I mean, you’re just toast. And I’ll tell you why in a minute.
Don’t get me wrong—AdWords can make you a lot of money. When done right, and watched over carefully, and implemented with the right strategy it can predictably bring in new customers over and over and over again.
Done wrong, it will drain your marketing budget until there’s nothing left. It’s an easy way to lose a lot of money—fast…Kind of like a guy who’s never played poker sitting down at the no limit table in Vegas.
UNDERSTAND THE INCENTIVES AND FOLLOW THE MONEY
An indictment of the speakers, info marketers, and marketing hustlers
One of the single biggest mistakes I made early on in my career was following advice. Not just any advice. But the advice of the online info marketer, the small business “marketing expert” hustlers, and the “speakers, consultants, et al.”
Yet, I’ve really got to thank these folks becuase they are the reason I’m here at my company today—because following their aweful, self-serving, manipulative advice contributed (it’s my fault, I wrote about it here) to my repeated failures, confusion, and wheel spinning.
Here’s the thing. In this business it’s hard to make money…Seriously. Labor is expensive. We need talented folks, and talented folks get paid well. Overhead is costly. Budgets are tight. Clients are demanding. Competition is fierce. Our job is really fun—so everyone wants to do it…
…So what happens? Instead of starting an agency, which is costly, challenging, risky and just downright HARD…People quickly learn they can make more money, more easily: BY JUST SPOUTING NONSENSE TO UNASSUMING AUDIENCES, IMPRESSIONABLE BEGINNERS AND OPTIMISTIC ENTREPRENEURS.
And that was me. Early on in your career your bullshit meter isn’t very finely tuned. And, if you’re ambitious and optimistic—you WANT TO BELIEVE THE SHIT THEY FEED YOU….They know this. They use this against you for their own personal gain.
THE TYPICAL ADWORDS ACCOUNT
1. Bad Account Structure
The structure or hierarchy of your account is the foundation that you build off. Having a clear path to AdWords success starts with an account structure that compliments your strategy.
2. Wasting Money on Keywords
In classic 80/20 fashion the majority of PPC accounts we evaluate display a common trend: all of the conversions come from 20% or less of the keywords (and frequently 10% or less!). Put another way–up to 90% of the keywords you’re bidding on are a complete waste of money.
Without question, every single account we see is wasting money on keywords that either
don’t convert to leads, sales or another micro-conversion goal
generate a ton of clicks (and eat up budget) but never meet our goals
A significant portion of budget is wasted on these non-performing keywords
ad groups, ads, and their underlying keywords are far too broad…we shoot for one keyword per ad group! Seriously.
How to Fix Your Money Sucking Keyword Strategy
Go to the Keywords tab for all campaigns, click details, go to “search terms all.” You can then export the data to excel, filter to see the the keywords with zero conversion, SUM the cost data and whala! You now know how much money you’ve spent on keywords that product no revenue. Now remove those keywords from your campaigns. Or adjust your strategy. Sometimes you can make them work, most of the time you cant.
3. Sending traffic to a homepage or poorly optimized landing page.
Seriously? This one is just puzzling. Maybe you don’t have the time, or budget, or internal capability to build a landing page…But to invest money into AdWords and then send all your traffic to the homepage is a cardinal sin. I thought this would have ended years ago, but alas, the ad networks, inbound hustlers, and “marketing experts” are still pushing the D-I-Y narrative that destroys campaigns before they ever get started.
Send traffic to your homepage is heresy, here’s why:
Your ad’s message won’t match the landing page’s
Your quality score will totally suck, driving up your cost per click and lowering ROI.
Users will be confused, forced to find that thing they were looking for.
You’re unlikely to answer all the objections you need to answer—as a well designed landing page should.
4. No Process For Account Optimization
The number of AdWords accounts that are configured, but never optimized, reviewed, tweaked or improved is amazing. The best AdWords managers automate as much of this as possible with AdWords scripts—and they do the manual analysis that required at least weekly. On accounts with large budgets (say $25k/month or more) a manager is reviewing the account almost daily.
Since we’re an agency, we’ve got a process for that.
5. LACK OF ANALYTICS AND REPORTING PROCESS
AdWords has been called the greatest innovation in direct marketing in the history of direct marketing…Why? Because you can accurately track an incredible amount of data, and use that data to inform and improve your profits. Simply put—crunching the numbers is the only way to make your wallet fatter. Period.
So why do so many accounts we see fail to do this?
Tracking your campaigns improves your odds of success by 1,700% according to hubspot’s state of inbound report.
Improperly configured analytics accounts
No conversion tracking or faulty conversion tracking
No conversion values, especially dynamic conversion value tracking
Fixing Your PPC Tracking & Reporting
Implement Google Tag Manager and consolidate your tags in one place.
Integrate AdWords + Google Analytics (as well as some other things)