Google really shook things up in April when they launched the “Penguin” algorithm update. Many businesses saw their ranking plummet overnight and were forced into paying Google to get their rankings and traffic back via pay per click advertising.
Many businesses didn’t know how to setup a successful campaign and burned a lot of money very quickly for very little traffic. We’ve heard from a number of our clients who have said they tried Adwords and it didn’t work for them. That’s simply not the case. The campaign didn’t work as it was approached in the wrong way.
This article will hopefully help those struggling to make PPC advertising work for them get a better return on their investment.
Samson Web Design offer PPC management where we setup and regularly optimise Adwords campaigns for our clients for just £250+vat per month. We’ll share here the basics of the service we offer our clients when we setup and manage their campaigns for them. It’s just a set of processes you need to go through over time to make sure you…
A. Don’t spend a ton of money too quickly without the reward.
B. Get the highest number of visitors for the money you do spend.
Lets start with the basics which is your Adwords business plan. Not got one? OK you really need to read this whole article!
Setting your Goals – The Adwords Business Plan
The first thing we need to know is how we plan to make money using Google Adwords. There is no point in spending money on Google Adwords if you have no plan on how to make it back. So many businesses throw £1000 into a PPC campaign, enter a load of keywords and 1 advert and BANG, they get £300 in sales out the other end and assume it just doesn’t work. WRONG! It’s how you spend the money that is key to success not how much you spend initially.
Researching your business
First we need to establish what our current business conversion rates are and our average order values. We need to figure out what we would be comfortable spending so we don’t bleed the business dry.
We can do this by using two simple equations:
Conversion rate = Visitors to site DIVIDED BY number of orders
Average order = Revenue DIVIDED BY number of orders
The first thing you need to know is how many visitors you get to your site so get your visitor data from Google Analytics. The longer period of time you have to get data from the better but we can do this with just a months data if you don’t have longer. We recommend taking a 3-6 month period as the more data you have the more accurate the averages will be.
Now get your number of sales from your store or accounts system from the same period. Finally find your total revenue taken for the same period.
Let’s take a look at a fictitious company that started 6 months ago and analyse a months sales to show you how it works. This is an ecommerce store so easy to extract figures from.
Find Your Current Site Sales Stats:
In August the site had 4000 visitors and took £1400 in sales from 25 orders in total.
This gives you a conversion rate of 1 in 160 visitors placing an order and an average order value of £56.00.
Conversion rate = 4000 DIVIDED BY 25 = 160
Average order = £1400 DIVIDED BY 25 = £56.00
Work Out Your Adwords Targets:
The goal of the Adwords campaign will be to deliver a set number of visitors per day for a set cost with a view to converting a set number of them into orders. Simple!
In our companies case we want to double our visitor numbers and attract another 4000 people to the site on top of what we already get. That’s 133 visitors per day (4000 DIVIDED BY 30) to the site.
These new visitors however will be highly targeted so we should be able to get that conversion rate down to around 1 in 100 instead of 1 in 160. Adwords visitors are generally a higher quality than your natural visitor. 1 in 100 is a pretty typical visitor to order conversion ratio in our experience for most ecommerce stores using adwords. Our average order value we’ll assume will probably remain the same as that is less in our control than visitor numbers.
If this all works out we’ll be getting around 40 orders per month from our 4000 visitors at £56.00 an order on average. This should bring in around £2240 in revenue.
OK so we have our plan and our targets. Now how to get the visitors and what we can spend getting them to our site.
Work Out Your Monthly, Daily and CPC Budget:
Now we know that our aim is to take £2240 in revenue in our first month from our Adwords visitors. What we need to know now is what we can spend to get our visitors and be comfortable. To find this out we’re going to assume we make NO MONEY at all in our first month. We just break even.
Lets assume in the case of our fictitious company the profit margin is 50% to keep things simple, so our costs for the orders we plan to get are £1120. Doubling up is pretty common for ecommerce stores but if you have lower margins just adjust as necessary.
That £1120 is our budget for Adwords for the first month.
Now we need to know what the maximum we can bid on any keyword should be and what we should set as our daily budget to make sure our money is spent evenly over the month. Take your £1120 budget DIVIDE BY 30 (days) which gives you your daily budget for your campaign. That’s £37.00 per day.
Now divide our daily budget by the number of visitors we want which is 133 in this case and your magic number is…… 28p per click.
Follow all that? If not drop us an email and we’ll try to explain further. Or alternatively we’ll offer to setup and run your campaign for you for £250 a month to save your brain and time!
It can get tricky working this out if you don’t know exact figures and you have to take your best educated guess. Some businesses like us as web designers, who offer a service don’t have such cut and dry numbers to work with so your accounts is really where you need to look and you can refine your campaign over time when you have more data to work with.
We now have our planned worst case scenario projections on what we want to spend and what we will make. If this happens we’ll break even and make no money at all and possibly make a small loss! WHAT’S THE POINT!
Well month one is all about getting the data in your Adwords account. Sure many businesses make money in month one but what we are really interested in is knowing which keywords are getting the most clicks, which are costing us the most money and which we could be getting more traffic from for less money so we can optimise the campaign.
Let’s jump on now to the research stage and look at how we find those all important keywords to bid on and how we organise them.
Keywords, Types and Research
I’m not going to spend a lot of time here as it’s been covered 1,000,000 times before. Seriously type “keyword research” into Google and as of today you get 103,000,000 results!
What I will say on the subject is short but precise and if followed will save you a fortune! Pick keyword phrases with 2 to 4 words in them. Single word keywords are suicide!
You’ve got broad, phrase and exact match keyword types to choose from. One simple rule!
Never use broad match, only ever use phrase match. If you need to know the difference Google will tell you but follow that rule and you’ll never blow your budget in a minute!
Get all your keywords (after your research) and group them into small groups, and by small I mean 2 or 3 in a group that are very similar. We’re going to make our ads laser targeted so the people searching see exactly what they just typed into Google in our advert. Conversion rates will be worth the hassle, believe me. i.e. web design company, website design company.
Use negative keywords to stop your ad showing to those after freebies or related items that could trigger your ad. ALWAYS use negative keywords and I like to do this on a campaign level. i.e. if you sell a quality, expensive item use “free, cheap, inexpensive, bargain, discount” etc…. You may have to think about this a little and we can always add to this list later as we see what keywords are really triggering our adverts.
Use Googles Recommendations
We want as many keywords as we can find in our campaign. Don’t stop till you have 100 and if you can get 1000 or more, well done! The more data we have on what is receiving clicks the more we can optimise our campaign and the more visitors we’ll get for our money.
Ad Groups and Adverts – The Hard Work
OK so we’ve got our budgets, visitor number targets and we’ve got a whopping great list of keywords that we want our ads to show for when people search on Google. Now what do we want to show them?
This is where in my opinion the money is earned and the conversion rates from visitor to order are really achieved. If you show your advert that says “Bespoke, Quality Web Design company” when someone searched for “build an ecommerce store” you’ve got a problem. People want to see an advert that includes what they just searched for and gives them what they want. This is why we have our keywords in such small groups so our ads can be extremely highly targeted to the exact search performed on Google. That visitor knows you do what they want and is likely to be interested in what you have. We want them.
Setup Your Ad Groups
Get your massive list of keywords and pick just one of them to create your first ad group from. Usually we like to start with the ones that Google says get the most traffic. These we want to build the most highly targeted adverts for.
Create your advert using the keyword in the title of the ad and for good measure in the ad copy too ideally. This means when our ad is show the keyword will be highlighted in bold twice and attract the searcher to our ad. Now go to your keyword list and pick any other variations of that main keyword that are similar. To use my example from earlier we’d have “web design company” and “website design company” in one ad group. Not “design company” as that is too broad and you could get people that want a stool designed or a flyer or anything for that matter. You won’t find many but think would I click on this ad if I searched for this? If the answer is no then you need another ad group for that.
For a keyword list of 100 keywords we’d have 30-50 ad groups with just a couple of ads in each of them. That’s laser targeting!
The ideal is to have one advert for every keyword but that’s just total overkill. If you’ve got the time though you’ll get the highest return but it’s just plain unnecessary in my opinion.
If you’ve got an ecommerce store you can go mad and have an ad for every product and every category you have on your store. Remember the more you have the more traffic you can get.
Setup Your Ad Variations
Once you’ve completed the step above you are ready to get your variations created for each ad group. Having one advert is OK if you are short on time but ideally you want at least two ads in an ad group and if possible more. This is so Google can show your ads and determine which is the most effective. This can really help conversions and if you don’t do it you will never know why that ad is not getting clicked on or why you don’t get traffic from that keyword. Google will manage the ads for you to show the ones that work the most so there is absolutely no reason not to make variations if you have the time.
A Note on Destination URLs
Something often overlooked when creating ads is the destination you are sending the visitor to. The golden rule is to send the visitor to a page that is about what they just searched for. If they land on your page and can’t see exactly what they want within 3 seconds they are out of there! NEVER send all your traffic to the homepage and ALWAYS make sure you have a page relevant to the search term used. If you don’t then DON’T USE THE SEARCH TERM!
Running Your Campaign
You’re done. We have our budgets, we have our keywords, we have our adverts and we’re ready to get some traffic. Make sure your budgets for each keyword are set to our max (28p in our companies case), your daily budgets are set correctly (£37.00 in our companies case) and you have sufficient funds in the account to run for at least 30 days. Hit start!
WAAAIIITTT! Hang on what about the campaign settings I hear you cry.
OK this has been covered 2,000,000 times also on the web but my golden rules are to NEVER use time targeting, who says your customer isn’t shopping at 2am! ALWAYS have your ads spread evenly and not accelerated to show as fast as possible, again you may miss the people who shop when your ads have expired due to budgets. Make sure you target the correct area/country for your target market.
Apart from that show the ads on all devices and ONLY ON THE SEARCH NETWORK. We can expand onto the other Google partner sites later but for now lets make sure our campaign works beofre we give a bit more control to Google!
FINALLY – CONVERSION TRACKING needs to be installed on your site. You simply MUST KNOW what keywords are converting into traffic and sales to be able to optimise your campaign. It is possible to optimise without it but about 10 times harder and it takes 10 times longer to do it.
Now, DO NOT mess with this campaign, tweak it, add to it or do anything else to it until you’ve got at least 2 weeks data under your belt. Just sit back, enjoy the traffic and don’t worry about it. If you don’t take one single order in 2 weeks, don’t panic. It’s fine. We’re after data here so we can see what will and won’t make us the money.
The Results of Your Campaign
OK. We’re 2 weeks into our campaign. One of three things has just happened and again we’ll use our fictitious companies plan to demonstrate…..
1. We’ve spent about £600 and we’ve taken more than £1200 in sales and are in profit! WOOHOO we nailed it right off the start line………or did we?
2. We’ve spent about £600 and we’ve just about made £1200 in sales and broken even. This is great, we’ve lost nothing and gained customers. That is pretty good for our initial outing.
3. We’ve spent about £600 and we’ve taken less than £1200 in sales or nothing at all. OK, not what we hoped but we have data and data is what is going to turn this advertising machine into a money making machine for us.
What to Do Next – Optimising Your Campaign
Regardless of whether you have made a profit, lost money or broken even we’re going to be looking at optimising our campaign constantly from now on.
Adwords is a fluid environment with everyone changing their strategies, campaigns, CPCs and daily budgets regularly so you need to adjust your campaign regularly too so you are ahead of the game. If you leave it to stagnate you’ll soon find your profit dropping and costs rising! This is another thing we hear regularly from customers. It used to work but it doesn’t any more! Well it does work you just haven’t MADE it work for your business.
Keep checking every one/two weeks and optimise your keyword bids, daily limits etc and you’ll be fine. Don’t watch and tweak it on a daily basis as some PPC management companies claim to do. That’s just not needed unless you are handling massive budgets where a daily tweak can save £1000′s!
It’s not possible for me to go into detail here about how to optimise a campaign as every one is different and is optimised in a different way depending on performance. What I can do though is share some of the common things we do to improve campaigns. You can then try them yourself and see what works for your campaign.
OK the final plug! If all of this just seems like a lot to think about, a lot of time and hassle, then we can take control for you. For £250+vat per month we’ll setup and manage your campaign for you. We’ll optimise it every few weeks and make sure your getting the top bang for your buck. Visit our PPC management page for more information or call us on 01903 368559
Optimisation Tips & Tricks
Optimising is a mix of moving the CPC (cost per click) on your keywords up and down, analysing what “actual” searches people are making to trigger ads and experimenting with daily budgets. On top of that you can concentrate money on the top converting keywords and reduce it on the ones delivering traffic but not converting. It’s pretty endless and changes from week to week for most campaigns.
My Top Tips
- Sort your keywords by conversions and increase the budget on these to make sure they are in the top 3 results constantly
- Pause under performing keywords that are costing high amounts and not converting
- Reduce bids for keywords that have a high cost per conversion and increase bids on those that have a low cost per conversion. You often get more conversions!
- If a keyword has a click-through Rate (CTR) of less than 1% after you’ve tried to optimise it, delete it. Concentrate on keywords that do convert.
- Add new keywords – Try putting aside 2 hours every few weeks to look for more keywords. Remember you are bidding on keywords that real people search with and their popularity changes over time.