Maximize Your Return on Investment With Google

Maximize Your Return on Investment With Google Adwords

Most businesses want a cost-effective way to bring in more customers. The challenge is to find prospects who are thinking about your products at the exact time that you reach them.

With Google AdWords, it is possible to target prospects at the very moment they are thinking about buying your products or services. Most of you know how it works: If someone does a Google search on digital cameras, for example, she sees ads for digital cameras. If someone does a search on organically grown coffee beans, he sees ads for organically grown coffee. Google AdWords enables you to implement precisely targeted advertising.

Here’s how to maximize your success with Google AdWords. With proper preparation and execution, starting Google AdWords can be like planting a money tree that will provide your business with a steady stream of revenue.

What Is Google AdWords?

Open up a Web browser and go to the Google Web site. Type in the search term coffee and click search.

Essentially, two types of search results come up: on the left and below are the organic search results that no one has sponsored. On the right side of your browser window and sometimes above the organic results are the Sponsored Links. The Sponsored Links are paid advertisements—they are always identified as such by the heading Sponsored Links.

As participants in this automated auction, each of these advertisers is bidding for the keyword coffee. They pay only if someone is interested enough to click on the advertisement; if nobody clicks on the ad, the cost is zero. The higher the advertiser bids on a keyword, the higher in the rankings the ad appears and the more likely Web searchers will see it. Ranking means visibility, though you do not have to be at the top of the rankings or bid the highest amount for prospects to see your ad and click on it. Your goal is to get the lowest cost per click (CPC) and the highest quality clicks (sales and leads) for your budget.

Finding Your Niche

Sometimes with popular keywords (like coffee), there are many companies competing. On the other hand, popular keywords get millions of searches, so there might be enough clicks to go around.

The only way to find out if a particular keyword will work for you is to try it. The problem is that many other advertisers are bidding for the popular keywords, so your CPC is likely to be high. You are more likely to get a low CPC with more obscure, highly targeted keywords. It will take some thought to come up with the right keywords.

Our coffee roaster would probably want to try the keyword coffee, and watch it like a hawk as it could result in many low-quality clicks (not many conversions to leads or sales). If a keyword does not produce high-quality clicks after a reasonable trial period (a couple of weeks), then remove it; it may even be obvious sooner that a keyword is costing money but not producing results.

Perhaps our coffee roaster sells shade-grown coffee that protects Central American songbird habitat. While far fewer people are searching for shade-grown coffee than just coffee, it is likely to yield a lower CPC and higher quality clicks.

Do some brainstorming and write down an initial list of keywords that match your market niche. This process of finding targeted keywords will be a useful exercise to help you focus your campaigns and maximize your return on investment.

Getting Started

The first thing you need to get started with AdWords is a goal. Is your goal to make direct sales via e-commerce on your Web site? Is your goal to capture sales leads that you can follow-up with and make the sale? Alternatively, is your goal a combination of both? Once you have determined a goal, you need a Web site that helps you achieve that goal.

Your site should be eye-catching and well-organized and should include landing pages for your products or services. To see some examples of landing pages, do a search for your services, and look at what other companies in your market are doing.

The landing page can be your homepage if your site tightly focuses on one product or service you are advertising (e.g., this permission-based email marketing site). Otherwise, the landing page should be within your larger site and should focus on the specific product or service you are advertising.

If you are selling directly from your Web site, it should include a secure e-commerce system. Any good, technically competent Web design firm can set this up for you.

If you want sales leads, then your site should include a call to action to persuade people to request more information. The way they submit a lead is to click on a link to a lead-capture form. You need a form that at a minimum sends you—or the appropriate sales staff—an email, but ideally it should also create a lead for you in a customer relationship management (CRM) system such as SalesForce or SugarCRM.

Whether you are selling directly from your site or capturing leads, your site should always have obvious ways to contact you using whatever method the prospect feels most comfortable using: a contact form, email, or telephone. Some company sites make it hard to figure out how to contact them for more information.

It is important to have a number of people—both inside and outside of your company—test your Web site for usability and ease of use. Prospects should never have to wonder how to buy from you or how to contact you to ask a question about your products or services.

Signing up for Google AdWords

Once you have a goal, Web site, and landing page, you are ready to sign up for Google AdWords. Learn by doing. It is easier to write the advertisement and select keywords using the tools that Google provides during the sign up process.

If you plan to spend at least /day on AdWords, Google offers a JumpStart program to help you get started using AdWords. Google JumpStart specialists will help you create a campaign. The cost of the program is 9, but Google will apply that as a credit toward the cost of your initial clicks.

Campaigns and Ad Groups

The Campaign level is where you set your daily budget, language targeting, location targeting, ad distribution preferences, and the start and end dates for your campaigns (if applicable).

The Ad Group level is where enter your keywords and the advertisements themselves. Each Ad Group has one or more ads. Write at least two ads for each ad group so you can try different approaches and compare the results.

In my experience, it has been beneficial to create multiple campaigns so I can experiment with different parameters and compare the results.

Targeting

Choose the language you want to target, and then the countries or territories. This requires some thought. Can you offer your product or service globally, in just the United States, or in just your city or region? You can target your campaign to the world or to specific countries, regions, states, or cities.

For even more precise targeting, you can even target your campaign to a certain number of miles from your business or even an area bounded by coordinates.

Writing Your Advertisements

You have just a 25-character title to get surfers’ attention, and a 70-character ad to get people interested enough to want to click on your ad. It is not a lot of text, so make it pithy.

Write the Headline, the text of the ad, and enter the Display Link (always link to main page of your Web site), and then enter the Destination URL (your landing page). The Destination URL might be your main page or a page within your main site dedicated just to selling the product at hand.

Here’s a fictional ad example:

Headline: Shade Grown Coffee Beans

Description line 1: Shade grown coffee. Tastes

Description line 2: better & saves valuable rainforest.

Display URL: www.goodshadegrowncoffee.com

Destination URL: www.goodshadegrowncoffee.com?&utm_id=coff1

Another example:

Headline: Shade Grown Coffee Beans

Description line 1: Coffee that tastes better and

Description line 2: protects valuable rainforest.

Display URL: www.goodshadegrowncoffee.com/

Destination URL: www.goodshadegrowncoffee.com?&utm_id=coff2

Conversion Tracking

To track the conversion rate of your campaigns—i.e., how many sales or leads you get for your investment—requires a little preparation. You will need to have your webmaster embed snippets of code to the appropriate pages on your Web site. Google explains how to set up and implement your conversion tracking code here, including example code.

Google Analytics

In the fictional advertisement examples I gave, you may have noticed codes in the destination URLs: “coff1” and “coff2”. These are tracking codes that facilitate the tracking of a wealth of information by Google Analytics.

Google Analytics, which Google has integrated with AdWords, is a very powerful service for tracking the success of both your organic and paid search results for your site. It will help you better understand your site visitors’ experience in detail. In addition, you can learn what keywords bring in the best prospects, and which of your campaigns are delivering the best return on investment. You can use Google Analytics to track marketing campaigns other than AdWords as well.

Google Analytics is too big a topic to cover much here, but I will devote a