Harnessing the full potential of Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is easier said than done, especially if you’re a small business owner who is new to online advertising.
But make no mistake — overcoming the challenges of using Google Ads is more than worth your while. Cultivating effective ad campaigns requires research, optimization and a whole lot of patience. Jump through all the hoops, though, and you’ll eventually connect your business with scores of potential customers.
Getting started on Google Ads is easy, but getting results (i.e. real leads and sales) can be hard.
Trust me — I know.
But I also know how to get past these common challenges…
Challenge #1: Making sure your campaign has an audience.
A rookie mistake when starting in Google Ads is to build out campaigns without fully researching your target audience. Sure, you could get lucky and add the right keywords without any help — but more likely you’ll either get a trickle of traffic, or worse, get lots of traffic from tire kickers!
Make sure that doesn’t happen by using the free Keyword Planner tool found in Google Ads. You’ll find the demand for various relevant keyword terms along with estimates for what you’ll pay per click.
Challenge #2: Not overspending on clicks.
Google loves making money just as much as you do. When launching campaigns I recommend starting with high bids because you’ll put your ads in a position to get more clicks, which leads to high-quality scores and ultimately, cheaper clicks. Bid too high, though, and you might blow through your advertising budget with a negative return on your investment.
It’s a balancing act, but you can take out the guesswork with some simple math. Calculate your maximum bid with this formula:
Max CPC = (average profit per customer) x (conversion rate of your online customers) x (1 – desired advertising profit margin).
You’ll need to estimate these numbers if you’re just starting out, but you can plug in real data as you go. Check the Google Keyword Planner tool and focus on keywords with estimated costs below your calculated Max CPC.
Challenge #3: Keeping up with your competitors.
As you know, one of the keys in business is to stay one step ahead of your competitors. The same is true in Google Ads.
To keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, I recommend using a tool like SpyFu. You’ll be able to “spy” on your competitors’ ad copy, keyword terms, and even see how long they’ve been using certain ads and keywords. This is invaluable information you can use to improve your campaigns and give you a competitive advantage.
Challenge #4: Defining what makes your business special.
Why should Google users click on your ad over all the others?
To answer this question is to define what makes your business special. That alone can be surprisingly challenging; then, you must summarize that uniqueness in a very limited space using text ads. Focus your ad on whatever it is your business does better than everyone else, and build from there.
Challenge #5: Saying everything in limited characters.
Your ads must be compelling enough to grab attention and drive conversions. However, with standard ads, you only get 30 characters for your headlines and 90 characters for your two description lines.
That’s not much space to work with, especially when your ads should:
- Convey what makes your business special.
- Make an irresistible offer.
- Include a call to action.
Like all writing, the most important step is to start. Once you have a few drafts, then you can refine them to find the best 2-3 variations you want to test first. Remember, no one knows for sure which ad copy will perform best so always run multiple variations and let the data guide you.
Challenge #6: Make sure your landing page follows through.
It’s all too easy for adjustments to your ad copy to accidentally become promises your landing page doesn’t keep. This happens when you only focus on your ad copy rather than reviewing your ads and landing pages together.
Your Google Ads quality scores can plummet over poor landing page experiences, resulting in less traffic and more expensive clicks. Google can even suspend your ads over what it deems to be false advertising. In addition, you’re likely to end up irritating people who might have otherwise become customers.
Before changing your ad copy, first, make sure that whatever you plan on writing is well represented on your landing page. If your revised ad offers free shipping, then people who click that ad should instantly know what to do when arriving on your website. Those irresistible offers play a huge role in bringing people to your site, but if you don’t follow through on your landing page, neither will your prospects.
Challenge #7: Getting your website to work on mobile.
Most web developers today will build websites to be functional on both mobile and desktop platforms. However, many small business websites were built before mobile took off.
Two things will happen if you advertise to mobile devices without a mobile-optimized website:
- Prospective customers will bounce because the page will not look or function properly on their mobile (aka you’ll lose sales)
- Your quality scores will suffer, which leads to higher costs and lower ad positions
Sure, you can choose to not advertise to mobile devices, but keep in mind that an estimated 100 billion Google searches per month originate from smartphones and this number is growing!
Challenge #8: Setting up conversion tracking.
Enabling conversion tracking is an absolute must. Without it, you won’t ever know which ads are driving the most leads and sales.
Get your conversion tracking code from Google Ads and embed it within the page of your website that signifies a completed transaction. If your goal is to drive sales, then embed the code on your receipt page.
If you want to drive leads, then embed the code on the page that shows after your contact form is submitted. This code allows Google Ads to track when prospects complete your forms so you can see exactly which ads and keywords result in more conversions.
Plus, if phone calls are important for your business, then don’t forget to set up phone call conversion tracking. This is additional code you’ll need to embed on the website so you can see which ads and keywords are driving phone calls.
Challenge #9: Learning and using extensions.
Extensions are additional bits of information that can make your ads much more enticing to Google users — especially those who are searching for local goods and services. Ad extensions include call buttons, additional links, your company address and more.
Google does display some extensions automatically, but you’ll miss out on the most useful extensions if you don’t set them up manually.
Activate this feature under the “Ad extensions” tab in Google Ads and follow the directions to set up each extension.
Challenge #10: Optimizing your campaigns.
Optimizing your campaigns is an ongoing effort. From the day you launch the ads, you should always be split-testing ad copy, adjusting your bids, testing new keywords, pausing poorly performing keywords, testing different targeting options, and split-testing landing pages.
Successful campaigns eventually require less optimizing and, like everything else with Google Ads, it gets easier over time.