Over the past few months I started to notice one of our Google AdWords management clients was consistently generating more conversions at a lower cost per conversion. When I took a closer look, I was pleasantly surprised to see conversions were up 41% and cost per conversion was down 33% since the campaign was launched.
My first reaction was to uncover “the secret.” What was the “one thing” that allowed this campaign to consistently improve, month after month?
Turns out, there is no secret… There wasn’t just one thing… The success of this campaign was the result of doing the right things over and over and over again, month after month after month.
It’s a lot like working out. When you monitor your progress week by week or even month by month, then you may not notice changes in your strength, endurance, and weight. But if you stick with your routine and review your progress over many months, then you’ll likely see a dramatic difference. In other words, small, incremental changes can add up to significant improvements.
So let’s take a look at 5 of the most important incremental changes we made to this particular account.
#1: Structure the Campaign Correctly
First things first, you must set up your campaigns correctly. By this I mean structuring your account into logical campaigns to give you more control over your budgets, ad scheduling, and geo targeting. Plus, logical campaign structure will make it easier for you to monitor performance across the account.
For example, in our case study, the business provides appliance repair services for washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, ovens, stoves, and dishwashers. Knowing this, you might be thinking you should create campaigns for each service. And that’s a great idea!
A good rule of thumb is to create different campaigns for each service you offer. Again, this will give you more control to allocate your marketing budget to specific services. Plus, you may want to use different ad scheduling and different targeting per service.
Before we move on, it’s important to note that campaign structure can change over time. For example, over time you may want to create a separate campaign for all of your top performing keywords for a particular service. This would allow you to allocate the majority of your budget to keywords you already know perform best, while limiting your budget on keywords you want to test.
OK, let’s move on to another critical step…
#2: Set Up Conversion Tracking
You’ll notice in the graph above, I’m reporting on the number of conversions and the cost per conversion. In this case, the vast majority of conversions are phone call leads from the website. Conversions and cost per conversion are two of the most important metrics because they indicate how well your ads are performing.
Google AdWords has conversion tracking that allows you to track many different key actions on your website, including phone calls, contact form submissions, quote requests, appointment requests, and even offline sales.
But there’s a catch… AdWords will not track any conversions unless you set up the conversion tracking! Conversion tracking is not on by default. You must set this up yourself or with the help of your web developer.
Note that none of the steps below can be completed until you get conversion tracking set up correctly. Do not skip this step and do not assume conversion tracking is working just because it was set up in the past. As changes are made to your website it’s possible that the conversion code could be altered or even removed completely.
#3: Remove Keyword Rot
Of all the incremental changes, this one is likely the most important. The reality with Google AdWords is that some keywords simply will not perform well. They’ll have low click-through rates and low quality scores.
The problem is that low quality score keywords can drag down your entire account. Think of it like a bad apple that will eventually rot the entire bushel. Low quality score keywords will rot your account!
One way to improve quality scores is to find and either block irrelevant search terms or target top performing search terms. To do this, go to your Keywords tab, then click on the “Search terms” subnavigation button (see below).
From this report, you’ll be able to identify irrelevant search terms and add them to your Negative keyword list so your ads are no longer triggered. Plus, you’ll be able to identify top performing search terms to add to your account as Exact match keywords.
By regularly combing through this report, you’ll prevent keyword rot and ensure your ads are targeting the best keywords for your business.
#4: Optimize Campaign Budgets
If you structured your campaigns properly (see step #1 above), then you have the ability to optimize your campaign budgets. I already hinted at this above.
It sounds simple, but this can have a big impact on campaign performance. Think of it like an investment portfolio. If you had $100,000 to invest, would it make more sense to put it all into a risky new startup? Or would you diversify that investment into a combination of safe and more risky investments? (Hint: That’s a rhetorical question :)
The same is true with AdWords. You’ll want to allocate the majority of your budget toward what’s proven to perform well. Then use your remaining budget to test new keywords, new targeting options, new offers, or even new ad outlets like Bing or Facebook.
#5: Optimize Ad Copy
Most people are familiar with the idea of A/B split testing your ad copy. But do you know why it’s so important in Google AdWords?
When your ads get a high click-through rate, then that leads to more traffic, leads, and sales. That part is obvious. What’s not so obvious is that a high click-through rate will also lead to lower costs!
That’s because click-through rate is the biggest factor in your quality score. And when you have a higher quality score, then you can get better ad positioning for less cost. This is why ad copy optimization is so critically important for your campaign performance.
In isolation, none of the incremental changes above appear to be game changers. But when you combine them together and focus on incremental improvements, month after month, then I guarantee you’ll see positive changes.
Like any workout routine, the hardest part is actually sticking to the plan. Anyone can do one of the workouts. Few can complete them all day in and day out. That’s the same mindset you need to see continual improvement in your AdWords campaigns.
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