“Good things do not come easy. The road is lined with pitfalls.” – Desi Arnaz
In AdWords, pitfalls can often derail the best laid advertising strategy. Spend some time going through the following list to make sure that you’re not burning hard-earned advertising dollars.
Top 10 AdWords Management Pitfalls
No Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are the difference between a profitable ad strategy and one that literally burns advertising dollars. The rule of thumb that I’ve read over and over is that you should have at least 10x as many negative keywords as you have positive keywords. The reality is that the product / market / location that you’re advertising has more to do with how many negative keywords that you need, so don’t worry if you don’t have 10x negative keywords, just make sure that you are constantly adding to your negative keyword list during your regular AdWords maintenance.
Using Broad Match Keywords
Using broad match keywords is the second best way to burn advertising dollars. Broad match keywords are a type of regressive profitability mechanism, like lottery tickets are state’s regressive tax system. If you’re using broad match keywords, you’re telling Google that you’re ok with matching synonyms of a single word in your keyword phrase. For example, if you advertised on the broad match phrase — red baseball hats — you could match for the following search phrases: red toys, sombreros, baseball gloves, collectible baseballs, construction helmets, etc. Put a small part of your advertising budget into modified broad match keywords instead so that you can build out your long-tail keyword phrases over time.
Not watching the budget
Google’s advertising terms allow them to “flex” your daily advertising budget by up to 180%. Coupled with the fact that almost every advertising campaign will be affected by seasonality (demand varies month-to-month), severe weather events (could negative OR positively affect), or AdWords system changes, your daily spend can vary greatly throughout the month. If you’re in steady-state, you should be checking your spend at least weekly, and daily if you’re starting new campaigns.
Using a single budget
Simple is not always in your best interest — if you use a single budget across all of your campaigns, you’re allowing Google to allocate your advertising spend as the AdWords algorithm sees fit. Keeping in mind that Google is a for-profit company, they have devised their algorithm to maximize their profit, which is driven by high CPC keywords. As an example, most companies’ branded keywords are the cheapest CPCs across the entire account, but are absolutely essential in helping the prospective customer find exactly what they’re looking for via ad extensions (physical address, product category, support pages, etc.). A single budget across all campaigns could easily starve your branded keywords and negatively affect top-line revenue and bottom-line profit.
Using a single campaign for multiple retail locations
This situation is similar to using a single budget across multiple campaigns — you definitely don’t want to have your advertising dollars all spent on the more expensive markets and starve the least expensive markets (which, let’s face it, can’t afford to lose any advertising since those locations are usually under the most scrutiny from C-level execs).
Using vanilla display campaigns
If your display campaign bounce rate is hovering between 90% and 95%, you’re probably using vanilla display campaigns. Vanilla in this case are display campaigns that do not use affinity categories nor in-market segments to restrict the campaigns to only those potential customers who are likely to convert at better than your overall website average conversion rate. This strategy works for B-to-C, B-to-B, online retail and lead generation campaigns.
Not using ad extensions
A standard ad is 3 lines long. Using ad extensions such as reviews, location, sitelinks, callouts, price, structured snippet, call, promotion, etc, your ad can expand to up to 10 lines. A much larger ad that costs you exactly the same amount as the standard 3-line ad is far more effective in attracting clicks over your competition, which could ultimately raise your quality scores, lower your CPCs and increase your Return on Ad Spend.
Not using Google Reviews
In today’s retail environment, the presence of reviews absolutely affects the conversion rate of your product pages. This situation extends to your advertising as well — if you have the Google Review ad extension showing on your ad and your competitors do not, which ad do you think will be clicked on more often? The presence of the Google Review extension also adds legitimacy to your company and product, ultimately raising your purchase conversion rate after the click as well.
Not linking AdWords and Analytics
Advertising dollars are the result of the business reinvesting profit or of the business spending investment capital. In either scenario, you want to maximize your Return on Ad Spend in order to either grow the business or to keep it viable. If you’re spending advertising dollars and not measuring what happens after the click, you have no idea if the ads / keywords / placements that you’re using are effective or not. Effective analytics are key to answering the inevitable questions from executives wanting to know if they’re spending their advertising dollars on the channel / platform that will grow the business in the shortest amount of time.
Not using goals
Have you ever seen a Summer or Winter Olympics event that didn’t have a goal? Whether it’s skiing, running track, or swimming, every athlete knows exactly what the goal is and what they have to do to achieve that goal. The same applies to advertising — if you don’t know the goal, then you have no way of knowing how to achieve that goal. In advertising, there are often multiple goals that align with the marketing funnel, from the initial click (top-of-funnel) to lead form submission to product trial period to product purchase (bottom-of-funnel). If you don’t have these goals in Google Analytics, you’re not measuring how your prospective customers are interacting with your website and how the advertising is driving them into and through that funnel, from long-tail prospecting campaigns to branded, close-the-sale campaigns.