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Planning A Google AdWords Advertising Campaign

Planning A Google AdWords Advertising Campaign

If you’ve never used Google AdWords before, you’re already missing out on something amazing. Because of AdWords’ natural ability to drive highly targeted, low cost leads to your website, it’s one of today’s most powerful marketing tools out there.

But, before you head off to the AdWords interface and start loading up your campaign, know this: You could lose a lot of money very quickly if you don’t take the time to plan. Misplaced keywords, misunderstood filters, a lack of evaluation… there are so many pitfalls to AdWords that unless you’re going to invest some time into planning your campaign, the success you’ll enjoy will be seriously limited.

We’re going to take a look at the things you should be thinking about before you charge in and get started on your campaign, so that you can put the effort into planning to ensure a great success.

Define the demographics of your customers

AdWords can be highly targeted, but unless you go into it knowing exactly who you are targeting in the first place, how can you hope to develop a highly targeted campaign? Identifying your target market is a crucial first step for any marketing activity and is even more important in AdWords. Consider things like:

  • Where your customers are located. Which continent, country or city is your focus?
  • Who are they? Families, individuals, students, businesses…?
  • How will they search for you? On PC, tablet or mobile?
  • Will they have heard about you? Do they understand your products?
  • What are they looking for when they search for you?

Once you’ve defined all this, you’ll have a much better idea of the voice, style, location and messaging that will resonate best with your customers.

Find out what they are searching for

So, the next thing on our list is keyword research. Don’t be put off by the academic sounding title; this part of your planning is actually made very simple thanks to the amount of resources there are online. Within Google AdWords itself, there is the Keyword Planner which will give you the number of searches and amount of competition for key phrases related to your business. You can narrow your search by location, or even exclude or specifically include particular words or phrases to get the most from your results.

If you’re just starting out, gathering some useful keywords from the AdWords tool can be enough, but if you want to get into it a bit deeper, there are a bunch of other resources out there to help with your search. Check out Keyword Tool, Keyword Explorer from Ahrefs, SEMrush and the Moz keyword explorer to name just a few.

Of course, this isn’t just picking keywords to SEO your website, because now you’re going to be paying for every click you get. The crucial element in keyword selection is to look for keywords that suggest that user is intending to buy. User intent separates key phrases like ‘high heels wallpaper’, which is probably not someone looking to buy, from ‘high heels size 5’ or ‘high heels next day delivery’ which suggests a strong user intent. A great deal of paring down of keywords can be done on numbers alone, but sometimes it takes a human eye to really pick out those lucrative phrases for your campaigns.

Define what success looks like

What is it you want from your AdWords campaign? Without knowing your clear objectives before you start, it’s going to be impossible to measure success later on. The metrics which relate to your objectives are going to be where you focus your tracking efforts, and how you decide whether a keyword is working for your business.

Objectives could include:

  • More visitors to the website
  • More ‘likes’ or follows on social sites
  • More money off coupon downloads
  • More footfall to your bricks and mortar store
  • More sales
  • More leads

There are a million and one potential objectives from an AdWords campaign, not all of which are directly related to sales. There’s no such thing as a good objective or a bad objective – that’s for you to decide – but the important thing is that you have clearly defined your objectives before you even start.

Create a compelling landing page

Yes, you should be directing traffic to a specific landing page. Never, ever direct AdWords traffic to your homepage; you’ll just be wasting your money. Why? Well, your homepage tells people about all the things you do. It’s a place to get to know your brand, a place to research your offering. It’s not a place to make sales.

Ideally, you’ll have different landing pages for each AdWords campaign, all of which follow on beautifully from the wording you’ve used in your ad copy. You’ve got about three seconds to capture the attention of your visitor, so it’s crucial you work hard to deliver immediately on whatever you promised in the ad. Did you mention free shipping? Then this should be reiterated above the fold. Did you request them to call you? Your number should be the first thing that they see.

Remember that the majority of your visitors will likely be viewing your landing page on a tablet or smartphone too, so having a responsive page that works to sell your offer on all devices is key. Central to the success of your landing page too is the inclusion of a strong call to action. Remember what you wanted your visitors to do and ask them clearly and succinctly to do it now.

Figure out how you will track your conversions

Probably the most important element of AdWords planning so far is tracking your results. Without knowing how you’re doing, you can’t possibly be expected to manage your campaign effectively. Thankfully AdWords makes this part relatively easy.

In the Tools and Analysis tab you’ll find ‘conversions’ in the menu. The wizard will talk you through setting up a conversion to track, then all you’ll need to do is add a snippet of code to your website so that AdWords can track the effectiveness of your ads, including tracking them through to leads, calls and paying customers.

Define the nitty gritty

With any project, be it marketing related or not, defining the scope, timescale and budget is a vital step. Many new marketers will arrive at AdWords with only this part decided and, unfortunately, that’s where we see so many projects fail. While it’s important to know how much you’ve got to spend and for how long, there’s a reason we’ve put it down near the bottom of our list.

Until you know all the things above, you’re not going to understand what’s feasible in terms of the scope-budget-timescale equation. If your goal is to increase website traffic by 40 per cent and sales by 10 per cent, how will you know how much you need to spend or how long the campaign will need to run unless you’ve done all the things above? Similarly, if you know you’ve got £5k to spend and need to spend it by April, how can you predict if that will achieve the scope goal without doing your homework first?

Define the nitty gritty, of course, but also work to manage expectations. If your CEO is expecting you to rank for a highly competitive search term (e.g. life insurance) but is only willing to allocate £2k to a 6-month project, it’s just not going to work. Play around with your keywords, your cost per click (CPC) and daily budget to figure out what the best strategy for your business is going to be.

Learn from the best

If you’re new to PPC advertising, there’s nothing better for your development and your campaigns than to take some time to see what the best brands are doing. A simple competitive analysis doesn’t have to be particularly arduous, in fact just searching your selected keywords is often enough to give an insight into how the competition are doing.

Don’t just click through to their landing page and gaze it in in awe, however. Develop a basic analysis structure to critically assess it and see what you could do better. Outsmarting the competition is the key to outselling them and becoming top dog yourself.

If you’re new to AdWords, you might already be thinking that this all sounds rather complicated and time consuming. The truth is, it can be. Charging headlong into AdWords without a solid foundation of thought, planning and expertise is a recipe for disaster, and could see your budget rapidly disappearing for very little ROI. If you need support with your AdWords campaign, from just getting you started through to full service management, ta

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Vanessa Simms
Vanessa writes on a range of subjects for the Search South blog, but has a strong focus on her core interest area of Google AdWords management best practices.