Struggling to make the most of your AdWords campaign? You’re not alone. Every day, I talk to small-business owners who know they need to do more with digital marketing but aren’t sure what’s right for their business or how to execute the best strategy. Ground zero for confusion? Google AdWords.
Related: 4 Key Findings from AdWords Audits
Small-business owners are constantly bombarded with blog posts, news articles and how-to guides telling them "why small businesses need to use AdWords" or that AdWords is one of the “ best marketing strategies for small business.” Yes, AdWords is an inbound marketing strategy that’s measurable and flexible. Yes, it’s faster than SEO and more engaging.
What's more, controlling advertising spend is easy. And, with 95 percent of search results now containing AdWords ad placements either at the top or bottom – not to mention how much above-the-fold real estate is now taken up by AdWords – it’s a must for beating the competition.
But, even while I agree with all those reasons for using AdWords, I also understand that getting started isn’t as easy as just setting up accounting, magically conducting keyword research and snapping your fingers for success.
Recently, I sat down with Thomas Tarasiuk, the founder and president of Discount Water Softeners, to learn more about how he’s learned to maximize truly the impact of his AdWords spend. The first piece of advice Tarasiuk shared with me? Don’t be afraid to bring in the experts.
In fact, he said, it was his decision to work with digital marketing expert Adrienne DeVita that helped his business grow its AdWords profits by 50 percent in 60 days -- all while lowering the company's cost per acquisition by up to 70 percent.
DeVita, the online marketing director for Digital Media Cube, worked with Tarasiuk to put together an over-arching digital media strategy, with a particular focus on AdWords optimization. DeVita continues to provide assistance with day-to-day execution and is currently developing a new social media strategy for Tarasiuk's business.
So, if you're feeling frustrated that you can’t keep up with SEO changes, don’t be. Doing so is truly a full-time job! As DeVita says: “There are many facets of SEO now, more so than when I began helping clients online almost 12 years ago.
"Keeping abreast of all the changes to Google’s policies on a daily basis means changing our marketing strategies and SEO strategies to coincide with our goals to increase sales and continue to reduce costs -- which is happening every single day.”
Therefore, if you’re struggling to move your offline business into the online world, here’s what your business needs to know about Google AdWords:
1. Benchmark your ROI.
Yes, it’s possible to make money online with minimal advertising investment, but as any business with AdWords will tell you, you need to be comfortable spending money to make money. For most businesses, it's the easiest and most obvious option for online marketing. But as DeVita warns, it’s also easy to burn through some serious cash with little or nothing to show for it.
So, if you’re just throwing money at the wall and hoping something sticks, you’re following the wrong approach. How do you know if you could be making more money? Benchmark your ROI against the industry competition.
2. Fine-tune your PPC campaigns.
One the first things DeVita did when she started working with Discount Water Softeners was to overhaul its AdWords account.
“In the first 60 days, I was able to increase profits by 50 percent and reduce the cost per acquisition by up to 70 percent,” DeVita told me.
Why the big increase? Tarasiuk admitted that when he called Google AdWords support, he trusted they were looking out for his best interests. That trust wasn't completely warranted. “Once Adrienne showed me all that was involved and applied it, I was shocked to see how much money we were wasting and how much traffic we were losing,” Tarasiuk says.
3. Understand your true cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
AdWords is not the right strategy for every small business. Even if your conversion rate is high, if the ultimate return from those conversions is low, you could be spending more for sales leads than you could ever hope to earn from those leads.
As DeVita explains: “Statistically on Google Search, for every 100 clicks, you will get a 1-to-2 percent conversion. That means you will get a form fill-in, phone call or sale. If your cost per click is $5, it will cost $500 to get one-to-two sales/leads. If you only make $25 on that lead or sale, then don’t consider AdWords.”
Bottom line: SEO takes a lot of time. And AdWords’ promise of immediate results can be very enticing.
However, if you don’t take the time to truly benchmark your performance, fine-tune your campaigns and understand your actual CPA, you could find you’re spending far too much money trying to grab leads that will never offset your overall campaign investment.