Learning Google Adwords can be an enormously beneficial skill if you want to succeed at digital marketing. This free and complete Google Adwords guide that I’ve developed is a result of working on client accounts for over 2 years, playing with over 5 lac rupees in advertising, watching hours of Youtube videos, spending days in Adwords help center. There are many great resources available online where you can learn more about the art and science of running campaigns through Google Adwords. I’ve compiled all that information in this post. [Please note: I couldn’t share live data from my campaigns since it was top-secret client work.]
What is Google Adwords?
Adwords is a powerful advertising tool from Google which can help you advertise your business on various digital media through a phenomenon known as Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. Adwords enables you to buy web traffic (visitors to your website or app) through various forms of advertisements.
Here’s great video:
By using Google Adwords, you can show ads on Google search right above (or below) the search results, on other partner websites in the Google Network, on YouTube videos and even on mobile apps.
Why should you use Google Adwords?
There are several reasons as to why you should use Google Adwords but the biggest benefit that I have experienced over the years is that it enables you to instantly get visitors to your products and services. By doing this, you can actually get powerful data about the efficacy of your product or service, thereby giving you a baseline to improve upon.
Apart from this, you can use Google AdWords for a variety of purposes, some of which I’ve listed below:
- Test market products and advertising campaigns
- Optimize various marketing materials, graphics, pricing options
- Reach the right people, those who are looking for your products
- Create branding campaigns to advertise on millions of other websites
- Amplify online advertising to generate more traffic, leads and eventually sales
- Track advertising spends and conversion rates to improve your advertising ROI
Is Google Adwords expensive?
It depends on many factors. Google Adwords is as expensive as the money you can afford to spend on advertising. This means that you can run an advertising campaign for as less as Rs. 500/day and increase your budget accordingly. Some factors which influence whether you find Adwords cheap or expensive include your industry or keywords, products, offers and pricing, landing pages and overall campaign optimization.
A specific client I worked with managed to bring in sales worth Rs. 2.5 -4 lac by spending Rs. 10,000-15,000 on extremely well optimized and closely monitored AdWords campaigns. While another client I worked with could not get business worth even half that amount even after spending up to Rs. 50,000 on Adwords! So it all depends on how well you’re able to learn, setup and use the tool.
Understanding the basic and advanced features of Adwords
There are several FREE tutorials already existing on the Internet which can give you a great idea on how to go about using Google Adwords. I will share some great updated resources which can guide you on all the basic and advanced features of Google Adwords. It will take you approximately 4-5 hours to digest all this free material on Google Adwords so do not shy away from taking out that time. You can learn Adwords best only by using it and creating campaigns. Like with any other skill, Reading theory and not applying them to live campaigns is like imagining you’re eating food when you’re actually hungry.
(Side thought: I am debating whether I should write my versions of Google Adwords guides when many already exist. There is no point in reinventing the wheel. A better use of my time would be to publish original case studies or guides or even create tutorials in Hindi to benefit students from different backgrounds and with weak English skills.)
Important features of Adwords
Adwords can get quite scary so prep yourself for a huge data download in your brain. There are all sorts of numbers, planners, ads, keywords, targeting options that you will probably see in your Adwords account. Here are some important features of Adwords that will require more attention:
Keyword Planner: This is one of the most useful tools inside Adwords. Keyword planner gives you the ability to mine for high-value keywords that are being searched for in your particular niche. Based on a variety of input options, you can decide on the best keywords that you want to target while designing your advertising campaigns. This tool is also great for mining keywords for SEO campaigns so ensure that you are aware of each and every aspect of this tool. Here are some case studies published by Google around search ads:
Display Planner: This tool gives you the ability to run advertising campaigns on other websites which have partnered with Google. Suppose you run a dental health clinic and want to reach the right customers, you will be able to run ads on popular blogs which talk about various dental issues. This would ensure that you are able to reach the right audience. Running display planner campaigns can be slightly more expensive but the conversion rates are also better. Here are some Google case studies around display network campaigns:
Conversion Tracker: The goal of most businesses while running online advertising campaigns is to generate sales. The conversion tracking tool provided by Google Adwords does exactly this – it tracks how many visits to your website led to an actual “conversion”. This conversion could be a signup to a contact form, sales of products from your online store, phone calls, app installs or in-app purchases or actions during a video such as clicking on annotations. Surprisingly, many first time advertisers miss out on setting up conversion tracking!
Here’s a superb almost 4-hour guide by Jerry Banfield where he will show you step-by-step, how to setup various ads in Google Adwords. I was blown away when I saw that he had shared all this information for free!
3 In-depth Google Adwords Guide to Choosing Keywords
Keywords are the bones of an advertising campaign – they are what you bid for and eventually pay money for. So, making sure that you have the right keywords in your ad campaigns is perhaps 50% of the job. Do this well and everything else will follow.
There are plenty of ways to do Keyword research and many industry experts have written exhaustive Google Adwords guides on this subject. If you’re starting a new business then you might need to spend hours pouring over all the possible literature you can get on this topic but for established businesses, I personally feel that you can be more effective in choosing the right keywords if you already have a digital marketing campaign setup.
Here are 3 great resources:
I wouldn’t worry too much about doing a lot of keyword research though because if you want to make lasting impact, there is bigger fish to fry which can give you far-reaching results and impact (like creating awesome experiences and stellar content!)
Ad Auctions and Bidding Strategies in Google Adwords
After you have chosen your target keywords, you have to set the maximum amount you will pay per click on that keyword – this is also known as the Cost per click of CPC. This method of buying clicks is facilitated through a bidding process which works like an auction – Google gives its limited advertising space to advertisers who have the highest “bids”, quality of ads and relevancy of landing pages (the link where a visitors lands after clicking through on the ad).
The quality of ads and landing pages is measured by a metric known as Quality Score. By having higher quality scores, you can actually get lower CPCs and higher ad positions.
There are two options to set bids for your target keywords – manually or automatically (with a cap on the maximum). Manually setting bids will give you more control over how your money is spent, thus keeping ad spends tight. However, automatic bidding can give you better results.
Apart from this, there is another bidding strategy known as flexible bids wherein you can set target CPCs or CPAs (cost per acquisition).
3 stupid-simple ways for creating compelling ads
Compelling, “clickable” copy in your text ads and creating powerful display ads is a skill which can only be mastered after years of experience, and studying lots of data. The key to creating compelling ads is testing and data. There really is no cookie-cutter approach to learning how to create compelling ads but here are 3 generally accepted best practices which can set you on the right start.
- Be ultra-specific – Start with the end result in mind. What is the action you want your ideal customer to take? Only focus on that one result per ad, and not more. One specific offer per ad (and once you’ve learnt the tricks of PPC marketing, per keyword), will drive better returns on your ad spend. Whether its location specific, time sensitive, a particular discount, a particular USP that you’re selling – be specific. This can be achieved.
- Focus on your customer – We often have a tendency to talk about my/me/our products, offers and features. This is generally less effective as compared to talking about your customer by using words such as you and yours.
- Keep testing – Always A/B test a minimum of 2-3 Ad copies per ad group. The more the better. You will not hit your target in your first attempt and no amount of gut or instinct can match the magic of pure data. A/B testing different ad copies will give you a better feel for what the ideal ad is for your particular landing page and keyword.
Make no assumptions (not even about being specific or focusing on the customer) till you have tested your ads.
5 fundamental best practices for creating an effective landing page
Creating high-value landing pages that convert can generate a positive ROI for your digital marketing campaigns. A powerful landing page follows many of the best practices that we have already discussed in creating compelling ads. It needs to be specific to one offer and be focused on solving a customer’s problem.
And you need to keep testing it, till you’re dead sure what you have is a winner. Here are 5 best practices which can help you in creating an effective landing page, one that ensures that your Adwords ads drive maximum conversions for the minimum ad spend.
- Emotional stories: Humans are emotional creatures and, like it or not, many decisions we make are emotional, not rational. Appealing to emotions can be a highly effective way to generate great conversion. If you have a powerful story behind your business, an incident which triggered you to act, or stories from how your product/business changed a customer’s life, share them.
- Videos: Sharing your stories in the form of a short, rousing video can significantly boost your conversion rates.
- Testimonials: Sharing real testimonials from paying customers is a powerful way to improve your trust factor, and consequently, conversion rate. Can you get some snippets of positive feedback from past clients to share your landing pages? Even better if you can attach a real human face to this snippet!
- Clear, simple pricing: When it comes to pricing, many companies make the mistake of giving too many options to their users. This is generally detrimental because it only ends up in breeding more confusion in the mind of a potential buyer. Always keep your pricing simple and minimal. Have a maximum of three options to choose from.
- Always A/B test: As with your advertising campaigns, do not rely on assumptions and tips from others (including me!) – because what worked for someone else might not work for you. Always keep testing your landing pages – you never know what might work really well in your specific industry.
Basically, your ads and landing page must work together to create a great user experience. What is the perfect landing page? A click on your ad leads to the landing page, and the user does not return to the search term to find more information – his need is fulfilled.
Both these landing pages are filled with too much information – enough to cause confusion and stress in the mind of a visitor. How will it ever lead to sales? Avoid saying too much on your landing page, keeping to the bare minimum information. You don’t want explain everything to your customer in the first meeting!
These two examples illustrate how you can create, simple and effective pages to convert visitors into leads and eventually, paying customers. Keep a simple page that highlights only your biggest strengths. Ideally, have only 1 offer on your landing page with succinct reasons as to why a person should buy from you. This could be in the form of emotionally rousing sales copy, a video or powerful testimonials.
2 Powerful Case Studies
Case studies help us in seeing how other brands and users have managed to leverage Adwords to improve their business results. Here are some case studies that you can take a look at for inspiration and understanding.
Case study No. 1: Snickers misspelling campaign
I always emphasize the importance of taking unconventional ways to reach your results. This will always give you more engagement, reach and influence in your marketing campaigns.
Snickers did a beautifully different campaign using Adwords back in 2013. They leveraged the insight that when people are hungry, they tend to make more mistakes. One way to tap into this audience group was to advertise their chocolate bar to only those people who were misspelling their search terms, usually during lunch hours. Using a combination of commonly used misspelling suggested by Adwords and an algorithm to generate more words, they ran this campaign for over a week.
Here’s the video:
The result? Snickers managed to get reach over half a million people in 3 days, and at very low costs because the CPCs for misspellings were quite low!
Thinking of unconventional ways to use conventional tools can unlock great benefits. Therefore, it’s more important to work on your own creativity and knowledge, rather than relying too much on tools and software. Always remember that the best, most advanced tool to accomplish any task is still the human mind!
Case Study No 2: The Importance of Testing
With most digital marketing tools, the best results are achieved over time, after lots of trial and error. This case study published by Optimisely illustrates the importance of testing your Adwords campaigns. Specifically, they tested how having identical messaging on their ad copies and landing pages affected conversion rates. What they did was create a control campaign where 3 different ads led to the same landing page, and a test campaign where 3 different ads led to 3 different landing pages, with identical messaging.
The result? A 39% increase in conversion rates! Read more about this case study here.
6 Great Resources: Always know the best practices for PPC marketing
Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving field and PPC marketing is no different. What works today might not work tomorrow. Therefore, it’s important to keep yourself abreast of the important changes that happen. Here are 6 great resources which will increase and update your knowledge of PPC marketing and Adwords. You can even consider bookmarking to them!
- Adwords Help Center: Google’s support forum where you can learn almost anything about Adwords in clear, simple language. There are many examples and best practices which Google shares in their support forums.
- Adwords Advertising Policies: Important information about the type of Ads which are permitted by Google. Make sure you read this section, lest you end up getting suspended!
- Adwords Youtube Channel: Adwords videos on Youtube are a really fun way of learning Google Adwords if you get bored reading a lot of content.
- Google Adwords Blog: All important updates and changes to Google Adwords and their policies are shared on this blog so make sure you subscribe here if you’re running campaigns regularly.
- PPC Hero: One of the best blogs where you can learn about PPC marketing from industry experts.
- Search Engine Watch: You probably know about SEW if you’ve been in the SEO industry but if you’re not aware, this is also a great online resource to catch the latest trends in online marketing including PPC.
Adwords is an incredibly powerful tool to take your digital marketing efforts to the next level. Learn it step-by-step and test each and every element in your advertising campaigns. That’s the surest path to success. I hope you enjoyed this Google Adwords guide. Please do share your feedback on any improvements in the comments.
I hope you enjoyed this Google Adwords guide. Please do share your feedback on any improvements in the comments.