AdWords is both an easy-to-get-started and difficult-to-master tool for online advertisers. Although setup can be simple, there are many in-depth features eCommerce owners may not understand or simply overlook. Here's a look at seven Adwords sins that could be killing your ROI.
1. Choosing Search Network with Display Select
When you add a new campaign, the first thing Google asks you for is the campaign type. Your options are the following:
Assuming this is not a shopping campaign (we’ll touch on that later), you should choose either search or display. Google tries to steer you towards the combo category, claiming it gives you the best opportunity to reach more customers. However, search campaigns and display campaigns target different audiences and serve different initiatives. If you’re looking to drive conversions, focus on the search network only. On the other hand, if brand awareness is your game, the display network is your playground.
2. Running Ads that Don’t Speak to Your Audience
If your company only ships products to the continental US, you shouldn't be paying for your ads to be shown to buyers in Saskatchewan. If you're targeting the population of Mexico, your ads shouldn't be in English.
Setup your campaigns to target the area your customers are living in. Similarly, ads should be written in the language they speak. If you feel like you are missing out on capturing an audience outside of your main service areas, try setting up a dedicated test campaign using geographically based search terms to catch the outliers.
3. Letting Google Run the Show
You know your market better than Google – trust yourself to assess what is an appropriate limit on budgets. Accelerated delivery settings serve ad impressions as the opportunity arises, while standard delivery settings pace impressions based on a predicted number of daily inquiries. Using standard delivery, you'll miss out on impressions no matter what your budget is because of Google’s predetermined pacing. A simple solution is to set your own budgets so you don’t run out of cash using accelerated campaigns.
4. Tolerating Poor Segmentation
Every market responds differently to AdWords. Volume and conversion rates vary significantly depending on time of day, a customer’s location, and the device they're using. You have historical account data on these behaviors – use it to predict future patterns.
Typically, response rates from mobile users are well below that of the desktop/tablet-using contingency. See which campaigns are preforming poorly and lower those bids. If customers in one location typically have a higher return on ad spend (ROAS) than those in another, adjust the bids accordingly. AdWords allows you to set 6 different bid adjustments per day based on the time (up to 42 bid adjustments per week). Figure out (or refer to your data to determine) when your customers are shopping and hit those times hardest.
Know which segments convert best in your market and bid higher on them. Also, be sure you're leveraging the higher bids by lowering those on segments that historically haven't converted as well.
5. Dropping the Ball on Ad Extensions
Not all extensions are created equal. In general, ad extensions get you better placement and lower costs per click. They also involve minimal set-up and are displayed at no additional cost. Decide which extensions are best for your business and start reaping the benefits.
If you want to prompt customers to contact you by phone, call extensions are the way to go. These allow you to incorporate your phone number into text ads (otherwise not allowed by Google). On mobile devices, these extensions even add a call button to your ad. Location extensions are perfect for those with a brick and mortar business as they incorporate a physical address and phone number into ads (even link Google Places accounts).
Other extension options include linking to a review, especially if there's a reputable source that has given your business some good feedback. Or if you offer an app, make it as easy as possible for customers to research and download it.
If none of these extensions make sense for your business, sitelink extensions have the answer. They allow you to promote additional landing pages below your standard ad text. You get 25 characters per extension to drive traffic to a relevant site, and up to four sitelinks can appear with each text ad. That’s a lot of front-page real estate at no additional cost!
6. Ignoring Match Type and Negative Keywords
One of the biggest AdWords pitfalls is allowing Google to determine which queries you want your ads shown for. Google is pretty intuitive but they get it wrong – a lot. The more direction you give them, the better your results will be. Unless you specify the type of matches you want, your keywords will all default to broad match. Use Exact and Phrase match for more control over when your ads are shown.
Just as important is safeguarding your ads against unrelated searches. Use the search terms tool to discover the queries that trigger your ads. If there are irrelevant terms, include them as negative keywords in order to suppress the ad from showing and potentially throwing money out the window. Don’t forget, match type counts for negative keywords too!
7. Lumping Together Shopping Campaigns
If you sell anything online, shopping campaigns are a must. The biggest pitfall here is that unless you pay attention to the details, every product will end up in a catchall category called “all products.” Not all products offer the same return, so categorize inventory with a focus on product lines, profit margins, and best sellers. The introduction of Shopping Campaigns has made it easier than ever to use labels and targets to group products and bid accordingly.
Features like extensions, proper categorizations, and specific match types add details to your campaigns to both stand out from your competitors and target shoppers outside of your typical audience. Even if you were catching 75% of your potential customers with your initial AdWords setup, you should not ignore the last quarter. With a few detailed fixes, your campaigns can be a smarter and more cost effective for your eCommerce brand.
Sheri Firstenberg manages more than $1 million in paid search ad spend annually at Ripen eCommerce, a full-service digital agency that specializes in delivering custom solutions to online retailers. For more information, visit www.ripenecommerce.com.