Google Ads has been renown as the most powerful and highest converting ad channel for over a decade. It targets people that are actively engaged in the buyer process, and thus positions advertisers to be seen by those most likely to purchase. With this said, it’s a competitive landscape. To stand out from your competition you need to take your customer mindset into consideration, grouping keywords and creatives that target the different phases a buyer may be going through ie.) General interest, active research, final purchase decision.
Like most online advertising, the best advertisers have well-established routines for influencing customers. We’ve outlined our 10 step process below. Please feel free to copy and/or share the ideas listed. Every advertiser should be striving to learn and improve their ROI; we hope these tips help
In digital marketing there are no universal rules nor are there simple secret formulas that will work every single time. We are experienced enough here at JMarketing to understand that.
Seasonality, the website, the market, competitors, the product, perceptions of the brand and brand identity; these and a number of other variables come into play when people decide to choose a service or a product.
There are, however, best practices that need to be followed in order to do things right. These are what we call the fundamentals. And in Google Ads, there are some fundamentals. In this article, we will go over 10 of these fundamentals. We aim to highlight the 10 Key Steps we take when formulating a google ads strategy.
1. Identifying Goals and Targets
The first step is to understand our client’s goals. What do they aim? Is it brand awareness and recognition; is it to get new leads; is it to get new sales; is it all at the same time?
Related to this issue is another one: what’s the targeted cost per acquisition of the product(s) or service(s) that are going to be promoted? We need to understand the client’s finances and what our main cost per acquisition or conversion goal should be before we start a campaign.
Imagine the client has a product to sell for 45USD. Of course, he can’t spend over 50USD in his google account without seeing a lead coming in or a sale. You need to know your numbers and targets - and this should be carefully discussed with the client.
If it’s a lead generation project, you need to take into account the conversion rate when a form is submitted. And this depends a lot on the industries, but expect a 5-20% lead-to-sale ratio.
- Learn to improve your conversion rate: Subscribe to our free educational series on conversion rate optimisation here).
In eCommerce, the targeted costs per acquisition are more straightforward since you know how much your potential revenue is. In other words, if we are dealing with an eCommerce the sale is a direct consequence of the end of the buyer’s journey. We don’t need to extrapolate when the conversion will come from a lead on the website. Ideally, you would not spend more than 50% of that revenue on ads.
What is also important to consider in these cases is what is called the lifetime customer value. This is basically the idea that if you have one client today, most likely - if you deliver the right experience and he/she is happy with the product or service you offer - he/she will come back. That’s why it is so important for you to think about client satisfaction.
Also, don’t forget the power of word of mouth. If you provide a great customer experience the more likely you will get even more business from this one client.
2. Understanding the Market and the Customer
The second key step to formulate a coherent Google ads strategy is to have a good understanding of the target market and create customer avatars.
Having a perception of the market is important because it will allow us to have a better grasp of the landscape: both for good and bad reasons. Competitive markets tend to have higher costs per click because there will be more ad accounts bidding on the auction. This is the negative side.
But at the same time, we can browse the web for inspiration on what the market is already doing and how different ads are being delivered to different audiences. We can take notes of how they are written and this will give us inspiration for our own account.
Also, advanced tools will allow us to spy on our competitors and understand what kind of keywords they are bidding on and by doing so, we can have a better understanding of where to deploy our investment.
If understanding the market and competitors is important, what is also relevant is to understand our customer avatar. To whom are we aiming our message? We can, from this basic information, draw conclusions for the tonality we use; for example, in our ads. We can further adjust our ads to the audience. If we understand what their main pain points are and what they aspire, our ads will be really potent. Delivering the right message is key when working with an online advertisement.
3. Data is King
After we have the basics done, it is time to think strategically. We cannot start any project without thinking carefully about how we can track different conversion goals. Data is king. We need to understand our customer’s journey and how much it will cost us in the end.
So if you have an online store you need to start understanding how much it costs for a visitor to add a product to his/her cart; how much the cost per submission page is, and how much the cost per sale is.
If you are an owner of a brick and mortar business or a consultant, then you need to understand how much it costs for someone to submit an online form or book a call with you; what the lead-to-sale ratio is, and what the cost per sale is.
Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics play a key part in this process. So don’t forget: when thinking about a Google ads strategy it is vital that you track customer actions. Data is king.
4. Understanding Ad Rank and Quality Score
The single most relevant aspect of performance for any Google ads campaign is quality score. Understanding quality score is important. Quality score is basically the main variable that allows Google to view how well an account is performing. Understanding it well is therefore crucial before you even do keyword research or start thinking about organizing your account.
The key components of the quality score are:
- How keywords, ads and landing pages connect to each other
- User experience once the user gets to the landing page
So, it can be said that what goes on before and after someone clicks on an ad, becomes really important to determine high or low-quality scores. Therefore, the numbers showing on your quality score can be impacted by this constant interaction between your keyword, your ad, and the user experience on the landing page.
Another relevant term to understand your Google ads performance is Ad Rank. According to Google: “Ad Rank is calculated using your bid amount, your auction-time ad quality (including expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience) the Ad Rank thresholds, the competitiveness of an auction, the context of the person’s search (for example, the person’s location, device, time of the search; the nature of the search terms; the other ads and search results that show on the page, and other user signals and attributes), and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.”
There are therefore two structural things that can be done to optimize your Google ads account: have an account organized professionally and the capacity to manage bids to the best of your abilities. You need to have enticing ads that are tightly connected to your keyword and that drive traffic to an engaging landing page where the user will not feel the need to leave quickly.
A number of things can be done to optimize the keywords you target, the ads, the landing page, and the bids. And these will be dealt with in greater detail further along in this article.
Of course, there will be changes in the quality score. Traditionally, B2B accounts tend to have higher costs per clicks and lower quality scores. These are highly targeted audiences normally with higher costs per conversions associated with them and which, therefore, generate a number of useless clicks. Landing page experience in these accounts will contribute to drop the overall quality score therefore which will push costs per click higher.
5. A Good Start: Keyword Research
Keyword research is a beast in itself, but we normally start our keyword research by looking at the website of the client. Which ideas can we draw from the website that will allow us to make the most of the products or services that it aims to sell?
We can, therefore, use the URL of the website itself and do a search using Google keyword planner inside our Google ads account. It will give us the first take on what can be done with the website.
But this is normally not enough. We need to dig deeper. And there are two ways of doing so.
First, we can use tools to understand what kind of keywords our competitors use to target their market.
Second and most important of all, we need to understand what are the services that the client wants to advertise and build a list of potential keywords associated with these services so the account is tightly connected to not only the landing pages that we want to promote but also with the main objectives of the client (normally to have more leads or sales).
Once this initial research is done there is a second important step that we need to take into account - and this relates to account organization which we will tackle now.
6. Organize Well: Understanding Account Structure
Once you identify your keywords, you need to organize your account in a way that takes into account what was learned about quality score. The account needs to be tightly integrated and the flow between the keyword, the ad, and the landing page needs to be highly coherent.
You may still suffer from bad user experience, but you need to organize your account so it flashes as tightly as possible this interaction.
The second aspect to take into account is that not all keywords are the same. They do not all have the same “value”. There are generalistic keywords and more specific/ product-oriented keywords. Furthermore, there are even some projects where you will see the third layer of potential keyword targets: specific products that have high enough volume of search that justify their own campaign.
This third layer of keywords characterizes, most predominantly, Google shopping campaigns.
Finally, you need to understand that your brand is a relevant source of business. From a certain stage - in highly competitive markets - you should create brand-type campaigns. Another strategy that you can use is to target competitors.
Of course, all this needs to be monitored closely with a coherent conversion tracking strategy in place.
7. Writing Killer Ads
There are many different ways that an ad can be written, but there are some buyer psychology hacks that we use when writing killer ads.
Technically, as was suggested in the past, the tightly connected the ad is to the keyword the better it is for quality score. So at least ⅓ of your ad needs to connect somehow with the keyword. It doesn’t need to be the exact same word, but you need to find a way to connect the user intent when he typed your targeted keyword with your ad.
Once these technicalities are known, there are other triggers that characterize good ads. So here go a few:
The main benefits of your product or service
- Main hopes, dreams or aspirations that your potential client wants to achieve with your product or service
- Main pain points they may be going through (and writing them in the negative - your product/service as the solution)
- Your brand can also be used
- Specific product features of your product or service
- Finally, it is proven that numbers and statistics are great for ads
So here are a few tips on how best to write ads.
8. Design Great Landing Page Experiences
According to Google, “Landing page experience is Google Ads’ measure of how well your website gives people what they’re looking for when they click your ad. Your landing page is the URL people arrive at after they click your ad, and Google Ads analyzes it through a combination of automated systems and human evaluation. The experience you offer affects your Ad Rank and therefore your CPC and position in the ad auction. Your ads may show less often (or not at all) if they point to websites that offer a poor user experience”.
Landing pages are one of the most important variables for a successful Google ads campaign. Without proper landing pages, you will struggle. They make or break your campaigns. They are probably the decisive factor in seeing returns on investment.
The focus that we place on the landing page and website design here at JMarketing also derives from acknowledging the highly significant impact of this piece of the puzzle.
But how to develop the perfect landing page.
We have numerous projects where we developed great landing pages. Check our portfolio to see more. But here are some of the fundamentals of our philosophy.
A good landing page needs to have a great offer. It needs to have headlines that stress how you can make your clients achieve what they aim for. This can be in the form of a commitment to do something or just a value statement. Be it as it may, you need to have statements of purpose to start with.
Good and solid submission forms are an important aspect of any lead generation project, and you should include them on your landing page.
Descriptions should focus most importantly on the benefits and not on the product features. This is the third key element of any good landing page: you need to speak to the dreams and aspirations of your audience.
A good landing page also identifies pain points or things that your customer struggles with and then provides the solutions to these problems in the form of your product or services. Here, you are connecting the pain point with specific product features you may offer.
Also relevant are case-studies or logos of companies you have worked with. They allow you to solidify your value statements with proof.
Related, but not similar are testimonials. You can ask your clients for one. They will provide social credibility to your brand and solidify your case-studies.
Some landing pages can include your picture and members of your staff. This allows you to be open about who you are and your employees are. What this allows from a customer standpoint is the identification with the business owner. People buy from people, not from words.
Another important aspect to include: guarantees. If you have guarantees or any other related advantages, you should include them on the landing page.
Finally, calls to action are fundamental to have so you lead the user to your desired action. Colors are crucial for call-to-action efficiency.
All landing pages need to be well developed and designed. The design makes or breaks a landing page and, therefore, the success or failure of your Google ads campaign. The way a landing page looks and how well it is designed is the foundation upon which all other elements discussed above rest.
9. Managing Bids
There is a lot that can be said about how best to manage bids. Google ads have made efforts to make this process increasingly easier with a number of options available to its users. These options can be summed up in two types: automatic and manual.
From the experience we have, automatic bidding strategies can be powerful in a very restricted number of circumstances. Moving to one side options that mainly focus on reach and awareness, there are basically two types of automatic bidding strategies: those that want to maximize the number of clicks you have and those that want to optimize the number of conversions.
Think of the option this way: a new account, with no conversions - or that was cancelled for more than the normal 30 days conversion window - would start by allowing Google to optimize for maximum clicks. This would allow the machine to look for users that have in the past clicked similar ads.
Once you start seeing a historical record of conversions in your account, Google likes to recommend that you use maximize conversions or target CPA as your main bidding strategy. As with maximizing for clicks, this allows Google to decide when it will show your ads and at what cost - the option target CPA will, however, constrain the maximum by a specific target (which will exclude irrelevant users and searchers).
Google has come a long way in optimizing its platform so it is easy to use by all. You don’t need to be an expert to launch campaigns.
However, the problem with these automatic bidding strategies is important to stress. You can’t control your bids and how much you want to spend per click. This clearly places constraints on your ability to control your overall budget.
From my experience, I feel that manually controlling Google ads keyword bids is the best way to manage an account. As long as you are able to keep the cost per conversion and per click under control, you can reduce the amount spent on clicks - or have more clicks if you have a fixed allocated budget to the campaign.
One of the strategies we use to reduce costs is precisely to understand what the current bidding strategy of a client is and try to reduce costs per click or increase the number of clicks for the same amount.
10. Optimize and Scale
Controlling your bids is one of the many optimization strategies that can be used by you; but, there are more and we would like to go through them in this last section.
- Understand your search terms and check if you have negative keywords that can be used to block users from.
- Pay attention to duplicate keywords in the account. You don’t want to be competing against yourself in the auction by having the same keyword being used on different ad groups.
- Third, check ad performance and if your overall quality score is below what you may expect, think about rotating new ads.
- Follow Google’s guidelines and create different types of ad extensions.
- Identify winning keywords and think about including them in your ad group
- Create audiences of visitors to your website, specific landing pages, or products.
- Identify winning keywords and ad groups and think about creating a winners campaign where you will allocate a specific budget to it and where you can scale at will.
- Think about other ad opportunities and networks: namely display and video ads.
What does the client want? How will the client benefit? What is the end result? You must learn what the client desires; then, create avatars to achieve this desire. You must also understand the data, ranging from what the client desires, to costs and potential profit. Finding out how well an account is performing and the positions of ads on the account are also fundamental in this process. You must research what keywords are being used by competitors, as well as, what the client desires in order to create a list of keywords, designed for the client. The account must be strategically organized with all elements (the flow between the keyword, the ad, and the landing page) working together for the success of the account. Once, this is done, you can start working on creating ads that capture the buyer's attention; that being it is appealing to the buyer's eyes/ears, and takes into account what the buyers desire, their pain points, your brand, etc. Make sure your ads take the buyer exactly where you want them to, but also where the buyer wants to go. When the buyer has a good landing page experience, he/she is sure to come back. Before creating a campaign, you must know the costs per click, as well as what ads the clients may click. With this information, you can launch more ads that cater to the buyer and what they usually go for.
JMarketing is an award-winning advertising agency and we take your campaigns very seriously. Contact us for more information on how to make your campaigns a success.