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Gardening in AdWords - Using Our Digital Green Thumb for Optimum ROI

May 18, 2018

There’s no question that PPC (pay per click) advertising and an AdWords campaign are must-haves for any company looking to successfully grow their online visibility. An AdWords campaign is relatively easy and quick to set-up, which is where a lot of companies are led up the garden path. They fall under the false impression that AdWords is a set-and-forget tool that will work autonomously with no ongoing input from the creator. This hands-off approach can see the campaign bumble along, burning through your budget on unwanted clicks from the wrong audience that don’t lead to conversions. Let us show you how we constantly till the AdWords soil for the best returns. 

A digital green thumb bears the most fruit

If we can compare digital marketing to gardening for a moment, setting up a good AdWords campaign won’t necessarily see you reaping what you sowed. Like nature, the internet is an ever-evolving environment where things are changing constantly. In gardening or digital marketing, failure to adapt can result in a poor harvest or worse yet, complete decimation.

Any gardener worth their mettle will tell you the most fruitful gardens are the ones that receive regular maintenance from an attentive green thumb: weeding, preening, seasonal planting and harvesting, soil prep, fertiliser… etc. There are lots of influencing factors that change over time and require constant tending to achieve success. The same can be said for AdWords campaigns and it takes ongoing management of proactive and reactive measures by a skilled digital marketer to ensure successful campaign optimisation and the ultimate return on your investment. 

How we tend to our clients’ AdWords gardens

With a skilled and experienced team of digital marketers doing your (AdWords) bidding for you, you can spend more of your valuable time on other important areas of your business. Here at Apex we take pride in our ability to monitor and manage our clients’ AdWords campaigns on the daily. Let’s look at a few real-world, case-in-point examples of how we’ve identified issues with AdWords campaigns and made tweaks to increase conversions and optimise ROI.

Example 1

  • What metric we saw and what it means:
    Low user engagement (high bounce rate, low time on site) metrics for a shower installation-related campaign. This suggested some of the campaign's keyword intent was more targeted towards a DIYer rather than a person looking to engage the services of a shower installation professional (our client).

  • What we did about it:
    Added negative keywords to the campaign to prevent the advertiser’s ads from showing for users’ searches for DIY-related information (e.g. instructions, guide, how to) types of keywords.

  • What was the result of this change:
    Reduced click spend on irrelevant clicks, and improved engagement metrics from the clicks the ad did continue to attract, meaning that we were reaching a significantly more targeted audience – one that was more likely to become a customer.

Example 2

  • What metric we saw and what it means:
    Not so much a metric, but more an example of poorly targeted ads whereby a search for a mobile locksmith in Wellington was returning an ad for a New Plymouth-based locksmith. Note they’re not a client, just an example we saw today...



  • What we would do about it:
    Review their keyword selection and location targeting settings to ensure their ads appear to a geographically relevant audience.

  • What would the result of this change be:
    The result of this would be higher keyword Quality Scores due to improved keyword/text ad/landing page relevance, better use of click budget to reach a more relevant audience and reduced wasted spend from clicks from users who aren’t located in an area serviced by this business and are therefore highly unlikely to convert.

Example 3

  • What metric we saw and what it means:
    Costly keywords that aren’t driving conversions, as measured by looking at the cost per conversion at a keyword level, e.g. a professional services firm that had spent more than $150 in one month on clicks for a keyword that had not generated a single conversion (lead form fill, or phone call). Note that the average cost per conversion for this particular client should have been in the region of $15-20 per enquiry.

  • What we did about it:
    Changed the keyword match type to make it more targeted and apply negative keywords to the campaign to prevent it from showing for less relevant keywords.

  • What was the result of this change:
    Click volume for this keyword declined, which on the face of it may seem like a negative impact, however you need to bear in mind that the clicks this keyword was previously attracting weren’t converting anyway. By making the campaign more targeted through use of more restrictive keyword match types, click spend on this keyword declined, which in turn meant the client’s click budget was able to attract more clicks from other keywords that were converting.                                                                                                                     

Using Google’s AI tech to influence ad position

We keep a close eye on the position of a campaign’s ads, especially on mobile where not being in the top positions can see a dramatic drop off in conversions. Listings towards the top of the first results page get the lion share of clicks, but it’s not a race skyward at all costs as a high listing is pointless if the ad isn’t converting. In some instances, we employ AdWords’ Smart Bidding strategies and conversion tracking to help address the balance between ad position versus budget and conversions. Even with the help of Google’s AI-powered Smart Bidding tool, finding this balance and achieving optimal results ultimately requires an experienced eye and a deep understanding of which tools and approaches should be used.

Saving you time and money

Hopefully if you’ve read this far you’ve gathered that the amount of time taken to set-up an AdWords campaign is dwarfed by the amount of time we spend protecting our client’s marketing investment with ongoing campaign management and optimisation.

With deep roots in managing successful AdWords campaigns, qualified by our certified Google Premier Partner status, we can easily take the time pressure of fitting campaign maintenance into your daily schedule off your shoulders. We’ll apply our expert knowledge and digital marketing green thumb to cultivating your very own AdWords garden of Eden that will continually bloom financially, month after month.

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Filed under Google Adwords

Written by

Mark is the Manager of Digital Marketing at Apex and has worked in the digital marketing industry since 2004. Prior to joining Apex he worked in a variety of traditional marketing roles in both the corporate and SME environment in NZ and abroad, but these days much prefers the tangible measurability and transparency of digital marketing.

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