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Google AdWords: The inside scoop

Google AdWords: The inside scoopGoogle AdWords is a hugely popular search marketing tool but how do you get your message across in 130 characters? Meet ‘creative maximisers’ Vic Ellis, Kate Conroy and Luisa Fearnside. They work with big businesses on their AdWords ads, but here they share their top tips with you.

Consumers are becoming overloaded with messages these days and businesses have less time to pique the interests of an ever more wary consumer. Everyone’s heard of AdWords but how do you actually get your best message across in just four lines or 130 characters?

With so little to play with, what are the secrets to success with this advertising haiku? These three are the experts. What they don’t know about AdWords isn’t worth knowing. Vic, Kate and Luisa have helped thousands of businesses get their messages right for their customers. It might sound easy, but, like most things, it’s only easy when you know how.

Let’s start with the basics. AdWords is a kind of paid search advertising. AdWords ads are the ones that appear on the righthand side under Sponsored Links when you Google search. They work by you—the advertiser,—purchasing keywords. When a user enters the keywords, your ad is triggered to come up. If—and only if—they click through from your ad to your website, becoming a potential customer, do you pay Google anything.

The main benefit of AdWords is it enables you to specifically target internet users who are looking for your product or service, giving a high return on investment (ROI). Most AdWords ads are just text, although there are also options for image, animated video or local business ads. The text ads consist of four lines: a headline, two lines of description and a line of URL (your website address). Sounds simple, right? Turns out a lot of people get it very wrong!

However, used properly, AdWords is an SME’s dream. You can set a minimum spend, you can try things for a little while without committing to a long-term advertising budget, and you can use it only at certain times, if that’s what suits you and your business. It’s targeted, affordable, quick and effective, as the case study later proves. What’s more, if it doesn’t work for you, you can work on it and try something else and the chances are you will get there in the end.

According to Nielsen NetRatings, there are 12 million people online in Australia and they are each now spending an average of 13.7 hours of their media time per week online. Recent research by Monash’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies revealed that 50 percent of Australian shoppers research their purchases online before going to the bricks and mortar store to buy.

Searches for local businesses are extremely popular. More people in Australia are actually searching for a café, a hairdresser or an accountant than they are searching for politics or celebrities.

“Most small businesses using Adwords are managing their own accounts,” says Kate. “We tend to work with the businesses at the other end of the spectrum; the corporates.” She’s happy to share her secrets though: “Most people searching want to know what you do. That’s most important to them. They want to find exactly what they’re looking for. Ads that are too general don’t work.

“The first thing you should ask yourself is what makes my business stand out over my competitors? Is it lower prices? Are your goods Australian made? Do you turn up on time? Has your business won an award or do you offer free shipping?

“Then ask yourself what are the specific or technical details of your product or service? When people are ready to buy, which they often are when they Google search, they’re not interested in general statements about the product. Be really specific. Facts and figures may make the difference.

“Then ask yourself what your call to action is. Again, it helps to be really specific. When they click through to your website, what do you want them to do next? For small businesses, it’s often to call them for a quote. If that’s what you want, that’s what you write.”

Vic says: “If you put all that advice together, you’ll write much better ads. If you use AdWords well, you’ll only be paying money for really good quality leads. Another way you can make them better is to bold up words in your ad text. This makes people more likely to click through.”

Kate compares the creative way of writing your ad with packing a small suitcase for someone else: “Thinking up good AdWords ads isn’t creativity in the artistic sense. It’s like packing a small suitcase for someone else. You have to think about what’s useful to the person at the other end, not what’s useful to you or what you would pack.”

Luisa adds: “A lot of people go wrong with their ads by thinking about what they want to say about their business rather than what people searching for them will want to know. It can be quite difficult to switch to thinking about it from their point of view, but once you do, you’ll write much better adds and get better ROI.”

Another tip from Vic is not to use language you commonly use within your business or technical terms which make sense to you but wouldn’t be what someone searches for. For example, many small businesses use the term ‘building insurance’ in their ads, when people are much more likely to search for ‘home insurance,’ even though it’s the same thing.

So what else doesn’t work? Another common mistake is not using any negative keywords. Many people haven’t even heard of these but they can make or break your AdWords campaign. Adding a negative keyword to your ad group or campaign means your ads won’t show for search queries containing that term. By filtering out unwanted impressions, negative keywords can help you reach the most appropriate prospects, reduce your cost-per-click (CPC), and increase your ROI.

The negative keyword –free trial would prevent your ads from showing on any search queries containing the terms free and trial. It wouldn’t prevent your ads from showing on variations of these terms, however. It also wouldn’t prevent your ads from showing on search queries which contain only one of the terms. For instance, the search queries one-day trial and free test could trigger your ads, while free one-day trial could not.

It’s important to remember that over-using negative keywords can result in a very limited advertising audience. However, not using negative keywords can mean that your ads show to users who aren’t interested in your business or service.

Kate says: “Anyone in a service industry would have a long list of negative keywords. People working in travel, for example, like a BnB in the Hunter, would want negative keywords so other local services don’t come up when people search for Hunter Valley and get things like the local council and schools.”

Luisa says she’s never seen an AdWords account that didn’t benefit from the addition of some negative keywords. She also says small business owners shouldn’t be overwhelmed by AdWords by thinking they have to work out their entire campaign all in one go.

“It can be tough for small business owners who are very time-poor,” she says. “The great thing is, they don’t need to do it all at once. If they sell say, 10 products, they could just do one group of ads to start with and see how they go. Rome wasn’t built in a day. They can just keep plugging away over time and it doesn’t cost anything to make changes when they find out something isn’t working that well.”

Still confused? To learn more about how to grow your business with AdWords, visit www.google.com.au/tryadwords or email Google Australia for some help at adwords-au@google.com. They will endeavour to reply within one working day.

Google is offering one lucky reader the chance to sit down with the angels and receive the kind of advice normally reserved for corporate clients.

To enter, email the editor at jen.bishop@dynamicbusiness.com.au with Google’s Angels Competition in the subject line, and tell her why you deserve or need this opportunity. The winner will be chosen by Dynamic Business magazine and Google and we will follow the winner’s progress with AdWords in a future issue.

On Tap Beverages

On Tap Beverage Catering is a young business specialising in indoor and outdoor beverage catering for all kinds of events. Because it provides a niche, utility service, owner Drew Davies decided that his small budget would get the strongest ROI by reaching potential customers who were actually looking for the service he provides; a small but well defined market.

He decided to invest in a targeted Google AdWords campaign with Yodel, an authorised reseller of Google AdWords.

The results have been compelling:

  • 80 percent of all business enquiries came from AdWords with the remaining 20 percent coming from referral
  • An astonishing 1 in 4 enquiries that came from AdWords converted to business
  • For every dollar Drew spends on AdWords, he generates $20 of revenue
  • Drew’s business is in the top search results when you Google the following search terms: portable bar, beverage catering and mobile bar Sydney.

Davies believes in Google so strongly that he spends 70 percent of his marketing time optimising his search results to stay relevant based on what is happening in the category. He has just launched his Google Analytics campaign to better pinpoint where his customers are coming from online (paid searches, organic searches etc) and where they are spending the most time on his site so he can gain a better idea about his site’s functionality and what his customers are looking for. Yodel is helping him do this and together, they’ve set goals so he can measure his AdWords outcomes and make improvements as he needs to.

Davies also gets help from his website designer who optimises his organic search ranking by using keyword-relevant text and meta tags.

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Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop

Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.

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