With 2019 only a few weeks old and the post-holiday haze gone, now is a great time to analyze how your paid digital marketing efforts, specifically Google Ads, have performed and how to improve them. As a quick refresher here’s Google’s summary of its Ads platform:
Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords and Google AdWords Express) is an online advertising solution that businesses use to promote their products and services on Google Search, YouTube, and other sites across the web. Google Ads also allows advertisers to choose specific goals for their ads, like driving phone calls or website visits.
So with 2019 just revving up and resolutions fresh in our minds, here are seven tactics to help improve your Google Ads account if you’re already running them and reach your business goals.
1. Do Some Keyword Housekeeping
One way to strengthen your Google advertising efforts is to review your campaign keyword lists. There are a number of approaches you could take, including identifying negative keywords; adding new relevant keywords from SEO research and tools in Google Ads; optimize your existing keywords. If you’re scratching your head about what these three things mean, let’s break them down:
- Negative keywords = search terms not relevant to your business, products, etc.
Ex: You’re a local shoe company only selling men’s dress shoes. On your Google Ads account, you’d exclude keywords that don’t match this focus, such as “men’s sneakers” or “men’s running shoes.” Doing so helps the chances of your ads appearing in front of the right customers.
- Keyword research = analyzing how, what, and how many people search for things on Google and other search engines.
Ex: Again, you’re the local men’s dress shoe company and want to expand your keyword list. You see that target keyword “men’s dress shoes” isn’t generating many clicks because it’s pricey and competitive. Through some research with a tool, like Keywords Everywhere, you find out that “men’s dress shoes near me” had a lower cost per click AND a sizeable monthly search volume – a new keyword to add and hopefully drive better results! Popular SEO knowledge source, Moz, talks at length about this process for small, local businesses in this article.
- Optimizing = pausing low performing keywords that are not producing clicks, conversions, or impressions. This is a bit subjective depending on your business goals and comes with experience but a good rule of thumb is if these three metrics aren’t going up, pause the keyword.
2. Improve Your CTAs
With human attention spans lasting 8 seconds according to a 2015 Microsoft study and a near-constant stream of information being accessible to modern customers via smart devices, how do you make sure people not only see your ads but also act?
A good starting point is to write clear and concise calls-to-actions (CTAs) appropriate for where customers are in the sales funnel. According to a 2018 Wordstream report evaluating $60 million in AdWords ad spend, the top three performing CTAs for product-focused ads’ headlines were: Get, Buy, and Shop. Below is an example of this from a real-life ad for one of Duckpin’s favorite drinks, coffee, after searching for a monthly subscription service.
If your business is more interested in lead generation or even brand awareness, the study above identified “Learn,” “Discover,” or “Sign Up” as good CTAs for these types of ads.
Bottom line: take into account these findings and make sure your ads’ call-to-actions clearly and quickly prompt an action you want.
3. Address Customers’ Needs in Your Ad Copy and Visuals
Along with an enticing and informative CTA, your ads’ copy is an important part of your Google Ads campaign. It’s responsible for attracting the right prospects while also making sure to avoid those who aren’t relevant. At Duckpin, we believe copy (and by extension, content) is king.
An industry best practice is to split-test two very different big ideas in your ad copy. For instance, you might incorporate an offer into an ad and leave it out in another version. Your target audience will always respond better to one of the two big ideas. I also recommend tracking your results in a way that you can compare key metrics (impressions, clicks, conversions) from each ad. You can then use the winning ad copy throughout your marketing funnel and expand on its success.
For ads that run on the Google Display Network, visuals are equally important as the copy. The images you use need to grab the attention of prospects and make them want to click on your ad. Bottom line: Your ad image must set you apart from all the other campaigns out there. A pro tip here is to test natural looking images against stock images. Until you experiment and let a campaign run for a week or so, it’s impossible to know what image will perform better.
The beauty of Google Ads, however, is that you can make updates to copy and visuals quickly. Because of this, you can avoid losing lots of money to ineffective marketing. Avoiding doing this too frequently though, otherwise, you risk never obtaining good performance data.
4. Ensure Ad & Landing Page Copy and Visuals Align
Starting to see a trend here? A common mistake that I’ve experienced in managing clients’ Google Ads accounts is misalignment between the landing page and the ad. No one wants to click on an ad and arrive at a page that is wildly different in the information and branding offered or is poorly laid-out.
Want to know what type of opportunity you might be missing out on because of this issue? 15.7% more sales for the likes of Nurse.com after overhauling their website pages and doing some A/B testing to find the right match for their target audience.
Take the time to dive into your website or landing pages’ analytics to see how people interact and make the necessary improvements; it’ll pay off in the form of higher quality scores for your Google Ads and potentially lower costs per click.
5. Put Your Google Reviews to Good Use and Win Business
When it comes to digital marketing, customer reviews are essential and can either make or break a business’ success. According to a 2018 ReviewTrackers Online Reviews Survey,
- 63.6 percent of consumers say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business
- 94 percent say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business
Despite this data and for reasons I don’t fully get, some advertisers don’t take advantage of customer feedback or try to manage disappoints effectively.
If you’re looking to leverage social proof in your Google Ads, there are plenty of ways to use this it.
Some of the most common forms are through ad extensions (additional text below an ad that highlights contact information or product/service attributes), or directly in your copy, which means you don’t need to be an expert to start taking advantage of their benefits.
6. Remarket Smartly
Remarketing, or the tactic of serving targeted ads to people who have already visited or taken action on your website, seems to get ignored by some businesses.
As for what’s at stake when you implement remarketing, check out this example provided by often quirky shorts company Chubbies and its decision to toss off convention by launching “Fourth of Julyber Monday.” By experimenting with targeted placements on social channels and Google and remarketing ads to past and present customers, the company earned:
- 4.6x above average conversions within 12 hours of the campaign’s launch
- 4.8x above average CTC rates
Need I say more?
7. Think Mobile-First for Increased Sales
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past decade, mobile phone usage has grown to 67.3% of the US population, augmenting how customers search for information. A 2017 study by Google determined that “92% of those who searched on their phone made a related purchase.” For businesses advertising on Google and elsewhere online, this means you have to make sure that your ads are mobile ready so you don’t lose out.
People seeing your ads on their mobile phones are likely to want to know your location and how to get in touch with you. Be sure to include your location and phone number in your ads so you don’t lose those customers.
Google also allows companies to create ads that are designed specifically for mobile customers. This is a great option for companies who sell products or services that people will look for on the go or in a moment of need, like a car repair or towing services.