10 Google Adwords campaign management tips for best results
Lessons from managing a $225,000+ campaign over 5 years
I’ve had the opportunity to manage several small-to-medium budget search advertising campaigns, both on the Google AdWords and Bing platforms. While some have been short-duration campaigns lasting a couple of weeks to a few months’ at most, there have been others that have lasted a few years. One such campaign that I have managed over the last several years has provided several opportunities to continue to test, learn and refine strategies and tactics. Here I share 10 tips from the lessons I learnt in managing that campaign on Google Adwords.
Adwords campaign structure settings & targeting tips
Limit the number of keywords in an Adgroup
One of the advantages of using paid search advertising with Google Adwords over organic SEO is the scale that we can get with the former. Theoretically, we could be targeting an unlimited number of keywords with a SEM campaign. However, my experience is that
“Adgroups” with a small number of very similar keywords tend to yield better results than adgroups with a very large keyword set.
So, resist the temptation to include a long list of keywords in an Adgroup because you think that will maximise the reach.
Create country-specific campaigns when targeting multiple countries
If you are executing an international SEM campaign targeting multiple countries, I recommend creating different country-specific campaigns. Doing so allows you to better allocate your marketing budget across different geographies— as the per-click costs can vary significantly across nations.
Moreover, I’ve found that this allows ads to be shown in the different markets, whereas when targeting different countries as part of a single consolidated campaign, ads may not get shown in all your target countries.
Tracking and monitoring by country is also a lot easier. As a marketer, it gives you much greater control to make adjustments to the campaign depending on the results and ROI you are getting from your spend in each country.
Use managed placements (especially with tight budgets!)
When using the Google Adwords’ display/content network, stick to using “managed placements” instead of “automated placements” , especially if you are extremely particular about the quality of the sites where you want your ads to be shown and your budgets are quite tight.
Even though overall quality of the contextual ad serving on the content network has improved, I do find several low-quality and questionable websites where ads are served. Sometimes the quality of web traffic and leads generated from such sites are surprisingly good, but many times they are not. So, rely on automated placements if you are willing to accept a certain degree of irrelevance and unacceptable quality of traffic.
With managed placements, the marketer has some control on the nature of the audience who will be exposed to the marketing message. The flip side, of course, is that overall reach in absolute terms may be reduced drastically.
Use standard display instead of accelerated
Google Adwords allows to control the frequency of display of ads i.e. show ads evenly over time (“Standard”) or in an “accelerated” mode. From my experience, I favour the standard display; the accelerated display tended to consume the daily budget a lot faster without a corresponding boost to the conversions, and thereby resulting in a higher cost per conversion.
If you are running a campaign where you want to maximise the display of your ads within a certain time, the accelerated mode might work– though I suggest that you apply this after careful consideration.
Adwords bid management tips
Manually manage bids
Even though ‘automation’ is the buzzword in everything, I found that manual bids gave us a much better result as far as cost per click (CPC) or cost per conversion were concerned. The increase in costs when we did try automated bids was significant.
Manually managing bids for SEM campaigns worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, say for e-commerce sites– may not be practical. However, for small to medium sized campaigns involving a few hundred or thousand dollars, I feel the manual bidding option takes your marketing dollar much further.
Distribute clicks across mobile and desktop
I suggest optimizing bids such that you get clicks/leads from both desktop and mobile devices. Distribute your advertising budget — preferably 50-50- across these two device types. By not explicitly stating this split, I find that the budget tends to get spent on mobile devices. As the conversion rates (and in some cases, even the quality of leads) from mobile devices, especially in the case of B2B lead generation programs, could be lower than say from desktop, a marketer has to pay particular attention to this aspect.
Tips on ad copy/ campaign creatives
Use keywords correctly
This is a no-brainer and fits into “Adwords tips 101”, but we have found many companies who have tried SEM themselves miss this fairly obvious point. While including targeted keywords in the keyword list is generally taken care of, they are often missing in the text ad copy and the landing page where the traffic is directed to.
Including keywords in all three possible avenues improves the quality score and has certainly helped us get better click-through rates and conversion rates. It is not too difficult to understand why: the ads and the landing page just seem much more relevant when the user finds words from their search query on them!
Test multiple (at least 3) different ad creatives
One of the best things about digital marketing — and SEM with Google Adwords, in particular- is the ease with which we can test different ad creatives and determine which one resonates the most. I recommend trying out at least 3 different ad creatives per Adgroup to start with, test and refine based on the results.
Use responsive ads
When targeting the Adwords’ display network, try to create more responsive ad copies, instead of limiting yourself to expanded text ads. This allows Google to automatically adjust your ad copy to slot into appropriate places from the vast inventory available.
I also recommend adding images, logo and business name to the ad creative. Not only can this help with improving click-throughs, but also help with creating some brand visibility, even when the ads don’t generate clicks.
– SEM tips shared by Akhil Nair
Akhil Nair is an experienced search engine marketing expert with On Target Marketing Solutions, our affiliate digital marketing company in Navi Mumbai, India. Akhil manages both paid search marketing campaigns on Google Adwords& Bing, as well as SEO projects. His experience spans several industry segments including education & training, healthcare and software solutions.
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