Everybody loves a cautionary tale. This is a brief lesson to illustrate how AdWords Express works and how it can all go wrong.
In an ideal setting, AdWords Express is an excellent tool. As we explained here, Google created it to be an easy way to do PPC with little knowledge of the nuts and bolts of PPC. The trouble is that it relies on Google's ability to determine what your website is actually about, and by so doing, Google creates its own keyword list. The inherent problem with this is that most websites are not ready for this because 1) they're built/coded incorrectly so Google can't actually "read" the content of the site, and/or 2) the content of the site is irrelevant to the actual purpose of the site (yes that happens).
A client of ours (for other services, not including PPC at the time), a new car dealer, created an AdWords Express campaign a few months before we met. Just like it's supposed to do, the AdWords Express machine skimmed the client's website and determined which keywords to target and where to serve ads to (geographically). This is where it all went wrong.
As is typical, AdWords Express generated a list that had an OK percentage of truly relevant search terms, such as specific car models, etc. However, this list was totally bogged down by completely irrelevant search terms (keep in mind, we're selling NEW cars here) such as "big a** trucks," "RV hauler," "1954 Ford Truck Parts," and "military surplus."
To make matters worse, this car dealer, located in northern Utah, was paying to serve these ads to areas completely outside of its market. We're talking to areas bordering Nebraska, Arizona, and Canada. The geography was grossly overextended.
AdWords Express was working exactly as designed here, yet there were clear instances of waste. Upon auditing the campaign, we discovered that over 98% of the budget had been COMPLETELY wasted. For a small business, their budget had just bled out about $10,000 in precious marketing dollars.
This highlights several important lessons about AdWords in general. First, an intimate understanding of the ins and outs of search engine marketing is critical to success and limited waste. Second, assuming that 15 minutes of work is enough to achieve the success of your business' marketing plan is a huge gamble. And third, there is no substitute for experience.
After reporting the results of our audit, we were immediately tasked with fixing the hemmoraging AdWords problem. We instantly turned things around, and the results showed in the results: the client began setting monthly sales records, and the metrics of the PPC were outstanding (500-800% better click-thru-rates over what's average across ALL of Google's PPC ads). The $10,000 lesson was a significant one: sustainable success comes only when you surround yourself with people who are experts at what they do.
Special Note: We are always happy to do a free, comprehensive audit of your PPC campaigns. Contact us and we'll dig into the data for you to show you exactly how you're doing.
About us: Level 11 Online Marketing is a fast growing digital advertising agency that is becoming known for disrupting the status quo. We specialize in digital advertising, video production, SEO, SEM, advanced analytics, custom web solutions via website design & implementation, social media strategies and conversion optimization. Headquartered in Utah, you will find Level 11 team members in Utah, Washington, California, Idaho, and Colorado. We have the best creative minds in the industry backed up by the most talented software developers and video production teams which leads to powerful, efficient advertising campaigns.
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