If you’re an online marketer, you’ve surely heard of Google Adwords. With upwards of 90% of the market share for search advertising and millions of publishers taking part in its Display Network, it’s the biggest advertising platform on the Internet.
Adwords is a staple of every big company’s online advertising strategy, and the ROI it can produce with the right degree of optimization is truly incredible. From highly targeted placements to CPA bidding, Adwords is packed with useful features.
Unfortunately, many Adwords users are unaware of the platform’s most powerful features for maximizing your ROI. From placement campaigns to optimizing your bids, read on to discover five Adwords management tactics for maximum ROI.
Are you new to Google Adwords? Learn the basics of Adwords – from choosing the right keywords to optimizing your bid to maximize your traffic – using the tips and tricks in our Google Adwords for Beginners course.
Use conversion tracking to find top-performing campaign variables
Google Adwords allows you to place advertisements on two different networks of websites: the Search Network and the Display Network. The Display Network has millions of pages within its database, all of which can be advertised on.
Even if you target your Display Network campaign using specific keywords, you’ll generally find that some placements convert far better than others. Even specific subpages within websites can convert at two, three or four times the average.
This kind of data is incredibly valuable for optimizing your campaign and earning the highest possible ROI from Adwords. It’s also impossible to see if you use third-party conversion tracking tools instead of Google’s built-in conversion tracker.
Before you launch any campaign on the Adwords Display Network, establish your conversion goals – from user registrations to new purchases – on the Conversions page in the Adwords interface.
From here, you’ll be able to add an additional column to your Adwords reporting interface: Conversion Rate. This measures how many conversions specific pages, keywords and placements are producing within your Adwords campaign.
In general, a high conversion rate is a good thing. However, there are certain cases in which you’ll need to know more than just your conversion rate to know which keywords and placements are performing the best for your campaign.
For example, if one keyword has a $1 average cost-per-click and a 10% conversion rate, the cost of each conversion it produces is $10. Another keyword might have a $5 cost-per-click and 30% conversion rate – at first glance, a better performer.
Break the two pages down, however, and you’ll see that the first one performs the best. This is because it produces conversions at a lower cost-per-acquisition than the higher-converting page, despite having a significantly lower conversion rate.
In the next section, you’ll learn how to automate your account management to let Google’s algorithm bid on a cost-per-acquisition basis to maximize your return on investment and ignore vanity metrics like cost-per-click and conversion rate.
Once your campaign is established, simplify by using CPA bidding
Adwords allows you to bid on traffic using several different methods. The first, and most common, is cost-per-click (CPC). CPC bidding lets you only pay for clicks that your advertisements attract, not for impressions that your ads receive.
The biggest advantage of CPC is its limited risk. If your ad doesn’t perform well and fails to achieve a high clickthrough rate, it’s only going to cost you a small amount. A CPC campaign is also easy to monitor and track, since the costs are usually static.
Another form of bidding on Adwords is CPM. CPM stands for cost-per-mille, and it’s a form of bidding where you pay for every thousands views of your ad. The benefits of CPM bidding are obvious: if your ad performs well, your CPC gets much lower.
Both CPC and CPM bidding have their places, especially when you’re testing new ads or buying display media on a large scale. You can learn more about CPC advertising in our Comprehensive PPC Training: Learn Adwords and Facebook Ads course.
In this section, however, we’re going to look at a very different form of bidding: CPA bidding. CPA stands for cost-per-acquisition (in the case of customer acquisition) or cost-per-action in the case of user registration or lead generation.
Adwords includes a CPA bidding option that uses Google’s algorithm in combination with your existing campaign data to automatically optimize your account to bring in as many conversions as possible at your target price.
This massively simplifies metrics and gives you a guaranteed profit margin on every conversion produced by Adwords. For example, if you sell a product for $30, you can configure Adwords to bid up to $15 per conversion to generate a $15 profit per sale.
In order to achieve good results from CPA bidding, you’ll need two things: a Display or Search network campaign with enough data for Google’s algorithm to work, and a thorough understanding of your key performance indicators and profit margin.
You’ll also need to be able to optimize your website to generate mass conversions at minimal cost. Learn how to optimize your website to get the most from CPA bidding on Adwords in our Conversion Crash Course.
Use placement targeting to display your ads on specific websites
Most Adwords Display Network advertisers use keyword targeting to place their ads on websites that are relevant to their niche. For the most part, this strategy is a good one – Google’s algorithm is very good, and keywords like “credit cards” show ads on websites related to credit cards, personal finance and money lending.
While keyword targeting is a fantastic tactic for finding high-converting placements within the Adwords Display Network, it’s not the most efficient way to increase the amount of traffic you generate from top-converting placements.
In addition to keyword targeting, the Adwords includes a Display Network targeting feature called placements. Placements are individual websites, as well as subpages of a website, that can be specifically targeted using unique, customized ads.
In addition to being able to target specific websites, marketers can use keyword and placement targeting in tandem to target only the subpages of specific websites that include their target keywords.
By studying your top-performing placements in keyword targeting campaigns and exporting them into a placement targeted campaign, you can reach a much deeper level of profitability. Look at the content of the pages you’re targeting in detail and design ads that specifically target the problems their readers are facing.
From marketing the perfect accessory for fixing a flat tire on automotive websites that mention ‘flat tires’ to promoting your sleep-enhancing supplement on health websites that specifically mention ‘insomnia’ or ‘melatonin,’ you can double your return on investment and laser target your campaign’s traffic sources.
The key to an effective placement targeting campaign is ad design. Learn the secret to designing display ads that answer the questions of your target placement’s users and encourage them to take action with Advertising: Website Ad Design.
Test a variety of different match types and negative keywords
Broad match keywords are the most general, and match your keywords with both their exact entries in users’ searches and synonyms. For example, the broad match keyword “men’s shoes” would also target the synonym keyword “male footwear.”
Other keyword variations targeted using broad match include misspellings. Using the example above, broad match settings would also show your ads beside search results for “mens shoez,” “buy male footware” and other misspellings.
Broad match keywords are best used at the beginning of a campaign when you’re more focused on getting data than generating conversions. They generally achieve the lowest conversion rate of all match types when used in search campaigns.
Phrase match keywords are slightly different. They target a certain phrase – in our example above, “men’s shows” – and all variations of that phrase that include your target keywords.
For example, the phrase match targeting keyword “men’s shoes” will display your ads on searches for “cheap men’s shoes,” “men’s shoes reviews” and other keywords that include your targeting phrase.
Finally, there’s exact match targeting. Exact match keywords are wrapped in square brackets – the [ and ] characters – and will only display your ads on searches for the exact keywords you’re targeting.
For example, the exact match targeting keyword “men’s shoes” will only show your ads on searches for “men’s shoes.” No other keywords – aside from variations with upper case letters – will trigger your advertisements.
Experimenting with different match types will help you discover new keywords to target in your Search Network campaigns. It will also help you learn how Adwords matches your target keywords with the behavior of searches.
Do you want to use broad match, phrase match or exact match targeting in your next Adwords search marketing campaign? Learn how to select the right targeting option for search marketing success in our Advanced Google Adwords course.
Use automatic split testing to optimize your Display Network ads
Launching an advertising campaign with only one ad is a serious mistake. With just one ad creative, you’ll never know how much potential profit you’re missing out on by using a different design, headline, body copy or call-to-action.
Split testing ads is one of the most important parts of the online marketing process, and it’s easy to do using Adwords’ built-in ad rotation feature. In the Settings tab of each of your campaigns, you’ll be able to adjust your ads’ rotation policy.
By default, Google split tests your ads to see which performs the most effectively for a short period of time before deciding on a winner. While this is good if your budget is small, it’s far from ideal if statistical significance is your testing goal.
Instead of letting Google decide which of your ads performs the best, monitor them yourself for the first few days of your campaign by selecting “distribute impressions evenly” in your campaign options and spotting your top-performing ads.
Once you’ve identified the top performers, launch a new ad every other day and set your impression distribution setting to automate for whichever ad creative delivers the best return on investment to automate the split testing process.
Adwords has great built-in split testing tools, but you can achieve far more using a dedicated A/B testing method. Learn how to improve your Adwords profits using split testing in our Optimization & A/B Testing Statistics course.