How To Launch Successful Google Ads Campaigns
If you haven't already tried Google ads, now is the perfect time to launch your first PPC campaign. We will guide you through the basics of setting up a successful ads account, optimisation tips and link some additional resources on managing your Google Ads account.
Learn the basics. You should how Google ads work, what determines the cost per click and how the different match types trigger ads. There are a few main formats of Google ads campaigns - Search (text), Display, Video, Shopping and App ads. Those campaign types could be divided into different types or sub-categories based on their targeting or placement, such as 'remarketing ads', which are often display or video ads or Gmail or Discovery ads, which are also display ads.
Usually the best converting ad format is Search ads - they are text or shopping ads, triggered by a user looking for specific product or service. Advertisers can choose which keywords trigger their ads, as well as which locations and languages they can advertise in. Search ads perform the best because they have the highest intent - the user is specifically looking to purchase your product or service, unlike with social media or display advertising.
Ideally, you should combine different campaign formats with several objectives, to stay in front of your clients and ahead of competitors. I.e. your business could run Search ads and then utilize display and video ads, to remarket to visitors who didn't convert on their first visit.
Learning how to adequately launch and manage campaigns will take some time and practice, but it is totally worth it. A great place to start learning more about launching a PPC campaign is Google's skill shop. Their courses are 100% free and available for anyone. We recommend starting with basic Google Search Ads course, followed by Display Ads, Shopping Ads and Google Analytics Individual Qualification, which you can find here. You can test your knowledge after completing each course and earn a Google Ads certification. Alternatively you can head to these blogs:
Wordstream - Wordstream have some of the world's best PPC specialists writing blogs and working on improving their software. Their content is suitable for absolute newbies, as well as experienced PPC marketers.
AdEspresso - Another excellent source of information for all levels of digital marketers and business owners. AdEspresso has tons of data on not only google ads, but social media as well.
Reddit - Reddit is a great place to meet PPC experts and ask any Google Ads questions. The PPC subreddit mainly revolves around Google ads, followed by social media ads and other search engine marketing. In fact, Reddit is much better than the Google ads community, Quora or other forums.
Account Set Up. If you're launching a campaign from a scratch, your Google ads account will be a 'smart' account. Do yourself a favour and make sure you switch to Expert mode, at the bottom of your screen.
Expert mode is much better in terms of account management and optimisation - you will still have access to the same features, along with more tools and additional settings. Don't let Google pick your keywords or mix up placements. You don't need to be a professional marketer to have access to the proper version of the Ads interface.
Next comes your account structure. Set up campaigns revolving around a certain intent, with single keyword ad groups. To do this, split your keywords into intent behind the search terms - if you offer several different types of services, group your campaigns to 1 service per campaign.
Let's say you're a beautician who does manicure and pedicure, make up and laser hair removal. Have each service in its own campaign, to help you easily manage your budget, keywords and audiences.
Each campaign consists of different ad groups. Its considered best practice to set up your ad groups with single keywords in them, adding multiple match types for the same keyword is okay too. Single keyword ad groups make it easier to include super relevant ad copy and landing pages, as well as have optimal control over your audiences and search terms. If you have multiple landing pages, remember you can only use 1 landing page per ad group, which is another reason why SKAGs are so great for most accounts.
Make sure you use the maximum number of characters in each ad, take advantage of ads extensions and write relevant copy, including your keyword. Check what your competitors or big players in the industry are doing.
It is important to have an organized account - Google ads have excellent targeting features, allowing you to exclude certain people or only target your best audience. For example, laser hair removal is a campaign which would be suitable for male and female customers, while acrylic nails is most likely to be exclusively female clients. The tidier your account, the better you can manage who your reach and how much you spend for each click.
We talk about the importance of account structure, as well as Google Analytics in our blog post on maximizing your PPC budget.
Objectives. Before you plan you PPC campaign you need to be aware of what you're trying to achieve and how you will measure performance and success. Dedicate a budget you're comfortable spending on PPC and decide whether you want to work on your campaign by yourself, through freelancers or hire a marketing agency.
Some common Google ads goals include brand awareness, lead generation or sales. Avoid focusing on 'clicks' or 'impressions'. When you think about what you want to achieve through Google ads, focus on value, not metrics. If you're just launching a campaign you most probably won't nail it from the start, but if your campaigns are properly set up, you should get an idea of what you could expect from your campaigns.
Speaking of Goals, it's best practice to create a campaign without a goal. This gives you more flexibility and control over the types of campaigns you can build.
Once you know what you want to achieve, you'd need to work out your ideal cost per conversion. To do that, take into consideration metrics like your cost per click, estimated conversion rate and product margins.
Market research & competitor spying. Do what your competitors do, but do it better. This is especially true if you're just starting out - check out what other businesses in the industry do to promote themselves. We have already covered the topic in a detailed blog post here, so make sure you check it out.
Next part of market research is finding out how big your audiences are and how popular your product is on Google search. You can easily get a wild estimate of average search volumes and cost per click using Google Keyword Planner. This is a very useful tool by Google, which allows you get an estimate of monthly searches for certain keywords in specific geographical locations.
To use keyword planner, you would need to create a Google Ads account. Navigate to the upper right corner and click Tools and Settings > Planning > Keyword Planner. Try the keyword suggestion tool, as well ad search volume forecasts. To get more accurate data, use historical metrics instead of the predictions.
While the Keyword planner predictions supposedly take into consideration seasonality and other rising trends, we always find that the historical metrics tend to be more accurate. To see historical data, click the Historical Metrics tab and edit the date range if you're interested in specific time periods.
Remember that your impression share would be affected by your audience and device bid adjustments, ad rank and budget. Just because there are 200,000 monthly searches, it doesn't mean that you have to serve ads to all of them or that your ads will always show. The match type you put into keyword planner also affects the estimated search volumes and traffic.
Another important point is the cost per click - Google gives an estimate of what you might pay per click. The CPC is based on competitor bids, as well as your website relevance to the keyword, user experience on your page, your bidding strategy as well as ad placement and bid adjustment for audiences, device, geo location and more. We have seen 2 different websites pay different CPC for the exact same keyword - the difference in cost per click was 30%. The website paying less was older, had a better conversion rate and a better user experience and keyword quality score.
Data, Tracking & Optimization. You can't launch a successful Google Ads campaign without tracking. We have had several businesses which wanted to run Google ads without tracking, since they 'would know when a conversion happens'. This is true, but if you have 50 conversions and run ads for different keywords without any labels or dedicated landing pages, it can be extremely difficult to attribute those conversions.
You can easily install Google Analytics, Google Ads and social media tracking with plugins or apps to your website. Google Tag Manager is another way to easily create Conversion tags without involving a developer.
Once you're set up properly and have tracking installed, you're ready to launch and get some data. Newer accounts would require much more attention than lets say an account you took over to manage yourself, after your ads manager resigned, especially if they did a good job.
The best way to optimise your account is to go through all sections of the account and adjust bids or keywords as necessary. Here are some of the metrics and account sections you should be paying attention to:
Search terms report - remember, you pay for search terms, not keywords. Regularly go over your search terms reports to add relevant negative keywords or add the best performing search terms to your campaign.
Ad Performance - while CTR is important, cost per conversion is the metric you should focus on when optimising.
Search Lost IS (rank) - this metric shows how often your ads didn't show due to poor Ad Rank. You can improve this score by improving your ad copy, landing page experience, bids and keyword relevance.
Audiences - make sure you add different audiences and adjust bids accordingly. Add returning visitors for observation, as well as custom affinity, in-market and similar audiences.
Demographics - are you advertising to the wrong age group? You can find out by comparing clicks and conversions for different ages and genders.
Devices - with time you will fins out that different searches take place under different circumstances and on different device. Adjust bids according to your performance.
Final words: Running Google Ads is an entire career path - it might seem overwhelming to learn everything about the platform or launching your first campaign, but it is worth knowing the basics. Even if you choose to hire someone to manage your accounts for you, its definitely worth knowing how to track your performance and optimise your campaigns.