During challenging economic times, the temptation to cut back on marketing can be overwhelming. This is particularly true of digital spend on tactics like Google Ads if you have not seen a clear return on those marketing dollars. However – based on the most important marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) like sales revenue, cost per lead and Customer Lifetime Value – Google Ads generates the highest conversion rate and ROI of any comparable digital tactic. It’s also the tactic that can generate sales the fastest - especially for eCommerce and online booking businesses.
This article will cover the most important areas that you can optimize to improve your return on ad spend (ROAS) and reduce the cost of acquisition on Google Ads.
How do I improve my Google Ads performance?
Regardless of whether you run a small budget or are spending tens of thousands monthly, understanding how consumers shop for your products will give you a huge advantage in improving your ads. First, recognize that if an ad click does not convert into a sale or a lead (email signup) then that click was a waste of money. Don’t spend money just to send random “traffic” to your website. Traffic means little if it’s not consistently converting to a lead or sale on your website or shop.
To run smart Google Ads campaigns, you must be laser-focused on your buyer persona and then start with the end in mind.
What do I mean by this? The two most important "ends" or conversion goals: a sale or an email lead.
For a sale conversion, start from your product page and reverse engineer the purchase path. Make sure the calls-to-action are clear and compelling. Tweak your ad copy and product descriptions then choose the keywords with the end goal of achieving a sale conversion.
For a lead conversion, keep in mind the buying cycle - the Customer Value Journey (CVJ) - for each persona. For example, what happens when a prospective customer visits your site or store for the first time? Do you have a clear path for them to follow if they are not ready to purchase yet? Are you answering their questions and providing a compelling reason for them to leave you their email by offering a Lead Magnet?
Tailor your Google Ads campaigns strategically to the buying cycle
Your ads have to be tailored to the stage of the buying cycle as well. Create different search ads or display ads with elements that appeal to customers in each stage of the CVJ. Branded ads are great for customers that already know your brand name and are looking to make a purchase, but for prospects who don’t yet know which product or brand would help them it would be ineffective – if not downright wasteful – to include your product name in your ad copy title.
Don’t assume prospective customers know what your product does. In other words, don’t speak to yourself in ads. Be clear, concise and benefits-driven. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer and talk to them about “what’s in it for me.” Remember that prospects don’t really care about your company or awards, but they do care about how your product or service will solve their problem or fulfill their need.
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash
The purpose of using the reverse-engineering method of ad and landing page creation is to convert your visitors into email subscribers, leads and customers – so that the ad translates into a positive conversion action.
Keeping in mind the Customer Value Journey, you should have ads targeting customers at the different stages of their buyers journey. Our Clients are typically running ads for the “Aware” stage (otherwise known as the top of the funnel), the “Subscribe” stage - using specific offers and Lead Magnets to get an email sign-up, and the “Convert” and “Ascend” stages, where buyers actually make a purchase and are offered up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. We almost always recommend having specific campaign landing pages for your Google Ad sets in order to maximize the conversion rate for the campaigns.
How do I know what content to use on my landing pages?
For most businesses running ads to increase traffic to their website, the majority of visitors don’t know the brand or product before coming to the site. So your website has to grab their attention and educate them. That means having content specific to each stage of the CVJ (buyer’s journey) – good landing pages are key here.
Here’s a quick guide for the types of content you need in each stage of the buyer’s journey, according to HubSpot. For example, for prospects in the “Aware” and “Subscribe” stages, you need checklists, eBooks, webinars and how-to videos. These content assets serve to educate your visitors and can be great lead generators.
Keep in mind that this type of content needs to go beyond just “sounding good.”
For a content piece to engage and convert, it must provide a clear value for your online visitors. When writing content, remember to engineer the piece to deliver a predefined value for your business based on your goal. All content such as blogs and pillar pages should feature clear calls-to-action with compelling offers. Otherwise, “fluff” content is little better than an online brochure.
Following these best practices will increase Google’s Quality Score on your landing pages and help create a smooth, intuitive path to conversion and purchase.
What are some pro tips for creating better Google Ads and higher click-through rates?
Now that your landing pages are ready to convert, here are the best practices that PPC experts use to develop the most effective ads for driving traffic and conversions.
- Ad Copy – Create each ad based on the target landing page. When you align ad copy with the page content, your quality scores go up and you create a clear path to the sale.
- Capitalization – Multiple studies and our internal tests have shown that using Title Case in your titles and ad copy increases CTR over all lowercase. Try it and see!
- Ad Placement – Users click on interested ads wherever they are placed, but when your ads appear in a premier position, you’ll achieve a higher CTR. Placement is determined by an Ad Rank formula, so you’ll need to test bid levels, ad creative, and the context of your ad as it pertains to the searcher’s intent. This way, you’ll have a better shot with high-quality, targeted ads that specifically address your prospects questions.
- Frequency - How often your audience sees ads is important. Typically, the more often people see your ads, the likelier they are to click them. However, you don’t want to bombard the same user on the same day. Use the frequency caps tool to limit the maximum times a viewer can see a particular ad within a specified period of time.
- Match Types – another important setting to test to improve CTR is match types. With broad match keyword types, you’ll reach more people, but your click-through rate will be lower, because the ad may not closely match the exact intent of the searcher. Meanwhile, you reach less people with exact and phrase match keywords, but they help you improve your ad rank and you may see a higher CTR. Again, testing each ad set is key so you can optimize this setting based on performance of specific ads.
- Ad Groups and Organization – This is time-consuming and may seem difficult, but it’s important to organize your ads to make optimization more efficient. Campaign structure can be organized by characteristics like the budget and bidding strategy (e.g. cost per conversion). You can also track whether your ads will be running on the display (GDN) or search networks. Ad groups are like “containers” for your campaigns - these should be organized by related keywords. All keywords organized in each ad group should be relevant to each other and the ads should be closely related to those keywords. Of course we also covered that the landing pages used in each Ad Group should be closely congruent to both the ads and the keywords that you’re targeting. Each of your ad groups should be focused on a particular product, offer, model, or service - there should be at least four ads in each group. But keep your ad groups small and focused as this makes it easier to develop the right ads for each ad group in the search funnel. This best practice will make conversion tracking easier and more relevant to key phrases.
- Remarketing – This can be one of the more powerfully effective ways to improve your conversions and motivate indecisive prospects to come back to your site. With remarketing, you can show your ads to people who’ve previously interacted with your brand. You can be a bit more aggressive with remarketing since the people you’re targeting have already shown interest in your ad or have at least visited your site before. One of the best uses of remarketing is focused advertising for specific cases. For example, you can improve your abandon cart rate by creating a remarketing list targeted for people who added something to their shopping cart but didn’t complete a transaction. You can also create dynamic retargeting ads within the Google Ads tool to show your previous visitors ads with the same products or services they viewed on your website.
What else can I do to improve my Google Ads?
If you have been spending money on Google Ads, it’s crucial to run an audit on those campaigns. Don’t waste any more time and money wondering if you are losing out to the competition or wasting bids on terms that don’t convert. A thorough review of your Google PPC spend will include the following elements:
- Keyword/Spend Analysis - Are you properly utilizing negative keywords or are you wasting money on irrelevant keywords that don’t convert?
- Click-Through Rate - CTR is a measure of how well-targeted your ads and messaging are by how often users are actually clicking on the ads. Low CTR means your campaign is ineffective and you may be losing ground to competitors.
- Quality - Are your campaigns actually approved by Google? High Quality Scores on your landing pages have a huge impact on campaign performance, improving your rankings, lowering your costs and increasing your ROAS.
- Landing Pages - Do your landing pages offer targeted, relevant messaging and frictionless conversion opportunities? Do you have enough landing pages to compete against similar advertisers?
- Impression Share - How often are your ads appearing for relevant searches? Increased impression means more exposure and a greater chance to improve lead generation.
- Long-Tail Keywords - Are you using longer, high-intent, more targeted keywords in your campaigns so you don’t miss out on lower-cost traffic?
- Ad Text - Do you have enough text ads and variants to achieve strong performance in impressions, clicks, CTR and ranking?
- Mobile Advertising - With mobile traffic growing at 200% each year, it’s crucial to stay on top of mobile PPC best practices like call extensions, sitelinks, and mobile-optimized text ads.
- Best Practices and Account Activity - Are you optimizing the campaigns on a regular basis (weekly or daily)? Are you or your ads manager staying up-to-date with and following proven best practices to ensure optimal Google Ads (AdWords) performance?
Using these tips you can improve your ROAS and reduce the cost of acquisition to make the most of your Google Ads spend.
Need A Little Help Evaluating Your Google Ads? Schedule a Free Consultation and we’ll set up an Audit of your campaigns.