For years the team at Canny worked managing and as part of a team of AdWords consultants. We worked with over 600 Digital Advertising Agencies on behalf of Google and helped them implement proper AdWords strategies in order to generate the best possible ROI for the end client. Why? Simple, if the client is happy and sees a return on their investment, they'll be much more likely to continue their investment and agency relationship. After working on thousands if not tens of thousands of accounts, we always ran into the same easily avoidable money pitfalls.
1) No Negative Keywords
This one is obvious, and yet seriously overlooked at the same time. If you're selling a product or service, like say for example: Accounting Services. Chances are that you wouldn't want to show up for someone searching "free accounting services", much less be charged when they click on your ad. Another example could be that you're selling relatively expensive hand-made bags, you wouldn't want your ad showing for someone searching "cheap hand-made bags" or "budget hand-made bags". Sure, the argument could be made that eventually through proper funneling those searches could potentially be turned into sales, and while this is true, most SMB's aren't going to be spending that extra $3-5k in order to potentially generate one sale from a "cheap" or "budget" search, and why should they, if with proper targeting you could be getting leads at a much more desirable CPA? Negative keywords should be added weekly, or fortnightly at the very least, check your Search Terms report often and negative out any of these $$ wasters.
2) Incorrect Location Settings
How often have you received calls or leads from customers way outside your service area? This is often due to a very annoying little setting that is constantly forgotten since AdWords campaign creation defaults to the following targeting:
People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations (recommended)
Nope. Sorry Googz, not recommended, at least not for most advertisers. Why would a plumber in Melbourne want to show his ad and have it be clicked on by someone searching from Perth? or Argentina? or anywhere that's not their service area within Melbourne? Go check out your Locations tab in AdWords and the User Locations report, it's interesting to see where these clicks are coming from sometimes, but it's not a novelty you should be spending money on when those same $'s could be getting you local customers. If you're a local business simply change your setting to the following, and start saving:
People in my targeted location.
3) Search Network with Display Select (SNDS)
Another one of those recommended settings that's only good at spending your $. The concept behind SNDS is a good one, which is to take the budget which is left unused from Search and put it into the Google Display Network to continue to get you customers at a similar CPA. Unfortunately, in reality, most of the money that's placed in the GDN in this manner is wasted. Getting customers to convert on the GDN requires planning, a lot of exclusions, and compelling creative, which even Google lists as one of its steps for Programmatic success. Why, then, would you just allow a randomly created one size fits all text or responsive ad to represent your business? Because of a recommended setting? You're much better off spending some time and creating a proper Display campaign in that case. SNDS is a setting that in practice will only spend your unused budget for a minimal result, don't fall for this $ pitfall.
4) Placement Exclusions on the GDN
The GDN gets a really bad rep for not performing and a lot of it has to do with lack of exclusions. Adsense allows pretty much anyone with any sort of website to just go and monetize it, and the amount of click bait sites on the GDN is actually impressive. Not just websites either, but apps as well, designed to get unsuspecting people to click on your ad, costing you money and netting them profit. Unfortunately, those clicking on the ads most of the time aren't potential customers who are interested in your product, they're potential customers who have just been annoyed by a pop up or an interstitial ad that has just covered their whole device screen. These ads much like YouTubes controversial 30 second non-skippables, tend to be more damaging to your brand than conducive to any sort of sales. Adding negative placements is an absolutely necessary task on any Display campaign, start by excluding anything "game" related (obviously depends on what you're promoting, but this tends to be a pretty good general exclusion), and add exclusions relentlessly until at least most of the traffic is coming from reliable sources.
Another standard exclusion on the GDN is the following placement:
Excluding this site will make it so that your ad no longer shows on mobile apps, which for the most part lead to accidental clicks and not actual leads.
5) No Conversion Tracking or Conversion Values
If you're not tracking conversions then why are you advertising? The biggest advantage to online advertising is the ability that you have to track every dollar spent. Getting 10000000 clicks to your website from a marketing campaign doesn't mean much if all of those people bounce immediately without taking any action of value to your business. Simply said, if you're not tracking conversions then potentially all of your investment is being thrown away. Google offers you free conversion tracking through Analytics as well as your AdWords account (call tracking).
Now once you have conversion tracking installed, you need to assign a value to your conversions. What's a phone call worth to your business? What's a lead form completion worth? If your average job nets you $400, and you convert 1/4 lead forms that come through, then a lead form completion is worth $100 to your business. Your money is important, your investment is important, and the return you get is important. You need to measure your return in a tangible manner, and nothing is more tangible than the $ you are putting in, and $ that you're receiving.
Go check your accounts and make sure that you're not making any these simple mistakes! Make sure that your digital advertising efforts are not going to waste. Google Ads are a powerful marketing tool, and if you're not sure on how to best use them don't hesitate to give Canny Digital a call for a free consultation!