Five Habits of Successful SEM
Do you actually understand the difference between a paid click and any other form of visitors to your site? You paid between $2 and $20 for that one paid click. The only way that investment is going to pay off is if you take advantage of that paid click with a landing page designed specifically for that paid click. Treat that paid click like any other site visitor? You are throwing your money away!
A Google searcher clicked on your ad because they typed in a very specific search and your ad sounded like you might actually understand their problem and be ready to provide a specific solution. Your landing page needs to do exactly that. Quickly. Now the real challenge of turning that click into a conversion begins.
- Does it load in under 3 seconds on a mobile device with a bad 3G cell connection?
- Does it smoothly transition from the ad they clicked on to the solution you offer?
- Does it clearly tell them who you are, where you are, and why you're reliable?
- Does it tell the "lander" that you are ready, willing, and able to make them happy?
- Does it make it easy to take action and become a customer?
Or do you start babbling about discounts and specials before you have connected with the customer on why they are there in the first place? Popups are good. If you want to get rid of potential customers who might have connected with you.
Instead of taking advantage of the fact that a focused, motivated, real buyer just walked into your store (landing page) by specifically dealing with their search, you show them some generalized page that highlights how many years you've been in business and the fact that Thursdays are 20% off.
If you're not going to show someone who clicked on your ad a landing page that respects the specific and potentially urgent nature of their search, don't bother paying for the click.
If you keep each campaign as simple as possible, you'll find profit much faster and be able to respond to what you experience every day. In just minutes. And you'll enjoy looking at your account and performance each day.
The worst strategy to attempt in SEM is "set it and forget it". SEM is a sport that rewards teams that measure and respond as a regular part of each business day. Of course, you can't even think about doing this every day if it takes you several days to evaluate your campaign performance because your campaigns are a complex mess.
(We have more on the engineering steps for profitable campaigns in the section on Creating Profit.)
Many of you will be a bit surprised at this recommendation. So, give us a few paragraphs to defend our position here.
We are not arguing about what "potential good" automation or sitelinks or audiences do. (Not that we wouldn't enjoy doing that - but that's not our point here). We are arguing that, whatever they do, they won't help you to engineer a campaign to become profitable. You need to do that without using automation, sitelinks, or audiences.
Why? Because a profitable campaign is a carefully engineered team of: settings, locations, keywords, and ads/landing pages that work together to target and land specific buyers (converters of any type). Creating any mystery in the bids or landing pages or market does not help to do that. You need to be in complete control of your bids, landing pages, and market. You must be in complete control of how your campaign performs.
AFTER you make a campaign profitable? Well that is a different story.
Because, if you add any or all of those three to a campaign that is already profitable, you will get to see their real impact on the only parameter you really care about: Profitability. If those "features" prove themselves capable of improving your campaign profitability, well go ahead. But throwing them into the mix before you have achieved profit? Bad Idea.
The prosecution rests.
Eventually, SEM will settle into a stable place in the management of your company. Unless you've been doing it consistently and successfully, that probably has not happened. And when major shifts in the marketplace and competition happen in your company, that usually causes a pretty major restart for your SEM efforts.
If your team can remain energetic and focused, your SEM efforts can grow consistenly. But most teams really struggle to achieve that. Our recommendation is that you create an SEM team with a consistent organization, charter, schedule, and deliverables. You don't want to make this team dedicated just to SEM - it's actually better if it's comprised of teammates who are actively working in sales, marketing, customer service, and management. Perhaps one or two of your SEM team can be full time on it. This will enable you to create some real in-house expertise in dealing with Google Ads.
But even though these members of your elite SEM team have full time jobs to manage (in addition to working on SEM), a clear organization with consistent management and objectives will help you to be much more successful with your SEM.
That means top management knowledge and involvement in your SEM efforts at all times. Top management should treat SEM like sales or service or any other critical function.
$100 is high enough to get clicks while testing out your account. Even given a daily budet of $100, Google won't stop spending your money on clicks at $100 - it will probably stop around $150 - but it will stop taking your money somewhere near there. And while you are refining your keywords, ads, conversion processes, (and reviewing all the Google Policies that you are violating), you might have a campaign cost you $5,000 when you did not really intend on having it turned on.
Even experienced Google marketers get burned by a campaign that suddenly comes to life and blows through several thousand dollars in one hour because of a mistake in a keyword or bid amount. Or maybe in the middle of the night, Google decided to "approve" a series of ads that they "disapproved" during the day. It is easy to get caught in this mistake if you turn your daily budgets up before you are ready to manage and monitor your campaigns. HOURLY.
Active campaigns are dangerous spenders of your money.
When your budget is "turned up", ONE inadvertent change to a keyword or a max cpc bid can cost you thousands of dollars in meaningless clicks in MINUTES. Just don't take the "safety" off - and nobody gets hurt.
We recommend you create a well-defined procedure for raising the daily budget from $100 to what it needs to be for a real production SEM day. With a checklist. And always closely monitor the first hour of any production campaigns you have running. Every day they are running.