Top Five Biggest Adwords Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

AdWords can be one of the most powerful marketing tools available for driving people back to your website. If you’re not careful, though, it can also be a tremendous money sink. The key to seeing an excellent return on your investment is to understand the foundation of a smart AdWords strategy, and the first step is recognizing your mistakes.

Are You Making These Mistakes?

Many marketers make serious mistakes with their AdWords campaigns without ever knowing it. Let’s look at the five most common ways you might be sabotaging your marketing efforts without realizing it:

Failing to Make Keyword Groups

AdWords works by targeting keyword searches: Whenever someone types in a particular keyword or phrase, your ad appears in the search results. You can target multiple keywords with any given ad in order to capture the attention of more potential shoppers.

Knowing this, many amateur marketers are tempted to stuff as many keywords as possible into one ad. Doing so, however, is a mistake. Remember: Your goal is to secure conversions, not simply get eyeballs on your ad. It doesn’t matter if thousands of people see your ad if none of them click on it and ultimately make a purchase.

Therefore, your primary objective should always be to tailor the advertisement to the people most likely to take action. To do this, you’ll want to build ads around keyword groups. This allows you to create ads that are highly relevant to the keywords targeting them.

For example, imagine that you sold shoes. While you could certainly run a single ad for “Joe Blow’s Shoe Store” for every shoe-related search, wouldn’t it be much more effective to run different ads for high heels, athletic shoes or children’s footwear depending on what the shopper is searching for? Someone looking specifically for high heels may not be immediately tempted by a general shoe store ad, but that same shopper might be very interested in clicking if the ad displayed exactly the type of shoes she wanted to buy.

Knowing your audience and understanding what people are looking for when they make various searches will get you a long way toward building highly targeted, effective advertisements. Avoid the temptation to take a shotgun approach to marketing; spend a little extra time or money on tailoring ads to your audience. The rewards will be worth it.

Failing to Test Ads

As you gain experience in marketing, you’ll quickly discover that one piece of advice comes up again and again: Test everything! Testing is the backbone of a successful marketing strategy because it allows you to see whether your ideas are truly effective. No one is psychic, and even the best predictions might turn out wrong. This is why you should never invest too much time, money or effort into something until you’ve tested it and proven that it’s effective.

When it comes to AdWords, testing comes in a few forms. The first thing you’ll want to do is test the ads themselves to be sure that they’re having the appropriate effect. You might think that your ad is brilliant, but if your audience doesn’t feel the same way, it won’t convert. Try running a split-test where you show two different ads to the same demographic of viewers and record which is the most effective. Keep tweaking your ads and testing them until you see the results you want.

Here’s something a lot of people forget to include in their ad copy: A call to action. This is a huge mistake. You need to make it absolutely clear to your audience what exactly you’re expecting them to do after they click the ad. Are they supposed to simply visit the site, or do they need to enter a promo code to get the discount you’re advertising? Spell it out in the ad, then test a few different versions of your call-to-action to see which is the most effective.

Another thing you’ll want to test is your keyword targeting. It’s possible that people are not searching for what you would expect them to search for. If you’re not getting the results you want from your campaign, try tweaking your keyword groups to be more inclusive. Do more research as necessary to find the right words or phrases, then test them to be sure you’re on the right track.

One thing that many people don’t consider is your ad placement. When you buy an AdWords ad, you’ll be given a price range. The more you pay, the higher your ad will be placed in search results. While it may seem like higher is always better, you might be surprised: While high-placing ads get a lot of impressions, the people who see and click them aren’t always interested in buying what they’ve found.

Quite often, these ads are clicked simply by people who are curious or even clicked by mistake. However, if your ad falls further down the page, it’s likely that the only people who will seek it out and click on it are those who are interested in buying whatever it is that you have for sale.

With this in mind, experiment with your ad placement. If you find that your ads perform just as well or even better at the third or fourth spot on the page, you can save yourself a hefty chunk of change on your marketing budget.

Not Capturing Repeat Visitors

An AdWords campaign is great for capturing the attention of new customers, particularly when you need to drive traffic to your site for a special event or promotion. Unless you take steps to keep them, though, your AdWords campaign will result in, at best, one-time customers or people who just browse through your page but don’t take any further action.

Setting up an ad campaign is only half the battle of smart marketing. You also need to be prepared to capture vital information about your visitors so that you can reach out to them in the future. In other words, you need their email addresses.

An email address acts as a tether to your site. Once you have it, you’ll be able to entice readers back to your business through well-written email campaigns and special offers. In order to sweeten the deal, you’ll need to offer a value exchange to your visitors: People who give you an email address will receive an attractive offer. This is called a lead magnet, and marketing your site without one is never a good idea.

Generate a lead magnet that offers something of value, whether it’s a free report, a sample product or a valuable bundle of coupons. When a person signs up for your mailing list, he’ll automatically receive what you’re offering.

Not Knowing How to Set a Smart Budget

Marketing is expensive, especially when you’re using something as competitive as AdWords. If you’re not careful with your budget, it can quickly get away from you without delivering the results you need.

First, it helps to be realistic with your goals. You are not going to launch a multimillion dollar company overnight with $100 in AdWords. You may, however, very successfully drive some traffic toward your site in time for a major sale or offer. When establishing your budget, it helps to keep the parameters of your campaign in mind.

Keeping your ads running indefinitely will drain your wallet faster than it will fill it. Instead, choose a well-defined beginning and end to your campaign and focus your energy on making that single campaign as effective as possible. Later, you can launch another one taking into account what you’ve learned.

Another thing that will help you set your budget is knowing the lifetime value of your customers. Lifetime value, or LTV, is the amount of money a customer is “worth” once he’s been converted. Depending on your business, a customer’s LTV might accumulate over repeated transactions or be calculated from a single visit. Whatever the case, you need to make sure that the LTV will turn a profit once you’ve calculated your expenses to capture that conversion. If you need some help with this, KISSmetrics has a helpful tool that can guide you through calculating a customer’s LTV.

Sending People to the Wrong Page

You want to remove as many barriers as possible between your customer and the sale. This means that once a visitor has clicked your ad, he should land immediately on the product he wants to buy. If he ends up on your home page, he may end up becoming bored or confused and wandering away from your site before he ever gets the chance to buy what he came there for.

Make sure that your ads lead to a page that makes sense and delivers what the visitor is expecting. Depending on the ad, this landing page might be a category page, a specific item listing or a squeeze page for your lead magnet. No matter the page’s content, however, it needs to match the content of the ad and the visitor’s expectations. Anything else is at best confusing and at worst misleading, and it won’t do you any favors for growing your conversions.

Speaking of landing pages, keep your lead magnet in mind as you design them. As we mentioned earlier, a lead magnet is the special offer you give to visitors in exchange for an email address. Sometimes, it makes sense for your ad to lead to a squeeze page that directly describes this lead magnet and encourages visitors to sign up. Other times, if you’re driving visitors toward a specific product or category page, it makes more sense to display your lead magnet on the page’s sidebar. Something as simple as “Sign up today for more great offers” can entice someone to click and lead them to ultimately handing over an email address.

There are doubtless many other mistakes you may make along the way to perfecting your marketing strategy, but these five are some of the most crippling. Whether you’re new to marketing or just aren’t getting the performance that you want from your ads, following the tips and strategies detailed above will help keep your ads on target while boosting your revenue.

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