10 Steps to Create a Profitable Google AdWords Campaign (From Scratch)

Creating a Google AdWords campaign is both exciting and terrifying for many business owners. AdWords has the power to change your company’s fortunes, but whether it will be for good or ill can be tough to predict. Fortunately, following a proven recipe for success can remove a great deal of the guesswork and vastly improve the chances that your campaign will be profitable.

Creating a Google AdWords campaign is both exciting and terrifying for many business owners. AdWords has the power to change your company’s fortunes, but whether it will be for good or ill can be tough to predict. Fortunately, following a proven recipe for success can remove a great deal of the guesswork and vastly improve the chances that your campaign will be profitable.

1. Verify Customer Demand
No matter how amazing your AdWords campaign is, your hard work and money will be for naught if the search volume is simply not there. Use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to check the keyword phrases for which you want to optimize. This tool lets you analyze a great deal of data, from how often a phrase is searched to how much you’ll likely pay per click to advertise on the keyword. You can also get suggestions for similar phrases.

2. Basic Math
Once you have narrowed down the keyword phrases that interest you, it is time to perform some basic math. Calculate your maximum cost per click (Max CPC) according to the following formula:Max CPC = (average profit per customer) x (1 – advertising profit margin) x (conversion rate)For example, your average profit per customer might be $200. Perhaps 1 in 100 prospects turns into a sale, and your target profit margin on advertising is 20%. Then the formula would look like this: Max CPC = ($200) x (1 – .20) x (.01) = $1.60*Note that if you are just starting out, you will need to estimate these numbers. Later, you can use historical data to calculate your real numbers.*Compare your max CPC to the estimated CPC in the Keyword Planner tool. If your max CPC is higher than the estimated CPC, you are in good shape. If it is significantly lower, then you’ll want to put off using that particular keyword phrase because it will likely be unprofitable.

3. Monitor Your Competitors’ Intelligence
KeywordSpy and SpyFu are incredibly useful tools that let you track your competitors’ historical ad data. You can see at a glance which keyword phrases your competitors are using and how well they are performing. You can also scrutinize your competitors’ ad copy to see what kinds of ads resonate with your target market, and figure out how to differentiate your company within the marketplace.

4. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
After reading through several competitors’ ads, you should have a good feel for the kind of ads you want to write. Now you need to decide how your ads will answer your prospects’ most basic question: Why should I choose you over every other option, including not making a purchase at all?Play to your strengths. What does your company do better than anyone else out there? Is it something that customers find valuable? How can you turn that strength into something that differentiates your company from everyone else’s?A great example is Domino’s 30-minute guarantee. Those ads don’t even mention taste or quality. Domino’s focused on a single aspect — fast delivery — and turned it into an empire.

5. Create an Irresistible Offer
An irresistible offer is what convinces your prospects to take the plunge. To be successful, your offer must:

  • Provide Value: The benefits must outweigh the price.
  • Appear Believable: Shoppers are skeptical, especially online. Tell them why you are running a sale or giving something away for free.
  • Reduce Risk: Provide some sort of guarantee.
  • Include a Call to Action: Tell your prospect exactly what you want him to do next, and make it crystal clear how to do that.

6. Write Compelling Ads
Each ad needs a strong 25-character or less headline that repeats the keyword phrase and convinces your prospect that you can solve a problem or fulfill a need. You also get two lines of 35 characters each to describe your USP, benefits, and call to action. Get creative, using the work you already did in the previous steps.

7. Develop Congruent Landing Pages
Rather than directing your ads to your homepage, develop a tightly tailored landing page for each ad that fulfills the promises made in the ad. The more congruent the experience, the more likely a prospect is to continue along the path towards conversion.

8. Use Conversion Tracking
Conversion tracking is the only method you have to determine which ads are generating sales. To track online conversions, just grab the tracking code from the Google AdWords tool and add it to your e-commerce receipt page or your webform thank you page. To track offline sales, invest in a separate phone number that you only use in your ads and landing pages.

9. Change Your AdWords Settings
Google’s default settings are not always in your best interest, but they are easy to change. Set the Keyword Match Type to Phrase, which displays ads when a prospect types part of your keyword phrase. Also add a list of negative keywords. When a searcher uses one of your negative keywords, your ad will not be displayed. For example, if your keyword phrase is “office space,” make “movie” a negative keyword to avoid displaying the ad to people searching for the film of the same name.

10. Optimize Your Campaign
After you enable your AdWords campaign, the next step is to optimize it based on your tracking data. Raise your bids if your keywords are profitable but you are not yet ranked No. 1. If a keyword is not profitable, lower your bids or pause that keyword. Test different versions of your ads to maximize your click through rate. Also test different variations on your landing page to determine which one maximizes conversions.

Starting an AdWords campaign is always a bit of a gamble, and there are no guarantees. But following this recipe and staying on top of your data will help increase your chances for success.

Want more Google AdWords tips and advice? I put together an AdWords checklist to help you get your campaigns set up for success. Click here to get my Google AdWords checklist.

Don’t Be Creepy: Using Robust User Data for Ad Targeting While Respecting Privacy

When your brand possesses or has access to data that provides deep visibility into user interests, you should use that visibility to create more relevant ads, thus increasing performance while limiting costs. But with deep visibility comes deep responsibility to respect privacy. The fastest way to hurt performance is to cross into the creepy zone. Don’t be a creeper.

Google announced that on March 1 it will be updating its privacy policy to enable the integration of user data across Google properties. As it integrates more cross-property data, including information on user interests and demographics, Google can provide advertisers with more robust and precise targeting capabilities in search and display.

For instance, Google may uncover a certain person’s interests through their interactions on Gmail and Google+. This capability may someday enable an advertiser to direct search or display ads to that person based on those interests.

Although users can opt out of the experience and adjust and delete information that Google has collected, the privacy policy update has been met with some backlash. Lawmakers in the U.S. and European Union have asked Google to explain why the changes are necessary and how privacy will be protected. A privacy advocacy group sought a court order directing the FTC to sue Google, and sites like Gizmodo have urged people to take control of their privacy by switching to various non-Google-owned properties for search, email, social, photos, docs and video.

Assuming Google goes forward with the update and activates the potential for more robust targeting options, advertisers should keep a few things in mind to increase performance while respecting privacy:

1. There’s a fine line between appropriate and creepy. Ads that are more tailored to a person’s interests are more likely to satisfy that person’s needs. However, many users would prefer that advertisers don’t know everything about them. If a user sees an ad that’s eerily related to a Google+ or Gmail conversation they’ve just had with a friend, a line may have been crossed.

2. Users will blame you. Creepy ads harm people by making them feel as if they’ve been unwillingly observed. But who’s responsible for this unwanted observation? Technically Google observed the user, but the average web surfer doesn’t think about what’s happening behind the scenes. Users ask, “How did this brand know that about me? Have they been watching me?” Creepy isn’t always a label that users attach to Google (or Facebook or any other advertising platform). It’s a label attached to brands that push the platform’s capabilities too far.

3. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Users must agree to the new privacy policy in order to sign in to Google. Google provides an easy means within its Ads Preference Manager to opt out of customized or personalized search and display ads. Thus Google’s informing its users, obtaining their consent and providing them with privacy controls. But just because a person consents or fails to adjust their ad preferences doesn’t mean that it’s open season for creepiness. People shouldn’t have to choose between using Google and avoiding the creep factor.

As a marketer, don’t think that people agreed to diminish their right to privacy in order to use Google or another service. Respect privacy as a right that can’t be diminished, no matter whether a person opts in to a privacy policy.

When your brand possesses or has access to data that provides deep visibility into user interests, you should use that visibility to create more relevant ads, thus increasing performance while limiting costs. But with deep visibility comes deep responsibility to respect privacy. The fastest way to hurt performance is to cross into the creepy zone. Don’t be a creeper.

Retargeting With Demand-Side Platforms in Display Performance Media

A key driver for growth in display advertising is the rise of technology that seeks to bring efficiency to ad impression buying — i.e., demand-side platforms (DSPs). Approximately 10 percent of today’s online spending flows through DSPs, with forecasts calling for that figure to increase to as much as 50 percent over the next few years.

A key driver for growth in display advertising is the rise of technology that seeks to bring efficiency to ad impression buying — i.e., demand-side platforms (DSPs). Approximately 10 percent of today’s online spending flows through DSPs, with forecasts calling for that figure to increase to as much as 50 percent over the next few years.

Large brands will fuel much of this growth as they shift large ad network budgets to DSPs for better pricing, increased transparency/brand safety, centralized ownership, protection of visitor data, among other benefits. Even marketers who failed with display in the past can achieve success with the ad vehicle in the present via DSPs, thanks to the inherent advantages some DSPs bring to the table.

Many direct and performance-based marketers who were unable to measure traditional display buys to a reasonable return on investment in the past are starting to explore DSPs as a new source of incremental sales and leads. Since a retargeting buy is publisher agnostic (i.e., the advertiser is buying impressions served to specific cookies, not impressions served on specific websites or content channels), DSPs offer the most scale and efficiency, reaching 98 percent of internet users through one-bid management platform using global frequency controls.

Thanks to these advantages and the relevance they offer, retargeting campaigns often convert two times to 10 times more than traditional display ads, and can, at times, show an ROI equal to or better than generic search or content targeting campaigns.

Display advertising continues to evolve, and certain key strategies are starting to take shape that can help advertisers control risk while gaining valuable insights for future channel maximization. Depending on website traffic and ROI flexibility, performance-based advertisers typically have the most success kicking off testing with site-based retargeting.

This strategy enables advertisers to retarget consumers who visited their site, browsed and left without ever converting into a lead or sale. By placing a retargeting tag in the footer of these pages (e.g., the home or shopping cart pages), advertisers can build and bid on multiple retargeting segments using segment-specific messaging or offers across the web through an ad buy on either a DSP or ad network.

So why not just limit testing to retargeting? Although advertisers may be able to achieve ROI close to search or affiliate campaigns with retargeting, impression volume will eventually limit growth. Similar to the role of generic terms in driving brand term volume in a paid search campaign, it’s important to test and explore a broader set of display performance media strategies that may work at higher, more flexible RS/CPA levels in conjunction with retargeting to help drive site traffic that feeds a retargeting cookie pool.

DSPs can help advertisers implement these strategies. Run of network buys (testing different DSPs/networks with and without filters), contextual targeting and site targeting, when bought in a biddable marketplace, are all viable in driving cost-effective traffic to an advertiser’s site. If an advertiser has the right tools and processes in place, DSPs can even be profitable in and of themselves.

For advertisers that are willing to be more flexible and effectively leverage it, display performance media can quickly become the next big untapped channel. These emerging strategies will continue to evolve and pave the way for targeted display advertising for years to come.

Special thanks to contributing author Kirstin Peters of Performics.

Remember Skype?

Skype, the the internet telephone service provider that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet, has been know for a some very creative VOiP applications over the years.

Skype, the internet telephone service provider that allows users to make phone calls over the web, has been known for some very creative VoIP applications over the years. But one thing it’s not been known for is its ability to be an advertising vehicle for marketers.

Up until now, that is. Last week, Skype introduced a pay-per-call advertising service, Click & Call, that turns phone numbers into little ads, similar to pay-per-click search ads, for the 560 million Skype users.

Here’s how it works: When Skype users click on the blue-highlighted phone numbers anywhere an advertiser’s phone number is listed on the web, Skype’s software is launched and the caller is connected to the company for free. As with paid search ads on search engines, businesses set monthly budgets and pay Skype based on the volume of calls they receive.

Marchex, a provider of click-to-call products and services, is Skype’s partner on the service and will share in the revenue. Marchex is also setting prices, providing analytics for the service and offering it to third-party resellers. Marchex says the service already has more than 20,000 customers.

If you’re an advertiser looking for reach (and who isn’t?), Skype’s nearly 600 million users could be very appealing to you. Other benefits of the program, in my opinion, are the fact that you only have to pay for the calls made to your business; you can set your own budget; and you can closely track which calls at which times make your phone ring.

What do you think? Let us know by commenting below.

Jonathan Salem Baskin, Author of “Branding Only Works on Cattle,” to Keynote InterACT!

I wanted to let you in on some exciting news: Jonathan Salem Baskin, author of “Branding Only Works on Cattle” and “Bright Lights and Dim Bulbs”, and CMO strategy columnist for Ad Age, has just be named the opening keynote speaker for the InterACT! conference, an educational forum for marketers, brand owners and service providers on cross-media direct marketing opportunities and strategies.

I wanted to let you in on some exciting news: Jonathan Salem Baskin, author of “Branding Only Works on Cattle” and “Bright Lights and Dim Bulbs”, and CMO strategy columnist for Ad Age, has just be named the opening keynote speaker for the InterACT! conference, an educational forum for marketers, brand owners and service providers on cross-media direct marketing opportunities and strategies.

In his presentation, called “David Ogilvy’s Revenge: The Return of Marketing Realism,” Baskin will offer InterACT! attendees a big-picture perspective on the marketing realism emerging from the convergence of new and old media, and what the opportunities will be in 2011.

Baskin, who has been called “a merry iconoclast,” “lucid and cutting,” “groundbreaking” and “the new bad boy of branding,” looks beyond the
gimmicks and hype to uncover what really works when communicating with the marketplace. Currently, Baskin wears multiple hats as a global brand strategist, leading a global network of partner companies in The Baskinbrand Alliance and managing North American business for the global marketing consultancy Futurelab. Along with his books and columns, he also writes the popular blog Dim Bulb, co-hosts a regular podcast, Socializing Media, and is a member of the board of advisors for Social Media Today.

InterACT! is a two-day, two-track program designed for marketers, agencies and custom publishers, as well as print/marketing service providers interested in improving how they interact with customers and prospects. It’s the first event that will demonstrate how to integrate print, online, mobile and social media to deliver interactive marketing campaigns that drive business results. The event is scheduled for August 10-11 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare in Rosemont, Ill.

To follow InterACT! on Twitter, visit: http://twitter.com/Interact_Forum.

To register, click here: http://bit.ly/InterACT_LinkedIn_MC.

Hope to see you all there!

Should the iPad be in Your Channel Mix?

The iPad launch has been manna to procrastinators everywhere, between all those endearing toddler/house pet and iPad videos, the countless tweets and retweets, and a guaranteed handful of daily news articles and blog posts (add this one to the count). Beyond a source for personal amusement, the iPad has turned out to be a surprising gift to the marketing community. I’ll get to that later, but let’s start with a dose of reality.

Or, you might already be in it and not even know it yet …

The iPad launch has been manna to procrastinators everywhere, between all those endearing toddler/house pet and iPad videos, the countless tweets and retweets, and a guaranteed handful of daily news articles and blog posts (add this one to the count). Beyond a source for personal amusement, the iPad has turned out to be a surprising gift to the marketing community. I’ll get to that later, but let’s start with a dose of reality.

It’s imperfect. It’s no secret, the iPad is flawed. It’s expensive, it’s awkward to hold, it’s heavy and its most compelling feature — streaming videos — limps along or not at all when you try to use it out of Wi-Fi range. And let’s not even get started on the lack of Flash support. But despite all its faults, it’s a device worth paying attention to.

Does the iPad change everything? At the recent “All Things D” conference, Steve Jobs described the iPad as a revolutionary device that’s nothing short of “magical,” while Steve Ballmer countered at the same event that the device is “just another PC.” In a way, Ballmer’s right. The iPad is “just another PC” in that it, too, is a container — a vehicle for content delivery. But how that content experience comes to life is raising the bar and making us rethink existing paradigms.

Blurring the lines. Until now, the idea of “lean-forward” versus “lean-back” media consumption has been a useful shorthand to delineate the active, more engaged nature of internet usage versus the laid-back, take-it-in mode of watching TV. However, this framework doesn’t neatly apply to the iPad. Steve Jobs alludes to this key difference when he describes a more “direct and intimate” nature of media consumption, and that with the iPad “it’s like some intermediate thing has been removed and stripped away.”

Spectacipation. You heard it here first. What the iPad offers is an experience that resides between that of spectator and participant. The perfect example is a well executed magazine on the iPad. Among the early crop of iPad-enabled publications, Wired stands out. First of all, the issue loads in its entirety locally, and is accessible even when you’re not online. You can be lazily flipping through the latest issue much as you would the print version. As you’re reading an article, you can effortlessly listen to a related audio clip or view a video montage with a tap of your finger.

It’s not about the apps.
If you’re a marketer, it’s not iPad apps you should be thinking about; it’s the iPad-enabled magazines and newspapers. With the iPad, and unlike the iPhone, you have a way to fast-track your presence through these publishers. In addition to Wired, other iPad-enabled monthly titles include Men’s Health, Popular Science, Vanity Fair and Time, with many more publishers planning their debut over the next few months.

If you advertise in print, chances are — whether you know it or not — you’re heading to the iPad. Take advantage of the opportunity; instead of merely embedding your 15-second ad, think about the “ideal” experience. Make it entertaining, make it fun, make it unexpected. In short, make it worth the reader’s effort to shift from spectator to participatory mode.

Should the iPad be in your channel mix? Likely, it already is.

Melissa Campanelli’s The View From Here: Ever Hear of Acoustic Branding?

Have you ever head of acoustic branding? It’s the idea of using music, sounds, speech and rhythms to bring a brand to life. I learned about it via an email I received this week from Wilbert Hirsch, CEO and cretive partner of Audio Consulting Group (ACG), which offers acoustic branding strategies. It caught my attention.

Have you ever head of acoustic branding? It’s the idea of using music, sounds, speech and rhythms to bring a brand to life. I learned about it via an email I received this week from Wilbert Hirsch, CEO and cretive partner of Audio Consulting Group (ACG), which offers acoustic branding strategies. It caught my attention.

Of course, it was a PR pitch. But what Hirsch said intrigued me: “More companies are looking for new ways to reach out to their customers. Although digital is the big hype, some businesses have realized that a mute brand stays unheard. Today, there are strategic and creative methods available to help design a living brand — one that communicates through more than one sense.”

I did a little research and found that in the ’90s ACG developed a method for companies to incorporate acoustics (music, sound and speech) into their brand identities, and then to develop strategies for implementation. Basically, ACG says that through an analytical framework, it can match a company’s values and existing visual identity with an acoustic identity. It also claims companies that have used its system have shown improvements of up to 30 percent in brand perception.

ACG says that acoustic branding can work with myriad touchpoints, such as advertising, multimedia, mobile, retail spaces, call centers, websites, podcasts and events. Its clients include UBS (Swiss bank), BMW, Autodesk and T-Mobile.

For Autodesk, for example, ACG developed an acoustic identity that resulted from a detailed analysis of the Autodesk brand and the specific needs of Autodesk University. The acoustic elements are now employed in relevant contact points — phone, video and walk-on music.

While I’ve never really sat down and thought about it before, I guess the music that brands play during trade shows or on their websites does have a sort of subconscious effect on me. What about you? Is this something you’ve experimented with or wish to in the future? Let me know by posting a comment below.

Are Ads Ubiquitous, Intrusive, Irrelevant and Offensive?

I’m reading “The Next Evolution of Marketing” by Bob Gilbreath, and he delivers an interesting message about how marketing that has meaning is more effective than traditional advertising. However, Gilbreath drives his message home behind a point that consumers are irate at ads and avoid them like deadbeats dodging collections agents. But me, I don’t hate advertising, and I don’t think most people care that much, either.

I’m reading “The Next Evolution of Marketing” by Bob Gilbreath, and he delivers an interesting message about how marketing that has meaning and adds value to consumers’ lives — before they buy anything from you — is more effective than traditional advertising. It’s an interesting book I’ll probably talk about more in a couple weeks.

However, Gilbreath drives his message home behind a point that consumers are irate at ads and avoid them like deadbeats dodging collections agents. He sharpens this attack with facts and stats such as 76% of Americans joined the National Do Not Call Registry, most people who own a DVR skip commercials, and software for blocking banner ads (Adblock Plus, and yes, it blocks regular, static banner ads, not just pop-ups) won PC World‘s “best product” award. Gilbreath describes a world where people hate advertising the way the Tea party hates taxes, and over the course of the first chapter says traditional messaging is “everywhere,” “intrusive,” “irrelevant” and “offensive.”

He’s certainly not alone in that opinion. Comedians and consultants alike love ranting about stupid advertising, and I’ve edited more than one article about advertisers basically wasting their money. The tradiitonal, godawfully expensive commercial is easy fodder for anyone recommending a new approach.

But me, I don’t hate advertising, and I don’t think most people care that much, either.

The squeaky eyeball gets the Visine, so when someone complains about advertising it makes the news — Gilbreath points out that a handful of calls can get companies to pull national campaigns. But I’m in my thirties, and I’ve got a lot of positive memories of traditional advertising. The Bud Bowl, Geico’s Gecko, pretty much any ad run during the Super Bowl … they can add to the fun, so I give them a chance. Same with movie previews — I really don’t know if I want to see a movie or a new show until I see some ads for it — and coaster ads at the bar. I commute by train, so I relish reading something, anything, interesting on a billboard while waiting for a late one.

Ads can annoy me — anything can annoy me — but I’m not hostile to them. If commercial breaks are reasonable, I’m liable to let them run. I’ve even flipped channels to find spots I was interested in. If someone puts an ad in the restroom, I really couldn’t care less (unless it’s lookin’ at me; that gets weird). I give web banners a chance to catch my click so long as they don’t take 60 seconds to scroll down, stall my browser, or do something else ridiculous to tick me off (many do in fact do ridiculous things that tick me off, but that’s for another future post.)

It’s easy to overstate consumer hostility toward any for-profit project, but it’s a mistake to attribute isolated outbursts to the whole audience. No one complains about marketing messages that interest them and convey information they want. And I think we’re all going to be shocked by just how many consumers are happy to participate in initiatives, like Facebook’s new privacy settings and global “like,” that help you target marketing to them even more.

(If you want me to look at a book, send it to me at the NAPCO offices: 1500 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, PA 19130. I make no promises. We’re not doing book reviews or a book of the week or anything that relies on me consuming more than a dozen pages a weekend. But I will take a look at anything you send. If it sparks an idea, I’ll work it into Ways of Thinking.)

Behavioral Targeting Industry Needs Further Delineation

I received an interesting press release the other day from ValueClick Media that recapped a recent behavioral targeting panel that took the stage at the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago.

The panel featured an industry analyst (David Hallerman, senior analyst, eMarketer), a behavioral targeting product expert (Joshua Koran, vice president, targeting and optimization, ValueClick, Inc.), a brand marketer (Julian Chu, Director of Acquisition Marketing, Discover) and an interactive agency executive (Sam Wehrs, Digital Activation Director, Starcom).
 

I received an interesting press release the other day from ValueClick Media that recapped a recent behavioral targeting panel that took the stage at the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago.

The panel featured an industry analyst (David Hallerman, senior analyst, eMarketer), a behavioral targeting product expert (Joshua Koran, vice president, targeting and optimization, ValueClick, Inc.), a brand marketer (Julian Chu, Director of Acquisition Marketing, Discover) and an interactive agency executive (Sam Wehrs, Digital Activation Director, Starcom).

What I found most interesting about the release was that fact the group discussed and agreed on the need for delineation between the different approaches to behavioral targeting.

“While it is important to understand the difference between retargeting – which Hallerman referred to as “reactive” – and the more complex models, the panel agreed it is also critical to understand the differences within the more sophisticated group of behavioral targeting approaches, and Joshua Koran shared three designations: “clustering,” “custom business rules” and “predictive attributes,” the release said.

The “clustering” approach assigns each visitor to one and only one segment while the “custom business rules” approach offers marketers the ability to target visitors who have done X events in Y days, with Boolean operators of “and.” “or,” and “not.” Finally, the “predictive attributes” approach automates the assignment of interest categories based on the visitor activities that best correlate with performance; thus, the system is continuously learning to identify multiple interest attributes per visitor.

Another notable takeaway was the need for a focus on the customer experience and the corresponding importance of demonstrating value to customers when serving behaviorally targeted ads.

According to the release Julian Chu offered three questions marketers must address to make behavioral targeting a valuable experience for customers instead of merely serving the ads, which would unavoidably become customer annoyance: How are you going to do it? Where is it going to happen? What is going to happen at that time?

Presented as part of ValueClick Media’s ongoing Media Lounge education event series, this event – The Changing Behavioral Targeting Landscape – as well as the discussion itself underscored the importance of education relative to this increasingly important online advertising technique.

Food for thought!