How to run Google Ads without wasting all your money

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Google is like the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The Internet revolves around it and your entire marketing budget can disappear into it without a trace.

But Google also has the potential to sustain your business, like the sun sustains the Earth by sending customers to you at the moment they are ready to buy. Without a firm understanding of how to harness that power, though, you’ll lose money at warp speed.

What New Advertisers Get Wrong About Google Ads

The mistake newbie advertisers make when running Google Ads is shooting for the moon. They target broad keywords in hopes of being seen by as many people as possible. Then, they send everyone to a generic page (like their homepage) to showcase as many products and services as possible.

This is a recipe for disaster. If you’re going to succeed at Google Ads you’ve got to get specific.

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Set Specific Goals For Your Google Ads Campaign

Before you begin—before even logging into your Google account—decide what it is you are trying to achieve. Are you looking to:

  • build name recognition for your brand;
  • add prospects to your email list;
  • drive foot traffic into your store;
  • get your phone ringing; or
  • sell products online?

This decision will affect your entire campaign so don’t be wishy-washy about it.

“But I want to build my email list AND drive foot traffic!” you say?

That’s all well and good, but each Google Ads campaign needs it own goal. Why? Because when you’re looking to drive foot traffic you will use different ad targeting than when you’re selling online. And when you’re growing your email list you will measure success differently than when you’re building brand awareness. Two goals means two campaigns which means more money to spend. So while you’re still learning how this works, choose one and fly with it.

Choose A Specific Product To Promote

You may have an entire warehouse of goods to offer your customers, but when it comes to advertising on Google, the more specific your ad, the better. Depending on your business model it could make sense to advertise an entire category, but more often than not you will see greater success narrowing it down to the individual product or service level.

This means if you’re a lawyer you should specify the area of law you practice: family law, for example. Even better, break it down into child custody, divorce, and adoption cases.

Once you’ve mastered how to use Google Ads you can market multiple products and services simultaneously. But for now, pick one.

Specify Your Offer

Alright, so you’ve chosen which product or service you want to focus on. Now, you need to decide how you’ll promote it. Google Ads work best when you make a specific offer that is closely related to your goal and product. For example:

  • If your goal is to sell concert tickets online you might offer a chance to win backstage passes with every online order.
  • If your goal is to draw more people to your restaurant during lunch you might promote ½ price appetizers between 11 AM and 3 PM.
  • If your goal is to get the phone ringing at your accounting firm you might offer free 30-minute tax consultations.

The key is to find an offer that appeals to your ideal customer, which means you also need to…

Specify Your Target Audience

Who would be interested in buying your product or service? The answer defines your target audience. But there’s a good chance you have multiple target audiences, so in keeping with our theme, pick just one for now.

For example, as a hotel owner, you may cater to both road warriors and families on vacation. While both demographics enjoy the same rooms and services, what they value is different. Mom and Dad may appreciate the available kiddie pool, while businesspeople are more interested in the quality of your WiFi.

To determine what offers will appeal to your various target audiences, create customer profiles to detail their personalities and preferences.

Know What Specific Action You Want People To Take

What action would someone need to complete before you can accomplish your goal? Do they need to:

  • fill out a form?
  • place an order?
  • download an app?

It’s not enough to send people to your website and hope they take that step. You have to ask them to do it. This is called your call to action (CTA).

Every “buy now” button is a call to action, but CTAs can take many forms. It may be a hyperlink at the bottom of a blog post, a play button on a video, or a click to call button for mobile devices.

Whatever your CTA is make sure it’s easy to do. Because if you ask people to jump through hoops, they won’t. And you’ll have missed an opportunity.

Create A Campaign-Specific Landing Page

Every click on your Google Ad costs money. So, the last thing you want is for people to get confused and leave your site before taking action. That’s why your campaign needs a designated landing page.

The landing page is the first page people will see when they arrive on your site. You specify which page that will be when you set up your ad. That page needs to match the offer and product your ad promotes. (Hint: this is why you never send people to your home page.)

Your call to action should be prominently displayed on your landing page. If you want people to fill out a form, make it clearly visible. If you want them to make a purchase, send them directly to where they can place that order. If you want them to come visit you in person, make sure your landing page includes a map and directions.

Choose Specific Keywords For Your Google Ads Campaign

Now that you know what you’re advertising, to whom, why, and how, it’s time to choose your keywords. Once again, get specific.

Long-tail keywords—phrases that contain three or more words—tend to be more targeted, less competitive, and less expensive than shorter, broader keywords. A keyword research tool like Answer The Public can help you find long-tail keywords related to your offer.

Prepare Specific Follow Up

After someone has clicked on your ad and taken action, what happens next? How will you deliver on your offer, follow up with them, and encourage them to become loyal, repeat customers?

This needs to be carefully thought through before you launch your Google Ads campaign because failure to follow up can cost you sales opportunities, or worse, result in unhappy customers who leave negative reviews.

Run Highly Specific Tests

Even when you’ve done all this prep ahead of time, it’s possible your Google Ads campaign will fall flat. It sucks, but it happens. The good news is that since you have narrowed everything down, it will be easier and less expensive to run trials and discover where the problem lies.

Try running slightly different versions of your ad to see which performs better. Or A/B test a different call to action on two otherwise identical landing pages. Iterative tests of campaigns with only minor variations will benefit you far more than scrapping everything to start over or walking away to never try again.

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