Friday, 18 November 2011

Should I hire an Adwords Manager?

If you currently run an Adwords campaign yourself, or are considering one in the future, why should you hire an Adwords consultant to manage the account on your behalf?

The most common reason quoted for not using a manager is cost, but is this a valid reason? Adwords is very easy to set up and even with only a little knowledge you may well be able to run an account that appears to work well for your business. However, like many things that have a simple side, getting the very best out of Adwords almost always requires the use of more advanced features, more experience and more expertise in other areas such as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), website design and, in all cases, general advertising principles and an understanding of how people use Google and the Internet.

Getting the best out of Adwords also requires an investment of time. The Internet is not a static advertising platform. Trends come and go, interests change, new companies appear and others fade. A well run Adwords account needs constant monitoring to ensure that nothing has changed that will affect the performance of the campaign(s). The larger the budget, the more complex the account, the greater the frequency of this monitoring and the more time will be required. The Adwords system itself also changes frequently as features change and new ones are added. Even knowing about these changes - let alone understanding their impact on your account - requires regular reading of Google Blogs and announcements, and in many cases, discussing the changes on support forums.

As an individual it's also almost impossible to know how well your account is working. If you spend $500 a month on Adwords and the program returns a net profit (ROI) of $200 a month you may be very happy, but you don't really know whether that same monthly spend should be returning an ROI of $400 or $4000! Experienced Adwords managers will know areas of the account or your website that could offer an improvement; they may even be managing accounts in the same business category and may be able to compare your results with others.

The issue of cost is therefore relative. You'll have to consider whether the application of expertise, time and experience can improve the performance of your account and whether that improvement in performance will cover the costs of that managed expertise. A well managed campaign can perform significantly better than one not optimally configured, perhaps by a quite surprising degree.

If you've not thought about using a manager before, or have done so but dismissed the idea, perhaps it's worth reconsidering.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Keep Your Own House in Order

The Adwords support forums receive frequent posts about operating and optimising Adwords itself; the settings, the keywords, the Ad copy, etc. What is far less common is to find questions related to the website to which those Adwords Ads direct potential customers.

A well managed Adwords campaign will deliver customers willing to buy to a company website, but what happens once they arrive? How your site works, how easy it is to use and how easy it is for potential customers to find the product of interest is a vital element of Adwords success and one, unfortunately, that many advertisers seem to overlook.

As a professional manager, when approached by a potential new Adwords client, one of the first things I ask for is the URL of the site to which Adwords will be directed. I'll then examine that site, in some detail, and if I feel the site needs altering or improving in some way I will tell the client this before a single penny is spent on advertising. There is absolutely no point in spending money on clicks if all those clicks lead to a website that takes too long to load, which has poor navigation, obscures the buying process or makes it overly complex. The problems can be obvious or very subtle; I have had clients where the service offered by their Ads didn't appear anywhere on their site, their answer? "We thought they'd call us." I've had clients where the product was available, but was 'hidden' beneath multiple layers of pages and sub-pages that couldn't (usefully) be linked to directly, requiring ad-clicking users to mount their own expedition around the site to find what they needed. I've even had customers where the website didn't actually work - where key pages returned errors or displayed as a mess in certain browsers or where pages were simply 'Not Found'.

Subtle flaws can include sites that are too vague, or too technically (jargon) orientated, or which offer a great many services without focusing on one for the purposes of Adwords. If your company offers a wide range of services, it's worth considering using bespoke landing pages purely for Adwords, designed specifically to match the campaign purpose and Ads.

I'll repeat. Spending money on Adwords to direct people to a site that isn't absolutely the best it can be is pointless. It's like advertising a phone number that's disconnected.

It can be hard for site owners to understand where problems might lie, it requires thinking like someone who knows nothing about your business and has never visited the site before, and it requires some degree of technical understanding and ability in terms of testing connection speeds and browser compatibility. However, many issues can be solved simply by thinking like a new customer.

So, if you're thinking of starting with Adwords, or even if you've been running an account for some time, please look at your own website and try to honestly gauge whether it's as good as it could be before you spend and (more) money.