Category Archives for "Google AdWords"

The Difference Between Success and Failure in AdWords

The difference between a successful AdWords campaign and one that’s unprofitable might not what be you think.

I was thinking about this while watching my daughter’s 2nd grade soccer team which got off to a DREADFUL start this season.

Not only did they lose their first 3 games… they didn’t score a SINGLE goal in those games. Probably coulda played on half the field and it wouldn’t have made a difference because they barely got past midfield.

Now it’s 2nd grade soccer so the stakes ain’t really high here. The aim is for the girls to have fun and improve their soccer skills.

That said, losing like that is tough. Even though no official score was kept the girls knew what was going on. They knew they hadn’t scored any goals and by the end of the 2nd and 3rd games of the season, you could hear some grumbling about not scoring and could see many of them were feeling a bit dejected.

Then, at the practice following the third game the coach made ONE little tweak that changed EVERYTHING.

What did he change?

After the goalie would get the ball, he simply had her run up to the edge of the goalie box and throw the ball up the field as hard as she could.

That’s it.

The effect has been STARTLING…

Since making that one tweak, the team hasn’t lost a game. They’ve even BEATEN a few of the teams that trounced them earlier in the season.

What the coach had noticed in the first few games was our goalies were throwing the ball from close to the goal. And, more often than not, the other team would get the ball and not have far to go to score. If our team got it, however, they had to go the length of the field through the opposing team to even have a chance at a goal.

Throwing the ball down the field opened the game up and gave our players a chance to get the ball into the opponent’s zone and score.

Little tweak. HUGE difference.

And that’s often the case in AdWords too where one little tweak can make all the difference…

  • A change on a landing page.
  • New ad copy.
  • Making a bid adjustment to favor mobile traffic over desktop traffic (or vice versa).
  • Pausing certain keywords or ad groups.

I’ve seen changes like these be the difference between a campaign that loses money vs. one that’s profitable.

Yes, there are times where big overhauls are required to fix something that’s broken (whether it be an AdWords campaign, a soccer team, etc.). In fact, our tendency is usually to assume that a fix will require some Herculean Effort.

The shame of thinking like that is so many people give up when they are oh so close to success. Because they assume something is so broken that it can’t be fixed or isn’t worth fixing, they stop at the 1 yard line just before they score.

If you can stop and look more deeply at what’s going on, however, we can often spot those small tweaks that make a huge difference in outcomes.

For my daughter’s soccer team all it took was changing where the goalie threw the ball from.

Is there a similarly simple tweak that can make a huge difference in your AdWords campaign?

If you’d like to have an expert assess your Google AdWords campaign and see if there is, please email me to set up a free AdWords Strategy Session.



3 Important AdWords Developments You Should Know About

Google’s always tinkering around in AdWords and making changes. Recently there have been a few significant ones that I want to make sure are on the radar of all of you who care about AdWords.

Google Reviews Are Now Even a Bigger Deal For Local Businesses

It used to be your AdWords account and Google Maps reviews had nothing to do with one another. The only exception was if you were using Google AdWords Express (which you should NOT be doing), Google would show a business’ ratings next to their ads.

Now, however, if you are running a real (ie. non-Express) AdWords campaign and are using the Location extensions, your ad can show your star ratings and link to your reviews on Google. Here’s a screenshot of what this looks like…

local adwords review ad

(I don’t know for sure but from what I’ve seen it looks like you need to have at least 5 reviews on Google in order for this to appear.)

There are 2 big reasons why this is important…

1. Those star ratings REALLY make your ads stand out from the competition. So if you don’t have Location extensions turned on… you should. Also, if you don’t have 5 Google reviews for your business, you should work hard to get them. The more reviews and the more positive reviews you have next to your ad, the better.

2. If you have a number of negative reviews, this can work against you. You don’t want to be paying for AdWords ads if your 2.7 star rating is running next to them! You’d basically be advertising “Hey, we suck!”

That’ll hurt your results. In fact, if you don’t have a lot of good reviews on AdWords, you’re probably better off not using Location extensions at all.

Because reviews are now a much bigger deal in AdWords, we’ll be bringing you more on this in the weeks/months ahead. Keep your eye out for this because, for local businesses, this is a big deal and we want to help you improve your ratings on Google.

Structured Snippet extensions

AdWords ads continue to take up more and more space on the search results page at the expense of the organic listings. And one of the main ways Google does this is by giving AdWords advertisers ad extensions to display with their ads.

For those who don’t know, ad extensions are additional bits of information that Google can display next to your core ad (which consists of the headline, 2 lines of text and URL field).

The newest ad extensions are called structured snippets and they are a way for you to display a list of items under your ads.

What items you display in this list is a bit limited to the categories of structured snippets Google has made available to advertisers. These include Brands, Destinations (for travel businesses), Neighborhood, Insurance (for medical practices) and more.

We’ve seen great success in the early days when using structured snippets in clients’ campaigns. They seem to have a very nice impact on the Clickthrough Rates of our clients’ ads.

For local businesses, the Service catalog snippet seems to be the most practical and you can use it to list a number of different services you offer. However, depending on the clients, we’ve also had success with Brands and Insurance snippets.

Structured snippets help your ads take up more space on the page and provide even more information about your business so there’s really no reason you should not add them to your AdWords campaigns immediately.

Customer Match

Personally I think this development is the coolest one, however, it is the least applicable to local businesses.

Customer Match lets you upload a list of your customer’s email addresses to Google. Google will then match those addresses to people who are logged into Google and allow you to target your customers with Search, YouTube and/or Gmail ads.

Facebook has had a similar offering for a while and it’s nice to see Google offering this too. It can be a very effective way of getting your message out to customers or those who have opted into your list (and it has to be a list of customers/opt-ins, using a list you bought is against the rules).

I can see an application to a local business that offers some sort of regular or seasonal service to their customers like an HVAC company. In a situation like that you can have ads that show up on Gmail or YouTube that remind customers to get a fall/spring tune up.

There are other scenarios like that for some types of local businesses but this feature isn’t as helpful for a local business as it may be for an Ecommerce or info marketing business.

This feature is rolling out to AdWords advertisers over the next few weeks so, if it is applicable to your business, keep an eye out for them. The star ratings and structured snippet extensions are already available so take advantage of them ASAP.

3 Top AdWords Alternatives

Getting all your paid traffic from Google AdWords?

Most business owners who rely on AdWords to drive most of the traffic to their website don’t realize that AdWords ain’t the only game in town.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love AdWords. I’m in it every day and, all things considered, I think it’s the greatest advertising platform around.

But, you shouldn’t be relying on Google for all your paid traffic.

Why? Well, for any one or more of the following reasons…

  1. Relying on a single source of traffic – no matter what it is – is a very dangerous position to be in
  2. AdWords is getting more competitive by the day and click costs can be extremely high
  3. If you don’t play by their rules, Google can and will ban your account
  4. There may very well be other sources of traffic you’re missing out on that can deliver more traffic and/or more sales at a much lower cost per conversion than AdWords.

So, if you’re looking to diversify your traffic sources and/or have maxed out AdWords and still want to drive more paid traffic, here are the first 3 places I’d recommend you turn to…

Bing Ads

This is the most obvious option out there. Bing Ads is basically Bing’s version of AdWords. It serves traffic on both Bing and Yahoo! which, together, account for about 30{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of search engine traffic.

A few years ago I would try to avoid Bing Ads at all costs because it had a clunky interface, a horrible feature set and all sorts of bugs that would drive me crazy.

But they’ve really cleaned up their act in the last few years. It’s still not quite as elegant as AdWords, but it’s much closer.

The good thing for AdWords users is that because Bing knows AdWords rules the paid search marketplace, they’ve made it extremely easy to import your AdWords campaign into Bing Ads. They have a handy import feature that allows you to connect directly to your AdWords account or, the method I prefer, you can export your AdWords campaigns from the AdWords Editor and import that file into Bing.

Either way, you don’t have to recreate the wheel and can have your Bing Ads campaign up in less than 30 minutes.

(Quick Tip – After you import an AdWords campaign into Bing, double check your settings. At the very least I’d recommend lowering your bid prices by at least 10{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} and make sure your geographic targeting settings were imported correctly.)

Bing Ads is not going to drive nearly the amount of traffic that AdWords does but we’ve found, especially for B2B type niches, you’ll find higher conversion rates with Bing.

And click costs are generally much lower on Bing because there’s not as much competition there. In fact, in some highly competitive markets, you may want to start with Bing Ads to try to generate leads at an acceptable ROI before trying to battle it out on the killing fields of AdWords.

Before we move on, one last tip for Bing Ads… only run your campaigns on Bing and Yahoo! and NOT on the ‘search partners’ sites. We’ve found the search partner traffic to be rather poor quality and usually avoid it.

Facebook Ads

Facebook is another platform that’s really upped its paid advertising game lately. In fact, there are situations where the quantity and quality of the paid traffic you can get with Facebook will leave Google in the dust.

In fact, earlier this year we set up an AdWords campaign for a friend of mine who was using Facebook paid advertising to get a few hundred sign ups a month for his offer. We tried Google Search traffic, Google Display Network and even YouTube advertising through AdWords but the traffic was WAY more expensive and we couldn’t even come close to generating the number of sign ups he was getting from Facebook (despite our best efforts!).

There are a few main reasons Facebook paid ads have gotten so much better lately.

First are the News Feed ads. It used to be that your ads on Facebook would only show up on the right side of the screen and were easy for users to ignore. Now, you can show ads right in people’s News Feeds along with updates from their friends, companies they’re following, etc.

It’s much harder for people to ignore the News Feed ads and their clickthrough rates dwarf the clickthrough rates of the ads in the right sidebar.

Second is the introduction of the Power Editor. Among other things, the Power Editor gives you access to data from a few Big Data providers which allows you to target people in ways that were never possible before.

Facebook advertising was always an interesting option because you could target people based on information in their Facebook profiles. So, for example, things like Relationship Status, favorite movies/books/etc., and the Facebook pages they like were all fair game (and still are).

But with Big Data, you can now target people by data about them gathered from offline sources too. So, for example, you can target people who are “cereal buyers”, those who have donated to certain categories of charities, those who take “Casino vacations” and much MUCH more!

This opens a whole new world of demographic targeting options that aren’t available to most advertisers any other way. If you’re trying to reach a specific demographic or people with certain buying behaviors, Facebook paid ads are definitely worth experimenting with.

Retargeting platforms

Yes, Google has remarketing but you can do retargeting campaign on a number of other platforms as well.

Even if you’re not familiar with the term retargeting, you know what it is. If you go to a website looking for shoes, household items, software, etc. and then leave that site and are immediately bombarded with ads for the products you just looked at, that’s retargeting (though not necessarily done well!).

It works by having code on your website that places a cookie on the machine of visitors to your site (Hint: you can place the code in HTML emails or FB pages too). Then, when they leave your site, you can show ads to them for your products/services when they visit other websites that display ads on them.

AdRoll is probably the best known 3rd party retargeting platform around these days, but there are plenty of others including Retargeter, Fetchback, and more.

Personally, we’ve not had good results with AdRoll. They seem to charge a premium for traffic and there’s not a lot of transparency in your campaigns. Of the 3rd party options out there, right now we’re focusing our efforts around Perfect Audience (which allows you to retarget to users on Facebook and Twitter), though it’s a little too soon to fully endorse them.

If you’re already getting a decent amount of traffic to your website and are NOT using retargeting, you’re missing out. It’s a great way to get people back to your site who’ve already shown an interest in what you offer but weren’t ready to pull the trigger yet. It can also be a great way to market to current clients with upsell and cross sell offers.

Also, retargeting clicks tend to be fairly inexpensive, especially when compared to AdWords Search traffic.


If you’re looking for additional sources of paid traffic, the above would be my top 3. But there are plenty of others out there. Do you have a favorite? If so, please share it in the comment section below.

Why Top Online Marketers Are Changing Their Business Model

The times they are a-changin’Bob Dylan

Going behind the scenes this month to bring you some BIG changes taking place in the online marketing world.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking shop with some online marketing friends – guys who are world class (a term I don’t throw around lightly) in PPC and SEO. And all of us are changing the way we approach our businesses and online marketing.

I want to share some of what we’re changing (and why) with you cuz it’s got big implications for your business and how you tackle online marketing.

First a little history…

Let’s go back to the good ol’ days. Just 5 or 10 years ago. Click costs in AdWords were cheap. And it was still pretty easy to rank high in the organic and local search results.

Yes, for those with just a little knowledge of how the search engines worked, life was good.

Well, y’all know those days are long gone!

Now you’d be hard pressed to find a niche where you don’t have to fight tooth and nail against a legion of competitors trying to claim that precious real estate on top of Page 1 of Google for themselves.

Google AdWords Ain’t Just About Search Any More

In AdWords, there was a time you could focus just on campaigns running on (and maybe the Display Network if you were more advanced) and be just fine.

But now, in addition to Search and Display Networks, there’s Remarketing, Product Listing Ads, Video ads, mobile optimized settings, ad extensions, all sorts of new bidding structures, automated rules, scripts, etc.

And that’s just the surface level stuff. You can dig layers deeper on any one of those topics.

There’s always been a “Stupidity Tax” in AdWords for those who didn’t know what they’re doing. These days, the tax is MUCH higher and Google (and your competitors) will devour you if you’re not careful.

SEO has seen tectonic shifts recently as well.

You can’t go out and buy a bunch of links to catapult your site to the top of the search results any more. Yes, links still matter. But you gotta be VERY careful about how and where you get them. And you need to focus more on regularly creating truly unique content, social signals, Authorship, etc.

The Changes Search Engine Marketing Firms Are Making

There was a time when all we focused on here at Words That Click were AdWords Search campaigns. And that was enough.

There was a time when my buddy who’s a top SEO expert only worried about SEO and building backlinks for his clients. And that was enough.

But just doing those things ain’t enough anymore.

These days, to really make AdWords work, a company like mine can’t put its blinders on and just focus on keywords, ads and bid prices.

Not to say we can’t get improvements focusing on those things because we can and do. But it’ll only get us so far before we hit a wall.

See, to really compete in AdWords (and/or SEO) and truly make significant improvements to a campaign, we HAVE to focus on the landing pages and Conversion Optimization too.

We have to work with businesses on their messaging. Their offers. Their calls to action. Their entire sales funnel really.

All that stuff needs to be addressed to make an AdWords campaign truly fly these days.

But, wait, there’s even more!

Because even if you have great landing pages in place, traffic from Google can still be pricey (though if you’ve optimized your landing pages, you can afford to pay those clicks MUCH easier than your competitors who ignore conversions).

Or, sometimes there are situations where a site’s pretty well optimized and AdWords is driving about as much traffic as we can squeeze out of it so the question becomes how to drive more prospects to a site.

So if we’re really going to our job of helping customers achieve the objective of growing their businesses, we have to look for other sources of paid traffic besides AdWords.

And there’s no shortage of them out there…

  • Bing (and other search engines)
  • FB ads (which have become much more viable for a wider range of businesses lately)
  • Retargeting platforms like and AdRoll
  • PPV platforms like Trafficvance
  • Content Recommendation Engines like Outbrain
  • and on and on

See, my friends and I in the industry all have a bird’s eye view of what’s going on in the world of online marketing. We get to go behind the scenes of hundreds of companies in all different markets. We study both the successes and failures of various marketing campaigns.

And from that view of the world, we see what the companies dominating their markets are doing.

We see the truly successful companies know their numbers and are obsessive about measuring results (remember this… if you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it).

We see the truly successful companies put a lot of resources into Conversion Optimization and are obsessively testing ways to get more prospects to raise their hands and enter their sales funnels.

We see the truly successful companies never EVER rely on just one source of traffic… they diversify by using a wide range of paid and “free” sources of traffic.

And in seeing all this, it’s crystal clear that as marketing firms we can’t afford to be one trick ponies. Firms that only focus on AdWords or SEO and nothing else are going to go the way of the dodo.

If we’re gonna help our clients’ marketing campaigns be as successful as they can be, just focusing on clicks, backlinks and Quality Scores ain’t gonna make it happen.

What Lessons Should You Take Away From This?

Well, you, as a business owner, can’t afford to be a one trick pony either when it comes to your marketing.

In my 11 Simple Principles report I originally wrote 5 years ago, I said this:

Relying on just one source of traffic and sales to drive your online marketing efforts puts your business in a very dangerous position.”

And that’s even truer today than it was then.

You HAVE to diversify your traffic sources.

You HAVE to work the conversion side of your website.

And you HAVE to carefully measure results so you know your numbers and see EXACTLY what’s putting money in your bank account and what’s siphoning money out of it.

The webs a-changin’.

Yes, it’s a more challenging environment. But your prospects are still looking for you there.

And it’s the companies that adapt by adding more sources of traffic, focus on Conversions and watch their numbers that are gonna turn the lion’s share of the prospects into customers.

So, the question is, is it going to be you or your competition that get them?

Video Interview: Powerful Brand New AdWords Feature & More

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed for a show, BuildaTribe Live, by my friend Mason Duchatschek of He grilled me on the ins and outs of Google AdWords for a little over 20 minutes. In that time, we cover a lot including:

  • What makes AdWords unique from every other form of marketing out there
  • The power of remarketing and the NEW mind-blowing feature that takes it to another level
  • Situations where AdWords may not be a good fit (and a trick on how you could overcome this)
  • The 3 main mistakes people make in their AdWords campaigns
  • Why it’s critical to understand the differences between the Search and Display Networks
  • Whether or not AdWords has become too complex for a business owner to manage a campaign on their own
  • The simple 5 step system for evaluating landing pages from a conversion standpoint

Here’s the interview:


If you’re not up for watching the whole video and just want to find out about the brand new AdWords feature, I’m not gonna hold out on you. Here’s the deal:

Up until a few months ago, remarketing was only done on the Display Network.

The way this basically works is someone visits your site, a cookie is placed on their computer and when they visit other websites in Google’s Display Network (a network of websites that display Google ads), you can show your ads to them.

But now Google has unleashed Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs). This lets you create an audience of people who have visited your site and target them – on Google itself – if they do more searches after leaving your site. Here are a few ways you could use this:

  • In your existing campaigns, add an audience of people who have visited your website and set higher bids for that audience. So, let’s say for someone who’s never been to your site before, you’re willing to pay $1.00 per click when they do a relevant search on Google. But people who have already been to your website know who you are and it may be worth more to you to get them back on your site again. What RLSAs let you do is adjust your bids for that audience. You can increase your bids by 25{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} or 50{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} or whatever percentage you want, just for people who have already been to your site. That way, you can make sure your ad is front and center, reminding past visitors about your company and enticing them to come back to your site.
  • You can even create a separate Search campaign that just targets people who have already been to your website. In your “regular” campaigns, it’s likely you’re focusing on very specific keywords and using a lot of Exact match keywords. But if you’re targeting people who’ve already been to your site, you may not want to be so limited. For that audience, it may make sense to use more Phrase and even Broad match keywords so past visitors to your site will see your ads for any relevant search query they type into Google.

In early testing, we’re finding RLSAs may not drive tons of traffic, but they are producing incremental conversions at a lower cost/conversion than “regular” Search campaigns. It’s a powerful new feature definitely worth testing in your AdWords account.


Abe Lincoln’s Key to Marketing Success

“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.” Abe Lincoln

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately.

It all started when I was on the set of an online reality show I’m a part of. The show chronicles the creation of an information product from conception to launch and beyond.

A cadre of experts (myself included) meet on a regular basis to discuss all aspects of the project. Our meetings are videotaped and will be put online for the world to see (I’ll let you know when it goes live).

At a recent taping I made some points about the importance of research and how, especially on the marketing side of things, the project would benefit from doing some (I’m purposely keeping things vague here… can’t reveal too much right now!).

As we were wrapping things up for the evening, one of the other people involved made a comment that if she had a gun to her head and had just 30 days to launch a business, she’d skip the research and just jump in and get started.

I totally understand the thinking here. In fact, you’ll hear a lot of business experts saying that one of the marks of successful entrepreneurs is the ability to execute on their ideas quickly.

But I guess where she(they) and I differ on things is I believe that research is the first, and most important part of executing a successful business/marketing plan.

And that’s why I’ve been thinking about Abe Lincoln’s quote.

Because when it comes to marketing, research is your AXE.

The Secret That Separates The Top Copywriters From the Herd

Here’s a little secret about the great “A” List level copywriters…

Yeah, they’ve got some writing chops. But that’s NOT what makes them truly great.

The thing that separates the truly great ones from the pack is their research skills.

Before they write a WORD of copy, they’re immersing themselves in the product/service they’re selling, the audience they’re marketing to, and the competition.

  • They ask the key questions of the business owners, salesman, inventors, etc. to find the golden nuggets that’ll provide the foundation of the copy.
  • They interview customers and prospects to understand what their needs are. (And not their superficial needs… their DEEP emotional needs that the product/services fulfills.)
  • They keep digging until they’ve got the emotional hook that’ll drive the copy that makes prospects quiver with desire, the bullet points that tease and tantalize their emotions, the offer that leaves prospects with little choice but to pull out their wallets and hand over their hard earned cash.
  • They’ll uncover the company’s Unique Selling Proposition that can be used to position them in a way that makes the competition largely irrelevant.

And It’s No Different for PPC…

All the top PPC guys I know are all fanatical about research… Keyword Research… Competitive Research… Market Research.

That’s the heart of getting a successful AdWords campaigns off the ground (as is digging in/researching the data of live campaigns to religiously optimize them).

The cool thing about the Internet (well, other than Amazon Prime and TED Talks) is that it’s now easier than ever to do your research. And you don’t even have to TALK to anyone to do it.

Some of the Most Valuable Stuff on Amazon is FREE

Speaking of Amazon, that’s one of my favorite sources to use for research.

The reviews on Amazon are a treasure trove of information that can be invaluable to the savvy business owner.

These are reviews written by people who have taken their time to express their views (the good, the bad and the ugly) about the products they bought.

The key word being BOUGHT… these are BUYERS writing about products they’ve actually shelled out their hard earned cash for. These are the people you need to be paying attention to.

During one of our recent filming sessions we spent some time on Amazon and got some incredible insights.

What we did was look at reviews people left for books related to the info product we’re tasked with creating and marketing.

Here’s what we were looking for…

  • The things they liked about the books and the things they didn’t like about the books. (Or, more accurately, what they liked/didn’t like about the information contained in those books and the impact/lack of impact it had on their lives.)
  • The emotional needs of prospects in this market, the problems keeping them up at night, their ultimate goals, etc.
  • Colorful quotes that could make great headlines, bullets and copy for our marketing materials.
  • The Table of Contents of the most popular books on the subject to see what topics they had in common (which is a GOOD indication we need to include those topics in our product).

At the end of the day, doing this research gave us a much clearer picture of:

  • WHO we were creating this product for
  • WHY they were looking for this information
  • WHAT information they’d value getting from us (and the emotional benefits they were seeking from it)
  • HOW the information helped them/didn’t help them achieve the outcomes they’re after

And we got all these insights simply by spending some time on Amazon.

Now you might be thinking you’re a dentist or run a restaurant or own an industrial/manufacturing company and there are no books/products related to what you sell on Amazon.

Fair enough. But Amazon ain’t the only place to find this sort of information. If there are no related products/books on Amazon, you can…

  • Check out reviews on Yelp or Google for businesses in your niche.
  • Go to message boards and forums where your clients hang out and discuss things.
  • Listen to what’s going on in social media. Are there any groups on LinkedIn/Facebook related to your field? Any key industry players/companies active on Twitter? Those are great places to do some research as well.

A BIG Word of Warning

There is a deadly trap you have to be wary of with research. It’s one I’ve been guilty of falling into in the past.

The trap is Analysis Paralysis… it’s when you just keep researching but never take action. That trap’ll kill your marketing efforts because you never leave the starting gate.

As I said at the top, I think research is a PART of executing on a successful marketing plan. But it’s just a part of it. You have to ACT to have any chance of success.

With 6 hours to chop down a tree, Abe Lincoln would take 4 hours to sharpen his axe. And that’s probably a decent rule of thumb. Spend about 2/3 of your time up front doing your research… then create your USP, write your copy, build your campaign,  etc.

Most of your competitors have dull axes. Do the research… sharpen your axe… and you’ll be chopping down trees they don’t have a shot at making a dent in.


I know. Yuck. Homework. So let’s not call it homework, let’s call it a challenge.

I challenge you to spend 1 hour on Amazon or Yelp or Google or some other site where your customers hang out and are describing their wants, needs, emotions, opinions, criticisms, etc.

What insights does that give you into your market that you didn’t have before?

What ideas for headlines, copy, offers, products, services, etc. did it give you?

What ideas for new products/offerings or tweaks to existing products/offerings did you get?

After you spend that hour, come back here and share what you learned in the comment section below.

I’m betting that 1 hour may be one of the most enlightening hours you’ve spent in a LONG time.

And I say that confidently because, well, I’ve done the research! 😉

Why This Company Should Avoid AdWords

AdWords boils down to math. And, sometimes, the math just doesn’t add up.

The following cautionary tale about using Google AdWords is true (though I’ve changed a few details to protect the identity of the company at the heart of the story).

It’s about a company using AdWords that shouldn’t be because, for their business model, in their market, the math ain’t in their favor.

There’s a catch here though. And it’s that there are other companies that CAN make the AdWords math work… in this very same market.


Let’s take a look. Here’s the set up…

Last month I got a referral to a woman who’s been using AdWords to try to sell her product…a type of insect repellent. We’ll call it Bug Off Insect Repellent.

To be quite honest, there’s nothing particularly unique about Bug Off. The company makes no big, bold claims about it being any more effective than the competing products. Their main selling point is that it’s made of non-toxic materials and is completely biodegradable.

No Secret Sauce

While that’s great, there are other insect repellents that make similar claims.

And that’s Problema Numero Uno.

Bug Off has no truly Unique Selling Proposition. The product simply isn’t doing or offering anything that’s not already out in the marketplace.

It’s got no secret sauce. Nothing to make it stand out from the competition. They’re not even offering a strong guarantee.

And that’s a tough position for any business to be in.

That said, the company is generating some sales. Mostly through small retail brick and mortar stores as well as an ecommerce store they’ve partnered with.

The rest of the sales are coming through AdWords (or so they think).

And that’s why they came to me…they wanted help optimizing and managing their campaign. But I turned them down.

Here’s why:

First, they weren’t equipped to sell on their website. They’re driving people to their website and, from the site, linking to their product on where people can buy Bug Off.

No Accurate Tracking

The owner said they were averaging about a sale a day on Amazon. However, when pressed, she really didn’t know how many of those were from AdWords vs. how many were coming from people finding them through the Amazon site itself.

That’s Problema Numero Two. You gotta be tracking this stuff so you know what’s putting the dinero in your bank account. You can’t improve your marketing and sales funnel if you can’t SEE the funnel.

But the biggest problem this company had, Problema Numero 3, is all about the math.

Low Profits + High Click Costs = Bad News

We started talking about profit margins and the owner told me that they make about $8 profit per bottle sold. Digging a little further, she told me that their average cost per click on AdWords was $2.60.

BIG red flag.

To make the math easier, let’s say I came in and immediately got their AdWords cost per click down to $2.00.

At a profit of $8 a bottle, that means that 1 out of every 4 people who click on their ads – 25{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} – would have to BUY a bottle of insect repellent just for this company to break even!

Now a 25{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} sales conversion rate for a company WITH a Unique Selling Proposition that sells directly on their own site would be a challenge.

But there’s just no way Bug Off could expect to convert at that level.

The numbers just don’t add up. Even factoring in a few customers becoming repeat customers and/or buying multiple bottles at a time, this company has little chance of running a profitable AdWords campaign.

When You Can Afford To Sell at Break Even (or a Loss) in AdWords

That said, there is a way to get the numbers working in your favor when you can’t make money on the initial sale.

It’s why, and other big companies can afford to bid up prices in AdWords advertising products they’ll lose money on.

And it comes down to their back end.

See, Amazon (if they wanted to) could pay $2.60 a click to promote Bug Off and lose money on every bottle they sell through AdWords.


Because Amazon is not about making a profit on the first sale. Amazon is all about the LIFETIME value of a customer.

I came across this quote the other day about Amazon’s business model…

“A business model that not only valued long-term cash flow and absolute profit potential, but also deemed near-term profits and profit margin largely irrelevant.”

This is a model/concept that many businesses don’t understand. And it’s the key to making money in AdWords (or, other marketing channels, for that matter) in very competitive and/or low profit margin markets.

It basically comes down to this… the success of your business is NOT determined by whether you make a profit on the first sale to a new prospect. It’s determined by the LIFETIME VALUE of that prospect.

If you have a strong back end and can effectively cross sell and upsell additional products and services to your existing customers, then you can afford to break even or lose money on their initial purchase.

This is why Amazon could, if they wanted to, afford to pay $2.60 a click to market Bug Off through AdWords.

Because when someone clicks on the ads and decides to buy Bug Off, Amazon’s got thousands of other things to sell them. And Amazon’s going to VERY strategically present them with a number of related products to buy.

So maybe they add Bug Off to their Shopping Cart and are presented with an Insect net for $35 that would be perfect for the picnic they’re planning with their family next weekend.

Decide Bug Off’s not for you? Well, here are 50 other types of insect repellent you might prefer.

And speaking of that picnic… while you’re on Amazon how about some sunscreen, a soccer ball for the kids to play with and that awesome cooler that’s got a gazillion 5 star reviews to put the food in?

And, oh, it would be awesome to have a Kindle to bring along to read in the shade and….

Even if the person only purchases Bug Off and nothing else, Amazon’s email marketing juggernaut will kick in and send the customer follow up emails with related products.

Bug Off, however, sells just one product. They’ve got no back end. No cross sells or upsells.

And because the lifetime value of a customer is so low, Adwords ain’t gonna be profitable for them selling a few bottles of insect repellent here and there.

So, my advice to Bug Off was this…

Don’t waste their time and money with AdWords. Unless they’re going to develop a whole line of additional products (or services) they could offer to clients, the numbers just don’t add up.

The better bet is to focus their efforts on getting Bug Off into more brick and mortars and ecommerce sites. This way the company itself can focus on selling Bug Off by the CASE to retailers and then let the retailers sell the bottles onesie, twosie at a time to consumers.

(Which, by the way, is exactly what SC Johnson does. They don’t sell Off! Insect repellent on their website. And they’ve got millions of dollars they could spend trying to do it.

Instead they spend their time promoting Off! to the public and drive people to retailers (online and offline) who handle the actual transaction with the consumers.)

AdWords is all about the numbers. And, many times, the numbers just don’t add up to make a one-time sale profitable. If you have to be profitable on that first sale then, especially for low profit margin goods and services, AdWords may not be for you. Better to try your luck elsewhere.

BUT…if you can get repeat customers…if you are effective at getting people to take advantage of your cross sells and upsells…if the lifetime value of a customer far exceeds the purchase price of that initial sale…

…then the numbers can work in your favor and you can make money on keywords your competitors can’t.

What would your advice to Bug Off have been? Do you see a way they could profitably sell bottles directly to consumers? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

The Huge AdWords Opportunity Hiding in Plain Sight

Quick question…

When you hear the word “AdWords”, what do you think of?

If you’re like most people, it’s probably the ads that appear above and/or to the right of the organic search results on Google.

And, you’re absolutely right. That is AdWords.

BUT…there’s a whole nother side to AdWords most people don’t think about.

Now you’ve surely encountered these AdWords ads while surfin’ the web (they’re seen by 80{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of all Internet users). You just may not have recognized them as being part of AdWords.

This side of AdWords is a largely hidden opportunity flying under most business owners’ radar screens. And that’s a BIG mistake cuz the potential here, depending on your business, could dwarf the traffic and sales generated by a plain vanilla Google AdWords Search campaign.

So what is this opportunity?

It’s the Google Display Network (GDN).

The Display Network is made up of over 2 million websites that run Google ads on them. These could be huge sites like The New York Times and or they could be small sites like someone’s personal blog.

(These sites put Google ads on them to make money…if someone clicks on an ad on their site, Google gives them a cut of the action.)

And you, as an advertiser, can display ads on these websites to target your prospects in a myriad of mouth watering ways (we’ll get to those in a minute).

An Avalanche of Traffic

The GDN, done right, can trigger an avalanche of traffic to your site. And do it at a cost per click that’s often much cheaper than an AdWords Search campaign.

Now GDN traffic tends not to be as high a quality as Search largely because you’re dealing with a different mindset on the part of the searcher (more on that below). Even so, it’s very possible to get a ton of traffic at a very acceptable Cost Per Conversion.

Better Than Ever

While I’ve mainly focused on Search over the years, I have dabbled in the GDN. But recently, I’ve found myself spending a lot more time there.

See, Google’s been improving how things operate on the GDN (especially the targeting options) and it’s getting harder and harder to ignore. Now, I find there are few campaigns and niches where it’s not worth at least testing GDN traffic.

So I’ve been running more and more GDN campaigns, having good success for clients, and having a blast doing it! (Hey, it may not fit your definition of fun, but I geek out on this stuff!)

How Most People Screw Up the GDN

When you set up a new AdWords campaign, Google’s default is to have the campaign run on both the Search Network and the GDN. This is where many advertisers get in trouble.

You should NEVER have a campaign running both on Google Search and the GDN. They’re totally different beasts.

On Search, people are actively typing in keywords related to a need they have at that very instant. So when you’re ad appears, it’s positioned smack dab in front of a highly motivated audience.

On GDN, people are consuming content on a web page. They’re not actively searching for what you offer. So they’re in a very different mindset than a prospect on Search.

And this is why a GDN campaign needs to be set up quite differently than a Search campaign. It requires:

  • Different keywords (if you use keywords at all).
  • Different ads.
  • Different campaign organization.
  • Different bid strategy, etc.

But most people treat them the same. And that’s a big reason why so many fail with the Display Network.

They set up one campaign that runs on Search and GDN. The campaign (if it’s optimized at all) is optimized for Search. They blow through a ton of budget on GDN clicks that haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of converting.

And they think GDN (and often AdWords in general) is an expensive waste of time and money so they give up.

Let them…just means more opportunity for those of us who know what we’re doing! 🙂

Ahh, the Possibilities

A big part of the key to a successful GDN campaign is in how you target your prospects. Here’s just a taste of the possible ways you can target people on the Display Network and leverage this largely untapped opportunity…

Contextual Targeting

This is just a fancy GDN name for targeting people using keywords…but it’s VERY different than using keywords for Search. Basically you want to choose much broader keywords for GDN than for Search and group them into themes. Then Google will find web pages across the 2+ million sites in the GDN related to the themes of your keywords and your ads can show up on those pages.

Topic Targeting

No keywords here. With Topic targeting you select topics (Google has a list of hundreds to choose from) that your target market is likely interested in.

For example, if you’re selling a health product for women you could test topics ranging from “Vitamins and Supplements”, “Women’s Health”, “Weight Loss”, “Fitness”, and more. Google will find pages on the web related to these topics and potentially display your ads there.

Interest Targeting

This is similar to Topic targeting but it’s not based on the content of the website. It’s based on the individual searcher’s interests based on their browsing history.

Unless you’re a GDN pro I’d recommend you stay clear of this option because there’s big potential for trouble (ie. The Creepy Factor) here. For example, if you’re selling an Erectile Dysfunction cure, you probably don’t want your ads showing up when your prospects are on sites related to Kitchen Appliances, Asian Cuisine or Christmas!

Managed Placements

Managed placements let you target the specific websites and/or web pages you want your ads to appear on.


This is where you target people who have previously visited your website. These can be people who came to your site through AdWords Search ads, organic search listings, email lists, social media, etc.

Google puts a cookie on their computers and you can then show ads to them on the Display Network as they surf the web. It’s an amazingly powerful way to stay in front of people who showed at least some interest in your products/services.


Yes, you can even run ads on YouTube – the world’s second largest search engine – through GDN. On YouTube, you can do demographic targeting, topic targeting, keyword targeting, remarketing and more.


Where things can really get interesting is when you combine the different GDN targeting methods – like combining remarketing with topic targeting so you show ads to those who’ve been to your website already, but only when they’re on sites related to specific topics.

Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to GDN. But hopefully it gets your brain stirring on the potential that lies within this hidden corner of the AdWords world.

If you’d like to explore the specific possibilities for your business that may lurk in the Display Network, you can either sign up for a consulting session with me to develop a GDN strategy for your business or contact me about managing a GDN campaign for you.

HUGE Changes to AdWords (This One’s My Favorite)

Last month Google announced new “Enhanced” AdWords campaigns. It’s being touted as the biggest change to AdWords in the last 5 years.

Now, I’ve been around AdWords long enough that when Google announces that something is “Enhanced” I’m, well, skeptical to say the least.

And, yes, there are some new “enhancements” that seem mostly geared to putting more money in Google’s coffers. However, we’ll leave those for another time.

Instead we’ll focus on the positive here because there are some changes which are truly big improvements. One, in particular, I’ve been waiting for for a very long time.

It has to do with what’s known as Sitelink extensions.

Sitelink extensions are additional links that can appear under you main AdWords ad (though only when your ad appears in one of the first 3 positions in the AdWords rankings).

Here’s an example of what one looks like in the wild.

dentist sitelinks

The links under the main ad lead to different pages of this dental office’s website.

The phone number leads to the Contact page, the ‘Meet the Dentists’ link leads to a page with background about each dentist…you get the idea.

Sitelinks are all about getting people to the page on your site that’s most relevant to what they’re looking for.

Sitelinks Are Great, But…

Up until now, however, Sitelinks have only been available at the Campaign level. That means if you have Sitelinks in an AdWords campaign, the Sitelinks could potentially show for every keyword and ad you have in the campaign.

There are plenty of situations where this is not a good thing.

Take the example of a decent sized attorney’s office that has attorneys practicing in a number of different specialties.

In a well organized AdWords campaign, you’d have Ad groups set up for each specialty…DUI, Bankruptcy, Divorce, etc.

In a campaign like this, it would be tough to use Sitelinks because the Sitelinks you might use for a Divorce attorney like

  • Custody Issues
  • Child Support
  • Alimony
  • Our Divorce Attorneys

would make no sense to someone searching for a DUI or Bankruptcy attorney.

In fact, if someone searching for a DUI or Bankruptcy attorney saw Sitelinks under the ad mentioning Child Support and Alimony, they’d be totally turned off by the ad!

To get around issues like this, there are accounts that we manage where we create separate campaigns JUST so we can use appropriate Sitelinks extensions.

Well, no more!

The Big Improvement

With Enhanced campaigns, you can now create Sitelinks at an ad group level. WOOHOO!

As you can see from the screenshot below, now when you go to the Sitelinks tab, you’re given the option to ‘Use campaign sitelinks extension’ or ‘Use ad group sitelinks extension’.

new sitelinks


Once you create a new Sitelink in a campaign or ad group, it’s stored in your AdWords account and it can be easily added to any Campaign and/or Ad group you create.

And It Gets Even Better…

The reporting for Sitelinks has been improved as well. Previously, the only data you could see is aggregate data that shows how many times people clicked on one of your ads that displayed Sitelinks along with it like this (click to enlarge)…

old reporting

But you had no clue which Sitelinks, if any, were actually getting clicked on.

Now, however, you can see data broken out by Sitelink. To do this, you have to go to the Segment button and choose the “This Extension vs. Other” link…


When you do this, your data now gets segmented by each Sitelink extension like this…


The data in the “This extension” row shows the data for that specific Sitelink. The “Other” row shows clicks on any other part of the ad when that Sitelink was displayed (which could be the headline of the ad, the other Sitelink extensions or another extension that may have been displayed with the ad).

This is extremely helpful because, for the first time, you can tell which extensions are actually getting clicked on. Using this data, you can now test different extensions to see which ones perform best with your ads and further optimize your ads.

I’m very excited about this new feature and it should be a very useful one for AdWords advertisers who take full advantage of it.

So kudos to Google for making this great enhancement to AdWords. It helps make up for some of the less than helpful “enhancements” that are also part of the Enhanced AdWords campaigns. But more on those another time…

Why It Pays to Be Negative In AdWords

I’ve been doing a lot of AdWords Optimization Reviews for clients recently to give them specific advice and coaching on how to improve their campaigns.

One of the clients asked me a really great question after looking over the report I sent him. The question was this…

Out of all the suggestions I made, what are the low hanging fruit? Which changes in his campaign would give him the biggest bang for his buck?

The answer to this question varies from campaign to campaign, but there’s usually one change that’s fairly easy to make and can have a big impact on performance.

It can give your clickthrough rates (and, hopefully Quality Scores along with it) a big bump. And it can save you big bucks you’re currently wasting on clicks that have little to no chance of leading to a sale.

What is this simple thing?

Adding negative keywords to your campaign.

A negative keyword is a way for you to tell Google what search terms you DON’T want your ads showing up for.

For example, let’s say you’re a dentist but you don’t work with kids. If you add “pediatric”, “children”, “kids”, etc. as negative keywords to your campaign, then your ads will not show up when people type search terms into Google like:

  • “pediatric dentist”
  • “dentist for kids”
  • “best dentist for children in st louis”

By eliminating traffic for irrelevant search terms, you’ll increase your CTRs and cut your costs.

(NOTE: This only applies if you’re using broad and/or phrase match keywords in your campaign. If you’re only using exact match keywords, you don’t have to worry about negative keywords.)

There are some nuances on HOW to use negative keywords that I’d like to share with you.

Strategically Using Match Types

Your negative keywords (as with your “regular keywords”) can have different match types.

We’ll look at negative EXACT match keywords first…

Let’s say you sell fishing poles and supplies. Good keywords for your campaign may include “fishing poles”, “fishing lures”, and “fishing tackle”.

However just the keyword “fishing” is way too broad for your purposes. Someone typing in that term could be looking for fishing tips, fishing charters, fishing videos to watch or a whole host of other possibilities. So you probably don’t want your ads showing up when someone types in plain old “fishing”.

So by adding “fishing” as a negative EXACT match keyword to your campaign, you’ll prevent your ads from appearing for the search term “fishing”. However, they’ll still show up for terms like “fishing rods”, “fishing lures” and “fishing tackle”.

Contrast that with a negative BROAD match keyword. Adding “fishing” as a negative BROAD match keyword to your campaign would prevent your ads from being displayed for any search query containing the word “fishing” in it. And, for our example, we don’t want that to happen.

Negative BROAD match keywords are best used for generic terms people may type in their search queries like “free”, “cheap”, “jobs”, etc. If “free” is a negative BROAD match keyword in your campaign, then your ads will NOT appear for search queries like “free fishing tackle”, “get a fishing pole for free” or “where can I find free fishing rods”.

Since your business is probably not giving these things away for free, you don’t want your ads appearing for terms like this. So, for words that you don’t want ads to be displayed for whenever they show up in a search query (no matter what other words they’re paired with), add them as negative BROAD match.

Campaign vs. Ad Group Negative Keywords

There are two places you can add a negative keyword in an AdWords account. You can add them at a Campaign level or at an Ad Group level.

If you add a keyword at the Campaign level, that negative keyword will apply to the entire campaign and all the ad groups in it. As with negative BROAD match keywords, good candidates for Campaign level negative keywords usually include terms like “free”, “cheap” and “jobs.”

However, making good use of Ad Group level keywords can also be very helpful. Keeping with our fishing example, let’s say we have 3 ad groups…one for fishing rods, one for fishing lures and one for fishing tackle boxes.

In the fishing lures ad group, we’ve got ads that specifically reference fishing lures. We certainly don’t want people searching for tackle boxes, rods, line, clothing or other fishing related items seeing those ads.

So in this case, we’d use Ad Group level negative keywords. We’d add negative keywords like “rods”, “poles”, “tackle boxes”, “clothing”, etc. to the fishing lures ad group to make sure people typing in search queries with those words in them don’t see our fishing lures ads.

Where to Find Good Candidates for Negative Keywords

So where can you find the negative keywords that you should add to your campaign?

Two main places:

  • Google AdWords Keyword Tool – Especially for a new campaign, this is the best place to go. Start by typing in keywords related to your business, product and/or service. As you’re looking at the list of keywords Google provides, pay attention for variations that aren’t relevant to your business. Note them down and add them to AdWords as negative keywords.
  • Search Query Report – This is the best place to find negative keywords after your campaign’s been running for a while. This report shows you the actual search terms people typed into Google before clicking on your ads. Mine this data once or month or so and look for search queries that your ads showed up for that aren’t relevant to your business. Then add those search queries as negative keywords.


Either not using (or misusing) negative keywords is one of the more common mistakes people make in AdWords. And it’s one of the easiest to fix.

So go negative to make a very positive difference in your campaign!

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