10 Common AdWords Mistakes that Kill Campaigns

A strategically planned AdWords campaign can drive tons of laser-targeted, high-quality traffic to your website. However, if not done correctly, this online marketing method can cost you a lot of money without returns. Here are some of the most common mistakes and how you can avoid them to get the best return on your investment.

1- Using Incorrect Keywords

Writing pay-per-click (PPC) ad copy without including the primary keyword is akin to shooting in the dark. You are unlikely to hit your target audience, who are actively seeking information related to your products.

Google assigns an “Ad Rank” to establish whether an advert appears in search results, and where it appears on the page. Several algorithms determine this rank, the most critical of which is relevance to the search. The text in your PPC ad should therefore match the information your target audience wants. Use relevant targeted keywords, which result in better ad ranking, more conversions and reduced cost per click.

2- Having No Clear Budget

People often make the costly mistake of not assigning a fixed initial budget to their campaign. Putting in large sums of money and hoping to reap high returns on your investment is not a good strategy.

Establishing an initial AdWords campaign budget based on your overall marketing budget, other marketing campaigns and return on investment goals gives you a head start.

3- Writing Poor Ad Copy

You can spend a fortune bidding for the most competitive and relevant keywords and get your ads ranked high on the search engine placement metrics. However, if your copy isn’t compelling, there’s very little chance anyone will click.

Most modern web users have developed a shorter attention span and a blindness to “annoying” ads as a result of excessive exposure to marketing messages. They tune out promotions of any kind. In a market where every seller fights for customers’ attention, powerful and well-structured ad copy is essential.

Elaborate on the benefits you offer. Include information that is similar to the persuasive snippets in organic searches. Use extensions effectively to list more information about your business. Make your ads more personal and conversational, rather than opting for a cold, clinical and staccato style. Show your audience what’s in it for them, rather than writing boring assembly-line ads. Keep the language simple and straightforward to offer the audience an immediate view of your products.

4- Missing Negative Keywords

The negative keywords feature can help you separate the wheat from the chaff, and give you highly targeted clicks that can reduce your ad spend and increase return on investment per click. Using this feature, you can eliminate words that are not relevant matches for your products.

For instance, if you sell exercise pants for women, you want your ads to feature under women’s pants but not under women’s office pants or women’s party pants. Using the right phrases as negative keywords eliminates people who are not looking for your products, and saves you paying for a bunch of inappropriate clicks.

5- Ignoring Return on Investment (ROI)

Newcomers may find it slightly intimidating to track conversions through the business’ sales funnel. However, this exercise separates campaigns that offer an encouraging ROI from the cash-swallowing, no-good campaigns. The process requires a well-defined sales funnel, complemented by tools such as Campaign Tracking Pixel or Google Analytics.

Without measuring ROI, you will never get an accurate analysis of keywords that are working well, non-performing keywords that you should drop immediately and campaigns that have the potential to do well with a push in the right direction.

6- Not Using Location-Specific Ads

Yes, the Internet opens your business to the entire world as potential customers. However, different people have different purchasing habits. Lifestyle, local trends, weather and family income levels all influence people’s purchasing decisions. You are therefore more likely to find PPC success by geo-targeting your ads. Even multinationals are better placed when they tailor ads for different locations.

Geo-targeting works for local businesses and virtual enterprises that sell products specifically suited for particular regions. If you’re selling floral summer shirts, you’ll obviously be better placed selling your products in sunny California or Hawaii than in colder states. If you have an all-fashion store, create separate ads geo-targeting regions that have warm and cold climates to cater for specific needs.

7- Having Unrealistic AdWords Expectations

Some newbies jump on the AdWords bandwagon with highly unrealistic expectations. They expect their ads to reach a large audience (because it’s Google, goes the rationale) and to achieve excellent ROI quickly. They set up their campaigns with a small budget that isn’t enough to test returns until the campaign starts performing reasonably well.

With AdWords, you rarely hit the jackpot from the beginning. PPC campaigns can only be optimized after numerous test runs, performance metrics analysis and strategic planning. You need time, patience and persistence to crack the PPC code.

8- Stuffing Your Ad with Keywords

Overenthusiastic marketers often stuff their ads with many keywords, hoping to capture a wider audience. This strategy is as effective as hitting everywhere on a dartboard with the hope of getting a bullseye. Not targeting the right audience will result in losses due to the high cost per click.

Before launching the campaign, think about your target audience, the exact benefits you offer them and the terms or phrases they are most likely to use to search for your products. Focus on the most relevant keywords (about 5-15) for your products to improve campaign focus and a healthy conversion rate.

9- Writing Misleading Ad Copy

This is the worst thing you can do to your credibility. Irrelevant, misleading and incompatible ads that take potential customers to an unrelated landing page are downright frustrating. Your customers will view your business with skepticism and you will lose their trust.

If you’re selling a specific product and have identified the right keywords, send potential customers directly to the landing page for that product, not to a general page. This gives them quick access to precisely what they are looking for and promotes immediate action.

10- Not Capitalizing on Seasonal Ads

Give year-round ads a break during festivals, holidays and special occasions to cash in on seasonal trends and buyers. Making your ad relevant to the season helps it clearly stand out from everyday promotional clutter.

Plan Mother’s Day specials, Christmas blow-out sales, Thanksgiving specials and more — basically, anything that’s relevant for the season and rings a bell with seasonal buyers.

Google AdWords PPC can be one of the most rewarding marketing programs for those willing to capitalize on its features. Few online marketing methods allow the tweaking, analysis, control and flexibility found in AdWords. Knowing about and avoiding these common mistakes can go a long way in helping you tap the right markets to build solid online ventures.

Tewfic Kattan
About Tewfic Kattan
Tewfic is managing partner and head of Paid Channels at Sandstorm. His 15+ years experience spans both traditional and digital marketing with specialism in PPC, Analytics and E-commerce Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) working with some of the region's largest brands including Aramex and DAMAC.
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