How to build a winning Google Ads strategy
Paid advertising campaigns are an essential tool for digital marketers, allowing you to access an engaged audience actively looking for whatever it is you are offering. But how can you ensure your campaigns are optimised for success?
To celebrate Manifesto’s newly-acquired Google Search Partner Status, I recently took a trip to Dublin to take in a one-day training workshop delivered by Samantha Noble of Biddable Moments. My key takeaways form three cornerstones of a successful Google Ads strategy.
Set goals: micro and macro
Setting meaningful goals is one of the most important pillars for a paid ad campaign. If you can’t measure your performance against an agreed set of objectives, there’s no way to fine tune your campaign setup.
You have to make sure that you don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees, or in other words, that you’re focusing on the goals that will make the most difference instead of being sidetracked by less important ones.
To do that, put your goals into a simple macro-micro hierarchy. Macro goals are the ones where measurable value is being generated, e.g. a sale or donation, whereas micro goals are those which are merely a step along the path, e.g. a whitepaper download or a newsletter signup. Micro goals feed into macro goals – they can help indicate whether you’re on the right track, but shouldn’t become the focus of your activity. A single campaign should really only have a single macro goal.
Once you’ve agreed on your macro goals you can set up a report card grading system to measure your success over a set time period e.g.
‘A grade’ = 100 conversions
‘B grade’ = 60 conversions
‘C grade’ = 40 conversions
And set a target cost per acquisition (CPA) for each macro goal.
This will make assessing the performance of multiple campaigns much simpler and help you decide where you need to allocate more of your optimisation time.
Create trustworthy landing pages
While it can be tempting to spend the bulk of your time obsessing over bid strategies, keywords and placement rules, it’s on your landing pages where the battle is really won or lost. Capturing traffic is often the easy part; it’s converting traffic into custom that really tests a marketer’s skill.
An effective tool for optimising landing pages (and, by extension, your conversion rate and, by extension, your CPA) is A/B testing. This is where two variants of a landing page (one original, and one which contains a hypothesised improvement) are served in parallel. There are many tools available for running these experiments, including Google Optimize and Unbounce, which come with robust statistical analysis so you know categorically whether your changes are for the better or worse.
Two considerations are key:
Ensure that the ad text that drives visitors to your landing pages is closely aligned with the copy they find there. For example, if your ads contain a key phrase like ‘10% off’, make sure that appears on the landing page too.
The same goes for any visual design elements used in ads, brand names, product descriptions etc.
Landing pages can be made more trustworthy through:
- HTTPS encryption
- Phone numbers
- Reassurance tokens, e.g. partner badges, awards, certificates
- Social proof, e.g. reviews, testimonials
Build on success through iteration and optimisation
One of the most important days in the journey of any PPC marketer is when they realise that the best recipe for success is doubling down on your winning tactics while abandoning the ones that don’t work so well. This is harder than it sounds because it requires emotionally detaching yourself from what you think should have worked and instead just following what works in real life.
One example, and a great takeaway from the Dublin workshop, is optimising based on location. It often wouldn’t occur to someone running a nationwide campaign to look at the different conversion rates by geographical region, but often there are large disparities. By ploughing all your spend into the best performing areas, and dialling down on the rest, you can really cut down on wastage.
Work with a trusted Google Search Partner
Okay, this one isn’t strictly necessary, but if you lack the expertise, confidence or capacity for running Google Ads campaigns in house, working with a Google Search Partner can really help you get more return on your ad spend.
Manifesto’s Google Search Partner status means that we’ve demonstrated Google Ads skills and expertise, met Google ad spend requirements, delivered client revenue growth and sustained and grown our client base.
For help developing, executing and optimising your Google Ads campaigns, get in touch.