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The Kong Academy provides actional hints, tips and guides to making the most of your eCommerce store.

Making the most of Adwords on a Budget

Kong Academy - How to sell online

Here we take an indepth look at particular topics of interest to beginner and established webstore owners.

Making the most of Adwords on a Budget

Julian James

If you’ve done a Google search recently – and let’s face it, you have – you’ll have noticed that the screen real estate taken up by Google Ads has become larger and larger.

With paid ads taking pride of place over organic listings, it can seem like a sound marketing idea to invest your spare pennies into a Google ad campaign. After all, others are spending a total of £18,000,000 a day doing so.

But although Google’s definitely getting rich from that figure, not everyone else is. Here’s how to get the most bang for your Adwords buck without maxing out your credit cards.

Be cautious  

Let’s face it: Google has a vested interest when it comes to ad campaign expenditure. You’ll see this when it offers you a series of suggested ‘Ad Groups’ – high-traffic related keywords – based on your own proposed keywords.

Adding these to your campaign is fine if you have bottomless pockets. But for the rest of us it’s likely to be an expensive exercise in targeting traffic that doesn’t convert.

Tip: Google will also suggest you show your ads on their partner sites. Give this a miss until you know what ads work – and where.

Embrace the niche

Rather than throwing your money at very general keywords, think small, niche, and product-specific. By choosing very specific, narrow keywords you’ll reach fewer people, but you’ll be reaching those far more likely to convert.

Using your Analytics history, especially if you have eCommerce Tracking enabled, is a great starting point.

The following scenarios outline when an ad spend is a good idea – and when it isn’t.

High sales, low traffic
If your store has popular products that don’t rank in organic search, create an ad for these. Given that the products are already selling well, the extra traffic should result in additional sales.

Low sales, low traffic
While you’re there, if your store has products that aren’t selling well but you feel as though they should be, try a few small campaigns for these. Lack of traffic might just be the problem.

Low sales, high traffic
If you have products that are ranking well in organic search, that receive plenty of traffic, and still aren’t selling, an ad campaign won’t fix things. Instead, check out our articles on boosting your conversion rates and improving your product descriptions, and see our tips on pricing strategies.

Organise your ads

It can be tempting to set up a campaign that simply directs traffic to your homepage. We’re all pressed for time, and this approach involves the fewest clicks.

This is a great way to spend money – but not a great way to increase conversions or to assess how effective your ad campaign actually is.

Get organised by breaking down your ads into Campaigns – collections of AdGroups – based on whether they’re for categories such as products, collections, special offers, or specifically branded items.

Get specific with your keywords

 Your ads should be specific to the keywords being used. Setting up more AdGroups with fewer keywords is better than the opposite. Include your keywords in the ‘headline’ (top line) of your advert for a better ROI.

Tip: If you’re an advanced user, you might want to try Dynamic Keyword Insertion, a tool that places a user’s search string into a headline.

Get location-specific, too

If you’re targeting users in a specific location, or are selling location-specific items, narrow your campaign accordingly. If your store only serves customers in London, there’s no need to spend money advertising to residents of Paraguay.

Make a user take action

Telling a visitor what to do might feel pushy, but it’s an effective way to boost conversions. Catch users’ attention with an explicit call-to-action paired with an offer such as free delivery, same-day shipping, a voucher code or a sale alert – you’ll see an increase in clicks.

Educate yourself on keywords

Understanding how keywords are used in search and what forms a ‘keyword match’ is a must for effective ad campaigns – otherwise it’s easy to end up needlessly wasting your ad spend. 

Start by using only ‘exact match’ keywords – those triggered when people search for the exact phrase you’ve incorporated into your campaign. You an also combine these with ‘negative keywords’ for further specificity. For example, if you sell luxury goods, use ‘cheap’ as a negative keyword to avoid unnecessary expenditure.

Tip: Identify negative keywords using WordStream; you can also connect your AdWords and Analytics account and use this to identify relevant terms.

Measure your ROI

The most obvious ROI is sales, which you can track through your eCommerce software or within your Google AdWords reports.

If you don’t have conversion or eCommerce tracking set up, Google’s Quality Score can be a good proxy for measuring the success of your campaign. If your keywords are rated at less than 5, consider removing them, improving your landing pages, or increasing your bids.

Tip: Return is one thing, but don’t forget to measure your investment cost – factor your ad campaign costs into your profit margins to make sure you’re getting out more than you put in.

Dip your toe in before making the leap

Google Ads can be an effective marketing tool if used carefully and with an eye on your budget. If you’re new to AdWords campaigns, set yourself a very small budget and run a campaign using just a handful of keywords over a few days.

Once you’re confident with the system and how it works, you can start expanding your campaign – while keeping a close eye on your ROI.

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