They say practice makes perfect. While I can’t claim I know everything about Google Ads, I’ve spent my fair share building and launching ad campaigns for businesses from all walks of life. So today, I decided it was about time to share some of my wisdom after dealing with Google Ads almost every day for the past few years.
The information below will be helpful for business owners looking to expand their knowledge of Google Ads, learn more about the nuances of ad campaign performance, and uncover some common misconceptions about running ads on this giant platform.
The Gap Between Expectations and Reality in Google Ads Results
As odd as it might sound, the biggest struggle of my job as a Google Ads account manager and strategist is to balance client expectations vs the reality they face when advertising their business on Google.
I can think through a strategy and launch campaigns in no time (of course, after doing thorough research and aligning it with the business goals). But the real challenge starts when it’s time to explain what to expect, how long it might take to see the results, and point out issues the client needs to address to improve the performance.
And because there are so many misunderstandings among business owners regarding advertising, this “educational” process takes quite a bit of my time. So, I’ll outline some of the most important things each business should know when using the Google Ads platform.
After all, only so many things depend on me as a Google Ads expert. The rest is up to the technicalities, algorithms, product/service competitiveness, website quality, tracking configurations, ad budget… Well, you get what I mean.
Conversion Tracking: The Backbone of Measuring Success
If you read a few other posts I wrote (actually, most of them – so you can go ahead and check them out here), this section won’t be something new to you. And as much as I’d love to forever close the topic of the importance of conversion tracking, I still have to explain it to different businesses every week.
It’s not because I want to find a reason to justify a lower performance (I’m pretty sure many business owners think so when I tell them about that) – it’s because Google itself takes conversion tracking very seriously – of course, apart from the fact that proper tracking also helps your business assess your marketing results based on data and not just pure assumptions.
Imagine you’ve been running Google Ads for a few years and have been spending at least $100 per day on them. Suppose you don’t have conversion tracking in your Analytics and Google Ads (e.g., counting phone calls, contact form submissions, purchases, etc.). In that case, you have no idea how your advertising efforts are paying off and whether they work at all.
And what’s more, Google algorithms also have no clue what’s going on in your ad account as there’s no data regarding what your business considers as a conversion, what is the value of that conversion, what is your desired cost per acquisition (CPA) or return on ad spend (ROAS).
Basically, without telling the system what you want it to acquire, you rely on luck. Yes, things might still work well for your business without conversion tracking. But the main question is: Do you want to know how well or poorly they work and how to improve their performance?
You can only know the correct answer to those questions if you track your conversions from ads.
And by the way, if you currently have someone managing your ads and reporting to you about the performance without recording conversions inside your ad account, you might want to rethink their expertise (unless they explicitly warned you about that and you decided not to configure tracking.)
So, let’s sum up the important stuff:
- Tracking users’ key actions on your business website lets you know your target audience better and see how potential customers from various marketing channels interact with your ads, website, content, etc.
- Conversion tracking helps you know the actual cost of your advertising efforts and make data-based decisions regarding your overall marketing strategy.
- Properly set up conversion actions inside your Google Ads account fuel the algorithms and help advanced, automated bidding strategies work better for your campaigns.
- Conversion tracking can help you allocate your advertising budgets better and sometimes even decide whether you need to spend money on specific marketing channels at all.
- Tracking conversions contributes to a better understanding of your site performance and provides insights about what else you can do to improve ad performance and help your business grow faster.
Budgeting Wisely: Balancing Spend and ROI
How much should I spend on my Google Ads? – This is the question we hear at Zima Media almost every day. And the truth is, if I tell you how much I think you should spend, you will probably not like my answer.
So, let me explain why it is so.
Google is a very competitive platform where the “big guys” fight for the same spot as the smaller businesses. Thus, the budget really defines how much you can get from your ads. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even consider advertising if you can’t spend thousands of dollars per day like giant corporations. But it means that you should be realistic regarding your expectations.
That’s why we ask you, as a business owner, how much you’re willing to spend on ads and then build the strategy based on that information. Of course, we can provide our suggestions and modifications. But believe it or not, $100/day vs. $1000/day spend does make a difference when it comes to implementing a strategy, building your ad campaigns, and reporting on them.
- How fast you’ll be able to see the results: the smaller the budget, the longer it’ll take for the algorithms to learn, gather conversions, and apply that data to your campaigns to help boost the performance of your ads.
- How competitive your ads are: if your industry needs to spend at least $10 per click to win the auction and be on the absolute top of Google search results, your ads simply can’t appear every single time in that placement if, let’s say, your budget is $50 per day. The ad might appear once on top of search results and a few more times in other placements.
- How much exposure your ads get: the bigger the budget, the more often your ads appear on Google. For example, if 100 people search for your product/service per day and the average CPC for that search is $5, you’d need at least a $500 daily budget for your ad to show up for all those searches. So, that’s why your ads don’t appear all those multiple times you’re trying to google your own products (please, stop doing it right now and let the system enter into bidding when your potential customers are performing searches – not you; otherwise, you might be wasting your budget.)
- How much ROI you can get: sometimes, businesses can be happy with their ad results on a moderate budget, primarily if they can’t process more orders or take many new clients. However, if the business goal is to grow with the help of ads, it might be tough to avoid increasing the budget spend. In many cases, you can get only so much from ads with a certain budget. But if you tested many things, figured out what works better for you, and are happy with the results, it only makes sense to increase your daily ad spend and try getting more from what has already proven to work.
Of course, a bigger budget does not always mean better results. Every business is different (not a surprise at all, huh?) Sometimes, when there isn’t enough search demand for a specific product or service on Google, spending more won’t help. On the contrary, it can increase your CPA and lower ROAS. That’s why it’s crucial to let your Google Ads manager know what budget they can work with so that they can customize the strategy according to your desired daily ad spend and specific business goals and provide relevant suggestions.
Landing Page Quality: More Than Just a Destination
It’s truly impressive how so many people out there can’t believe that their website is the face of their business, especially if it’s an online business. So, let me put it this way: you can have the most talented and creative Ads manager set up your ads (maybe even the best one out there), but if your website/landing page is terrible, they won’t be able to help you get the most out of your campaigns.
Users can get super excited about the sweet offer described in your ad and gladly click on it. But once they get to your website after that click, they need to be impressed and convinced even more to proceed to checkout or click that “Contact Us” button.
So, I’ll repeat it one more time to all business owners out there: the quality of your website matters as much as the quality of your ads (if not more.)
If you were the only business offering your products and services, you probably could have gotten away with a poor, low-quality site simply because there wouldn’t be any other alternative. But considering the growing amount of competition, you have to ensure your website is user-friendly, trustworthy and doesn’t look like a scam.
And what’s more, Google also loves fast, high-quality websites that provide exceptional user experience for those using their platform daily. So don’t be surprised if your competitor gets better results while spending as much money as you are on ads just because they have a better website.
Understanding Google’s Suggestions: A Double-Edged Sword
I have a love-hate relationship with Google. Since I have to deal with it every day, at this point, I know most of its features and tricks. While Google Ads is a fantastic way to put your business in front of thousands of interested users and potential customers, it’s also not as easy as it seems to navigate the whole process without falling into some of its traps.
To my mind, one of the biggest Google Ads traps is Automated Recommendations, which make businesses believe they’re doing everything possible to improve their ad performance when, in reality, they might be ruining it.
I cannot count the number of times I had to revamp an ad account that automated recommendations have jeopardized. That’s why I will never stop warning businesses to avoid even looking at those recommendations, especially if they have a dedicated account manager.
It might sound like I’m portraying Google to be evil. It’s not. But it’s pretty mischievous.
Just like you’re a business, Google is one, too. You want to make money off its platform, and it wants to make money off you. It’s as simple as that.
That’s why I highly recommend not considering every single recommendation Google sends you as the best practice. Yes, some of those recommendations might make sense. And even if you were to go ahead and apply them, you should only do it if you analyze them and determine how they might affect your campaign. Often, many of them don’t apply to your business or account structure (remember I mentioned that all businesses are different?)
If you had an ad specialist set up your Google Ads campaigns, do not accept any recommendations from Google, as they’re there for those businesses who somehow managed to launch ads on their own but don’t know enough about it to optimize the performance further.
So, if you don’t want to ruin the work of experts who worked on your ad account and prevent yourself from spending more money on some Google Ads features that don’t apply to your business, take everything Google “offers” to you with a grain of salt.
Staying Updated With Google Ads Trends and New Features
Google never sleeps, quite literally. Technology changes, user behavior changes, trends change, economy changes, you name it.
The same applies to Google Ads.
I am trying to remember the number of changes Google implemented on its platform over the past few months. And that’s considering I spend most of the time working with Google Ads. So, if I had to take care of my business operations on top of that, I definitely wouldn’t have known about the latest updates and best practices.
That’s what happens to many businesses. They have their campaigns built and let them run independently for months or even years without optimizing them. And the biggest mistake here is believing that what worked five years ago will continue working. Well, it might, yet not guaranteed. At this point, something that worked a few months ago doesn’t work anymore.
If you were to keep your ad account up-to-date, you could have much better results, your ads would be more competitive, and you could discover new growth opportunities. So, my point is, don’t be afraid to optimize your ad campaigns, and better let professional marketers do it. The advertising space is constantly evolving, and if you don’t want your competitors to overtake you, you must use the latest best practices and try out new features.
My colleagues at Zima Media and I always stay on top of what’s going on in the online marketing world and adjust our strategies accordingly to help businesses reach their goals worldwide (check out our case studies and see for yourself). That’s also why I strongly agree with what I said in this post. So, if you feel like your ad account needs a revamp or you’d want to give Google Ads a try, you can reach out to us right now so that we can jump on a call and discuss what we can do to help your business too (p.s. and yes, the call is free 😉 )