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The Basics for Google Ads (+ Remarketing) on a Budget

With advertising, people tend to think that more is better: more impressions, more views, more keyword searches. But, as with most things, everything depends on what your goals are. If you are doing an awareness campaign, then yes, more [of the right] impressions are better. But if your goal is to drive sales (i.e. conversions), you likely need to get more focused with your ads to ensure the performance is there without crazy high ad costs. And, really, since online ad costs are always rising, you should focus your audiences even if awareness is your goal.

Again, the options are virtually endless so I’m going to start with the basics (and tweaking them to get the most out of it) for now. Once you have the below mastered, or you get a budget increase you can expand into new areas.

Basic search campaign

These are just based on keywords. At the most basic level, when someone does a google search for anything, like “Fog machine,” you can bid to have your ad show up. There are different types of keyword matches, so, depending on how you build your campaign you could show up for only when someone types “Fog machine” or a close variant (exact match) to something as farfetched as “Halloween fog machine decoration” (broad match). For this reason, being focused and narrow with your campaigns is extremely important.

There are many different ways to build basic search campaigns, and your campaigns should be structured to meet whatever your goal is (ex: acquisition v. conversion). At the most basic level, you should start using search to find people who are already on the hunt for a product or service like yours. Once you understand that, and who your ideal customer is, you can work on find like-minded groups of people and converting them.

Remarketing and display ads

Remarketing campaigns allow you to follow site visitors and show them ads (Note: if you do international marketing, you really need to check your strategies against GDPR). You can set the parameters for who you want to retarget based on the pages they've visited, actions they've completed, or days since their last visit.

Display ads are what you typically think of when you see an ad online - an image (either still or moving) with a clear call to action. I typically only use display ads when I’m building remarketing campaigns.

My first step in remarketing for ecommerce is cart abandonment. I like to make several different audiences, usually based on pages viewed and last visit, so I can tailor and compare cart abandonment remarketing success. You can either make traditional display ads with images or make responsive ads, or do both.

A glimpse at a (very!) basic Google Ads account

With online ads, it's easy to spend a lot of money without gathering too much data, and I don't like doing that. For one of my clients we started out small (see below) and eventually grew this once we had the ROI to justify a higher spend.

  • Brand campaign: This was focused on driving people searching for Client A’s branded keywords and driving them to the right page. Having a brand campaign in conjunction with solid SEO can help you have 2 options for people to click right at the top of the page (increasing the likelihood they will visit your page) but they can be more beneficial if 1) you’re not ranking well or 2) people have a hard time getting to the right page and you can direct them with ads.

  • High margin/Best-seller campaign: Once you know which products you want to sell more of, a targeted ad campaign can help you get in front of new, like-minded shoppers at a low cost. In general, I’d recommend you keep a narrow focus and do some keyword research to make sure you understand the traffic you get with the money you spend.

  • Remarketing campaign: For this, we had several different audiences based on pages viewed and days since last visit and built display, text and responsive ads to run in conjunction.

  • Pro Tips:

  • Ideally you want very few, focused keywords in each campaign. You should not have multiple broad match keywords in a campaign. And, in general, if you have any broad match keywords you need to be monitoring them heavily and adding negative keywords based on the actual search terms to make sure your spend and corresponding traffic is appropriate.

  • A/B testing for ads – you should always have at least 2 Ads running and continue to iterate and improve your ad copy!

  • Make different audiences so down the road you can get more out of your data

🤓 OFTEN MISSED – don’t make these mistakes!

  • Make sure your Google Ads & Analytics accounts are linked and sending data back and forth.

  • Block your IP address – you don’t want to skew your data or, even worse, pay for clicks from your own staff.

  • Location targeting – If you only sell in the United States, make sure your ads are only showing to people in the US. You don’t want to pay to get customers who can’t buy from you! And if you do sell outside of the US, make sure your site and advertising is GDPR compliant.

  • Keyword match – Google has been making changes, and “same-meaning close variants” could show up in your account. It’s worth reiterating, you want to be very focused and regularly checking your account to make sure you’re getting the right traffic.

How do you evaluate your cross-channel ad performance? I'd love to connect and help you get the most out of your campaigns.

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