What Small Business Needs to Know to Conquer Google Ads in 2020
So you have a small business, maybe you’re a small retail business, or maybe you’re a consultant, or a personal trainer. Whatever your business is, chances are that likely word-of-mouth is your best source for new clients, and that in addition at least 67% of you are spending money on Google Ads or some other online marketing medium (based on a study last year). So you setup your ads, targeted your local locality, and listed keyword search terms that seemed relevant to your business or industry and thought, that’s it, now I’m going to get customers. Right? But it didn’t work out that way, did it? Not only that, but you’re $500 (or more) poorer and you’re not going to go out with your buddies.
Note: This is a “Live Blog Post” – meaning that we will continuously update this blog post with lessons learned as they become known. Be sure to subscribe to our emails to be updated with new lessons that we learn with using Google Ads.
Most small business owners go through some sort of experience like that. You know why? Because in the world of large corporate giants, the company is looking out for their own interests, and the interests of the top shareholder interests.
Wo wo wo! I’m not trying to start a political discussion, angry demonstration, or say that it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that’s just the reality. And you know what? That’s OK! We’re going to work around Google’s policies with these Google Ads tips to come. But before we do that, it’s very important to know “WHY?” Google doesn’t just make it easy for you to get big conversions (and trust me, if they wanted, they could).
Reality Check: Google Doesn’t Give a $#!@ About You, Small Business Owner, and the reason why is because of their financial statements.
But… Why Doesn’t Google Care?
…Because believe it or not… if Google cared… they would lose money. A lot of money… and that’s not good business for them or their shareholders.
How Would Google Lose Money on Your Ineffective Ad Spend? Wouldn’t a Happy Customer Mean More Business for Google?
We have to answer these very important questions before we can begin giving you tips to optimize your small business advertising via Google Ads.
Google is making most of their money off ineffective ad spend. Most people who click on your ads are people who don’t actually convert (give you money, an email, or something else). Even under most best conditions, there is still wasted ad spend in the double digits for you or your customers (if you’re an agency). Let me try to explain with numbers:
Let’s take 10 clicks from 10 random search terms with the keyword “flowers” in them (let’s say you’re a local florist). Every search term is an opportunity for Google to make money, but only if someone is bidding on those specific keywords (whether directly through exact term searches, or indirectly through broad searches. So if someone is not bidding on the search terms, then Google is not monetizing or potentially monetizing on that search term. If from those 10 search terms, that traffic resulted in 10 clicks to your website, which in turn resulted in 1 sale, then hypothetically you got the revenue from sale, and that sale should hypothetically pay off the 9 clicks that led to nothing; thus you should be able to pocket some “sort of profit.”
This is essentially the goal that Google is trying to achieve.
This process is straightforward if you sell widgets/products/online subscriptions and a bit painstaking if you’re selling premium services which can be difficult to track with “conversion targeting.”
“Biting the Hand that Feeds You”
If Google gave you the ability to hyper-target the searches most likely that will convert, then you’re going to end up paying much, much less to Google. Sure, you’ll be happier, but you’ll be biting the hand that feeds you (feeds you clients and customers that is). So as long as you’re making some money, then you’re happy since you’re getting some business, and Google is happy because they’re happily taking your advertising budget (with a smile, and a smile from happy Google stock owners).
It’s true. Google does give you ad tools.
I don’t mean to be negative Nancy, but most people don’t know how to effectively use those tools, or may know them to some degree. Not to mention, not all tools are created for your benefit. in 2019, Google removed the ability to target “mobile-browsers only” for display advertising, requiring mobile targeting to include both browsers and apps. You better believe this made people (like me) upset. This is a problem because most advertisers found that targeting apps was extremely ineffective due to people and their children mistakenly clicking on ads while trying to play a Game or ad. The only solution to that problem is to manually block the specific apps from displaying your ads.
So now that you understand how Google is approaching their relationship with their advisers (not to mention that they have some of the shittiest Indian customer support), and thus why we need to keep this in mind when creating our campaign. Don’t worry if you didn’t understand this point, we’ll cover it again.
… But don’t fret. We’re going to cover some important lessons-learned from our experience, as well as other marketer’s experiences; you will want to take notes.
Lessons Learned from Losing Money on Google Ads
Careful Preparation & Setup Are KEYS to Success with Google Ads
We are supposed to warm up before we exercise, meticulously plan our homes before we build them, and make a list before we go shopping for groceries, why wouldn’t we plan our ad systems before advertising?
Lesson 1. You Must Have a Goal, a Conversion, and Some Way of Tracking that Conversion.
This might sound like common sense to many, but most people who advertise on Google ads don’t have conversion tracking setup. There is literally and almost no way of tracking how successful a keyword or search term that you’re bidding on is able to generate customers or business for you without some sort of conversion tracking (there is a way to do this through Google Analytics but we’ll touch on this in a separate article to come). Before you spend even $1 on Google Ads, Bing Ads, or any ad system, you must, absolutely must, have a way of understanding from where your conversions are coming from and which keywords/search terms are leading you there.
However, if you still feel like you’ll need help or won’t want to deal with this crucial step in optimizing your campaigns, then you can reach out to us, or if you’re on a budget, you can pay someone about $10 to $15 on fiverr to implement it for you.
Just do the following:
Simply go to www.fiverr.com
-Go to www.fiverr.com
-In the search, type in “conversion tracking”
-In the filter, choose vendors from India (click on “Seller Details” and then “Seller Lives In…,” choose “India”) with a max of $15 (optional) – we found that the skill levels in India (but also some other countries like Sri Lanka) necessary to implement conversion tracking at for this cost were more than sufficient, and the workers proved to be knowledgeable.
You’ll want to implement conversion tracking on all phone numbers you have on your website and landing pages, email submission forms, and purchases. You can apply the same process for Bing Ads as well. If you have any questions with this, please feel free to send us a message.
Before You Make Any Ads, Ask Your Customers About what they VALUE
Lesson 2. So you have your business, you’re ready to draft a few ads, and hit to the “advertise” button?
Get ready to lose a bunch of money.
If you think you know your customers better than they do, you’re Google-Ads-dead wrong.
This is one of the most abused theories of businesses both big and small; in other words, the act of businesses and their service providers assuming the exact reasons why their customers do business with them. You will run into big financial $$$ problems or missed opportunities if you think that your customers love you or do business with you because of whatever is floating in your head (as opposed to inquiring with their head first). You must survey (either directly or indirectly) your clients and customers and understand what is it about you that move customers to do business with you, or, if you are just getting started, then you must find out what your prospects are looking for and why they’re looking for it. Often times this type of research has already been researched for most markets, and you can purchase this information from third-party vendors.
Answers are guaranteed to surprise you. (Click on the link above to learn more).
I can reference studies that I’ve conducted to validate previous ventures but the truth is that it’s better to apply this idea to a small business for relevancy. Let’s say that you’re thinking to open a small-to-medium-sized grocery store in a local community. The grocery store market is actually very diverse and vast, and there are several micro-niches (or buckets) of people and markets that exist that explain why certain people prefer to shop at one grocery market, as opposed to another grocery market. The type of people who typically shop at large chain grocery markets and the type of people that shop at organic specialty stores are typically very different people who are motivated by different values and needs.
“The type of people who typically shop at large chain grocery markets and the type of people that shop at organic specialty stores are typically very different people who are motivated by different values and needs.”
Understanding the values and needs of one’s market will give insight into which resources a business should invest in. For example, perhaps after conducting a study, one finds that people really value quick and helpful customer service when doing business with you, and the customer is willing to pay a premium price, or at least choose your business over a competitor for that experience.
The reason why this step is so key is because after finding out the necessary information, you’ll actually have exactly what you need to write your marketing copy. For example, if you’re operating a boutique gym, and you find out from asking your customers who come to the gym that they come because it’s uncrowded, it’s clean, and has a warm & encouraging community, then that feedback gives you you the ammunition you need to use in your ads to find similar, like-minded customers.
The way to do this correctly is to allow your customers to give open answers, don’t give them a quiz to fill out – create a conversation with them. You’ll find much more value in taking an open, conversational approach.
One other mistake business owners make is that just because the business owner will go out and start a business based on certain ideas or principles, doesn’t mean that their customers are doing business with them for the same reasons, or feel the same way.
Give the Customer What they Want
Once you have your feedback, you can begin organizing your customers in buckets (or segments), and then you can create specific ads and landing pages (***make sure not to miss lesson #6***) for those groups of customers by using the exact answers that they give you.
It’s OK to Start Small & Grow with Segmented Ad Groups
Lesson 3. Often times an industry can be competitive and expensive, like the medical industry. You can avoid the competition by bidding on “long-tail” terms related to your industry (specific needs as opposed to the direct need).
Most people will tell you to cast a wide net with several search terms, but if you don’t have a big budget, start slow with conservative or known search terms, and then build up in additional advertising. If you’re one of 50 mechanics in your medium-sized city, competing against other mechanics for business may get expensive, especially with no success guaranteed. Rather than competing with general terms like “land cruiser mechanic,” you can start with lower-cost related search terms that address specific needs. Referencing the diagram above, it might be easier, cheaper, and more profitable to pay $2.10 for the term “2004 honda civic check engine light” and creating a brief landing page that addresses that specific issue (see lesson #6), and be sure to include a quick way of contacting you, than it might be to pay $6 for every instance that someone clicks “land cruiser mechanic.”
This will of course take time and testing to find out what’s effective, but ultimately less competition will provide you a bigger spotlight in search results.
Are you getting value from this article? Please share with friends, family, and small business owners 🙂
If You Didn’t Read the Introduction to this Article, Let me Summarize it For You.
Lesson 4. The first rule of Google Ads Club, is to not trust Google Ads. The second rule of Google Ads Club, is to not trust Google ads, nor their support team.
Again, I’m aware that it might seem illogical that Google doesn’t want you to be the “most” successful that you can be… but as it’s already been observed from several of their business decisions, it’s almost undeniable by their actions that they (Google) have implemented with their search product and ad tools to conclude that they are untrustworthy (and that their support team is delinquent). What we recommend is to find an expert to do, or an expert who teaches a class (if you prefer to do it yourself), and learn from a professional who has spent considerable time learning to best Google.
In fact, many of the recommendations that we have in this article come directly from full-time Google Ads experts who advocate the same principles. It’s in Google’s financial interest to provide you the platform to interact with a large number of the world-wide population, but it’s not in their interest to ensure that you know exactly what you need to do to best their platform for your gain 🤔.
Google’s latest venture is called Google (Ads) “smart ads,” and the feature makes their tool extremely easy to use and implement. From our tests we were even able to gain conversions from it, and we enjoy that it makes it very easy to advertise on Google Maps.
But make no mistake, it was fully created so that you throw a bunch of (your) money into mildly related search terms with little to no control with your ad spend. I’m not saying you won’t experience some success with it, but it’s very likely that your success will be “somewhat successful” at best, because Google smart ads doesn’t give you the necessary flexibility, insights, and decision-making abilities that you need to correctly make proper judgments to best optimize your Google Ads.
Rather than resort to Google Smart Ads, you should slowly and conservatively build out your ads with related search terms and targeted ads that fit your budget.
Optimize Your Search Ads… The Right Way
Lesson 5. Are you guilty of looking at your ads and then making impulsive judgments without properly A/B testing? Just stop.
Yea, yea, I know we’re all guilty of this one… you know what I’m talking about… I’m talking about generalizing or making conclusions on whims. For example, it’s very easy to see three instances of pitbulls attacking kids and then think that all pitbulls attack kids; it simply doesn’t work that way. Likewise, when it comes to Google Ads, if you wrote two or three ads, or perhaps came up with a new ad on the fly, it may seem like you wrote a much better ad because it sounds good in your head, so then you adopt it for everything think that the new ad will fly.
However, whether or not that ad is actually better (even if it does provide you better results), you will have no idea why. The best approach to write a “base ad,” and then copy that ads, and change one element on it overtime, and then test which ad performs better (overtime a fixed period of time).
The reason why this is a much better approach is because you know exactly why the outcome of the test caused one ad to perform better than the other. Especially when you have a small amount of flexibility due to the character limits of Google ads, you’ll want to take advantage of creating several variances of the same ad but with small changes between them. Those minor differences can help you better understand what works and what doesn’t work.
To emphasize this point, since Google Ads are extremely limited in terms of character usage, you’ll want to test different words, especially “action” words.
An ad that says, “Get the best health care in Denver” may not connect as much as “Experience the best health care in Denver,” or even “93% agree that we’re the best health care in Denver.”
Heck I’m even guilty of this one. You might write some sexy-sounding ad, and everything sounds good in your mind – but when you put it to practice, you don’t actually know why that different ad performed better, and the truth is it may not even perform better.
Google more or less has this functionality built-in if you choose to use it; it’s called, Google dynamic ads. The only problem with Google dynamic ads is that it doesn’t exactly give you the exact insights you need to understand if one variance of ads is better than the other. As such, you can just create to two standard ads with one difference between them. Additionally, in your URL, you’ll want to list differences in the “utm” tags (simply add something like “?content=joespizzariatest1” at the end of the landing page url where “?content=” is the Google utm parameter in the URL, joespizzariatest is the name of the test and 1 is the test version) so that you can isolate differences in how website visitors interact with your website.
Another Example: Validating which review site people better identify with.
Ad 1: 5-Stars on Yelp – Denver’s Top Certified Honda Mechanics to Fix Your Car Issues.
Ad 2: 5-Stars on Google My Business – Denver’s Top Certified Honda Mechanics to Fix Your Car Issues.
By using this method, it will take some time to best understand what your optimal ad will be, but you’ll know why the best performing ad is better, and you’ll be able to better replicate the formula with future ads.
Be sure to check out our other articles to learn how to get results from marketing your small business.
Give Your Searcher a Consistent Experience
Lesson 6. Don’t Send Your Traffic to the Home Page. Answer the Exact Need with a Specific & Consistent Landing Page Experience.
When directing traffic from Google to your web properties (websites, emails, social media channels, videos, and landing pages), make sure to make the experience consistent. You’ll want to use the same keywords, same objections and same key points that you made in your ad also within your landing page.
In the example landing page above, a good ad would be something that uses the same copy and answers the direct need of the searcher. So if the the searcher was searching, “get full website visitor insights” or “user journey analytics,” this ad would likely solve what the prospect is looking for.
Additional Landing Page Tips:
- Much like the example shown above, remove any navigation; navigation only makes someone going through your site experience website-ADHD. Everything that the reader/website visitor needs to know, should be on the page itself.
- Clear Call to Action: As you can see from the mixpanel example above, there’s a clear call-to-action, to clear next step that someone can take if they’re interested (actually there’s 2, with the second option being to call their office although it’s not as prominent).
- Make the landing page easy on the eyes: space out the copy, don’t make the paragraphs longer than two to four sentences each to make the website copy digestible by the reader. As mentioned in “Lesson 2,” you should directly answer the needs of your respective prospects.
- Make it a soft landing: tell me, when you go into any store (electronics store, car dealership, etc…), do they shout at you to “buy this! buy this! buy this!”??? Of course not, then you probably shouldn’t do it with your website. If your landing page experience isn’t about helping and guiding your customer, then it’s probably doing it wrong.
- Make the process about the customer. If I came to you and said, “Look, what I did made me $200,000. Buy it.” It might sound cool, but might not sound relevant. But if I said, “Look, I can make you $200,000 but you need to implement these 5 key points, but don’t worry, I’ll show you step-by-step exactly what to do.” It’s arguably a much better argument because whatever I’m selling is tailored to the reader. Of course we know that Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos are billionaires, but unless what they’re selling is to help me a billionaire, it doesn’t matter who Jeff Bezos is because whatever worked for Jeff Bezos, worked for Jeff Bezos. Does that make sense? To summarize, make the your copy about the customer’s benefit.
- Make the experience as much visual as it is text-based. Why? Simply because not everyone is a text-based reader and learner. Many people (up to 60-70%) would prefer to watch a video, or at least see imagery. There are all types of learners and customers, make your landing page experience appeal to various types of people.