The following questions are all variations on the question “what optimization have you done to my campaign?”

Optimization involves finding the lowest performing part of your digital strategy and diverting it to the highest performing part of it.  I go into further detail into optimization in another post, but you should be asking your Adwords manager about the steps that they have taken to optimize your campaign and he or she should have an answer to each question that should sound something like this:

  • We found that the ads that we delivered to people on X devices were converting at the highest rate, while those on Y devices weren’t buying, so we stopped running ads to people that were on those devices.  Now we have more ad spend for those higher converting device X users.
  • For whatever reason, visitors were calling the business at a higher rate from 2pm-4pm, so we bumped up our bids by 15% between those hours.
  • We ran this test on your ads and gained this insight.

If your Adwords manager doesn’t have a good answer for your questions on how your account is being optimized and you haven’t verified that he actually made some recent adjustments to your account, you’re paying him for nothing.

First, why take the time to write this post?

We hear of shady hacks wasting the money of small business owners all of the time.  The most common story that we hear is that “things started off ok, but then the results seemed to dry up.”

In digital advertising, the exact opposite should happen.  As time passes, your account manager should learn what works for your business and develop a lean, mean paid search account for it.  Additionally, the algorithm should recognize that users like whatever they are finding on your page and reward you accordingly.

Question #1 – How are our quality scores and what have we done to improve them?

Unless your quality scores are all 10s, you have an opportunity to get more clicks for your budget.  Higher quality scores usually result in higher placement for ads and a lower cost-per-click.  There are a number of ways to improve quality score, all of which your Adwords manager should be able to discuss with you.  After you’ve had your discussion about how you can improve these scores, follow up the following month to find out whether they have improved.

Question #2 – What have we done to increase the conversion rate of our clicks?

If you’re running a campaign with the intention of getting sales, you need to watch your conversion rate like a hawk.  If you don’t, you may be paying for clicks from the wrong people.  Many Adwords managers focus myopically on clickthrough rate (CTR) even though the ultimate goal of the campaign is to drive sales, not visitors.  If your goal is sales, be sure to focus on your conversion rate.

Question #3 – What keywords have we stopped bidding on?  What time of day/days of the week should we stop running ads?

There are keywords that you are bidding on that do not drive as many sales as others.  Stop wasting money on them.  The same goes for certain times of day and days of the week—we’ve found that our attorneys’ conversion rates dip on the weekends, so we no longer run ads for any of them on Saturdays or Sundays.

Question #4 – What adjustments have you made to our ad extensions?

This assumes that your manager has set up your ad extensions.  If he hasn’t, fire him on the spot.

The lowest performing extension of each type of extension should get switched out regularly until all of your ad extensions are performing uniformly (which will likely never happen, there is always a clear loser).

Question #5 – How has our cost-per-action changed in the last couple months?

This is the canary in coal mine—your cost-per-action should have some sort of downward trend.  If it doesn’t, there’s something wrong.  If an Adwords account is regularly eliminating what doesn’t work and directing resources towards what does, your cost for getting someone call/email/buy should go down.  If it isn’t, your account is either being mismanaged or ignored.

We really hope that this will help you to make your advertising profitable.

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