#WeBuildWednesdays #57: How to Run a Successful Search Ads Campaign

Setting Up a Successful Ad Campaign

Mike: What’s going on guys? Happy Wednesday! I’m here today with half of our PPC team; we’ve got Tarik, we’ve got Steven, we’ve got Micah and we’re going to talk to you guys about setting up a successful search ads campaign. Obviously search ads have been around for 10-15 plus years at this point so you’re probably pretty familiar with it but there are some best practices.

There are some things that you’re gonna want to consider, maybe before you even start running to search ads campaign. Is it the right platform for you? Is it the right channel that you want to be driving leads through based on your business model? In most cases the answer to that is probably yes, I’ll be honest. And then, how do you know that it’s successful at the end of the day? So I brought in the big guns for this one. We’ve got the whole roundtable here going, we’re going to try not to talk over each other. We’ll see if that works out. But, yeah why don’t we get it started – Tarik if you were setting up a successful search ads campaign where do you lay the foundation?


What Are You Trying to Accomplish in Google?

Tarik: Yeah I think first and foremost, the most important thing is to understand your business and understand what you’re trying to accomplish with Google. There are so many different things that you can do within Google so I think you know if we’re talking specifically about search campaigns, I think the biggest and most important thing is to understand if you’re selling a physical product or a service.

Determine what products you want to start advertising for and then if it’s a service, you might offer ten different services but maybe two or three of them are the most profitable for your business. So those are the services that you want to focus on and then break those into their own campaigns. Then, additionally, add ad groups depending on what you’re trying to accomplish or what you’re trying to get out there for people when they go to Google and search for your brand.


Mike: Yeah and I think that’s a good point. If you’re a business owner and you’re watching this and you’re thinking about search ads and you’re going into it with the mentality of “well I need to capture any keyword that relates to anything that my business does” that’s probably the wrong mentality for you. I think Micah, you can probably speak to this- some of the campaigns that we run, when we go super broad like that and we’re trying to capture everything it usually doesn’t work.

So, usually, we tell the clients “hey, let’s condense that, let’s run two or three campaigns based on different business segments based on what you have going on and maybe those are the most profitable for your business. Maybe that’s what you’re looking for, or maybe your goal is to grow a business segment that is brand new for you so you want to run ads for that. That’s also okay but we just need to know what that goal is. We need to have a clear goal from the onside before you really dive into stuff because if you’re trying to capture everything if you’re like “well someone might search for this term and then I want our ad to pop up and maybe they’ll convert” it’s like well maybe you should just go after terms where they’re very likely to convert more so than trying to capture everything.


Tarik: Yeah, I think we’ve noticed a lot of this with the HVAC industry so Micah if you want to kind of chime in on that. We’ve had so many HVAC clients here at this agency that it’s one of those things where it’s like okay do we advertise for service plans or are we putting our focus on new AC units or new heating units. The ticket value of a new AC unit is a couple thousand dollars whereas a tune-up is maybe fifty-sixty dollars. I think that’s a good example that you can maybe chime in on a little bit Micah as far as just the HVAC industry in general.

Get Started With Search Ads 

Setting Up Ads for the HVAC Industry

Micah: Yeah, absolutely. I think especially with the HVAC industry it’s super important to be mindful of what we’re advertising for like you said. So in terms of tune-ups – tune-ups are seventy bucks to a hundred bucks whereas an AC repair or a new AC unit could be anywhere from a $500 sale up to $20,000 sale depending on what the sale ends up being. One thing that you also have to be mindful of when doing PPC for HVAC clients is, specifically we typically see relatively high cost-per-clicks in that industry and you also have to be mindful of your budget.

So, in general, any search related to HVAC so that being HVAC tune-up, HVAC repair or replacement is going to end up being somewhat expensive. If we end up doing you know an HVAC tune-up as an ad group for example in the same campaign as when we’re advertising for HVAC repair or replacement that cost-per-click could still be high, and it could take up more of the search volume for that campaign and spend more of our budgets so that’s absolutely something to be mindful of. Campaign structure and HVAC are incredibly important and making sure that everything is structured correctly and based on profitability is huge.


How Much Should You Budget for Search Campaigns?

Mike: Yeah, and something else that kind of brings up is the age-old budget question right? How much should you be budgeting towards your campaigns? Obviously, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that whatsoever. It’s not like a thousand dollar budget works for everybody. If you’re in an industry like HVAC or personal injury law, or I don’t even know what else. There’s a bunch of really competitive industries, and if you’re in one of those industries and you’re coming into it with a thousand dollar budget you’re not going to have success, plain simple, you’re not. So that’s an area that I think is also important is you need to have the budget that’s going to support your goal at the end of the day.

Oftentimes people look at the budget as an expense and they think “oh you know I’m paying $1,000 I don’t know if I want to pay that much” and instead you should be looking at the outcome. What outcome do you want to generate? I want to increase my revenue, my top-line revenue by eight percent in 2020. All right, that’s a great goal, here’s how search ads can help you do that. Here’s the budget you need to achieve that goal. That’s perfect, that’s how you should be looking at it. But if you’re just looking at expenses and numbers and you’re trying to come into it with a little budget and hope it works, there’s no magic bullet. Steven, what are your thoughts? Do you have anything else to add?


Steven: I definitely would agree. Chiming in on what you’re talking about when you’re coming into search for Google Ads, you want to know what your goal is from the get-go. You also want to know who you’re targeting, what’s your audience, who do you want to capture. Getting that from the beginning gives you a good path towards narrowing down your audience, where you’re targeting, what those people want to see when they’re searching for your product. So I definitely think that having your price point not being kind of a big factor you want to look at who you’re trying to capture.


Mike: Yeah through your experience, Steven, along the way you’ve probably inherited a variety of accounts from others and I’m sure you’ve seen some ways in which maybe they weren’t set up so correctly. Is there anything of that nature that you can speak to you, that maybe you fixed or things you would implement that people don’t normally implement, anything like that?


Target the Right Keywords

Steven: It could be the simplest of things, an extension to a keyword. Like you said, you don’t want to possibly go super broad with your keywords because then people see your ads that don’t really need to see your ad. When you’re trying to get these qualified leads for an account you really want to look at again, where you’re targeting and who you’re targeting. I actually just had a client, one of my accounts that I inherited about a week ago that myself and Micah were working on and it all came down to just two keywords and we started getting the conversions that really matter for the account and getting those qualified leads that are actually interested in seeing our ads.


Mike: When it comes to these search campaigns people tend to look at various statistics, right? They’ll look at click-through rate, they’ll look at cost-per-click, they’ll look at total clicks. There are so many different metrics now compared to when we started at this thing I think it’s crazy to see the bov. I mean it’s crazy the platform with the interface, trying to figure out where things are when they flipped from the beta to the new interface. People, I think get hung up a little bit on certain statistics and they’ll look at maybe a drop and click-through rate and be like “oh my god this isn’t working” or the cost-per-click for a specific word went up but it’s there most profitable word and it’s like well, you might just have to suck that one up if your quality score is high and stuff. So what do you guys think of that? yWhat analytics should you really be looking at at the end of the day to judge success?


Tarik: Yeah, I think like you said I think maybe 10 years ago people just cared about clicks and impressions which is crazy to see how much things have evolved. I guess it just depends on what your end goal is. When you’re looking at your metrics you want to align your overall goals for your business with the metrics that you’re looking at. More times than not it ultimately comes down to what is my return on ad spend? Am I spending a thousand dollars and I’m seeing ten thousand dollars in return? So I think the key metrics that my team is constantly looking at is what are our conversion rates, what is our cost per acquisition, and then what is our return on ad spend. I think those you know those three metrics right there kind of help us align our efforts that we’re doing within the Google Ads dashboard compared to the goals that the client has come to us for. Making sure that those things align is very key when we’re looking at our metrics.

For example, as you were saying the HVAC industry is very expensive and so are the lawyers, that industry is very expensive. But if your cost per acquisition is $200 that is pretty high, but if you just retained a client for your law firm that ultimately drove ten thousand dollars for you, looking at that $200 cost per acquisition is very small compared to the return on what you’re getting. Again, I think it all just depends on the client’s end goal. I think the most important metrics to us is what are we paying for a conversion, and are those people converting, and what is the revenue tied to each of those conversions I think are the main three things that were we’re typically looking at.


Mike: Yeah fair enough, I would agree. One other thing too that I really think we should touch on here are landing pages. So often, I always use other people as an example, like all these other people are doing it wrong. I swear man, they’re all doing it wrong. You gotta use landing pages though, unless you’re ecom maybe, or unless you’re running a branded campaign. Does anyone want to touch on that?

What Is The PPC Learning Phase? 

Using Landing Pages for Search Ad Campaigns

Micah: For sure. With landing pages, I think the most important thing is keeping the quality score aspect fresh in your mind always. So you want the copy on your landing page to match what’s in your ads and vice versa you want the content of your ads to somewhat closely match what’s on your landing page, in order to drive higher ad relevancy, landing page experience, and ultimately higher quality score. That’s huge because quality score at the end of the day is going to help in determining your cost-per-click. It could help you show above someone else while paying less than they would because they have a lower quality score ad rank than you.


Mike: That’s important.


Micah: Yeah, quality score, ad rank, and content on your landing pages is huge. On top of that, Tarik can touch on this, but we have an awesome landing page structure that we like to use in terms of when our designers create our landing pages that just really helps to drive a higher conversion rate. It’s incredibly helpful to have templates like that here.


Tarik: Yeah definitely. I think over time we’ve gathered a lot of data on the clients that we’re using landing pages for versus some clients that might not be using landing pages and we’ve seen a drastic increase in conversion rates and metrics across the board in our Google Ads account when we structure things in a way that a user is looking for. When you come to a landing page like Micah said, having your copy consistent with the content that’s on your page, those are the things that people are looking for right? When they come to your page are you going to be able to answer the question that they’re looking for or you’re gonna be able to provide the service or the product that that person is looking for?

Google, in general, is trying to provide users with the most relevant content based on their search terms within Google. So if you’re able to accomplish those things – so for example if I want to buy black Nike shoes, I go to Google and type in black Nike shoes, I see a black Nike shoe, I go to the landing page, boom there’s black Nike shoes. I’m more likely to convert versus going to a page where I have to either sift through a bunch of different colors or different brands or whatever it might be. Being relevant across the board is definitely a huge factor when considering Google Ads and running search campaigns and showing the right user the right content at the right time.


Mike: At its core really, all this revolves around tracking conversions properly, right? Tracking everything properly. Steven, I don’t know if that’s something you want to touch on but as far as conversion tracking goes and tracking codes and all that if that stuff’s not set up properly, at the end of the day you don’t really know if you’re doing well or not which is scary.


Tracking Ad Conversions Properly

Steven: Exactly, so that’s one of the most focused things that you should get started on, especially when you’re setting up a new account. Inheriting these accounts and starting with you guys on the team, it’s definitely one thing you always want to check in every single account just to make sure you set everything else up properly, you made a beautiful landing page, you worked really hard on your ads, you really know who you’re targeting and you’re drawing these people in. But if you’re not setting up your conversion tracking properly, you have no idea if these people are actually converting, how many people are converting, what your revenue actually is to get that ROAS that Tarik was talking about earlier. That’s at the core one of the main things that you need to do for an account.

Getting these leads and then making sure you’re tracking them because if in our position, if we get a new client and let’s say everything else is beautiful, they love it, but at the end of the month the conversion says zero – what are you supposed to do about that? So it’s a huge factor in setting up a search campaign as well.


Mike: Yeah and that’s something that I always like to touch on with people when they tell me “oh well I really like this, let’s do our landing page just like this” it’s like, well okay we can try that but a. I don’t think it’s gonna work and b. let’s go ahead and test it. So we go ahead, we test it, and it comes out at the end of the day and it’s like “oh, well the one that I didn’t like is the one that worked” and it’s like yeah, it’s not really about what you like, to be honest, it’s about what generates results. I think that’s where everyone needs to maintain their focus if they want to keep this stuff going in the right direction. Anyone got any bonus material here? Little extra we can throw at them? Who has the best background? I think Micah does.

The Benefits of Call Tracking

Ideal Ad Campaign Structure

Micah: I can throw out a little bonus material on an ideal campaign structure. When we go to set up an HVAC clients account we’ll do keyword research, we’ll do some discovery with the client to understand what they want to show for. We’ll provide our consultation and once we figure out exactly what we’re going to show we’ll do some keyword research, we’ll figure out what keywords we’re going show for within that client’s parameters, what they want to advertise for. So if it does end up being tuneups, then we’ll find out what keywords are more effective for running ads for tuneups. We’ll use local-based searches, things along that nature so more highly converting keywords essentially. But back to the actual campaign structure, the ideal campaign structure that I like to stick with is a tightly themed ad group that you know matches well with Google’s best practices. And within that tightly themed ad group, essentially we have a campaign for heating right?

Within that heating, the campaign will have an ad group for heating repair, heating replacement, heating installation, heating installers, heating company, things along that line. And then within that will have tightly themed keywords that closely match the name of the ad group. But all those keywords will be beamed around the ad group name, so if it’s heating replacement all the keywords in that ad group will include keyword replacement in them but have different variations and different additional word combinations in there.

The ads, on top of that, will closely reflect heating replacement as well, so that when a user searches heating replacement and near me he or heating replacement name that we’re serving, they’re going to see an ad that literally essentially repeats their search back to them, further driving that user experience and add relevancy which ultimately helps with conversion rate optimization and driving higher conversion rates. Working on some of our HVAC clients and restructuring some of these accounts I’ve actually seen conversion rates of up to 15% in non-brand campaigns using that structure so it works and I’m gonna continue using it, and a love of it.


Tarik: I think having a tight themed campaign structure, not only does that benefit our clients but it also benefits us internally because when we’re looking at the data and we’re analyzing – okay which campaign, which ad groups, which keywords, are working. Instead of having everything kind of mixed into one we have everything broken out. So, HVAC repair was better than HVAC replacement so now we can put more of our focus into the ad groups and the keywords that are working versus trying to attempt to find out which keywords are working and so on and so forth. Not only does a good structure benefit our clients but it also benefits us when we’re analyzing the data after a campaign or after a month’s worth of running it and then making those changes moving forward based on what we see.


Mike: Testing, I think is another big thing maybe we’ve glossed over too. You should always be testing. And you should always be testing multiple things probably at the same time. There are so many different variations of things that could work for you. Landing pages, you might want to test one landing page versus another. You can do that with Google Optimize. You might want to test one ad versus another one. Keyword versus another one. Bid strategy versus another.


Testing Variations in Google Ads

There is so much that you can be testing at any given point and nobody really nobody can just set up a campaign and say this is exactly how it should be set up this is gonna work perfectly and then it just does I mean that’s not how it works that’s not that’s why you need continued that’s what you need to continue continually work at it over time and someone can’t just set it up for you and then five years later you look at and it’s still running perfectly and generating all these leads like no that’s that’s just not ours

Tarik: Yeah I agree I think like you said there are so many different aspects of a Google Ads campaign that you can be testing but I think you know you you you build the foundation of a campaign and you know, for example, we are always testing out for variations of ads in all of our ad groups and then once we take a look at the data after running it for X amount of time we’re then eliminating the ones that are you know, for example, let’s just say we’re looking at the click-through rate of four different ads. If there are two underperforming ads compared to the other two we typically pause those camp or positive ads create new variations and see if we can beat the ones that are currently working right now and then we just continuously build onto that foundation too. Because like you said you can ever just put it put up a campaign and just let it ride out. It’s always going to be something that we have to build upon, so maybe testing is is crucial for any Google ads account that you’re running.

Mike: Agreed, and with that, I think we lost Steven! That’s probably good place to wrap up there thank you guys so much for joining hopefully listeners you got something educational out of this you know you ever need anything there are a ton of resources online too as far as PPC knowledge like, Word Stream’s pretty good I don’t know if you guys know anything else off the top of your head but Google

Tarik: I mean I think you know if you go to support Google com there are definitely a lot of articles on troubleshooting things or best practices or how to run an a/b test things like that so there’s a lot of resources out there perfect

Mike: Well great! Cool, thank you guys so much, happy Wednesday to all of our viewers out there. Stephen says happy Wednesday too he can’t be here but he just messaged me privately and yes he’s thankful so thank you guys, have a good one!

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