Search advertising is one of the most cost-effective advertising tactics for small and mid-sized businesses. Although increased competition in recent years has made advertising on Google tougher than ever before, many businesses generate positive ROI through this powerful advertising method.
Although Google works hard to make its platform accessible to new advertisers, search advertising remains complex. Many simple mistakes can result in poor campaign performance, and wasted advertising spend. Read on to learn four reasons why search advertising campaigns fail — and what you can do to succeed instead!
Reason #1: Your keywords are low-intent
Keyword selection is at the heart of search advertising. Each search campaign is made of ad groups. Each ad group includes a list of keywords. Rookie marketers may make the common mistake of selecting broad, low-intent keywords instead of specific, high-intent keywords.
Low-intent keywords may be relevant to your product but do not demonstrate the user is looking to purchase your product. For example, let’s say you run an online store that sells prints of famous artwork. The keyword “art” is a low-intent choice. We don’t know what the user is looking for. They may want to know what the definition of art is. Maybe they want art lessons or to look at art online. If we advertise for this keyword, we’ll end up paying money for traffic that doesn’t want what we offer. What a waste!
Instead, we should choose high-intent keywords. “19th-century art prints” is a pretty good keyword for our example business. We can send them to a shop page with precisely what they’re looking for. “buy Van Gogh Starry Night print” is even better. Whoever searches for this term is ready to purchase exactly what our business offers!
Reason #2: Your budget is unrealistic
Many businesses struggle to determine an appropriate cost per lead. A law firm or B2B manufacturer may be able to pay hundreds of dollars per lead because their product is worth thousands or even millions. A small e-commerce shop may only be able to spend a few dollars per customer acquisition because each sale is worth so little.
Digital advertising can get expensive quickly. Businesses in competitive niches may spend $100 or more on a single click. That can be tough to swallow when the invoice gets sent! Consider the value of that $100 click for a business with expensive products like we mentioned earlier. Let’s say 10% of advertising visitors submit a lead form. 25% of leads end up making a purchase with an average value of $100,000. That means it costs us $4,000 to generate $100,000 in revenue. Any business would take that deal.
Competition is the most significant determining factor of your advertising costs. Starving a campaign with an unrealistically low budget can prevent your ads from showing up at all or put them in poor placements with lousy ROI.
Likewise, an unrealistically high budget can result in wasted ad spend. Depending on your campaign settings, a high budget can result in more expensive clicks than need be. It may also result in bad-quality clicks due to audience expansion.
Reason #3: You picked a poor landing page
In advertising, a landing page is exactly what it sounds like: it’s the page your users land on when they click your ads.
Many companies point their ads to their homepage. After all, it’s the entrance to your online business, right? Unfortunately, this is usually bad practice. A homepage tends to talk about your business in general. Getting to specific products and services usually takes a click or two.
A good ad promotes a single product or service and links directly to a relevant page. Your goal as an advertiser is to reduce friction between search and purchase. Send your users somewhere they can immediately take action to reduce the chance that they get distracted before taking action.
Even better is a custom landing page. Custom landing pages offer a streamlined customer experience that is highly relevant to your ad campaign. The right landing page will 10X your conversion rates compared to a general or low-quality page.
Reason #4: You let Google do it for you
Though Google’s recent changes to their platform make search advertising more accessible for new advertisers, ease of use comes at a cost. Google aggressively promotes their automated recommendations and smart campaigns. Some of these recommendations are worthwhile, but many are not.
For example, Google will remind advertisers to “upgrade” their keywords to broad match. Broad match keywords are less targeted than a phrase or exact match keywords. In many cases, broad-match keywords will increase the number of clicks received but reduce the relevance of your advertising users. Ultimately, this tends to mean switching to a broad match will increase your costs while decreasing your revenue.
Without understanding Google’s advertising ecosystem, it’s challenging to know when to apply and when to ignore their recommendations. Google has the incentive to increase your advertising spend. While they do want their customers to succeed (successful ad campaigns continue to spend money, while ineffective campaigns get cancelled), their suggestions often seem tailored toward increasing superficial metrics like clicks and impressions rather than high-value metrics like conversions and revenue.
Search advertising is a complex, technical field. Learning the fundamentals and approaching Google’s automated suggestions with a healthy dose of skepticism can help you avoid overspending.
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash