How to Run a Profitable Google Ad Campaign for Your Business

In this blog, I’m delving into the strategies for running a successful Google Ad campaign for your business. I’m drawing from my extensive experience at Yo Media, a prominent digital marketing agency in Australia. I’ve spent over a decade overseeing multimillion-dollar campaigns and audits, and I’m sharing these insights to help business owners get the best out of their campaigns.

Why Do People Keep Making The Same Mistakes When It Comes To Google Ads Campaigns? 

After analysing numerous campaigns and accounts through audits and firsthand campaign management, it’s evident that many individuals repeat avoidable errors with Google Ads

I am about to uncover these recurring errors and give you a comprehensive understanding of how to avoid them. By recognising and comprehending these mistakes, you’ll be better equipped to steer clear of them in your own campaigns, setting the stage for optimal performance.

As a business owner, you’re acutely aware of the significance of Google Ads in the digital landscape. However, capitalising on its potential requires a strategic approach that transcends common pitfalls. I’ll provide actionable insights to ensure you extract the utmost value from your Google Ads campaign.

Understanding The Reality of 10% Click-Through

The first thing to remember when running a campaign is that about 10% of people will click on a Google Ad. Say they’ve all arrived searching ‘Lawyers in Melbourne’ – 10% of these people will end up clicking on a Google Ad when they search ‘Lawyers, Melbourne’. The other 90% will click an organic search result.

‘The organic search results that sit underneath the ads are still, in my opinion, the best form of search marketing because they have the most credibility. People know you can’t pay to be the number one organic search result.’

These results have a tonne of credibility. 30% of people will click the first organic search result. About 20% will click the second, and about 10% will click the third. So, 60% of people click the top three organic search results. The rest is spread amongst the other organic search results, and then 10% will click an ad. Knowing this, you want to ensure that when you run ads, your ad stands out and gives the user the best incentive to click on it.

Targeting the ‘Ready to Buy’ Audience

People who click on Google Ads are further down the buying cycle. They are at the end of the consideration stage or the start of the decision stage of their buying cycle. They are not only aware of their problem, they’ve already searched for solutions to it, and now they’re just looking for a business to transact with to help solve that problem.

They are problem aware. They’ve done their research and are now just looking to transact. They typically click an ad because they know it’s advertising – like we all know it is. 

‘Often though, we won’t click your ad. Why? They’ll go down to the organic results because we know that has more credibility. But when you’re ready to rock and roll, many people will click an ad.’

Common Mistakes When Running An Ad Campaign

Here are the mistakes people often make when running a Google Ad campaign or trying to DIY their own Google Ad campaign.

  1. Not having clear campaign goals.

You need to set clear goals and understand what you want to get out of Google Ads.
Do you want more leads? If so, how many leads do you want? Do you want more customers? And if so, how many more customers do you want? Do you want additional revenue? How much additional revenue do you want? What is the goal of the campaign? You are investing money, so you need to understand what you’ll get out of that as a return on that investment.

‘You’re not doing it for fun or to donate money to Google; they make enough – around $40 billion in revenue from their ads every 90 days. It’s a lot of cash.’ 

You have to ask yourself, how much am I prepared to pay for those leads? What is my maximum cost per lead going to be? Am I willing to pay $100 per lead? $50 per lead? $1,000 per lead? Work it out. How? By understanding your customer’s lifetime value.

How much is a customer worth to your business, on average, each time they transact? How many leads does it take to get a customer? Let’s say your customers make you $10,000 per sale on average over their lifetime. Let’s say you make a 20% margin – $2,000 profit from a $10,000 sale. 

How much of that $ 2,000 will you give away to attract a customer? Are you prepared to pay $1,000 for that customer? If it takes you three leads to get a customer, then you’re paying $333 per lead to get one customer. You now know that if your cost per lead is below $333, your advertising will be profitable. That’s why setting goals is the first thing you need to do. 

Next, you need to understand what your customers are searching for.

  1. Not getting the keywords right.

Targeting the right keywords is crucial; getting it wrong can cost you substantially. You can use many tools to research the keywords your customers are searching for, which I’ve mentioned in previous podcasts and blogs. 

There’s SEMrush. There’s Ahrefs. Or there’s a good old Google Ads planner. Google Ads Planner is the best source of data relating to those keywords. However, you must have already invested a bit of money with Google before they’ll give you access to that data.

Without investing, Ads Planner will just give you a range of data. So, if you’re a Melbourne lawyer and want to know how many people search ‘Lawyers, Melbourne’ but you’ve never run a Google Ads campaign, you’ll be given a range of between, say, 1,000 and 10,000.

If you spend some cash with them, you’ll get access to their enhanced data and see it’s around 3200 people a month. So you’ll get exact numbers. That said, if 1,000 to 10,000 people search for a keyword monthly, it’s worth going after – because it’s a good keyword. 

It’s crucial to target the right keywords and understand that there are three types of keyword matches.

  1. The wrong type of keyword match

A broad match says, ‘Hey, show anybody who searches for anything broadly related to this keyword my ad’.

Then you’ve got phrase matches, which means anyone searching for a keyword with these words shows my ad.

Here is an example. Let’s say you’re targeting ‘Personal Injury Lawyers in Melbourne’, and somebody searches for the ‘best personal injury lawyers in Melbourne’ or ‘How do I find a good personal injury lawyer?’, and the person searching happens to be in Melbourne.

While doing that search, your ad will trigger because you match the phrases within a particular search to your target keyword. 

“Phrase matches are great because they say, ‘Hey, don’t just match me with anything broadly related to this. Match the intent of the person searching.’”

Another example using lawyers. If you’re targeting the keyword, ‘Personal Injury Lawyers Melbourne’, with a broad match, and someone searches for ‘How do I complete a law assignment for the University of Melbourne?’- or something completely unrelated to your keyword, your ad could trigger, and it could cause a click, which would cost you money. 

So, when it comes to broad matches, a common mistake is people just going after all these broadly matched keywords. The thinking is that casting a wider net will get a better result. Instead, what generally happens is that you end up paying for irrelevant clicks that chew your budget, which leaves you no money left to target the people you want.

The third type of keyword is an exact match. Exact match keywords only show your ad when this exact keyword is searched. It’s a much more advanced strategy I recommend avoiding straight up – especially if you’re trying to DIY this. This is because you will need help anticipating precisely every keyword your customers search for.

We can’t just predict this – we still have to go to phrase matches and look at what’s coming through. At times, when you leave it open with a phrase match, you can get some interesting data about what people are searching for. 

So, you have to target the correct type of keyword matches and the right intent. This means ensuring that the keywords you’re targeting have some kind of commercial intent, even though targeting information-based keywords can also give good results.

  1. Targeting the wrong buying stage

Buying stage is essential when choosing how to target potential customers or buyers.  If people are trying to find a solution to a problem but are still at the transaction stage, it’s okay to target those people. They’re better targeted with organic search traffic or an SEO campaign because it can take time to be ready to buy.

They may click your ad and return later as a buyer, but you won’t see a tremendous initial return because they’re still being prepared to buy. However, if you can demonstrate and give them the solution to their problem and help them understand it, they may be more likely to go with you, which is why Google Ads can be a valuable brand awareness tool.

But you can achieve that result with organic search. Most people will click on an organic search result when they’re in the consideration stage or research stage, and they’re more likely to click on an organic search result than a Google ad – because they know the difference. It also means you can get that traffic without paying Google Ads fees. 

  1. Location searches that target too widely

If you plan to target keywords with commercial intent, for instance, ‘Personal Injury Lawyers, Melbourne, ’ it’s obvious that somebody is looking for a personal injury lawyer based in Melbourne. Commercial intent keywords are great to target with Google Ads – but it’s imperative to set up the location correctly. For instance, only target ‘Australia’ if you want to sell to everybody in Australia. Targeting nationally is generally going to be very expensive.

“What works well is to pick a nice local area to target and run ads – then slowly expand outwards. Start small, get the campaign dialled in, understand the keywords, and expand the campaign from there.”

  1. Expecting too much from a small budget

Online advertising is no different than the old principles of TV, print and radio advertising. Whoever pays the most or runs clever and memorable campaigns usually gets the front page or best airtime.

If you only have a small budget, you may need more to get your ad seen. Narrowing your area and location and excluding areas you don’t want to target can significantly improve your ad spend. This may be knowing that people 3km away in a particular suburb won’t use your service as there are already lots in that area, but knowing someone 10 km in the opposite direction will because you are the closest or best service to them.

On a larger scale, for example – I’ve got a list of every country in the world in a big spreadsheet. I copy-paste that into every national campaign to ensure users do not see ads in any country except Australia.

That helps to cut out a lot of the international traffic that may still leak through and get to your campaign, even if you set it up to show ads to people in or interested in your area.

7. Copy that doesn’t sell the click

The next mistake many people make is failing to write compelling ad copy. You only have a limited number of characters in a Google Ad – but you don’t want to use those characters to sell your service. Why? Because the purpose of the ad is to sell the click. You are selling people on the curiosity of clicking on your ad that pops up, so they come to your website.

If you can move past what everyone else is doing and make it a little bit different, left field, out there, attention-grabbing, you have a head start.

You need some kind of hook where if people are looking at all the other boring ads that say, “We are personal injury lawyers in Melbourne, we’re the best.” We’ve got 38 years of experience, blah, blah, blah, no one gives a shit. You want to put something different in there, which isn’t the standard ‘blah, blah, blah.’

It could have absolutely nothing to do with personal injury law. When the ad pops up while they search for a lawyer – because you’ve targeted that keyword, and it’s got this random hook keyword in the title, it tends to stop people in their tracks. Readers are like, what is that? Because it stands out. 

Maybe it doesn’t even make logical sense, but it’s captured their attention.“Hey, before you even think about hiring a personal injury lawyer, you need to read this report.” That’s something that people are going to be like, oh, what is this?

“That copy has done its job – it’s created enough curiosity for them to click on the ad and visit your site.”

Now you’ve got them to land on your website, and you’re selling the next step in the process, generally a meeting or something like that. This means your ad copy has served its purpose brilliantly.

Sell The Click, Not Your Service.

Your Google ad copy aims to sell the click rather than try to sell your service. You need to understand what your competitors’ ads look like. There are a bunch of free tools out there- including Google search.

Do a Google search, see what your competitors write in their ads, and write something completely different. Because as a consumer, you’re trying to figure out which ad you will click on, and that’s why you need something that stands out.

“You will probably click on the one that will pique your curiosity the most, which opens a loop in your mind that you need to close. People will click on the ad to complete the story loop.”

So, hook> story>> offer. It needs to be a really tight hook, an attention-grabbing hook, with a great story that entices the user to take the following action and a great offer that helps that user take the following action.

So you want to write compelling ad copy to sell the click. After they’ve clicked on your Google Ad and they’ve come to your website, that’s it.Your Google Ads campaign has done its job. That’s all it had to do. It was just to bring that user to your website. Then, you need to craft a high-converting landing page to sell that user on the next step.

That’s beyond the scope of this blog, but I will look at creating a high-quality landing page another time, looking at pitfalls, tips and all that kind of stuff. But that’s the other 50% of this equation. The Google Ads campaign needs to just sell the user on the click and bring them to the website. 

Using Conversion Data To Understand Campaign Success

Lastly, you want to track your results. People come to me with their Google Ad campaigns too often, with no conversion data – sometimes, they still need to set up Google Analytics. 

Or they have set up Google Analytics, but there’s no conversion data. So all you’ve got is a bunch of clicks, impressions, costs, and all that stuff, and you are not even sure if your campaign worked. There needs to be visibility into whether that user converted when they got to your landing page.

Did they submit a form? Did they make a phone call? Did they take the action that you wanted them to take? Setting up tracking here is really simple. There’s some really cool stuff you can do with phone tracking. Two companies that come to mind are Delicon and Coral. 

You can put those phone numbers on your website, and when somebody calls, they’ll get the data associated with the caller, such as the campaign, the keyword, what ad they clicked on, what page of your website they called from, and it’ll record the phone call.

You’ll get really great, rich data. You can also look back and check if they were genuine phone calls and go back and listen to them.

Doing The Maths – Is Your Campaign Adding Up?

You’ll want to know with any leads that come in if they are genuine leads – or just another company trying to sell me something? Or an IT company trying to sell me services? This tracking is essential to understand whether your ad campaign is working.

“How much are you prepared to pay for a customer? How many leads does it take to get a customer? How many leads is the campaign bringing in? What are we paying to get a lead? Is that profitable or not profitable?” 

If you’re paying $20,000 to get one lead and only making a $10,000 sale, of which $2,000 is profit, there are better equations. You need to do the maths here to know how much to spend on Google Ads. You need to know those numbers – otherwise, you’re just throwing money at Google, hoping and thinking it’s working.

You need to work out whether your campaigns are profitable or not. So, track your results and make adjustments as needed. 

Not Enough $$$$ In 

Something else to avoid when running a Google Ads campaign is having a budget that is too low – I see this often. Often, the budget needs to be higher, and the keyword targeting needs to be narrower because you pay Google every time someone clicks on your ad. It’s called cost-per-click CPC.

So, whenever someone searches, they see your ad and click on it. That’s when you pay Google. You pay double digits for that click if you’re a service or product company.
So you’re paying more than $10 per click. Because Google Ads is quite competitive nowadays. Lawyers Melbourne, or personal injury law firms Melbourne, you’re paying $40 to $50 per click.

You set budgets in Google Ads by setting a daily budget, and Google will charge you every time you spend $1,000 or every 30 days, whichever comes first. So, if you’ve only got a budget of $50 a day, and the cost per click is $25,  you’ve only got enough budget for two clicks daily. $25 per click is not unreasonable. It’s what you should expect to pay as a service-based company in a central metro area.

It doesn’t even cover competitors or accidental clicks. So if a competitor and one person who isn’t interested click on your ad, that’s it. That’s your daily budget gone –  your ad’s gone until tomorrow.

Competitor Clicks

Competitors will click on your ads, so you must ensure you have enough budget. I recommend budgeting for at least five clicks daily, preferably ten to 15. This helps greatly if one in ten people who come to your site becomes a lead. One in three, fantastic. 

“You want to budget for at least five to ten clicks, preferably ten. If the cost per click on average is $25, you want to set a budget of $250 a day because you need to factor in those irrelevant clicks, bot clicks, and all types of stuff.”

Google does their best to avoid this, but at the end of the day, the more clicks, the more money they make. To try and filter out that stuff, there are some tools you can use to overlay your ad campaign that you can plug into, and they’ll do their best to try to identify irrelevant clicks and block those users from ever seeing your ad again.

So, if your competitors search for you, click on your ad, and chew up your ad budget because they’re pricks, you can use technology to identify their IP address. It’ll look at the activity and say, this is a bit of a dodgy user.
You should block it – you can just add that IP address to your blacklist and never show your ads to them again. This preserves your ad budget because you want to maintain that ad budget over time.

If your clicks are $25 per click and you have a budget of $250 a day – you want to try and reserve as much of that $250 daily budget to go to the people most likely to become a customer.

Preservation And Negative Keywords

There is another way to preserve the budget, using negative keywords. In your Google ad campaign, when you target a keyword, say ‘personal injury lawyers, Melbourne’, over time, there’s a report you can run in Google ads called ‘Search Terms Report’. This will give you the exact words, spelling mistakes and all – that users searched for when clicking on your ads, the exact phrases and everything.

It’ll give you it all. This data is essential because every day, you should be looking at the search term reports and just making sure that all the keywords that are showing up there that people are searching and then clicking on your ads are relevant.

“If they’re not, you must add them to the negative list. Classic examples are jobs, salaries, courses, and things like this. So, personal injury law firm jobs, personal injury lawyers salary.”

When you search personal injury lawyers Melbourne and somebody in Melbourne searches personal injury lawyers jobs, there’s a potential for your ad to trigger and for them to click on it and look at your website because they’re looking for a job.

They might want to reach out and send you the resume. You want those people to refrain from chewing up your ad budget. Over time, you can add jobs, salaries, studies, internships, whatever, all on the negative list so you can phrase match the word ‘jobs’ so that anytime someone searches a keyword that’s related to your keywords but has the word jobs in it, your ad is not going to trigger.

This is a great way of preserving as much of your ad budget as possible for the people who aren’t your clients. 

Landing Pages

Another thing to be aware of is creating a landing page that isn’t optimised for conversions. I’ll often see people sending Google ads traffic to their homepage, which is just a mess.‘This is who we are’, ‘this is what we do,’ and ‘we’ve been around since 1964’. It has no relevance to why people are landing on the page. 

You want to send your traffic to a landing page optimised for the user’s next step in the sales process. If you’re sending the traffic from an ad campaign, your ad campaign will generally have a theme. If you’ve got campaign levels, you’ve got ad groups underneath that campaign, so you can further split up the target audience.

If your top-level ad group is ‘Melbourne Lawyers’, and under that, you’ve got people searching for ‘Personal Injury.’ Another ad group might be ‘Family Lawyers’, and another might be ‘Criminal Lawyers’ because you offer all those services. Within each ad group, you’ll have keywords and ads specifically related to that user. 

The ‘Personal Injury Lawyers’ ad group will have a bunch of keywords related to ‘Personal Injury Lawyers in Melbourne’ and ads with copy that talks about personal injury lawyers and sells the user on that next step.

Contextual Relevance

This way, anyone who searches for a personal injury lawyer only sees the ads that are contextually relevant to the keywords they search. They’re not seeing ads from the family law campaign, the family law ad group, or the criminal law ad group. They’re just seeing it from the personal injury law ad group. 

That’s how you segment your user database when running the ads – because you want to send your users to a relevant page. You also need to ensure that an ad for personal injury lawyers doesn’t send them to your homepage but to your website’s personal injury lawyers page.

Send the users to a page relevant to what they are searching for. Not a broad, generic, all-encompassing page that says, here are all the services we provide because you need to provide a good user experience. If you can anticipate what these users will want to see at this next step, it will create a great experience for them, and they’re more likely to go ahead and convert. 

Use a great hook. Call out the top 3 struggles 

You must use a great hook on your landing page, using direct response copy, particularly with callouts. You can call out the top three things that most people struggle with. Creating great hooks, stories, and offers will separate you from your competition and get that user to your website. You can do other things, too, like dynamic keyword insertion in the ad, which is another good one.

Pull the user’s search term into the ad title, so if a user searches ‘personal injury law, Melbourne’, they first see their keyword in the ad, along with a great hook that stops them in their tracks.

I recommend putting it towards the end and using the ad’s first part as a great hook to stop people. When they see their keyword in the ad, they know that’s exactly what they were searching for. That’s the most relevant thing, making users click on your ad. So, use dynamic keyword insertion. It’s really great. It’s super easy to do when you’re creating. Your ads as well. 

You need to keep helping your customer move down the buying cycle to the following action. Keep that in mind. They need to be nudged and taken on that journey, and that’s it. If you have any questions, just reach out to me. I’m happy to share any of my experiences working on ad campaigns, but that pretty much sums it up.

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