We’ve been helping businesses with Google Ads for over 15 years. The product has definitely evolved considerably over the years. I have written extensively about the ways Google removes control from the advertiser and some of the things that can happen if you don’t stay on top of that. However, there is value in harnessing some of the AI that Google provides if you understand what it means and how to use it to y0ur benefit. You never want to operate blindly in this world, but if you are familiar with what all the bells and whistles do and what to watch out for, you can combine AI with your own business knowledge and goals to succeed with Google Ads.
Set Clearly Defined Conversions in Google Ads
The first step for an eCommerce business, or any business really, is to make sure you have clearly defined conversions that you are optimizing for. With eCommerce, it is a bit more straightforward because you can tie ads and keywords directly to sales. For other businesses, you may be optimizing for phone calls or form fills, but the importance remains the same.
I have helped many businesses that were operating without any measurement of ad success. Simply setting their campaigns to go for the most clicks or most impressions. If you are targeting keywords that don’t get you business, you are hurting yourself by optimizing to get the most clicks. That means you are just leaking money on keyword phrases that don’t get you business. With Google giving us less and less control of our actual keyword targets, it is more important than ever to know which ones actually improve y0ur bottom line.
Make sure you have the correct and clearly defined conversions set up in your Google Ads account.
You Don’t Have to Import Every Goal from Google Ads
I try to help clients get helpful goals set up in their Analytics accounts to help tell them the right story to make decisions. You may want to measure both how many visitors click on your appointment request page and how many actually submit the form. These are two different pieces of information. If you have a large number of users click the request button but a very small number actually finishing the form, then perhaps that form has issues. That is helpful information. That being said, you would want to optimize your ads campaign to the main driver, the submission conversions. Not both. Many people that make the step of bringing their Analytics goals over to Google Ads, which is a good idea, don’t put in the extra thought to only attach the specific goals that are most important to a campaign. If your campaign goal is to get those submissions, that should be the goal you optimize for. Don’t just bring them all in. That will cause confusion with the AI and the machine learning you do count on, still won’t be useful.
Make sure that if you are relying on machine learning to some extent, the machine is making decisions on the right data.
ROAS and CPA Targeting
Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) or Cost Per Action or Acquisition (CPA) targeting can be a great way to assist y0ur campaign strategy. But not the only way. It is a tool that helps. Don’t just leave a hammer on your board and expect it to do the job. By adjusting your campaign targets to aim for a CPA or ROAS, you are helping control your profit margin a bit more. Most businesses need to make money with their advertising, so just maximizing clicks is not typically the way to run most efficiently in the long run. You want to try to manage your budget to get the best return on your spend.
That being said, as data grows over time, you should always be getting more specific with your customer journey. Our typical clients will grow in the number of campaigns over time to better match budget, message, keywords, and landing pages. A consistent customer journey has always been critical to Google Ads success. Give your customer a message that stands out as a great answer to their specific search and then drop them on a page that gives the easiest and the best path to their success. It is simple, but often not done because it can be difficult and tedious work. But it pays off.
I took over work on an eCommerce business last summer that was struggling to get to a 2oo% return on ad spend. We have slowly worked them up to where they are over 400% this month with continued adjustments with our own knowledge combined with the assist from Google Ads targeting. However, you have to be careful because many of the suggestions Google automates to you are based on getting more conversions, but not necessarily more conversions at your target ROAS or CPA. If you are getting more conversions but losing money, that just makes things worse.
Make sure you stay on top of what is working and what isn’t. It may change as your promotions change.
Learn from that and be ready to stay in front of it.