How Green Does Your AdWords Garden Grow?
This article by Howie Jacobson was originally posted on Search Engine Watch.
Think of an AdWords account like a garden. Most gardeners measure success by yield: bushels of tomatoes, armloads of sweet peppers, ovenfuls of zucchini bread, and so on.
But these outputs, as delicious and motivating as they are, do not constitute the true wealth and health of a garden. Rather, they are proof of the garden’s fecundity, whose source is out of sight: in the soil itself, underground, invisible to the naked and uninformed eye.
Any gardener who neglects her soil will have to resort to more and more desperate and unsustainable means to grow crops year after year: applications of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and increasingly labor-intensive weeding.
A gardener who returns nutrients to the soil in the form of mulch and compost, on the other hand, is rewarded with greater production, greater resistance to disease, and greater diversity and resilience. That is, when the garden’s “waste” products are turned back into the cycle of nature, the entire system thrives.
The typical AdWords advertiser, like the typical gardener, holds his account responsible for its “crops” – leads and sales – without paying enough attention to the other valuable outputs: insights that can be plowed back into the account to increase its health.
Let’s take one example of an AdWords-generated output that you can plow back into your campaign to increase efficiency and yield: a high-volume keyword.
Once your account reveals the existence of such a keyword, it’s time to become a keyword ecologist, exploring the habits, habitat, potential, and life cycle of the keyword. These insights can enrich the soil of your account, your understanding of your prospects and their deepest desires, which in turn will nurture greater production of the “marketable” aspects of your account, the leads and sales.
By way of example, let’s say you offer debt consolidation counseling and services, and you discover that the keyword “get out of debt” is a hot one. The first place you can look for insight is the dimensions report, which can give you a sense of the keyword’s habitat and daily patterns. (Note: before you can harvest this insight, you need to move the keyword to its very own ad group.)
You may discover, for example, that conversion rates are lower in the wee hours of the morning, when prospects are panicking about their finances without having sufficient decision-making capacity to fill out your form or download your report. You can certainly use this information to reduce the keyword’s cost per click from midnight to 6 a.m.
But you can also apply this insight more generally, and create “midnight garden” landing pages that speak more to the panic and insomnia caused by unwieldy debt, and have a simpler call to action that doesn’t require much thinking or deciding.
You can also define the keyword’s habitat using the dimensions tab. Viewing the geographic dimension shows you where in the world your best prospects live. But that’s not all; you may discover that your click-through rates are much higher in urban areas than suburban or rural.
In addition to geotargeting the keyword to take advantage of this insight, you can compost it in your mind and come up with theories to test.
- Are city dwellers more pressured by debt than their non-urban counterparts?
- Do people in cities face more daily opportunities to overspend, surrounded as they are by shops and advertisements?
- Does your ad speak more to individual consumer debt, as opposed to farm-type debt?
Each of these theories can be tested by writing new ads and landing pages, which can be shown to urban and non-urban prospects. Perhaps you could even develop a new form of debt counseling that helps city dwellers “just say no” to the extra cappuccinos or magazines or candy bars that ends up costing them thousands of dollars a year that they can’t really afford.
You can also view your high potential keyword against others to see what makes it tick.
- How does “get out of debt” differ from the related yet quite different “debt consolidation”?
- Does one show a higher degree of readiness to act?
- A different level of sophistication about the issue?
- A desire for hand-holding as opposed to done-for-you?
When you take the time to turn the available AdWords insights back into your business, you do far more than improve your AdWords results. Your questions and AdWords tests to determine the answers can improve your offline marketing, your inbound telemarketing, and the very nature of the products and services you offer.
That’s quite a bountiful harvest!