Top AdWords Tactics for Beginners

adwords tactics beginners

I’m assuming that you have limited experience in AdWords. Even in most growth-focused companies, the marketing lead is tasked with more doing than they would normally be comfortable with. And like any good marketer, you figure it out! With AdWords, you can hack together a few campaigns and, with just a few tactics, kick some serious butt. Getting your marketing program off the ground? Here are some quick AdWords tips to get you started on the right track.

Start with Exact Match or Phrase Match Keywords Only

With exact match keywords, you will know what the actual Average CPC is for your keywords and be able to clearly report on things like competition and average position. All great things to know.

Years ago, we used to preach about broad match keywords and how they were the devil. I’d like to reinforce that opinion right now. Don’t use broad match. Ever. In any case. If your Google rep suggests this, politely excuse yourself and never work with them again. (Better tip: reach out to your network and get a few opinions from specialists in your network.)

I’d also suggest staying away from Broad Match Modifier, which is a great tool for most marketers. In the case of a growth-focused company with limited resources, it’s not a simple AdWords tactic and it adds a layer of complexity to management that doesn’t bring you a ton of value. Mature accounts benefit greatly.

With that in mind, using only exact match keywords or only phrase match queries is the way to go.

Firstly, most people search in very predictable ways. In my experience, the 80/20 rule applies. 80% of the searches you wish to show up for is dominated by the top 20% of keywords–and it may even be the top 10% of keywords. While there is tremendous value in the long-tail and I invite you to try it, launching your AdWords account with 10-20 exact match or phrase match keywords is the best place to start.

As for exact match vs. phrase match

If you are in an area with clear demand (like a marketing CRM), you will be able to find the money keywords in Google Keyword Planner or with competitive tools like SEMRush. That’s a great case for exact match. If the keywords are a little murkier or if you are unsure if the keywords that are being searched are being searched by your customers, start with phrase match.

Phrase match is a slightly wider net so keep a close eye on your Search Term Report over the first few weeks.

Use DKI Across All of Your Ads

DKI, or Dynamic Keyword Insertion, replaces the Headline in your ad with the search term that the potential customer used to trigger your ads. It’s a great way to increase click through rate and align the customer’s intent with your offer.

DKI is simple to setup. When creating an Ad, use the following syntax instead of typing in a normal headline: {KeyWord:Your Default Headline}

Firstly, “Your Default Headline” is there in the case that their search term is too long. The Headline is only 25 characters, so many times a search term will be longer. That’s when “Your Default Headline” is shown. Since you already organized your Keywords into tightly knit Ad Groups of related Keywords, create a Headline for each Ad Group and you should be good.

You may want to break up your Ad Groups if you find that one Headline does not fit all of the Ads.

Secondly, “KeyWord” is case-sensitive to make all of words in the headline capitalized. If you were to use this format: {Keyword:Your Headline Here}, only the first word in the Title will be capitalized. Not very important to know all the differences right now, just that capitalizing the K and the W are important!

Turn off enhanced CPC

Turn off a setting that automates PPC management? Really?

It’s something that AdWords reps tell you to do in their initial consultation. While I can understand why they created this feature, I really don’t think there are many use cases for it.

What is Enhanced CPC? Google created this as a setting so that your Max CPC bid could rise up to 30% to help get clicks they deem as more likely to result in a conversion. I have not seen enough over the years to warrant using this bidding technique. You end up having a flexible CPC, which doesn’t help you see what the real average CPC is for a keyword. Any loss of control is not good for your account.

It’s much smarter to move to more exact match keywords than using broader targeting. As mentioned before, it gives you greater control over your AdWords account and, even in a time crunch, sets you up to get better results.

The only use case I can think of is if you have a new account in an industry with uncertain demand–so uncertain that you can’t do keyword research and figure out what to bid on. With Enhanced CPC on, you can turn on broad match modifier keywords or phrase match keywords and your bids will fluctuate a bit.

Set Campaign for Search Network Only

Search & Display Select crushes budgets and brings next to nothing back to your business. For most businesses that really need to focus on ROI, any type of display will be a poor channel to explore–except for social and retargeting. So dump these settings in favor of Search Network Only.

search network setting

Google & Google Search Partners is a similar setting that is not so black and white. I’ve had strong performance across “search partners” in terms of conversions and cost per conversion. It seems to perform slightly worse than Google itself. So the question becomes, do you have the budget to warrant wasting money?

In addition to being a financial burden, the default view of AdWords does not distinguish between the Search and Display Networks. That low CTR? That’s like dragged down by the terrible performance of the Display Network–not the Search Network.

Only Target Keywords With Purchase Intent

You will get nothing but an empty pocket from targeting the most broad terms in your industry. What we refer to as top of funnel content just does not perform well in Search PPC.

Instead of targeting the broad terms of your industry, focus in on search terms that include “qualifiers”. What’s a qualifier? It narrows down a specific type of your product of service–similar to what SEO consultants call niching down. Customers don’t just search for CRM, they search for the CRM that suits them best.

Instead of focusing on:

  • CRM
  • Customer resource management
  • Best CRM

Try focusing on a specific segment:

  • CRM for eCommerce companies
  • Best CRM for agencies
  • SaaS marketing CRM

Try niching down according to the needs of the company you wish to serve. Specializing will not only help you build a better product for a better customer for a better profit.

Your business model should dictate how you niche down, initially. Take it a step further with your own qualifiers.

Getting Started AdWords Tactics

Not every tactic works. But as a young business that is faced with the task of scaling, instead of waiting for the perfect tactic to find you, you need to be proactive in your testing and management and learn quickly.

Brian Swanick

Hey I'm Brian! I fix broken marketing programs for growing companies and crush tacos of all sizes. Whether you're launching a new product or building out a new marketing team, I hope you find the info on this site useful.

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