Seeds.
Wacky Little Things I Learned In Gardening That Help Me Grow My PPC Campaigns.

By Amanda Woodard

Adwords Tree Of Success

Sky’s the limit.

When I was in Kindergarten, we had this assignment.

The assignment, you know: grow a plant on a window sill.

Our teacher basically made it idiot-proof for us. She supplied the cups, the dirt, the seeds, the water, etc. She even showed us where to set our little make-shift pots to ensure that they’d get the most sunlight.

Well, I don’t know, maybe a week later, our teacher asked us to go get our plants. ‘Cause they’re supposed to be plants by now, right? At least little seedlings or something.

All these girls were holding up their Dixie cups, triumphant, little green sprouts peeking out over the brim. I just stood there and stared at my cup of dirt.

Cup of dirt

No seed, no tree.

My cup of literal dirt.

I had forgotten to put the seed inside, so nothing grew.

I’ll be honest…

Sometimes working with AdWords makes me feel like a Kindergartener again, who forgot an integral part of the gardening process.

There are so many parts to consider. If your keywords aren’t broad enough, the roots of campaign can shrivel and die. If you aren’t carefully weeding out negative keywords, you may find unwelcome visitors in your garden.

There’s good news though.

You get to learn from my mistakes – from Kindergarten and from recent experience. Together, we’ll learn how to plot a firm foundation for your campaign and how to prune your ads through a daily routine.

Part 1 – Foundation
Sowing The Right Seeds
The Right Way

If you don’t plant seeds where they’ll get adequate sunlight, it doesn’t matter how much you water them. Likewise, before you set up your PPC campaign, you need to really consider the right settings, how to optimize your landing page and how to eliminate click-fraud.

Foundational Tools

1. Google AdWords

It should be a no-brainer that Google AdWords is an important tool to use, but some people forget to plant seeds in their Dixie cups, so this one’s for you. Cheers.

Alternatives: Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads

2. Instapage

Instapage gives you templates for landing pages and helps you optimize them for maximum conversions. And editing it is, like, stupid easy – all the buttons in the toolbar are clearly labeled. Everything can be changed just by clicking on it on the actual page. You could probably go into it right now, with no prior training, and create a landing page in about 2.7 seconds.

Alternatives: Unbounce, Leadpages, Pagewiz

3. PPC Secure

There are little bugs out there that are trying to eat up all your green, if you get what I’m saying. They’ll seriously just sit there and click your ads HUNDREDS of times to max out your daily spending. (Like, hey, maybe if you spent that time pruning your own ad campaign, you wouldn’t have to worry about how mine is doing? But that’s none of my business.)  

PPC Secure keeps people from mass-clicking your ads, saving you a ton of money in the long-run.

Alternatives: ClickGuardian, ClickCease, ClickBrainiacs

Fostering Growth

1. Plant Seeds in the Right Places

You have to know where to plot your garden before anything can happen. You also have to know where you shouldn’t plant your garden.

This rule doesn’t really apply if you’re advertising for an online store, but for location-specific services, this is crucial to your campaign’s success. Under the settings tab in AdWords, scroll down to the “Locations” subheading and add the areas you want your ads to show and – this is really important – the places you don’t.

Adwords Campaign Excluded Locations

Segregation. Sometimes
you got to do it.

If you’re a local coffee shop in Dallas, Texas, and you want to attract an audience that might not be in Dallas but interested in Dallas… it still might not do you any good to have people in Afghanistan see your ads.

By default, your ads are shown to people in your target location but also those who are interested in your target location.

Adwords Location Options Advanced

Don’t trust Google
on this one.

You can change that setting, or you can keep it. If you decide to keep it, make sure your location exclusions are done right.

2. Spread Your Roots

The deeper a flower’s roots grow, the bigger the flower can grow. That’s just science.

Your ad campaign needs to set itself deeply into the soil of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) in order to really flourish.

Start with your keywords (and, by proxy, your ad groups). It’s better to draft your ad group around just one unique keyword so that you can create crazy-specific ads that cater to your prospective customer’s crazy-specific needs.

From there, you can expand on that keyword by adding misspellings and various match types.

Your roots can also take up more room on the SERP by taking advantage of Ad Extensions. The bigger your ad is, in terms of copy, the more likely it is for it to be seen, and the more likely it is for it to be clicked.

Callout Extensions

Ad extensions and
ETAs are a must.

Plus, the introduction of Expanded Text Ads brings opportunity for more real estate on the SERP. Take advantage of them.

3. Grow the Right Flowers

Nobody gives a shiitake mushroom that you have a garden if your flowers are ugly. Sorry.

It also doesn’t matter that people are clicking your ads if your landing page sucks. If it’s not optimized for conversions, you’re just wasting money. Just turning it right to compost.

Here are a few tips on how you can optimize your landing pages to get more conversions:

  • Pay attention to the hierarchy of visible elements on your page: headline should be prominent with ONE call-to-action.
  • Make sure the copy is brief, relevant and persuasive.
  • Keep a clean and simple design.

  • Keep your call-to-action (CTA) button above the fold.
  • Add social proof: logos or testimonials.

Read how simple tweaks increased our landing page conversion rate from 19% to 39%.

4. Spray Your Pesticide

Here’s where PPC Secure comes into play. First, create a new click tracker to monitor how many times someone can click the landing page you just created. You can set it up so that you receive alerts when someone’s trying to screw you over.

You can even set it up so that people aren’t alerted when they’ve been blocked from your page – so they’ll just keep wasting time trying (and failing) to run up your budget.

You’re welcome.

Part 2 – Optimization
Nourishing And Flourishing
Your Garden

Plants are living organisms.

Isn’t that trippy to think about? Like, everything around us is alive. Well, I’ve got news for you. AdWords is a living organism too — a scary one!

Adwords is alive

Run!

It’s always changing and growing, and you have to help it adapt to its evolving environment in order to keep it alive. That’s if you haven’t fled the planet out fear yet. Things will be alright, hang on.

Optimization Tools

1. Excel

Yeah, you heard me. Plain ole Excel. Or Google Sheets – whatever your preference. The point is that you need a spreadsheet that can help you easily track daily changes in click-through rate (CTR) and conversions.

2. AdWords Editor

If you’re not already using this, lemme introduce you to your new best friend: AdWords Editor is like Google AdWord’s cooler older sister that you always secretly wanted to hang out with more. You can copy and paste entire campaigns over to different accounts if you want to. It’s the easiest, most intuitive tool to use.

3. Tenscores

If you’re reading this article, then you probably know the golden equation of AdWords: Higher quality score equals lower cost per click (CPC) and higher ad ranking. Tenscores shows you which campaigns are suffering from low Quality Score and helps you optimize them step-by-step.

Part 3 – Maintenance
Caring For Your Garden
Day To Day

1. Monitor Daily Growth

Maybe if you’re really hardcore, you’ll get a ruler out and measure just how much your flowers have grown in a day.

Monitoring Daily Adwords Growth

If you want to have a hardcore ad campaign, you have to take daily measurements of it too.

I know that AdWords has all these amazing graphs and charts and everything, but if you want to track day-to-day changes, that’s where Excel or Google Sheets comes in.

If you’re a good advertiser, then you’ll be making little changes to your ads every day, so it’s good to make note of how those little changes are affecting your account.

2. Groom Your Flowers

Make daily micro changes to your ads using AdWords Editor. Nothing crazy – just try changing the CTA on a few of your ads and see what happens.

Tenscores is a huge help in discovering which ads reap better results over time, thanks to its cool color conditioning.

For example…

Adwords Ad Test

A/B testing and writing ads everyday is what experts do.

At first glance, I thought the right ad was performing better; it has much higher impressions and a higher CTR.

But… the conversion rate at the first ad suggest it might be doing better than the other one.

Important: The results above are in no way near statistical significance, we haven’t had enough conversions to make a solid judgement. But if this pattern continues — and that’s why it’s important to keep an eye on it — I’d like to see if “Get In Touch” will garner more conversions in my other ad groups.

3. Disbud Your Flowers

There’s this weird thing in gardening where you actually clip extra buds off a stem to make it look prettier.

You might have a ton of budding, promising keywords in your ad group, but keyword cramming isn’t going to get you pretty results.

Learn how to treat your keywords like Donald Trump would.

Tenscores enables you to discover which keywords aren’t relevant to your ads. Within the platform, you can create new ad groups using keywords that don’t serve the ad group they’re currently in.

4. Deadhead Your Flowers

Sometimes just part of your flowers can die, but it’s not too late to save them. You can clip off the dead bits without hurting your flowers. This process is called “deadheading.”

In your ad campaign, this is something you can do directly in Google AdWords. Under the Keywords tab, check out the “Search Terms” section and see what people are searching in order to find your ads. From there, you can get a clear idea of what keywords you don’t want your ads to show up for.

For example, I do marketing for water damage restoration companies, and sometimes people will find our ads when they search things like “water damage iphone 6.” But my clients don’t do water damage restoration for electronics, just houses, so that search query let me know that I need to add “iphone 6” as a negative keyword.

Bonus
Advanced Gardening Tips

Set Your Sprinklers on a Timer

There are certain times during the day when it would behoove you to water your garden, but you’re probably not going to be available or even awake at those times. That’s why it’s super handy that most sprinkler systems these days come with timers.

Similarly, you’ll want to set your ads to show at times when you’re going to see the highest CTR. You can do this by going into the settings tab and scroll down to the Advanced Settings subheading. There you’ll find “Ad Scheduling.”

You can review how your ads have performed during certain days and decide from there which days you’d like to advertise or increase bids on.

Adwords Ad Scheduling

Performance sometimes varies by time and day.

Here are the stats for the last seven days for one of my location-specific clients. According this data, it would probably be wise for me to increase bids on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Treat Your Flowers Like They’re One of a Kind

There are like, a gajillion different types of flowers or something crazy like that, and what’s even crazier is that they all need to be nurtured in different ways. You can’t treat a rose garden the same way you would a vegetable garden and expect the same results.

Veggies Bouquet

What would happen?

In the same way, you have to treat your ad campaigns like they’re their own unique genus. I can’t apply the same rules I use for my emergency service restoration companies to a campaign for Prada shoes. The target demographic is different, the sales funnel is different and the product, for sure, is totally different.

That being said, you shouldn’t apply the tips you read online to your entire account. Try out the tips on a few ads and see what happens. They might not work for the kind of product you’re trying to sell.

You probably read this article like, “Oh, wow, good for Amanda! She wasn’t a smart kid, but she’s a killer gardener now, and that’s awesome.”

First of all, thanks for your kind words, Fictional Reader.

I hate to break it to you, but I don’t do any gardening at all. Actually, as an adult, I managed to kill a succulent – a kind of plant that provides its own nourishment.

Dying Cactus

Sorry buddy, Amanda will never touch you again.

That’s really, really hard to do.

But I can tell you my AdWords campaigns are increasing in clicks and conversions since I started treating them like gardens. Take that for what it’s worth.

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