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This week I had the opportunity to attend Brad Geddes’ advanced AdWords class through Cardinal Path Training. Even after working in AdWords as long as I have, there’s always more to learn. Below are six of the most important takeaways I got from his class.

1. Keywords and ads don’t make sales, landing pages make sales. I find that a lot of time and attention is spent on keyword research and ad testing, but much less time is spent creating and testing landing pages. If you are bidding on only the most relevant keywords and you have the amazing ad text that’s great, but unless your main goal is a high CTR, you must have landing pages designed to make the sale. In my opinion, you shouldn’t even begin advertising until you have quality landing pages. Getting people to your site is necessary, but you aren’t going to generate revenue unless you keep them there.

2. You don’t necessarily want to make 5 and 6 Quality Score (QS) keywords 7s and 10s. Oh quality score, the holy grail of AdWords. We all want to strive for 10s across our account, right? Not necessarily. Turns out Google isn’t always right and sometimes strategies for a higher QS don’t align with the goals you have for your account.

I worked with a client who was selling a high-end product that had cheaper alternatives. We initially ran ads that talked about the great benefits of the product and CTR was awesome… but the conversion rate was poor because people would get to our site, see the price point, and leave. When we added pricing into our ads CTR fell along with QS, but our conversion rate and revenue went up.  What’s more important, making sales or having a high QS? Sorry Google, but I know good quality traffic better than you do.

3. Be careful offering discounts to shopping cart abandoners on remarketing lists. If you’re an e-commerce site, you are most likely targeting people who visited your site, added an item to their cart, but didn’t checkout. Then, you show them an ad that entices them to complete a purchase by offering a discount. Sounds great, right?

Well, turns out searchers are becoming savvy and catching on to our tricks. Did you know there’s actually a Facebook group that lists businesses who remarket with discounts? People are going to these sites, adding something to their cart, and leaving knowing they are going to be served a discount ad. Don’t train your site visitors to expect to spend less money.

4. Test “Thank You” pages. Landing page testing is extremely important. Remember, landing pages make sales, but you’re missing out on a great opportunity if you aren’t also testing your thank you pages. Think about it, you’ve brought the person to your site, convinced them to make a purchase, and then you say “Thanks for buying, now go away.”

These are your customers! Use your thank you page to keep them engaged with your brand by telling them what to do next. “Thanks for buying. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to find out about our next sale.” Turn your purchasers into repeat customers by testing different thank you pages.

5. Focus on CPA, not Conversion Rate, on the Display Network. When you run ads on the Display Network, Google uses a feature called Smart Pricing to automatically reduce bids on sites expected to lead to fewer conversions. Because Google is already doing this work for you, you don’t need to analyze performance by conversion rate. Instead, you should be focusing on CPA.

Let’s say you sell digital cameras and are running display ads. Your ads are showing on a popular camera review site and Dave’s digital photography blog. The likelihood of a person on a camera review site converting is higher that one reading a blog, but both are good audiences to target.

Display CPA

Your CPC on Dave’s blog will automatically be reduced because Google knows it is less likely you will get a conversion. You’re going to get fewer conversions from the blog, but if you receive 100 clicks on both ads you’re paying $6 less for these conversions.

6. Some accounts can be managed on less than an hour a day. I should note that this applies to accounts that are smaller in spend and scope. The trick is to know what you’re truly trying to accomplish with your account. Then you know where to focus your attention.

To reach the one-hour a day management goal you must be organized. Set aside one day a month to dig through all data to find areas for improvement and opportunity. Then, plan your month focusing on what will help you reach your goals.

While this may be true for some smaller accounts, we’ve found in our experience that an hour a day (or about 20 hours a month cumulative) probably isn’t enough to really tackle more thorough objectives.

I have a five-page word doc filled with takeaways from this presentation, but these were the ones that really stuck out. If you ever get a chance to see Brad speak, I guarantee you’ll have more than a few Aha! moments yourself.