In this article, I will discuss Adwords strategies for web based service businesses, think web developers, graphic designers, programmers, web hosts and other web technology companies.
A lot of the strategies for local businesses apply here, particularly if you’re a graphic design/print firm with a retail outlet where clients would prefer to see you face to face. So if that’s true for you, read the local business post here
Avoid bidding for the obvious “short tails”
Adwords works in an auction style system. Ads with high relevancy (read quality score) and a high max bid will go at the top of the pile. Within each market there are always major advertisers with deep pockets who will bid up the ad costs so they get the top spots. Case in point in Google USA if you search for “web hosting”, you will inevitably find a Godaddy,com result offering web hosting for incredibly cheap, something like $1.99 a month. The Adwords bid costs around $17 a click (starting).
For small players, there’s no chance of competing at these price points. Often one of the biggest complaints from business owners is that ad costs are far too high. A website like Godaddy will have a huge team of experts working to optimise their pages to convert, their Adwords accounts have a long record of good quality score so their bid prices are cheaper. Their sales funnel is also designed to upsell other related services so their average basket checkout value is probably higher than any other competitor out there. Most importantly they have huge funding to “stick it out”, they may pay in advertising costs what it costs [per capita] to have a web host customer on account for 1.5 years. Their larger funding means that they can play the long game and wait it out to break even.
The best approach for SMEs is to specialise and offer a very bespoke service based on user needs. Bidding on keywords like “web hosting for e-commerce”, “web hosting for web stores” etc. Are a lot cheaper than just web hosting on it’s own so you will have a higher conversion rate. Similarly for web developers you could copy the same footprint as the web hosting examples above. Graphic designers can target different trades such as restaurants, concerts, street flyers, billboards etc. Doing a search in Google UK for “graphic designer for billboards” I cannot see a single graphic designer targeting this industry specifically (there are some who have targeted the catch all term “graphic designer”). How well do you think an ad with an emboldened title Billboard Graphic Design be here? It will stand out and get higher click through rates than any of these other ads.
Obviously, this isn’t a common search term. But the commission for this job is probably huge so it’s best to target these low hanging fruit and bid on this longtails.
Tailor Made Ads
In the above example you can see that there are few actual graphic designers advertising for the search phrase “graphic design for billboard”, but they have only fallen through because they were simply going after the short tail “graphic design” with phrase match. Other billboard adverts have fallen through as well but I guess since the search will be looking for billboard locations at some point it’s not such a bad idea to advertise on this keyword.
The worst ad of all is the college advertising the graphic design course.
A properly crafted ad should include some descriptions with some unique benefits for the end user and a call to action something like Billboard Graphic Designer – Large Canvas & Billboard Specialist – Enquire Today & Get Free Consult.
You can only achieve this level of targeted ads by placing your keywords in tightly themes categories and placing them inside their own ad groups.
Custom landing pages are critical
So you’ve got the industry specific longtail keyword, where do you send the traffic? Do you send it to your generic sales package page? No. If you were targeting the keyword Graphic design for billboards, you best make sure that you divert these clicks to a bespoke landing page that describes the specific needs for that service. Think from the customers point of view, what would an agency or a company looking for a graphic designer for billboard posters want? Perhaps there are standard billboard sizes? Minimum resolution? Lots of printed test samples? Integration with other advertising mediums? etc.
Firstly you have to really understand the mind set of the buyer, think in their shoes and then craft landing pages which address these needs specifically.The book Ca$svertising does a great job of introducing web copywriting principles. Worth a read.
In the case of the earlier example of “web hosting for e-commerce” Adwords campaign. On the landing pages you’d want to have 3 or more different price plans, the price structure could include a ballpark estimates of the number of inventory/admins/traffic allowed on the web page. I see time and time ago how a lot of web hosting companies provide mysql database numbers and storage space. Many state the quota which is completely meaningless for the average web hosting customers. Others avoid the issue altogether but stating “unlimited”, which in most cases are anything but. Personally, I like how Apple approached this with their marketing for the iPod. They didn’t just list “megabytes” supported. They listed the number of songs supported, puts things in perspective for the luddite customer. Which 95% of their customers are.
Obviously for a web hosting for e-commerce landing page you’d also want to include the various other inbuilt shopping carts included and some of the technical specifics like SSL support, email support etc.
All these tweaks and enhancements should keep your ad costs low and the conversion rate high, in doing so you maximise your conversions and minimise your ad costs.
If all this flies over your head, you may want to hire an Adwords consultant to look after your campaign for you. I offer Adwords consulting to small business and SMEs.