3 Google AdWords Steps for Digital Agency Startups

The final push of the semester has involved a heavy focus on understanding the Google AdWords digital advertising platform. In class on Thursday, we spent the majority of the time doing a walkthrough of the AdWords campaign creation and dashboard features, specifically the Display Planner tool. By doing this, we were able to put into practice many of the concepts we encountered in the certification exams.

Google AdWords

Display Planner walkthrough in class

Because we are building digital marketing agency brands from scratch, Ike and Russ conducted the exercise as if we were planning a Google AdWords campaign for our own agencies. Google AdWords is an expansive environment that takes a great deal of practice, exploration, and testing to master the platform. The complexity of AdWords can prove to be a challenge for startups – making the need for a clear, outlined focus something to think about before starting an ad campaign(s).

 

1. Know your objective or goal

Google AdWords

Defining a goal is the first and most important step in creating any digital marketing or advertising campaign. This is the framework that will set the stage for measuring success based upon the results of the goal set. We decided as a class to make our goal brand awareness and advertise on the Display Network because our agencies have very little visibility starting out. After we walked through the display planning exercise, Russ concluded that we should have chosen a different goal such as clicks to the website in order to boost conversions via a sale or landing page. Conversions are ultimately the driving force of the business. Creating ads with calls to actions like “Start your training now!” or “Learn more about digital” are ideal.

 

2. Know your audience

Google AdWordsKnowing and understanding your audience is probably equally as important as defining your campaign goals. This is where selecting high quality, relevant keywords come into play. It is tempting to brainstorm keywords that describe your industry or general products, however, you have to get into the mindset of your customer base and consider how they will actually search for your industry on Google. As Dr. Ike would say…there’s a real science behind it. The Keyword Planner tool through Google AdWords is helpful in selecting the keywords that would best suit your startup.

 

 

3. Know your budget

Most digital marketing agency startups have small budgets to work with initially. The idea of pouring money into a Google AdWords marketing budget with hopes of storming the market and acquiring clients is daunting and may seem like a risky venture at first. The fact of the matter is this: you have to spend money to make money. We spoke hypothetically in class about what our agency services prices would be and if acquiring just a few clients for those services would result in a return on investment with only a $200 AdWords monthly budget. It turns out, with premier digital training services listed in the thousands of dollars, only a handful of new clients would result in a sizable ROI from the $200 range AdWords budget. Taking both cost and ROI into consideration is necessary, but ultimately, ROI is of utmost importance. There’s only one way to master the Google AdWords budget and that is to relentlessly test and learn until you fall into a system that works for your digital agency startup.

 

Questions to Consider:

1. Which of the Google Ad Networks would you recommend a digital agency startup begin with and why? (Search Only, Display Only, or Search w/ Display Select)

2. Which of the 3 Google AdWords steps listed in the post do you think is the most important to focus on?

3. If you founded a digital agency startup, would you invest in Google AdWords immediately or try to acquire an audience organically first using other digital resources?

14 thoughts on “Google AdWords: 3 Steps for Digital Startups

  • April 11, 2016 at 9:30 pm
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    Deciding which campaign to run all depends on what the goal of the business is. If one is uncertain they could run search with display select, which is suggested by Google when running a new campaign. It allows you to reach people as they use search or visit other websites on the Internet.

    I think knowing your objective is the most important, but I agree with you Eli, knowing your audience is almost as important if not just as important. If you don’t know your goal how can you reach your audience or know your budget. While it is possible to know your budget with an endless flow of money it does not allow you to analyze your ROI and determine whether or not it is feasible to continue as is.

    If I were to start up an agency I would try and grow my business organically until I was able to sustain the cost of paying for advertising, however if the business is not taking off organically I might have to invest a little money by taking the risk and hope for a good return.

    Reply
    • April 12, 2016 at 12:56 pm
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      Thanks for your comment, Jesse. You make a great point in your first statement about a campaign depending on the goal of the business. When in doubt, I would also recommend that an agency run a Search w/ Display Select campaign. There is a better possibility of reaching more potential customers that way.

      Reply
  • April 12, 2016 at 9:35 pm
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    Great article Eli!
    I definitely agree with Jessie I would definitely would have gone the route of using display network. The reason being that is already stated and what is said in the google modules stating that when starting a new business would want to use display network.

    Knowing your audience is probably the most important because once you know your audience it will make your job easier when it comes to promoting or advertising and better feedback.

    I actually have been thinking about if I would start google adwords immediately or not because I wanted to eventually or soon start selling my own merchandise. I might have to try getting organic purchases before I start using google advertising.

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    • April 13, 2016 at 10:42 am
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      Thanks, Stacy! I think it’s great that you want to start selling your own merchandise and that you’re weighing your digital advertising options. I agree that you should try to grow organically initially, especially when using social media marketing tactics. This will allow you to use A/B testing to see what works, and what doesn’t. I wish you the best in growing your brand.

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  • April 12, 2016 at 10:09 pm
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    Good post Eli! You’re correct; Google AdWords is extremely complex but nonetheless an effective tool. You did a great job outlining and simplifying key concepts to keep in mind while beginning to create an ad campaign.

    In agreement with Jesse and as we chose in class, I believe that the Search with Display Select is the best option for a startup. Essentially, you get the best of both worlds with this feature by giving your ad the ability to appear when people search terms that match your keywords, while also appearing on relevant web pages.

    The most important Google AdWords step listed to me would be to know your objective or goal, as we came to learn in class, having a clear goal is one of the most important aspects of a campaign. Knowing the specific outcome that you’re trying to create before you’ve gone live with a campaign ensures that you get the results you want, in a way that’s measurable.

    The thought of pouring money into AdWords campaigns, when the goal is to be bringing it in can be off putting at first. Overall, I’ve learned it’s a necessary evil, as you mentioned you have to spend money to make money. The ROI is most important and as long as you set a budget that isn’t beyond your means and you are getting a return on your investment AdWords works in your benefit.

    Tips we’ve learned like upping quality score, choosing relevant keywords with a high conversion rate and a relatively low CPC, making sure your bids are appropriate based on devices where conversions are coming from and like Russ mentioned, adding negative keywords so you aren’t spending money on irrelevant traffic helps get you the most bang for your AdWords buck, especially as a startup.

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    • April 13, 2016 at 10:46 am
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      Very well said, Maranda! I especially resonated with your point about adding negative keywords to a campaign. I think that is an ideal tactic for a small startup to save on its advertising budget in terms of clicks.

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  • April 12, 2016 at 10:17 pm
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    Eli, great work on the blog!
    For a digital agency startup, I would choose Search Network w/ Display Select over Search Only or Display Only because it gives you more options to work with when it comes to placing ads on different sites. With the Search Network w/ Display Select, you have the ability to place ads on Google Search partner sites, as well as the Display Search partner sites and video. The Search Only restricts you to solely placing ads on the search partner sites.

    All 3 steps are key components in determining whether or not an agency will be successful or not, but if I had to pick one it would be knowing your goal or objective. One of the reasons why our trial AdWords campaign wasn’t approved by Russ was because we weren’t clear on what our goals were. If the team isn’t striving toward one common objective, then your strategy will fail EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Like I said all the steps are important, but it just seems obvious to me that having a common goal is the first step in putting together any type of strategy.

    If I we’re creating a digital agency, I would probably hold off on using AdWords in the beginning and focus on growing an organic audience through my social media channels. I do think that I would begin implementing AdWords later on when I start making money and have the funds to use it regularly. But like Jesse said, if I am struggling to get my agency off the ground then AdWords could potentially be the only alternative to generating business.

    Reply
    • April 14, 2016 at 10:58 am
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      Bruce, thanks for the excellent response! You’re right, a lack of clear goals from the beginning of a campaign will result in failure. A detailed strategy is a major key to success.

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  • April 13, 2016 at 3:05 pm
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    Great post. As mostly everyone has already touched on, all 3 of the steps are important, but I actually think knowing your audience is the most important. You can spend all the money in the world but if you’re advertising to people who are not interested in your product at all, you’re going to be much worse off than a company who spends a relatively small amount but focuses on an audience that will actually be interested.

    A good example of this was when we were creating the Facebook ad for Russ’ Hobby Shop. We started off and the ad had a potential reach of 3 million. While this sounds great, you’re paying for each impression, and if it reaches someone who has no interest in drones or whatever, you’re throwing your money away.

    It feels counter intuitive to whittle your audience down and have a lower potential reach, but when you do that you know you’re reaching people who actually might be prone to buying what you’re selling, so your money is much better spent.

    As for growing organically or jumping straight into AdWords, I think it sounds great to start organically, but I think the reality is that success is going to be hard to come by organically. Unless you have a product or service that will just blow everyone away, you’ve got to do something to set yourself apart from the crowd, and unfortunately (or fortunately for us since we’re learning how to do it) it seems like that will cost some money.

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    • April 14, 2016 at 11:10 am
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      Blake, thanks for your comment! I agree that the ad creation exercise for Russ’s hobby shop was a great example of targeting the right audience. More targeted ads is an ideal marketing strategy.

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  • April 13, 2016 at 7:10 pm
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    Well, since each has their own benefits it’s hard to say which is -definitely- the best. Depending on if you own a small business or not really determines the goals that you might have for the company. Google says that the Search with Display Select is great for those unfamiliar with AdWords or are running their first campaign.

    Although each point is important, I think that the one companies tend to fail on is Knowing the Audience so I would say that that one is the key one to focus on. Companies ran by older people try to focus on getting the young people to come to their company which tends to be them trying to latch onto the current trends or slang, despite it not fitting with their business model. If their company is geared for the elderly, then their focus should be the same in advertising.

    With my knowledge now I would start with Google AdWords pretty quickly (assuming I have any funds for advertising) but I could also see myself worrying about the website and other details about the company before focusing on AdWords.

    Reply
  • April 13, 2016 at 9:25 pm
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    Nice post, Eli! As a startup, it is wise to begin with Search & Display select, because it typically allows for the most relevant reach; your ad is able to appear when people search relevant keywords as well as appearing on similar web pages.

    For me, the most important Google AdWords step listed is knowing your objective. As mentioned, this is the most important step in creating a campaign. Defining a goal can help you specify your campaign strategy and from there you can choose the network that will best advertise your campaign.

    I’d definitely first try to grow an audience organically through social media outreach and utilize any free social media advertising tools available before spending money on AdWords, since I’m likely to be low on money as a startup.

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  • April 14, 2016 at 1:43 pm
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    Great post Eli!

    I think I would recommend search w/ display select just because I like that one the best.  However you must know your audience, know what they are searching for and know exactly what medium they are using to receive it. I would also say that knowing your audience is extremely important, however knowing the goal of the ad is critical as well. All in all, these steps are equally important I think. It’s just a matter of how long you can go before you eventually fail by not to taking them all into consideration at some point.

    If I was to found my own agency I think I would start with Google AdWords only if I was 100% confident all my keyword phrases and call to actions are bulletproof. This is also assuming I have startup money, otherwise the Adwords is probably going to have to wait. Although smaller experiments are not as costly, as long as everything is set up, ready to go and I have the funds available to dabble around, I would feel pretty confident starting smaller campaigns right from the get go. There’s a lot to learn from AdWords, and in order to master it I believe you’re going to have to make a few mistakes before you learn something that’s powerful , easily repeatable and unique to your competitors. However I think it’s best to learn firsthand from somebody else (preferably an expert) before you jump in and start out at square one on your own. It’s important to have the confidence to know that what you’re doing is the correct and best thing to do before you start. I am glad Russ put us through this scenario and I found it very useful.

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  • April 14, 2016 at 2:26 pm
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    I would recommend Search w/ Display Select Google networks for a digital agency startup to begin with because it said that it’s the best for starters on the site. When people begin to get more familiar with AdWords then they would definitely know which network to pick.

    Out of the 3 Google AdWords steps listed in this post I think knowing your goal is the most important. I feel this way because deciding if you should spend your money on a certain ad all depends on what you set your goal as from the beginning. I remember in class last week when we went around the room to say if we would spend around $220, I think on the ad we created with a goal being brand awareness. I said no because I felt that it was too much to just get your name out there. I agree with Russ when he said all he cares about is if people are buying his product not if they know the name correctly. Some people felt other wise but that’s just my opinion.

    I definitely think investing in Google AdWords is something that every start up should consider but doing it immediately is really up to the owner. Personally I feel that it isn’t necessary to invest in AdWords immediately because I’m always down to try and see how I can acquire an audience organically before anything, just so I can see what works and what doesn’t. With that being said I still wouldn’t wait too long to invest in AdWords because it’s a very useful tool. Also with it being a trial and error type of thing, if you know your budget then you won’t be spending too much; so it’s worth it to me.

    Reply

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