The top seven common Adwords mistakes that are wasting your budget.

October, 2020

Recently, Dwell Property Management visited our office to review and evaluate their Google Adwords campaigns, currently overseen by a large scale PPC (pay-per-click) management company here in the Greater Vancouver area.

This year we're helping Dwell on a number of fronts, including strategy, sales processes, videos, system development, and website improvements, so when their team told us they weren't satisfied with the results of their PPC campaign and asked us for a second opinion, we were happy to oblige.

Our review uncovered a number of issues we've encountered in different client accounts run by different management companies before they began working with ODG. We've started noticing a pattern, and thought it would be useful to point out a few common mistakes to watch out for when reviewing your own online advertising.

Read on to learn the top seven mistakes you might be making in your online advertising campaign, and what you can do to fix them.

  • You can't access your own data

    Many PPC management companies take strict control over your ad campaigns and the data they produce, then provide you only with the metrics that they deem appropriate. This isn't good enough. When running PPC campaigns on online platforms like Google or Facebook, it's important that you have direct access to the account, ensuring that…

    • You get direct access to all the important data, like cost per click and campaign budgets.
      Without direct access to your account, you are trusting that the report your management company provides is accurate and free of manipulation, selective focus or even simple human error. The company that managed Dwell's online ads provided some good numbers, but without any kind of transparency, those numbers are impossible to verify.
    • You can independently review your account setup and ask important questions. You should be able to question any aspect of the setup, or invite a 3rd party to provide their opinion. Your online advertising campaign should be collaborative, not prescriptive
    • You get the historical data.
      The details about the past performance of your campaigns, ad groups and keywords is invaluable. If you decided to stop using your current PPC management company, you would have to start again from scratch. While it's not critical to start with the data from an existing account, it's absolutely preferred.
  • Your account is disorganized.

    Luckily, this didn't seem to be the case with Dwell. While they were barred from having direct access to their account, Dwell was provided with well-designed and well-organized monthly reports. They showed that thought had been put into the campaign settings, ad groups, ads and keywords.

    Google Adwords Report Chart

    Beautiful reports with neat and tidy data seems to be a consistent deliverable among PPC management companies, and that's to be expected: without full transparency, they need to make a good impression.

  • Your ads aren't the best they can be.

    Another win here for Dwell's ad managers. It was clear that extensive work was put into their ads, and numerous variations were tested to see which performed better. The ads were well written, though with some excessive capitalization, and some achieved very successful click through rates (if the reports are accurate). A sample of a few below.

    Google Ad 1 Google Ad 2 Google Ad 3

    When reviewing your online ad campaigns, ensure your management company has put in the time to design, test, and redesign your ads to ensure you're getting the best performance possible.

  • Your keywords aren't prioritized.

    Here's where the holes started to show. While Dwell's online advertising account was well organized and showed promising results, some eyebrows were raised when reviewing their keywords and phrases. This is an all-too-common problem we've found with many PPC companies: big click numbers look good in reports, so many managers focus more on the quantity of clicks than the quality of visitors.

    Let's look at some of the top performing keywords for the campaign (most clicks) in 2019…

    Google Keywords

    As a residential and commercial property management company, Dwell is heavily involved with stratas so, at first glance, these top performing keywords seem relevant, however…

  • You're focused more on clicks than customers.

    In a perfect world of unlimited budgets, you would want your advertising campaign to cover for every possible keyword that's related to your business. But this is a world where ROI is king . Just like everyone else, Dwell wants to get the most from every dollar they spend, and that means ensuring, as much as we can, that their clicks come from qualified, relevant leads. This means that some keywords and phrases are far more valuable than others.

    Imagine you're at a business event and there are 5 people in front of you. You know that any of them could become a customer, but you only have time to speak to one of them.

    Who would you choose?

    • Customer 1
      #1 wants information about the "strata property act".
    • Customer 2
      #2 is asking about "property management", but has not been more specific.
    • Customer 3
      #3 is asking about "strata managing", but we don't know if they are looking for advice on how to manage a strata, the rules, or looking for a company to help.
    • Customer 4
      #4 is asking about a "strata corporation".
    • Customer 5
      #5 is specifically looking for a "property management company".

    It's obvious that Person 5 is the warmest lead, and is someone we want to talk to right away.

    Persons 1, 2, 3 and 4 could still become customers, of course, and we shouldn't ignore them if we can avoid it, but your resources are best spent making Person 5 your priority. They could become a customer today.

    This is the biggest mistake we saw in Dwell's PPC campaigns. In Google Adwords it's known as "Maximize Clicks"—a simple, automated bidding strategy that, in our opinion, is the least effective way to manage your ads. "Maximize Clicks" will certainly do as promised and get you clicks, but it treats all keywords equally. In Dwell's case, someone searching for the "strata property act" was just as important as someone actively looking for a "property management company."

    Your keywords and their costs need to form a funnel shape, ranked from least important to most important, and you should be paying more for the keywords that are specifically relevant to your business. Your online ad performance is too important to be left to an automated system. Instead, your bidding type should be set to "Manual" and you should make it a habit of reviewing your campaign's performance every week.

    Keyword Funnel Keyword Funnel

    The majority of your ad budget should be spent on keywords that are important and relevant to your customers. Any leftover funds can then be used for more generic terms, and at a much lower CPC.

  • You're advertising to people who search for your business name.

    Googling this topic returns many differing opinions, but we believe that, for most businesses, it's pointless to advertise to people who are searching for your name. Ask yourself, what are the chances that a potential customer would specifically search for your company name, click another company by accident, get confused and hire them instead? They turned to the internet to specifically find your website and, unless your SEO is non-existent, you don't need to spend ad revenue to ensure they succeed.

    According to the report from their PPC management company, over 40% of Dwell's conversions came from ads that were displayed and clicked when the user searched for their company by name. Advertising in this fashion was a great way to boost reporting, but was also a complete waste of money. As you'd expect, Dwell's website was already ranked #1 for any searches that included their business name. Essentially, Dwell was paying to negatively affect their SEO performance and generate clicks from people who already had every intention to visit their site.

    It's important to note that there are certain situations where advertising your name is recommended, such as when you don't have rankings for your name, your name is generic, or you need someone to notice the ad information first.

  • You're spending too much on fees.

    Lastly, we are always surprised at the charges we see from PPC management companies—typically a flat monthly fee and/or a markup on the ad spend.

    A lot of time goes into planning and setting up an account, so a higher fee makes sense. Once the account is up and running, however, we feel this fee should go down to reflect the fact that the account is getting optimized over time, and less effort is required to maintain it. Unfortunately, this typically isn't the case, and many PPC management companies ensure their fees never change.

    All PPC management companies have a right to charge any price they wish based on their own research and demand, but we've seen some clients who were paying thousands of dollars each month for online ad management, over and above the ad spend.

Here's a breakdown of the costs we would expect when creating and managing a PPC account:

Week 1
Initial client meeting, discussing objectives, target audiences, locations, budgets, the challenges their audiences face and how we're going to connect with them at an emotional level.
Time: 3-5 hours

Developing the campaign structure, settings, ad groups, keywords
Time: 3-6 hours

Developing the first set of ads, customized for each ad group and keywords with extensive variations for initial testing of effectiveness. If the campaign requires display ads (visuals), a separate creative budget would be established. Only text ads for this campaign.
Time: 3-6 hours

Landing page assistance:
The time depends on who is doing the work, as many clients may have their own existing web developers who we're happy to work with. Individual landing pages for each ad group should be created and it should get to the point of the messaging very quickly and include a clear call to action.
Time: 10 hours (additional development time may be required)

Week 1 Total:
Total setup time of the items listed above: 19 - 27 hours. Once the campaign is running, we login each day to ensure there are no surprises and everything's running smoothly.

Week 2
Client visit. Review campaign together (you should be seeing the account with us and learning as we work together). Here, we're reviewing which ads are getting clicks and why, which search terms are used, ensuring negative keywords are setup so we're not showing ads for phrases that indicate this isn't a legitimate potential customer like "free property management".

This time is also treated as "training" as we want you to be knowledgeable about how to review your data or adjust your budgets on your own, if desired.
Time: 3 hours

Week 3 + Week 4
No client visit needed. Campaign review is now over the phone with screen sharing together. We continue to review the ads, clicks, conversion rates, budgets, keywords, negative keywords, etc. Adjust as needed.
Time: 1 hour

Campaigns are generally operating well at this point. Maintenance reduces down to around 2 hours per month for weekly adjustments, unless there are major changes such as campaign performance not up to the level we'd expect, or a seasonal campaign is needed with heavy revisions to the account throughout the year.

Time breakdown:
  • 19-27 hours
  • 3 hours
  • 1 hour
  • 1 hour

Total costs:
  • $3600 - $4800 ($150/hr)
  • 2 hours, $300/mth
  • $0.00

We've seen PPC management rates in the $2000/mth range, which continues throughout the year as part of their management agreement. Others might charge on a percentage of ad spend—up to a high as 25% — or some combination of both.

But as you can see above, our costs are higher in the initial setup phase as that's where all of our time goes. The dollars that some PPC management companies expect you to pay each month can seem outrageously high for the service level you receive. At ODG, we'd rather see that money going into your ad spend to get you more customers.

We don't shy away from providing our honest opinion on what we've been seeing, and we hope you found this insight useful! If you'd like an outside opinion of your own setup, we're happy to help. Simply reach out using the form in our footer, or subscribe for more posts like these in the future.

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