One of the biggest marketing challenges for MSPs is measuring results and calculating the ROI of marketing campaigns. For instance, SEO campaigns can increase traffic, but tracing a specific lead to an SEO campaign can be extremely difficult given how many variables are at play.
Google AdWords, on the other hand, allows you to display ads to a specific audience and track exactly how they respond to those ads. You can determine which keywords and ad copy get the most clicks, which convert best, and which result in new clients. Moreover, you can calculate exactly how much each lead costs compared to the monthly recurring revenue they generate for your business to calculate your ROI.
Not only is it easier to see the results of every dollar you spend with Google, but you can start seeing results within 3-6 months, which is much faster than most alternatives. At Pronto, we manage AdWords campaigns for many of our MSP clients and have learned a lot over the years. In this article, I’ll cover the critical steps we follow to create and maintain successful AdWords campaigns.
Keep in mind that this isn't an all-inclusive guide, but rather an overview which will help you better understand how AdWords works so you can assess if it's right for your business. If you're interested in getting started with Google AdWords, we offer a comprehensive Google AdWords Management service which you can learn about here.
Step 1 - Keyword Research
The first step is to determine which keywords you’d like to target. These are the terms you suspect your target audience will search for when looking for an IT solution. Your audience might use search terms that you haven’t thought of, so you’ll want to conduct some research. Google provides a keyword planning tool directly in the AdWords platform, but we recommend brainstorming keyword ideas using other keyword research tools as well.
Here are a few tools we use when conducting keyword research for our AdWords clients:
Once you have a long list of keyword ideas, check the search volume of those keywords and confirm that they are specific enough. Remember, with pay-per-click advertising you’ll pay every time your ad is clicked. Broad and generic keywords can get a lot of irrelevant clicks which will cause you to burn through your ad budget quickly.
Step 2 - Campaign Planning
After creating a list of keywords you feel are relevant to your efforts, you need to organize them into ad groups. It’s important to develop a good account structure that segments terms into related groups of 8-12 keyword phrases.
To organize your campaign, we recommend putting everything into a spreadsheet. This will allow you to group your keywords and plan your ad copy to match the keywords that your prospects are searching. You can download our campaign planning template here.
Once you have designated the ad groups you’ll be using, create 2-3 ads for every ad group. These ads should each include the keyword in the headline of the ad, with copy focused on the features and benefits of the service as they relate to the needs of your audience. For example, if someone is searching for “IT Support,” your ad should explain the benefits of your IT Support solutions.
This may seem like a lot of upfront work, but you’ll reap the benefits once your campaign is launched. Organizing your campaign this way will allow you to easily evaluate the performance of each ad group and remove low performing keywords so you can get the most from your ad budget.
Step 3 - Landing Page Creation
Now that your keywords and associated ads are organized into ad groups, you should create landing pages for each ad group. For example, if a user searches for “IT support” and sees your ad about IT support, they should be directed to a landing page specifically about, you guessed it, IT support.
Make sure the headline and content of your landing page match your ad copy. Individuals who click your ad will be directed to a page that matches their search query so they won’t need to hunt around your site. Google understands this is a more enjoyable experience for their searcher, so your ad will be rewarded with a higher Quality Score. This means that your ads will be given preferential treatment when compared to competitors with less optimized campaigns.
Typical conversion path from Google AdWords:
When creating landing pages, it’s very important that you include a clear call-to-action above the page fold. A call-to-action (CTA) is just the action that you’d like your visitors to take. For example, your CTA may be a free consultation or network assessment. Ideally it’s a free offer that can be given away in exchange for the visitor’s contact details.
Step 4 - Campaign Setup
Now you’re ready to set up your campaign in the Google AdWords platform. If you used our campaign planning spreadsheet, it will be relatively easy to migrate the data over. Once everything is imported, you’ll just need to adjust some settings before activating your campaign.
Start by selecting “Search Network” as the network type. Google offers access to its display network, but we don’t recommend using it just yet. We’re strictly focused on the ads that display when someone searches in Google rather than visual ads that display on other websites.
Next you’ll need to define your campaign budget on a per day basis. We recommend starting relatively small with a budget of $2,000-$3,000/month. That works out to roughly $100-$150/day, assuming your ads are set to run on only weekdays. Additional options for budgeting on a campaign and keyword basis will be available after initial setup.
Since you created multiple variants for each of the ads in your ad groups, you will want to set your ads to rotate evenly. Google can also choose the “winning” ad for you, but it’s better to get some more substantial data on ad performance before delegating this task.
When setting the schedule for your ads, you can choose which days of the week they will display as well as the time of the day they will display. We recommend only showing your ads on weekdays and daylight hours – usually between 7am-10pm at the latest.
Here is where you will decide which region to target with your ads. You can choose based on distance from your office or you can select specific zip codes. Choose the option that best fits your business model and range. The key here is to be as targeted as possible.
There are countless options available in the AdWords platform. We’re only going through the basics in this blog post. If you’d like a more in-depth guide, check out our Business Owner’s Guide to AdWords.
Step 5 - Campaign Launch
At this stage, you should be ready to launch your campaign. You may want to keep making adjustments prior to launch, but the best way to make improvements is to start collecting data.
Starting on a Monday is ideal so you can gather a full week of data. When you turn on a campaign for the first time, it should start running within an hour.
Step 6 - Campaign Management
We mentioned at the start of this article how important routine maintenance of your account will be. Without ongoing management, you risk spending money on keywords that don’t drive results, having high quality ad groups turn off due to Quality Score issues, or worse. So take time to review your account every day, looking at:
- Adjusting keywords and ads if they aren’t performing as expected.
- Removing underperforming ads completely so they don’t use up your budget.
- Adding negative keywords so that your ads don’t appear for terms that aren’t related to your services.
- Reviewing conversions for quality and determining which ads and landing pages they are coming from.
- Matching conversions to booked meetings and new clients. Calculating the average MRR of each client to help you determine your return on investment from Google AdWords.
To get the most out of your Google AdWords efforts, you should spend a few hours in the system every week. Over the course of several months, your time investment may decrease, but make sure to set aside a bare minimum of 30 minutes to an hour every day when you first start.
Pronto can also take the weight off your shoulders if you don't have the time to allocate to managing your campaign. You can learn more about our AdWords service here or schedule a call with our team.
Bonus Tips for AdWords Success
If you follow every step listed above, you will have a well-structured, researched AdWords campaign, ready to drive targeted traffic to your website. If you’d like to take your marketing campaign a step further, here are some ideas on how to get even more value:
- Retargeting – Retargeting allows you to show ads to people who visit your site. If the user leaves without submitting a form, your ads can follow them to other websites to remind them about your services. This gives you a second chance to convert visitors that would have otherwise been lost. Learn about our Retargeting service here.
- Offer a Secondary Call to Action – Your primary call to action is designed to convert prospects to sales qualified leads, but a certain percentage of site visitors won’t be ready for a sales conversation. To offer them value, use a secondary CTA for an eBook download or related offer. Designed for people earlier in the buyer’s journey who are not yet ready to talk on the phone, this will help capture more leads who can then be entered in nurturing tracks. Learn about our Ready-to-Go MSP eBook service here.
- Nurture Your Leads – Last but not least, don’t forget to nurture your leads after they convert. If someone fills out a form on your site, be sure to follow up. For some, this may be a direct phone call. For others, however, including those who download content or who don’t answer the phone, use an email drip campaign to stay front of mind for several weeks after they convert.
Google AdWords is a powerful resource that offers a unique opportunity to drive immediate traffic to your website in your target area based on searches you know your target audience is using. Do your research in advance, build a solid campaign, and invest time as you start running your campaign and you’ll see the kinds of results you’re looking for.