Sometimes even the experts get it wrong. Last night, at a local construction association gathering, a successful designer/advertising agency owner described his client’s failure with Google AdWords. “We spent several thousand dollars on clicks, and got nothing for our money,” he said.
I asked him: “Did you have a good landing page for your AdWords responses? Did you A/B test until you found a formula that would work for the client?”
He hadn’t. The ads just didn’t “work”.
This, sadly, reflects a problem most of us fall into more often than we would like to admit when it comes to marketing and business development initiatives. We “try” something for a while, often half-heartedly, and then, seeing the money drain away, give up, often before realizing the hidden potential right under our nose.
In the case of AdWords — in fact virtually all advertising — as marketers we need to test, experiment and validate, and be prepared to spend some time and money until we get it right. We can reduce the risk by simplifying/speeding up the testing process and, most significantly, by learning/copying successful models which have worked elsewhere. (For example, you could check with a non-competitive business in another community, with similar demographics to yours, and learn what works for that organization.)
In fact your greatest advantage with online advertising is that your can test quickly. You purchase the ads, direct them to the landing page, and see what happens. If you don’t have good conversions after perhaps 200 click-throughs, you know something needs to change. (A proper scientific sample requires more results, of course, but you can certainly gauge things with smaller, but still significant, numbers.)
You can speed up the testing with A/B testing, where you try out different advertising or landing page variations. Eventually you’ll begin to see some results.
The testing process and time frame can be quite long, of course, with longer-sales cycle and larger ticket purchases. (I mean, how much activity do you need to sell a $500,000 house or major renovation?) However, you can build intermediate stages into the process. Will viewers sign up for a newsletter/website and (even more valuable) complete some sort of survey to indicate whether their demographic matches your ideal client?
Yes, this stuff takes time and effort. You need to plan your strategy, test, and be ready to change — and accept that your first efforts probably will fail.
But if you give up, you fail forever. Please budget for proper evaluations, build the plan, create the testing/evaluation feedback, research, and continue some more.