Google recently announced AdWords Express: a simpler way for small businesses to advertise in search results. AdWords Express promises to help you find valuable new customers, even if you only have a small budget. Is it a good fit to grow your business? How can you get the most from search advertising? Let’s take a look.
Why advertise on search engines?
Search engine advertising is one of the most efficient ways to grow your business. If you mail out postcards or buy a radio ad, you pay to reach a certain size of audience. But the majority of that audience doesn’t need what you’re offering, or isn’t looking for it right now. You pay whether or not a single person actually considers your business.
When you advertise on a search engine, your ad only gets shown to users who are already searching for exactly what you offer. They’re motivated to buy soon. Plus, you only pay when your ad gets clicked on, and you can tightly control your budget to generate the number of leads you want. So you don’t need a large up-front investment and you know that you will only pay when you get results.
As a result, search engine marketing can be an extremely efficient way to get highly-motivated leads with a small budget.
What is AdWords Express?
If you’ve tried advertising online in the past, you know how complex search engine marketing (SEM) can be. Google and Microsoft provide powerful tools where expert online marketers can manage thousands of ad campaigns, audience segments, and advanced analytics. Those tools make it difficult for the average small business owner to get started.
Adwords Express makes it simpler for small businesses to get their first ad online. The tool asks for information about your business – what you do, where your customers come from, and how much you would like to spend – and intelligently guides you through creating a real ad. There’s no need to pick complex targeting or optimization options: Google will handle all of that for you. And since you only pay when Google gets someone to click on your ad, they have a strong incentive to help you find good prospective customers.
It took me about ten minutes to get my first AdWords Express ad running. Even though I have enough AdWords experience to use the full product, I found Express a delightful way to run simpler campaigns. I plan to use it more often on projects that have a smaller budget. And I would definitely recommend it before the full AdWords experience for someone just getting started.
After the ad is online, Google provides simple statistics about where your ad is appearing and who is clicking on it. But the numbers really worth examining are how much business these ads turn into, and you’ll have to track that yourself.
How to get the most from advertising
Google gets paid as soon as a searcher clicks on your ad and goes to your website. After that, it’s up to you to make sure they find what they want, contact you, and eventually make a purchase. Here are a couple tips for making sure that the ad clicks you pay for turn into real customers:
1. Make it easy to get in touch with you. This is the most common mistake on small business websites: they have a beautiful page and lots of information, but no clear contact information. Different customers may want different types of communication, so provide a phone number, email address, and a map if you have a retail location. Also provide a way for visitors to stay in touch, even if they don’t want to buy right now.
2. Show the benefits of your product from your customers’ perspective. You’re an expert at your product, whether it’s vacuum cleaners or hairstyling. But remember that your customers just want a clean house or a good-looking haircut. So make sure your website emphasizes what your customers want out of your product or service. Testimonials, pictures, and samples of your best work can be a great way to show what you can do from the customer’s perspective.
3. Track where customers come from. Google can tell you how many clicks your ads got, but you need to track how much business that turns into to know if the ads are really working. Make sure to ask new customers how they heard about you. Keep track of how those different sources drive business over time. Then use that information to guide your advertising. If your best customers come from referrals, consider offering a referral incentive to make sure you’re getting as many referrals as possible. If they come from Google ads, it might be time to bump up your budget or expand your advertising to neighboring cities.
Will it work for you?
There’s no general answer for whether search engine marketing can help grow your business. It depends on how many other businesses are advertising in your area, how well your website attracts the right customers, and how much each customer is worth to you.
Google AdWords Express can help you figure out a lot of these details. After putting in your location and industry, it can estimate how many visitors you can expect from your budget. And it lets you know what competitors in your area are spending to advertise on Google.
There’s only one way to know if search engine marketing will really work, and that’s to try it out. So give it a shot: create your first ad, spend a few dollars a day, and track how it turns into new business.
Have you ever tried advertising on search engines? Or have you gone through AdWords Express and tried to create your first ad? Leave a comment and let us know how it went!