The Secret to Success With Adwords

What’s the secret to successful Adwords campaigns? I hear this question often. In fact we could broaden the question and give the same answer as the secret to any successful traffic generating campaign.

The answer might surprise you and often times it’s not the answer people are expecting to receive. The answer lies in having a coordinated marketing campaign that brings people through a sales funnel, often times more than once and often times from multiple marketing channels.

It’s a known fact that very few people who pass through your sales funnel make a purchase or leave their details for you to follow up with them on their first contact. It’s always been the case in all forms of marketing, the old 7 touch point approach to sales is still alive, just the technology for touching the prospect has changed.

Direct Response Marketing

So, how do we improve the success of our Adwords campaigns. Adwords and in fact all traffic campaigns for most businesses is a direct response marketing model. Our clients are not so big, like a national bank or international soft drink manufacturers that they can afford to spend money on brand marketing. Brand marketing requires huge dollars with no way of knowing how much revenue those marketing campaigns have generated. For our clients we need to make a return on investment for them, if they spend $1 on ads they want to make $5 back on that ad spend. So all Adwords marketing will need to have proper conversion tracking in place to measure the responsiveness of the audience.

We use these measurements to identify which parts of the marketing campaign are performing best and which parts are not performing very well or indeed not performing at all. To borrow from the gambling industry, double down on the winners and hold back on the losers. Identifying conversions really allows us to optimise an Adwords account in many areas, it allows us to answer questions like:
Which search queries convert better/worse
What time of day converts better/worse
What day of week converts better/worse
Which devices, computers/tablets/mobiles converts better/worse
Which locations perform better/worse
And so on at all levels of the Adwords account, campaigns, adgroups, ads, etc

We run a number of different campaign types to capture different traffic, including campaigns targeting:

  • Brand names which can include both the company name and any specific product/service brand names the company has.
  • Competitors names so that when people are searching for your competitors they will see an advertisement for your company.
  • Industry specific search terms for people who know your industry and are looking for people who talk the same language
  • Non-industry specific search terms for people who know they have a problem to solve but don’t know the right answers they are looking for

These different types of people can be targeted in a number of ways using the Google networks including:

  • Search campaigns for people searching in Google and Google Search Partners
  • Google Display Network for people who are browsing the internet
  • Youtube for people who are browsing videos

Sales Funnels

Let’s bring it back to the secret again. You need people to pass people through a funnel that is appropriate to their level of knowledge and awareness. People who are searching for your brand name already know you or have heard of you and they are specifically looking for you .. while at the other end of the spectrum people who are searching for non-industry search terms not only don’t know who you are, they also don’t really know the answer to their problems. We want to as much as possible follow the scent and give people the right information at the right time for their needs, not just send everyone to a one size fits all sales page because that is what we want the people to see.

Once we have paid for people to come into our different funnels we want to try and collect their details so we can follow up with them and guide them deeper and deeper into our funnels. It has always been said the power lies in the marketing list. At one time this consisted mainly of a mailing list for direct mail pieces, then with the advent of email marketing we began collecting email lists. Now we not only want to collect these types of lists we also want to collect audience remarketing lists. Audience remarketing lists allow us to retarget visitors and to as specifically as possible remind them of what they came to see eg we could remind cart abandoners about their shopping cart contents, we can remind people who visited a product page about that product, we could remind people who came for information that we have the answer to the problem they are seeking answers to.


Remarketing can be done not only across Google’s different Adwords related networks (search, youtube, display) but also we can be collecting remarketing lists from other marketing channels such as Facebook. We can build a remarketing list in Facebook which contains all the people who came to our site from Adwords sourced traffic, then remarket to people not only in Adwords but also in Facebook. We are finding this cross platform remarketing approach to be very powerful.


So the secret really comes down to being able to segment our markets in a number of ways and then approaching them from more than one marketing channel, collecting as many details as we can in the process (including the latest way of leaving cookies on their computers) and passing the visitors through funnels which provide the right information at the right time so that we build trust with them and continually pass the right people down the marketing funnel towards the sale.

Follow this segmented approach, follow people up more than one time, give people what they want at the time not just what you ultimately want from them.

Adwords does not work in isolation .. for Adwords to work well for you it requires conversions (whether a conversion is a purchase of a product or service, or a lead form filled out), conversions require you to be giving people the right thing at the right time. That’s the ultimate secret..Adwords is part of a solution, it is not the whole solution. Treat it that way and you will get the return on investment that you are seeking.