MARKETING - This is how business owners waste money on Google Ads

I explain how this small business owner had no idea they were wasting money on Google Ads due to poor execution by the agency they used.

This is how business owners waste money on Google Ads

Summary

A local business owner engaged a marketing agency to run a Google Ads campaign to improve their traffic. This is a fairly common situation as the business hopes to find new customers. Although for this project the business was reporting a lot of spam and calls that were useless for their business.

The agency asked me to help provide data analysis to see what was causing the issue and below is what I discovered. As you will see neither the business owner or the marketing agency understood what was happening which was due to poor Google Ads implementation and lack of reporting tools.

“I’m doing some Google Ads for a client but they are receiving lot of spam and bot emails/calls. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? I’ve heard of programs that do this, but I’m not sure if they’re legitimate.

Is it possible to look at the current Google Ad I’m running and help me optimise it correctly/let me know if it is optimised correctly?”

WHY DO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS USE GOOGLE ADS?

For any business owner one of the critical aspects to manage is generating a regular flow of customers. This applies whether you have a shop, run a service or even an online e-commerce store. Those customers will come from a variety of sources either Organic Search, Social Media, Referrals or Returning Customers.

One of the biggest challenges of course is to find new customers and to achieve that means executing a mix of tactical marketing which can include things like;

  • advertising in print or online

  • public relations

  • influencer marketing

  • product sampling

  • giveaways

and various other ideas which have the goal of getting the business in front of new, relevant, people to grow sales.

In a digital world one of the easiest (and fastest) methods to find new customers is to run a Google Ads Campaign where small text based ads can appear in the search results for someone on a desktop or a mobile phone.

Google Ads example

WHAT % OF PEOPLE CLICK ON GOOGLE ADS?

Less than 20% of all clicks on search go to Google Ads

That’s right, most people ignore the Ads that are shown and will go to;

  • Featured snippets

  • People also ask

  • Google Maps results

  • Featured video or photos

  • Google My Business snippet

Most clicks will go to various Organic Search results that appear in different locations of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This will vary based on the device being used, location of the person & the type of search intent.

Therefore relying on Ads means there are lots of other opportunities being missed to get found online.

Where do people click on SERP photo

IS RUNNING GOOGLE ADS FOR A SMALL BUSINESS AS EASY AS IT LOOKS?

IF GOOGLE ADS AREN’T SET UP CORRECTLY MARKETING BUDGET CAN BE WASTED QUICKLY

Many business owers get decieved quickly

As a marketing consultant I often listen to business owners who say they have spent thousands on Google Ads but have no idea just how well it has worked for them. Typically they have done it themselves or paid a Google Ads agency to run campaigns for them but without really understanding how it works or what to look for to see if it is set up correctly to perform as intended.

What typically happens is the business will use the Google Ads Smart Campaign option which is like an automated ‘easy’ option. Compared to a full Google Ads Campaign you have less control over your entire campaign and are limited by a single ad, your business’s category & your budget, that is it basically.

A full Google Ad Campaign gives you much greater control from the timing of ads, specific suburbs, age groups and even the ability to run multiple ads, different copy and more. The greater control means you can be more targetted with your advertising which leads to better quality of leads, higher conversions to customers and less money being wasted on Google Ads.

At  other times when agencies run ads they might simply target the biggest keywords so they can generate lots of clicks & show the owner a nice looking report that lacks any quality or substance. What they do is make it look like it was successful as the business owner doesn’t know any better. In many cases it generates traffic, but most likely not quality traffic and there is a big difference.

HOW DID THIS BUSINESS OWNER GET DECEIVED BY THE AGENCY RUNNING ADS?

THE GOOGLE ADS MARKETING AGENCY DIDN’T SET UP AN END TO END CAMPAIGN

More than $500 was spent on ads without knowing if they were working or not

In this example, the marketing agency that was engaged to run Google Ads elected to use a Smart Campaign instead of a full Google Ads Campaign. The agency also didn’t go through the due diligence to make sure all the data between Google Ads, Google Search Console and Google Analytics was set up to provide the information needed to measure performance. 

As you can see from the message above, I was asked to do an analysis on the marketing activity because the business said they were receiving a lot of spam emails and calls. The marketing agency couldn’t figure out why and this is what I discovered.

WHAT IS THE SERVICE AND WHERE

For any analysis, you have to start with the basics – what does the business do and where. In this example, it was a Sydney-based service business providing carpet cleaning.

Their site clearly listed the service locations although it also had responsive layout issues which was a poor user experience for visitors.

POOR AD LOCATION TARGETTING

The Google Ad Campaign that had been run managed to be shown to people in Brisbane and Ludhiana – for a Sydney based service business this is useless and poor traffic.

Keep in mind the business pays for every click so ads must be targetted to the right locations for that to occur.

AD KEYWORD RELEVANCE

Most the keywords used were relevant, although quite a few just didn’t make much sense when you consider what the business was offering and the potential intent of someone searching.

It is unlikely that someone looking for ‘carpet shampoo’ will want to know about a carpet cleaning service vs ‘carpet cleaning service using organic shampoo’ for example.

Being more specific & more relevant can help attract higher quality clicks from ads & therefore leads. This requires good understanding behind what the service offers & the intent of searchers.

WEBSITE VISITOR INSIGHTS

Google Analytics provides lots of information about the people visiting a website. See my article about the things it can show here

For this business I looked at the last two years of visitor traffic and immediately spotted a massive spike in traffic. Initially I thought it was the Google Ads, but turns out it was an attack on the site from overseas. Most likely caused by poor website security.

The other issue is that less than 60% of traffic comes from Sydney visitors. Not ideal for a Sydney based service business.

SOURCES OF TRAFFIC

Next step is to see where the traffic comes from and look at the Ad traffic vs other sources. This uncovered the next problem – Google Ad traffic wasn’t being reported.

This means you don’t have the ability to measure or compare the behaviour of website visitors from different sources.

The other area not set up was Goal Tracking or Conversions – so measuring if people are doing the things you want e.g requesting a quote, contact form etc.

POOR SET UP

At this point it was obvious the whole campaign wasn’t set up correctly. Keep in mind the business was paying a marketing agency to do the work.

Google Ads wasn’t connected to Google Analytics which meant there was no data flowing between the two platforms.

This is one of the most basic things that should be done when running Google Ads.

NO DATA FROM SEARCH

The other element not set up was having Google Search Console data flow into Google Analytics. This can give the business owner information about what phrases or keywords people are using to find the business.

These can be used in the Google Ads campaign to find more relevant customers. This is where insights from organic search can make paid search ads more cost effective.

WHAT DOES A BUSINESS OWNER DO TO AVOID WASTING MONEY ON GOOGLE ADS?

MAKE YOUR MARKETING AGENCY ACCOUNTABLE

Firstly what is the solution. to the scenario above?

  • The business should find a new marketing agency.

  • The website set up should be checked to ensure it has adequate security to prevent further attacks.

  • Google Analytics & Google Search Console should be connected so the data can be used to make smart decisions.

  • Google Ads should be connected to Google Analytics so the right data can filter through to measure performance and make adjustments.

  • The Google Smart Campaign should be stopped and a new Google Ads Campaign set up that has the right targetting, relevant ads and keywords.

 

As you can see, it is all about doing a hard reset & implementing the right steps to ensure any Google Ads spend can be measured accurately. The marketing agency clearly didn’t do this & should not be retained, they have wasted the marketing budget & didn’t even know where to start to find the problems.

 

The business owner then needs to review their next steps to re-assess their use of Google Ads

Paul D'Ambra

Paul D'Ambra

I love to re-energise businesses by injecting energy into their marketing using data-driven consumer insights. I’ve motivated start-ups, small business owners and six-figure corporate brands to deliver incredible marketing impact.

Whether you are a start-up or existing business, you may find yourself stuck and unsure how to execute to achieve your goals. Is your business in need of an overhaul? Maybe you need help managing workflows? Are you struggling to understand the value of your business and the direction it needs to grow & flourish?

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