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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Updated Feb 26th, 2015, 11:04 pm PST

I thought I'd start this thread (similar to the Twitter workshop thread), where everyone can chime in with their tips and tricks, and one we can all add to as a community. Besides, there are far cleverer kboarders than I around who might want to chip in some knowledge :)

OK, hmm, if you haven't messed around with Google ADwords before, I strongly advise hiring someone who does it ALL DAY for a CORPORATION--have them actually sit down in the same room as you for 3-6 hours and explain how it works, how to target, and especially, how to navigate. I'm not kidding here--spend the money (if you have a friend, that's even better though!), and tell them you need them to explain it like you're five years old (ELI5).

That said, it is totally possible to learn the engine on your own. If you're the type that likes exploring systems, likes learning via instructions (clicking the "?" thingies when you don't understand a function), then you'll have it easier than some. It won't be easy, but it's doable.

If you want to learn from scratch, do the google youtube video circuit, and prepare for the long haul learning process. It's the most complex AD engine available, but also the most successful one. You can easily blow a lot of money. In fact, your first few months will be a learning write-off -- and that's normal. Another great way to learn is to call a google rep. Eventually they'll assign you a permanent one anyway.

Tips from my experience:

- Only pay for clicks, do NOT pay for impressions. There's a setting right when you start a campaign that will allow you to turn paying for impressions off (it's called "display networks"). It defaults to ON, so if you don't do this right off the bat, you can kiss a ton of money goodbye. It's great for branding a company like Pepsi, but not so much for corporate prawns like us.

- You can use a landing page, but I don't. To test effectiveness, I simply turn ADWords off for a day or two after sales have stabilized and note the difference. But this is only really visible when your campaign is set to $15+ a day.

- Keywords keywords keywords. Shoot for under $0.20 CPC (cost-per-click). For example, I have 1644 keywords running in a massive battle royal, but only the top 2-3% get clicks. My top keyword phrase, today alone, has 10 clicks and 47 impressions so far, yielding a 21.28% CTR for only $0.12 ( and don't ask me what it is =P ). But what keywords are effective? That's something you'll have to intuit. A small hint: you'll want to find keywords that relate to people searching for exactly your type of book, or there in abouts. ie--they want to actually buy a book, and while they're looking to buy a book, your AD comes up. Sometimes a single word gets a TON of clicks, but that doesn't mean those are buyers, so be wary.

- Oh and don't bother wit misspellings. Found out Google does those automatically.

- Generally, the higher the quality score, the lower you're going to pay per click. get higher quality scores by having ADs relevant to the keywords you're using per AD Group.

- Make sure to remove DUPLICATE keywords. Guess what happens if you leave them in? They compete against each other. Yup, you bid against yourself. Don't ask how much this wee little oversight cost me. ^%[email protected][email protected]% !!

- You're going to evolve your keywords over months. When Google suggests new ones, be very picky as to which ones you accept. Prune them regularly (select a two-week time span when pruning). Click on the CTR (click-through rate) or impressions column to sort it from zero upwards. Pause the ones that have 0 impressions. Do not remove unless necessary, otherwise the keyword might get recommended again later.

- If you're only on Amazon, then make sure your AD has the word "kindle" or "kindle only" in it. No sense paying for clicks when they want an epub, right? The word can be in your call out extension too.

- Negative keywords are crucial. My genre is fantasy. Guess what's my first negative keywords? Yup, FOOTBALL! And I used to say not to do campaign wide keywords, but if you choose them wisely, it works better. Also, you want to add in negative keywords from genres that likely will not enjoy your book. How to find more negative keywords: Select campaign-wide keywords. Select two week time span. Details button ==> under search terms, select "all". Now you're seeing what people are typing in conjunction with your keywords. If you see keywords there that you don't want triggering your ADs, place them in your negative keywords list.

- The algorithm is Darwinian. So you want to pit multiple ADs against each other (maybe ten ADs per AD group). Same with keywords. Best ADs float to the top (you're looking for higher CTR rates, low CPC). Make copies of them, tweaking the new clone, and let them loose for a new round. Repeat ad nauseam.

- AD Groups, keywords, and campaigns resemble a visual pyramid / a folder tree. Until you can "see" how they interact (ie, how to find a set of your own keywords per AD group, etc), keep the campaign small (5 bucks or so). It's easy to get confused at first and make mistakes. And your mistakes will cost you real money. ADWords is basically an expensive college course. The less you pay attention, the more it's going to cost you.

- It's most effective for series titles. And you just want to promote book 1 obviously. The more books, the greater the sell through. That means you could also increase your bid rates. The top most expensive keyword last year was the word "mortgage", at around $54 a click. Also, the cheaper the book is, the smaller the profit margin and higher pressure to convert those clicks into sales, therefore the lower the bid.

Ideal ADWords setup:
  • Tons of specifically targeted AD Groups
  • Each AD Group has about 20 keywords / short phrases max
  • Those keywords are used in the ADs specific to that AD Group
  • Call out extensions utilized
  • Closely-monitored set of negative keywords, cross-referenced with
  • Only two ADs per AD Group running at one time.
  • Every few days, pause the under performing AD. copy and edit the winner of the Darwinian brawl, and let the new contender battle for a few days.
  • Same with keywords: now and then, remove under performers and introduce new ones. (Sorting by impressions)

WARNINGS:

- Spend a few hours just navigating the menus. Oh and use those question marks at the corner of every variable. ADWords is notoriously un-user-friendly to newbies, but once you master how the layout functions, you'll start to understand how the framework fits together.

- You'll feel a not-so-subtle pressure from Google to constantly increase your AD budget, and your keywords. Ignore this, you will, young Skywalker.

- If you set your campaign AD budget higher than $5, make sure you check up on it the next day. Nothing sucks more than forgetting to leave a campaign running that isn't working.

- Just because a keyword is getting clicks, does NOT mean it's effective. This is one of the trickiest things with ADWords: which keywords lead to sales, which ones are just lookey-loos? Unfortunately, it's different for every book, so good luck!

- Do NOT use default CPC of 0.50 ! Do your math--how many clicks do you need to make a sale? Make a moderate bid (approx 0.20 to start--maybe lower or higher depending on your bravery level).

- Start small and pace yourself. This engine is complex. It's kind of like the stock market--you're going to lose money at first, and you may not make any money at all even.

- You'll quickly discover AD wording is critical. Takes a while and many, many ADs competing against each other to discover what works. Usually, it'll be the one you wouldn't expect to work. Always have this angle in mind: you're trying to convert it to a sale. There's a whole psychology to this that's well documented online.

- And the next thing? Your cover better be damn good, because as soon as they arrive at Amazon, they're going to make an instant half-second judgment on it. If you do not have an eye-catching cover, this is all wasted. How to tell if your cover rocks the casbah? Take a screenshot of a google image search of awesome covers in your genre, drop that wee screenie into photoshop (or whatever program you use), and superimpose your cover over one of the others. If it still looks awesome in comparison to the big boys, you're golden.

- The final pillar here is having a great blurb. Anyway, the usual stuff comes into play (a strong first chapter, review score, etc etc etc).

- If you don't want to spend a little time daily trying to understand the engine and how you're performing, this isn't for you. This is a long-term investment in your career, if you can't commit to understanding it (I'm giving myself a year, for example, tweaking daily), then perhaps try Amazon's ADwords or something. Seriously, just trying to save you money here =P

- This is worth repeating: ADWords is basically an expensive college course. The less you pay attention, the more it's going to cost you. The benefit? Like every good college course, this is a skill you can use for life, evolving along with the ADWords engine.

You're going to be tweaking daily (forever, basically), until you have a streamlined set of sharp keywords and phrases and ADs that express themselves well in the algorithm. Mind you, the reports lag a few hours, so you make a change, then go back later to see how it does (takes a while to see if what you did is working or not, usually at least a day). However, the higher your AD budget, the quicker you'll see changes.

If anyone has tips, please do share :)

If I think of more, I'll append this post (or add to the thread, whatever).

Anyhoo ... I was supposed to be doing other stuff and I just got caught up here.
 

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Good stuff, Sever.  Thanks.  Bookmarking this thread.  This is part of what I do for my day job, so I'm pretty well versed in Adwords, but, like many folks I know in the online business, I seem to have a perpetual blind spot when it comes to doing this for myself.  :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My pleasure guys, glad to help :)

Just tweaked it a touch nowI should really stop ... have work to do.
 

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OMG, my brain already feels like it might explode, and I used to do this stuff for a living (but it was so long ago, it's basically irrelevant). Thanks for this! When I get my act together and find the time to jump in on this, I'll share if I learn anything share-worthy. Until then, I'm bookmarking and learning from the masters. Or, at least, those brave enough to dive in and test the waters for the rest of us. ;)
 

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Sever, I'm not going to actually blame you for getting me back into adwords after a six year (or so) hiatus, but... yeah, I guess I am  :)

Who knows, after cursing you for a while, I may end up praising you for the motivation, and tips.
 

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The hardest part (and make no mistake--Sever is right--it's all hard) is assessing ROI, for the simple reason that you can't reliably connect the dots between a click and a sale. There is a lot of noise.

One VERY frustrating piece is that you can't use Amazon affiliate links in search ads (which WOULD make assessing ROI easier). So you have to either run them through a landing page (and that extra click hurts a lot) or you need to just use a regular URL and try to isolate which sales come from search by isolating other variables.

Its not clicks that count; it's how many clicks convert to a sale. Figuring that out is hard.

Sever, you are THE MAN!
 

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jakedfw said:
The hardest part (and make no mistake--Sever is right--it's all hard) is assessing ROI, for the simple reason that you can't reliably connect the dots between a click and a sale. There is a lot of noise.

One VERY frustrating piece is that you can't use Amazon affiliate links in search ads (which WOULD make assessing ROI easier). So you have to either run them through a landing page (and that extra click hurts a lot) or you need to just use a regular URL and try to isolate which sales come from search by isolating other variables.

Its not clicks that count; it's how many clicks convert to a sale. Figuring that out is hard.

Sever, you are THE MAN!
Why do you say that you can't use Amazon affiliate links on search ads? Is this an Amazon policy?
 

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I'm bookmarking this for the day when I have a brain transplant. Preferably from a modern-day Einstein as my maths is hopeless.

But A+ for effort, Sever! I'm sure it'll be really useful to those whose brains thrive on this sort of stuff. I'll just pootle off to the corner and watch.
 

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Awesome post! How much of this do you think can be applied to other PPC advertising channels, like Bing?
 

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While the Amazon affiliate link would be convenient, I think it's better to link to a book page with buy links to every venue where your book is available.  Not everyone is loyal to Kindle and epub readers who were interested when they clicked your link go away empty-handed. 
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks, guys ;)

Syc said:
Awesome post! How much of this do you think can be applied to other PPC advertising channels, like Bing?
I would stay clear of Bing and the others as they've been caught just copying Google's search results. Then again, you could try doing half the CPC bidding and see what happens?

(Incidentally, Jake tried Bing)
 

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Sever, I was reading and trying to learn more about Google Tag Manager. It looks like you can use tags to track activity of persons coming FROM an Adwords campaign and what they do or click on on your site, like a buy button etc.

My plan is to use adwords to funnel readers of Jane Austen Fan Fiction to MY site, getting them to join when they reach Chapter 5. The buy buttons will also be at the bottom. I am trying to learn more about tags and the javascript involved before I jump into Adwords. Ideally, I want to make a report like Mailchimp does, where I know exactly where in a mail message people clicked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Elizabeth Ann West said:
Sever, I was reading and trying to learn more about Google Tag Manager. It looks like you can use tags to track activity of persons coming FROM an Adwords campaign and what they do or click on on your site, like a buy button etc.

My plan is to use adwords to funnel readers of Jane Austen Fan Fiction to MY site, getting them to join when they reach Chapter 5. The buy buttons will also be at the bottom. I am trying to learn more about tags and the javascript involved before I jump into Adwords. Ideally, I want to make a report like Mailchimp does, where I know exactly where in a mail message people clicked.
Now that would be useful, Elizabeth! Right now, I wouldn't be able to participate as the wordpress package I have forbids javascript and the like. But let us know how that pans out! To be able to match clicked-on keywords with web activity is some powerful insight, and can help distinguish the lame keywords from the potent ones! :)
 

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There are some Wordpress plugins to trigger the code you need Elizabeth. Just put them on the purchase confirmation page, and you have a direct ad -> sale confirmation.

I'm in the midst of using Bing. It's basically the same as Google, so all you're doing is reaching people who prefer Bing as their search engine. I think it's market share is like 11% or something, so it's tiny compared to Google, but in terms of mass it's still huge.

In terms of Bing, I'm sure my experience matches Sever's with Google: The higher the impression total, the lower the click-through rate. Sever does a lot better than I do, however, so I would listen to him. :)
 

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I'm looking at March at earliest to play. :( Setting up the German translations took a big chunk of experimenting money. :)

In the meantime I am educating myself on everything I can, Google needs to go study Adobe for how to teach people. It's like their documentation team WANTS to be unhelpful.
 

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Sever, how long did it take you before adwords was making you money?

Also, do the ads appear on websites all over the place, or do you only get placement on google.com search results? I'm also wondering what a sample ad of yours looks like.
 
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