Google AdWords and Sales

      Cabinetmakers report on their results from using Google ads to attract serious customers. March 26, 2009

Question
Has anyone been successful with Google Adwords campaigns? I need to build traffic on my website, but would also like to actually get orders! Those 0.25 per click are adding up pretty fast. After a little research, I am finding that most of the pay per clicks are only staying on the site for a few seconds. Most of my orders come from "organic" searches.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor S:
Are you using analytics and the built-in reporting to analyze the effectiveness of each keyword? Have you defined in analytics the funnel from initial visit to close? I would start there and keep in mind that the most active clicks are very rarely the most effective as they are the "commodity" terms used early in the buying cycle. Also, make sure your ads are pre-qualifying the customers for you. Don't try to appeal to everyone to get them to click if you want revenue as opposed to branding.

Also, look at what your competitors are doing. This may give you insight into what to copy, or how to go down an opposite route. Also, do some research into where your paid ads are showing up on search (1st - 10th vs. later). I am shocked that Google has any $0.25/click keywords that are not niche keywords. Most of what I have seen in architectural woodwork, furniture, flooring, etc. are averaging $2-3/click on search and $1.50-2.50 on content network.

One other thing, your website in general has a nice clean look to it, however it may be a bit too generic. Specifically, your shopping cart page is poorly branded and includes none of the "feel good" icons customers have been trained to look at. Specifically I would suggest...

- Join the BBB online reliability program and add the icon.
- Your SSL provider should have an icon showing that the site is secured by them.
- Join some trade organizations and post their logos.
- If you do print advertising, do the "as seen in xyz publication" and include their logo.
- Your "about us" page needs a lot of work. Why not include a letter from the CEO to prospective customers? It appears you actually make the products you sell, which should be a strong selling point for you.



From the original questioner:
Thank you for the input, and I agree totally. The site needs a ton of work, and I'm nowhere near happy with it. I hope one day to be able to hire a full time in house web designer. You're right, we do make everything, which is a good story to tell. Down the road it could be a hindrance, though. Some furniture sites have 1000's or 10's of thousands of offerings.

To get #1-3 for our keywords would be in the $2.00 range. I've dabbled with that a few days with a $50 dollar budget. Those $2.00 add up fast!



From contributor N:
We spend about 10% of our gross income on Adwords and other PPC venues (but mostly Adwords) and it works for us. This amounts to about $50K per year. We use an in-house cookie to identify sales that derive from this source - including sales that occur some weeks or months after the initial visit. However, we also enjoy very good organic placement in addition to Adwords alone. Our experience has been that Adwords is excellent, though our typical cost for a single hit is closer to .75 than .25. We use narrow search, and we do not use keyword phrases that are overly broad or overly narrow.

We have used this mechanism for a long time, starting with GoTo.com in 1999, which morphed into Overture, which then was purchased by Yahoo. Over the span of nine years or so, this venue (Yahoo) has become increasingly less important as Adwords has taken over the same real estate. I think that paid search advertising is most useful for products and categories for which there are clearly accepted keywords and without too many confusing terms that are spelled the same but mean something different (homonyms).
It is exceedingly important to monitor the exact search terms buyers are using to get to your site and to build, maintain, and add to the list of negative keywords so you don't get specious hits. These are homonyms and their ilk. We use a service called "Freestats" that allows us to view our actual web log in real time, and we can quickly spot traffic that comes to our site - but really isn't interested in our product.

My advice is to purchase a product like Web Position Gold that allows you to primp your site for organic search, and then to use Adwords as an adjunct. If you can get your site on the first page of organic search, then Adwords will provide considerable additional help.

You should understand that Google's financial success is almost entirely due to this product - all their other efforts are financial losers. So obviously it works for somebody. But it isn't cheap. You're going to have to include the cost of a campaign in your prices and treat it as a line item in your budget.



From contributor T:
My 3 man shop uses Adwords too. It represents 10% of our gross sales. I think it's real important to do your keyword research using the Adwords keyword tool. As you probably already know, it shows how many people actually type in, say, solid pine bookcase or wine storage rack per month. It may also inspire you to design and manufacture a related product that people are looking for, but the web may not have many offerings.

But PPC is only part of web advertising. You also need to hire a SEO expert to at least give you a website analysis. You need more relevant text and tags and incoming links (that's a long story) and a hundred little things.

This morning I couldn't find your sponsored link for solid wood bookcases. But I noticed a ton of competition. Without looking at your competition too closely, I noticed some real nice and expensive cherry ones and some inexpensive foreign made ones. Again you may already know this, but what you need to do is properly target your ad. "Affordable, Solid Pine Only. Made in Pennsylvania." Keep those cherry lovers away and keep your costs down too. And I really like your bookcases page. As a consumer I want to know that it's easy to assemble and you have put a lot of effort into sanding. So make sure that's on your landing page.



From contributor L:
As many have said, Google Adwords should be used with a balanced Internet marketing strategy. If you don't wish to pay a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company to perform keyword analysis, you should utilize a free keyword tool to identify some additional keywords with less competition.

The best piece of advice I can give is to work with what you already know. If you have a report of recent traffic to your site and the corresponding search phrases, you can optimize or add additional content to pull better for those search terms. For example, if you are getting a decent amount of traffic for the search term "wholesale wine storage" but don't have a page titled as such, it might boost your traffic to add a more specific page of content to your site. On the other side, it might make sense to change the title of your page from "Set of 12 Deluxe Wine Cubes" to "Wholesale Wine Storage..." just an example.

I always advocate the use of free business-to-business networking sites to connect with other local merchants who can use your services. You can also locate other local shops to outsource work to or refer in on jobs you can't complete. Maybe you take a small fee for your referral, but you just offered a service you otherwise wouldn't have been able to offer. These sites also are a good way to generate additional traffic to your site...



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