AdWords Campaigns: Do They Work?

Woodworking business owners discuss the results they've seen from Google AdWords campaigns. April 29, 2010

I have been playing with Google AdWords with very little success in generating hits to our site. I suspect it is because I am not willing to pay enough for a click. If you would be willing to share your information, what amount have you had to pay for clicks? What amount in revenue does each click mean to your firm? I would love to figure this out, I am just a little slow!

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor O:
T just turned over managing my AdWords account to a group that is supposed to know the in's and out's of AdWords and give me more bang-for-the-buck. So far they are driving less traffic to my site. Iím still in first two weeks so things are still being tweaked and traffic should improve dramatically. I think you have to set up an analytics account, in conjunction with AdWords to help decipher how people are coming to your site and what they are looking at when they are there. I pretty much ignore the data from AdWords and just check analytics for feedback. You can set many parameters to pick up very specific traffic and Google does a good job of telling you how much search traffic exists for different searches.

From contributor W:
What keywords are you buying? When you search those keywords, what is your position? AdWords will tell you how much you need to bid to get on the first page.

From contributor M:
When the economy was booming a few years back with one page web-site we got a few juicy jobs using AdWords. With time we expanded our site to ten pages and have done a lot of work on content. If you make your web-site search engines friendly then you won't need to pay AdWords because you will be coming up in natural search. It is a lot of work but it worth it. Try google search engine optimization tips (SEO).

From contributor G:
I just did a Google search using words I got from the meta tags listed on your website source "Kansas City, kitchen, bath, cabinetry". I got 175,000 hits and looked at the first 15 pages of them. You were not there. Perhaps you need to tweak your AdWord selection.

From the original questioner:
Great feedback. Like I said I am slow. I just figured out what a meta tab is (I think). Iím trying to update our keywords as I type this. My computer skills are always in arears!

From contributor I:
I tried Google AdWords back in '05.
These were my results:
$2500 spent
3,872 clicks
428,464 hits
64 cents, average cost per click

I don't recall getting more than two or three calls total from that campaign, and since I track where my sales come from, I know I didn't get any sales. I do know I made the conclusion that anyone who used that method of search was simply looking for a cheaper (not more value, just cheaper) deal than what they got. I decided to let other people bash their heads against that wall, I can think of better ways to get (profitable) customers.

From contributor I:
Don't focus too hard on website traffic, btw. If it drives 10,000 people to your website, and you make few measly sales, is it worth it to you? I don't know about you, but I'm not in business so people can visit my website, I'm in business to provide a living for my family.

From contributor O:
Do you think web searches are more common place today than in '05? The number of hits seems super high to only have a couple of inquires, and might point to something else (irrelevant searches, confusing website, etc.). Iíve gotten plenty of leads from local contacts that looked for my services on the internet first. I think a lot of this has to do with who your target market is. Contractors and builders - face-to-face is still the best sales tactic. End users - I would think a good website is a must.

From contributor M:
Our statistics:
From 2005-2009:
983,550 impressions
6,303 clicks
$1.43 per click on average

About $9,000 spent (30% of it for 100% bounced clicks-yes, they charge you for that even if a visitor doesn't stay on your site for one second). It's why I stopped using AdWords this year and spent a few months on my web-site instead. Now I have doubled the traffic to my site without paying them. I made the same conclusion as contributor I that people looking for better deals from paid advertisers and also being in sponsored links section of searches makes you look desperate.

From contributor I:
Whatever the case, I can think of more effective ways to spend money and time on advertising/marketing. PPC is very low on my list of things I plan to try again.

From contributor M:
Are you convinced that you need to move away from paying-per-click? We are a family owned business too and I sympathize you in this matter.

From contributor O:
I did a direct mail campaign to NKBA kitchen designer and designer businesses. I gave up when I had one inquiry after 1500 mailers. This probably cost me $1500 for mailer, addresses, and postage. I've advertised in a local booklet distributed to local country clubs. Only $400 for an ad but so far no responses.

AdWords is not the end-all, be-all, but I think it is worth being involved in. it can help drive traffic to new sites (longevity is a big factor in seo) and you can unplug it at anytime. Organic searches would be my preferred method of appearing on the web but you can spend far more upfront to have this set up (by others - I barely know what I'm doing in the shop) and the results can be just as mixed. For me, AdWords has been the best form of advertising (outside of direct sales calls/meetings). I'm not sure about being portrayed as desperate by participating in ppc. There are a lot of big-name companies that have ppc accounts.

From contributor G:
From my experience, I found that you must hit your target market if you are to generate sales from advertising. No one likes junk mail! At least no one I know and I have yet to be lured into a sale by internet advertising. Iím not the perfect example because I donít expect direct sales through my website. Website traffic for me at this point is only by potential customers who have seen me advertise elsewhere and want a closer look before they make a phone call. If youíre expecting sales from traffic to your website invest in good professional advice on keywords. Good content is a must too. Thatís where I would invest before looking to AdWords.

From contributor D:
What really matters in advertising is how many inquiries each medium brings in. Once you absolutely know that number, it's just a matter of calculating how much you spent in total divided by the number on inquiries you received to get a cost per inquiry figure. By itself, cost per inquiry means little. Where it really begins to pays off is when you compare various advertising vehicles to one another. In other words, if AdWords cost $500 and you received five inquiries, your cost per inquiry would be $100. If you spent $200 on newspaper advertising (or any other form of advertising) and got ten inquiries, your cost per inquiry would be $20.

While all the statistics are nice to know (how many clicks, how many hits on websites) all that tells you is how many people saw your ad. Where the rubber meets the road is what happened when they saw the ad/website etc. Did you message cause them to call/e-mail/ drop in to your shop? If not, all those type of stats are pretty much worthless.

What I teach in advertising and marketing seminars I've done across the country is in many woodworking businesses certain inquiries turn into bona fide sales leads, certain leads turn into appointments and certain appointments turn into sales. Everything that happens after an inquiry is made is not a function of advertising, but rather a sales function. So, unless you ask each inquiry "how did you hear about me?" and write it down and do the math, you will never have the tool to compare how one medium does compared to another.

I've yet to hear from anyone in this business how their cost per inquiry using AdWords compares to other media they used concurrently. I'd love to hear some numbers - not the cost per click type or how many hits stuff that's fairly easy to get, but how much each inquiry generated from AdWords costs along with how much each inquiry from other media costs. Understanding those numbers is key in making advertising buying decisions wisely, stretching your advertising/marketing dollars and gives you bench marks to compare anyone or any other advertising opportunity that may come your way to your proven, historical constants.

There are many other ways to analyze the data gleaned to get an even clearer picture of what is happening in each step (inquiry, lead, appointment, sale), but I'll save that for the seminar. Plus, what works for one business in one area may not work as well (or may work even better) for another business in another market. What I'd suggest is that you begin by asking every inquiry how they heard about you, then doing the math. Your own numbers will tell you what you need to know better than anyone can here.