Google Adwords Express : an experiment in effectiveness

A few weeks back I kicked off an Adwords Express account for Rocking Rose. This was an experiment, specifically a Google Adwords Express experiment.

I had been hearing some chatter about Google Account Managers , and opinion was split between "their job is to get your money" and "They add value to your campaign and can really help you" amongst my marketing guru friends.

So I wanted to see for myself what the experience was like.

I opened the account, and initial thoughts were along the lines of it being a highly simplified and guided experience. As long as you know

  • Exactly What you're selling
  • Exactly what action you want people to take after viewing your ad ( ie sign up for a workshop)
  • Exactly Who you're going to target
  • Your Keyword research is done and ready to go

If you have no idea what you're advertising for, or if the content on your website is iffy and not already SEO optimised, then you'll struggle to put together a coherent and compelling advert.

Here's how it went down with me.

I put together a first draft of the ad following the guidelines and prompts of Google. My first problem in this process is that of all the million possible "Product or Service" options - I could not add in anything that remotely matched my service offering. I bumbled my way through several options, and eventually settled on the closest 'least-worst' option. Not a great start.

I think and write in full sentences, albeit succinct ones when the urge to be specific strikes me. So, the next step was really difficult, given the limited characters available for the sub title and details - but I managed.

I picked the audience, tinkered with the budget and then saved a draft ad to come back to later on.

Google Ad words team makes contact

Within 48 hours of saving the first draft , I had a very keen Adwords "account manager" on the trail. Several hounding and aggressive phone calls later we finally connected.

Right off the bat, I was not impressed. He had done cursory perfunctory research on my company and website - and was talking to me about IT Support, and IT Services, and I repeated myself several times using the words 'Technology, coaching and Coaching in the Technology space" . I eventually had to be supremely blunt with him and say outright "I do not do IT Support Services, I teach people" about 4 times before he eventually "got it".

Following on from that disastrous conversation he seemed completely unfazed by any of my "objections". I found him quite pushy and incredibly offensive in his behaviour. I know from experience that this is exactly how outbound sales call centre agents end up, when they are in a perversely incentivised environment. So for the sake of the experiment, I pushed on. But let it be noted Google , your outbound call centre is offending people .... just saying ....

The next big curveball

I got busy in my business right at that point, and had back to back client and prospect face to face meetings for a good couple of weeks lined up. I was also still very undecided on whether I would be advertising for my services in general (still not liking this idea entirely) - or something specific, such as a particular workshop coming up in the future.

My "account manager" hounded me through this time, once leaving 6 missed calls within the space of an hour on my mobile phone. At that point I sent a very strongly worded email telling him his 'persistence' was not appreciated, he could tell his manager that the 'special deal only available now' bullsh*t was exactly that, that I knew exactly how 'fake pressure' sales tactics worked and I did not appreciate them being used on me. I told him to go away for 14 days , and call me back with a better attitude.

14 days later - he called.

And we proceeded to place an Ad.

What I wanted to Advertise

I wanted to advertise for an upcoming series of workshops - primarily focussing on my most popular one - the Half day Mailchimp workshop. I have keywords and service details ready. It was not to be.

The Ad that go placed - with the 'expert guidance' of my account manager

Product or Service : Computer Training School ( I kid you not, this is what the 'expert' insisted we use.)

Related Search Terms :computer training school, it courses, computer learning, and computer training courses.

I gritted my teeth through that and only breathed a sigh of relief when he said he would manually add in the mailchimp related search terms for me from his end once the ad was live.

Additional Search Phrases : A whole bunch related to learning how to use computers , IT training courses , online training courses ,colleges for IT and computer schools - and then my account manager added in those specific search phrases related to workshops, training and learning mailchimp

Screen shot of google adwords search phrases which dd not match the actual service being offeredCustomising the Search Phrases

Right off the bat, before the ad was even live I removed everything to do with online courses - and a fairly large whack of the IT ones. I knew that people searching on those terms were almost 100% not going to be looking for help on how to use mailchimp. I also removed the phrases with 'College' , or 'IT school'. My account manager told me those were the most searched terms ( and hey presto conveniently enough also the most expensive in terms of bidding).

That may be true, but again - people looking to learn IT at a college are not going to be interested in a course learning how to use Mailchimp. Seems so obvious to me, I'm amazed a Google Ad's Account Manager didn't get it.

How is the Ad tracking now ?

I have since disabled a further 20 odd search terms. All of them related to learning IT or IT colleges or schools. These terms are in fact driving a fair whack of traffic through my website to the registration page for the various workshops that I run. there is a catch - not one single sign up. Can't say I was expecting anything different. When your search terms don't match your offering - well ... then ... (can you see me rolling my eyes over here ? )

To be fair - my sign-up page is pretty sparse and utilitarian. I did suggest to my "account manager" that perhaps given the goal of the ad, I should put up a new and separate landing page - with pretty pictures and much better content explaining the course material - he suggested it would not be necessary. I strongly suspect his motivation was more related to getting the ad live as soon as possible, rather than any achievement of my goals in relation to the ad spend. Yes, I know, I sound horrendously cynical.

The analytics saga

About 48 hours in, when I checked my Adwords express dashboard I was prompted to connect to Google Analytics - and I clicked, mistakenly thinking it would link ( through my google account duh!) to my existing Analytics account . It didn't. It created a brand new account , with a brand new tracking code which I am instructed needs to be added to the specific page I want tracked. So that's popped itself onto my to do list in the URGENT quadrant as well.

What the roadmap looks like from here

After installing this code - I'm going to run the ad for a week from 'live date'.  Then I'll turn it off, pull out all the analytics and take a deep dive into the data. You can expect another blog, maybe 2 once I'm done with my verdict on the usefulness of a Google Ad "Account Manager".

The verdict

Thus far, my experience with the Google "Account Managers" is not a good one, I'm $82 in to my ad spend for the month, with zero results. And for things that I would expect an "expert" on Adwords to be able to handle.

Watch this space for further updates once I pull the ad down and do my ROI analysis and experiment write up.