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The sales cycle is defined as the stages that a customer goes through when making a purchase.

Research and discovery is the first stage of this cycle. When potential customers decide to buy a product or service, they need more information to better evaluate their options. So most will end up on Google to conduct their research.

The following graph shows the overall market share that Google commands compared to other search engines:

Google Market Share

That directly translates to billions of search queries on a daily basis.

Ranking for relevant keywords in your industry can be extremely profitable for your business. More traffic equates to more sales. This much is obvious but there are still many businesses that have yet to implement Google AdWords into their marketing.

AdWords is an advertising platform that lets advertisers display targeted ads in search.

The way it works is fairly straightforward. You bid on keywords that are relevant to your business (e.g. SEO services in Austin). Your ads appear when those keywords are searched for and you only pay for each click.

With AdWords you are given complete control over all aspects, right down to when and where your ads display. The result is a highly targeted campaign that drives conversions. But as with any marketing channel, planning is a critical step.

Here we look at the most important questions to ask before getting started with Google AdWords for your business.

1. What is the Objective for Creating a PPC Campaign?

Every business has different reasons for advertising on AdWords.
Some want more sales while others want to increase subscribers to their newsletter. So the first step is to establish your reasons for starting a campaign with AdWords. Examples include:

  • Increasing sales of a new product line
  • Generating leads for new services
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Increasing signups for a newsletter
  • Getting more shares on social media

Defining your objectives provides much more focus to your campaigns.

2. Who is the Target Audience?

Even two companies that sell the same products can have completely different markets.

This is why understanding your audience is such a critical step. Because if your campaigns are too general or too narrow, you end up not targeting anyone at all. Start by answering the following questions to define your audience:

  • What is the basic demographic (e.g. age, gender, income, occupation, etc.)?
  • What are the main problems that your products or services solve?
  • Are customers primarily local or can be they found across the state?
  • Would they be searching for your business on mobile or from a desktop?
  • Are they price conscious or likely to spend more?

The more you know about your audience the better.

For example, if your business targets primarily local customers (e.g. those in Austin) then it makes sense to display ads that are specific to that region. But if your business targets multiple regions, then you would want your campaigns to reflect that fact.

3. What is My Offer?

Your offer is equally important to your initial market research.

With the advent of the Internet consumers now have more choices than ever before. Without a clear and compelling offer, you fail to distinguish your business from the competition. Which is only likely to result in fewer sales.

A compelling offer is one that:

  • Clearly defines what makes your business unique
  • Includes your key unique selling points (USP)
  • Speaks directly to your target audience

If your market research reveals that your audience is price conscious and your business has the lowest prices around, your offer should reflect that. AdWords makes it easy to split test so you could run multiple campaigns to test different offers.

4. What Keywords are Relevant to My Business?

Search engines are driven by keywords.

And they also largely determine how AdWords work as your ads only show up for the keywords you bid on. This is another reason why your initial market research matters. Because it can reveal potential keywords that your market is searching for.

Think about keywords that define the products or services your business offers. If your customers are primarily local, then you will want to include city names in your keyword list. Alternatively you can use Google’s Keyword Planner for keyword research.

Consider the following when evaluating keywords:

  • Relevance: The keywords you bid on for your campaign should be relevant to your offer. This helps to not only increase click through rates, but it also reduces how much you pay as Google rewards highly relevant ads.
  • Competition: Generally you should avoid broad keywords (e.g. shoes) as they have much higher competition. Long tail keywords may result in less traffic but they also have less competition.
  • Traffic: One of the biggest mistakes that newbies make is bidding on keywords that have the highest traffic potential. These are exactly the types of keywords to avoid as they generally cost much more per click and have higher competition.

5. What is My Budget?

One of the downsides with AdWords is that it can get expensive. Fast.

So what ends up happening is you never earn a return on your investment. This is why it is important to establish a budget, at least in the beginning until you become more familiar with the platform. Then you can always gradually increase your spending.

AdWords makes it simple to set a daily budget. Once you hit that amount (e.g. $10/day), your ads stop displaying. Be especially mindful when setting a budget as you want to ensure that your efforts are paying off.

AdWords is a powerful advertising platform that can drive highly targeted traffic to your pages. Even for a small business that targets local customers, AdWords can be a major potential source of revenue. Start by defining your objective and what you want to get out of PPC. Then research your target audience to better inform your offer. The keywords you bid on is also another important consideration as is the budget that you set.

Answering the questions above will greatly increase your chances of success with AdWords.

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