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This is a preview of our latest guide: AdWords for Lead Generation, which details everything you need to know to get started, research great keywords, make the most of your budget with testing and optimization, and run a profitable SEM campaign.

Getting started, or increasing effectiveness, of Google AdWords for lead generation can be a bit overwhelming at first, but if you break up the tasks and use the right tools, it’s probably easier than you might think.

Researching Great Keywords

The basis of a great search engine marketing (SEM) campaign is still the keywords.

Google’s Keyword Planner is the go to starting place for researching new keywords and estimating performance and volume. If you were familiar with the Keyword Tool, it's been replaced with the Keyword Planner. It has similar functionality, but you'll now only get historical statistics for exact match keywords and it no longer lets you specifically target mobile devices. (You can read more about the differences here.)

Bing has a similar tool called Bing Ads Intelligence that runs on Microsoft Office Excel that lets you estimate prices, generate new keywords, and expand existing lists. One really interesting feature is the ability to see age and gender information for keywords. For example, if you are a mortgage site, you could answer the question: who is searching for “refinancing” - males or females and their ages - and use that information to improve landing page design and copy.

Both tools allow you to generate keywords from a website, which can be useful to spy on competitors and see which keywords they are focusing on the most.

Keyword tools are great for seeing historical traffic, but it does a poor job estimating future trends which you may want to start preparing for and including in your campaigns. That’s where Google Trends excels. Using Google Trends, you can estimate what the future demand for a keyword might be.

For example, if you are a provider of website software, the keyword “content management system” has seen a sharp decline while “marketing automation” and “inbound marketing” have strong increases without indication of slowing down over the past few years. In this case, you may want to consider a SEM campaign and specific copy to ride the increases and position yourself in an emerging category.

Creating Relevant Campaigns

After researching keywords, you’ll want to create ads that capture the searcher's interest and pulls them into your marketing funnel. There are four main categories of campaigns:

  1. Company: Simply, these are people who are searching for your company or misspellings.
  2. Category: People who are searching for a solution or that relates to your product, but probably don’t know about your company yet.
  3. Content: Ads that are specific to your content downloads (aka “whitepaper” or “guide”) for when people are looking for information.
  4. Compete: Where searchers are actively looking to compare options and competitors. For example, type “hubspot vs eloqua” and you’ll see comparison pages from both Hubspot and Eloqua, but also from Marketo.

Creating great campaigns is more than just creating a few good ads. You’ll want to run multiple variations of the ad, make sure they are tracked with UTM parameters, point them to relevant pages, and are keeping different type of devices a searcher might be using in mind.

Bidding Appropriately

One of the most common questions from those who are just starting Google AdWords to those who have been using it for years is “how much should I bid?” For sites with no sales cycles and a short decision journey, such as an ecommerce site, it’s fairly easy to track return-on-ad-spend, a simple version of ROI, since all the engagement happens on site. 

This gets a bit more difficult when the conversion happens offline via a sales cycle, especially when it’s many weeks or months after the marketing touch. In these cases, look at projected return-on-ad-spend. If you use Salesforce, Bizible has made it really easy to look at settled and projected return-on-ad-spend with our new AdWords dashboard

Depending on your company and the goals of your campaigns, you may also want to add bid adjustments. Bid adjustments can automatically increase or decrease your bids if specific location, schedule, or device criteria is met. For example, if you run a website where a high number of visitors call sales, you may want to decrease the bid on weekends when sales are not by the phones and increase during working hours when they are.

Google lets you link AdWords with Google Analytics so you can track form conversions and costs directly in Analytics. This can be helpful for more real-time optimizations and comparing paid traffic across multiple sources, including organic. Keep in mind that Google Analytics only tracks to form submission, unlike Bizible which tracks through the sales process to a closed customer.

To dial up AdWords clicks, you’ll need to understand how Google ranks ads, which can be summarized with: Ad Rank = Bid x Quality Score. “Quality Score” is a tad fluffy, but includes a number of factors, such as ad click-through-rate, relevancy metrics, and more. A good rank isn’t just about bidding higher. In fact, a top rank ad could actually be bidding lower than the next placement.

Using Ad Extensions

When Google first introduced AdWords, it’s wasn’t much more than a headline and two lines of text. Over the years, they’ve built on the standard text ad and released a number of “ad extensions.” From Sitelinks to Location ad extensions increase the size and visibility of your ad, which in turn increases the CTR.

Not only does this mean you’ll get more clicks, but CTR is also a component of the bidding algorithm, so you may also see a decrease in cost per click over time. There are quite a few more extensions, such as seller ratings and reviews, but here are some of the most common: 

  • Sitelink Extensions: Sitelinks are a great place to put product pages, sales call to actions such as requesting a demo, content downloads, case studies, and other information searchers may need to evaluate your product.
  • Call Extensions: Lets searchers call you directly from the results pages.
  • Location Extensions: Address that’s a link to map. Great for when you are looking to have people visit you in person.
  • Social: Includes the number of followers you have on Google+.

Converting Traffic Into Customers

You’ve put considerable effort and already spent the money (at the click) to get visitors to your page. Now you need to get them to convert. Marketing automation platforms and landing page software such as Unbounce can help you create great pages. A couple key elements of a good landing page are:

  1. Relevant: Does the page match visitor/searcher intent and provide a solution? High quality content helps.

  2. Actionable: Is the action you are asking visitors to take noticeable and clear?

  3. Trustworthy: Can the visitor trust you with your information? Security seals, press logos, and customer testimonials can help establish trust and social proof.

Conversion doesn’t stop at the landing page. Depending on your campaign, you may want to nurture leads to educate them about your product or solution. This is especially relevant if the lead was generated from a content download and they don’t have a good understanding of your product and offering.

Testing Everything

One of the great parts of online marketing is the ability to measure and test everything. Do it. 

  • Test your ads, campaigns, and bids. See what the limits are and the cost per incremental lead.

  • Test your landing page. Marketing automation platforms and landing page generators such as Unbounce usually have this built-in, but if not Optimizely is a great WYSIWYG A/B testing platform that we use at Bizible.

  • Test your lead nurturing. See what content is working and which is not by looking at conversion of MQL and SQL to closed.

Finally, measure the entire campaign with settled and projected ROI, revenue generated, revenue per deal, cost per deal. If you use Salesforce, Bizible does this automatically.