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What are some good tips on saving money on Google AdWords?

17 0 2

Is it also normal to be losing some money in the beginning of campaigns while gathering data for optimal performance later down the road?  If you are using Google AdWords or you've had success with it in the past, how long were you letting your campaigns mature for before you started seeing results you were happy or content with?  

Replies 12 (12)
10 0 3

Hey Vince, 

I actually do digital marketing for a living, but just came across your post, and just wanted to give you a little bit of insight. 

I am not sure how familiar you are with AdWords, but AdWords can get out of control fast. I always recommend starting off with a small, highly relevant group of keywords even though traffic on that small set of terms might be low. Exact match keywords and Broad Match Modifier are definitely the way to go when you're first launching. This will only trigger search queries that match your actual keywords. Broad match is just that. Very broad. It can bring in a lot of irrelevant traffic, and waste a lot of your money. Using the most relevant group of terms will also give you a higher quality score, which in turn will lower your average cost per click.

I could rant about this all day, but hope that was at least a little helpful. 


Good luck!

17 0 2

Thank you Noah!  Very helpful!  I appreciate the response.

Shopify Expert
861 33 220

Vince, if you're adament on managing your AdWords yourself, you should at minimum get AdWords qualified (fundamentals, search, and shopping). This will open your eyes to what you at least should be doing as a minimum. If you're not willing to do that, an expert can apply the same concepts and more to your campaigns.

Run Google Shopping ads? Get the free definitive guide to Google Shopping for Shopify (no optin required):
5 0 1

Reach out to Google for help if you need it.  They have great customer support for AdWords.  

22 0 2

Don't bother even using adwords if your website does not have relevant rich SEO keywords and meta data. Spending money on adwords, ppc, and other online advertising is a waste of money. Save it for pop up shops, products and content for the site. If you must I would use adroll the minimum amount of $100/month for retargeting but unless you have thousands of dollars to compete with other companies adwords are a drain of cash. Try to get out there in person with your products and services and get them to go on your site. Organic traffic is the best way to go.

16 0 1

I'm not professionally trained in this but I've been manipulating my own AdWords account for a couple years with the assistance of AdWords reps- some good, some bad- and I've learned a few things about my AdWords account. Traffic quality is probably the most important thing for me and has improved since I adopted some technique. 

Please note I'm not an expert, this is just what's finally working for me.

-Be specific when adding keywords. Modified broad match (using + before words), phrase match and exact match. Definitely do research on these. You will waste money on clicks if you are (for example) selling only iPhone accessories but adding broad keywords for phone accessories. As one rep explained, you may lower your impressions, but less money is wasted, the clicks will be higher quality with a higher chance of purchasing. 

-Check your search terms in your keywords tab EVERY DAY and add unrelated search terms to your negative keyword list on a campaign level. Example: Someone searched for charcoal teeth whitening powder. I only sell teeth whitening gels; they won't find charcoal powder on my site and its unlikely that they will change what they are looking for just bc my product is better or proven to be more effective. So I added the search term charcoal as a negative keyword. When adding the search term to negative keywords, the whole term pops up, but you can manipulate it to whatever word(s) out of that search term you do or do not want. Seems simple but it was a revelation when this was explained to me. Terms like "review," "cost," "how," "instructions," etc. are low quality and represent people browsing the internet for info, not normally looking to buy. Add to negative keywords. Having the reviews is very important but advertising that you have reviews is not cost effective.

-Start a remarketing campaign with a lower budget than other campaigns, low max CPC (enhanced) and image ads. A rep explained it well to me: even if the remarketing isn't showing actual conversions, the ads are silent reminders of your online presence and, most likely, a shopper will see the ads and open a new tab on their phone with your website. 

-Keep your max CPC high enough to keep your placement between 1 and 2.5. Don't over extend your daily budget just to be in 1st position, expecially if your competing with mega companies that have mega budgets. 

-A competition-based ad group isn't for the financially unsound, so hold off until you've grasped your niche.

-Review your campaigns, ads and keywords every day to avoid wasted money. I prefer manual CPC for keywords because it allows me interpret the data over time and adjust my bids accordingly. 

Not AdWords related:

-A modern, clean, streamlined website with clear pricing and a simple cart/checkout process is essential.

-Banners should be high resolution.

-Products should line up well on all screen sizes so when someone clicks your ad, they can see what's being sold immediately.

-Make sure all product images have consistent size, backgrounds, and resolution.

-Offer free shipping on orders orers over a certain amount.

-Get reviews up.

-Link social media accounts to your site.

-Take advantage of the various free apps Shopify offers that make the shopping experience easy. 

I hope this helps. Happy selling!

17 0 2

Wow!  I can't thank you enough for this Kayla!  Really what I've needed to read.  Very helpful!

16 0 1

Happy to help! Send us a link to your store!

43 0 4

I agree with waht has been sent before - and have successes and scars. I have been doing adwords for years in a highly competitive sector and have done google certified courses.  It is a dynamic area to approach incrementally and learn as you go. When I moved to shopify I was exhausted and did not track my adwords for a while and a large amount of money was wasted.

Measure the ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) through your Google  analytics Adwords  section - especially if you have campaigns focussed on products at differnt price points and different margins where cost per conversion is not always the best measure of success. Don't be afraid to experiments - and to prune vigorously.

For me I find what has worked best:

  • Focussed campaigns where I have a relative strength in the products versus others
  • Google Shopping - though I prune products from it periodically which are sucking money to no result. Also really easy to set up
  • I have not had success with remarketing but I may not have done it effectively
  • I found display adds generally to be a total wast of money - focussing on search
  • Use landing page URL's to help make sure visitors land on the most relevant page for a specific keyword
  • I find I need to manage advisors tightly - when I have given free rain to google adwords team and other advisers it has alwasy gone badly wrong. However working with them and combining with  thier technical knwoledge has helped a lot.
  • I switch my adwords off between christmas and new year as I find it is ineffective at that time - possibly all the other boxing day sales overwhelming it

Don't let it become a black box you don't understand - sure to go wrong!

On the google course there were others there who had let agencies manage the adwords account - when we looked at what had been happening some of the mismanagment was shocking. Not all agencies were good - indeed many sent staff on only the most basic adwords course before getting them to manage client accounts.

Shopify Expert
8 0 2

Hey Vince,

I head up the Adwords business at our agency and have audited hundreds of accounts.  Each one has its specific issues, and without seeing yours it's hard to know where the opportunities are.

That said, you got some good answers up above, particularly with regards to Search Query analysis and adding negative keywords like "free", "how to" etc. 

What I didn't see mentioned above are common pitfalls that are default Adwords campaign settings and could lead to wasted spend, they are:

  • Search vs. Display Network - ensure that your campaign type is "Search Network Only".  By default Adwords creates new campaigns as "Search Network with Display Select" - the Display Network is a totally different animal than search and requires a completely different strategy.  You'll want to have specific Display only campaigns if you choose to run there.
  • Mobile bid adjustments - By default Mobile CPC bids are the same as Desktop CPC bids.  Typically mobile traffic converts at 1/2 the rate of desktop traffic (typically, but not always).  Segment your data to see what conversion rate looks like for Desktop vs. Mobile, if it's lower on Mobile set a lower bid modifier (I will often bid it down 40%).  You can apply this same rule to Tablet traffic now too.

Another "tip", which is more of an optimization technique, is to optimize to profit, not to average position/cpc/ctr (or any other vanity metric).  Your goal with Adwords is to be profitable - so you should know what your breakeven point is (taking into account COGS) and optimizing to hit that breakeven point on every $1 spent on Adwords.  Some keywords will be profitable in Average Position 2, some in Position 5.  Make sure you're taking actual profitability into account and not just bidding for position.

Lastly - look at your Quality Scores.  Quality Score has a real effect on CPC, and a poor Quality Score will cause you to pay a higher CPC.  If your Quality Score is worse than 7 for any keyword then there is room for improvement.  Hover over the little speech bubble next to the keyword to find out why it's low.  

If the reason is because of Ad Relevance then write a new ad which features your exact keyword within the ad.  If the reason is because of Landing Page Experience - take a look at your site and see if there is a better page to drive the user to.

Hope that helps.




39 0 8

You will need to decide how much you can write off in terms of testing to start with, but look for the volume keywords (in google trends and on Google search console), work out your product margin, then work out what the most you can spend per sale is. 

I.e. if you're selling shoes at £40+delivery, profit is £20 on a sale, then you should be aiming to spend as much under £20 CPA (cost per acquisition) as possible, else you'll be a "busy fool."

Negative keywords are a must, we sell tenpin bowling equipment so have put negatives on cricket and crown green bowling terms, and on fashion brands who sell 'fashion' bowling bags.

In Google Analytics, look at the landing pages driving sales from organic and best guess what search terms are taking customers there.

Once you start to see some patterns, get the same ads on Bing, smaller volume but usually better conversion.

Plus it doesn't stand still, new ad formats, new competitors coming in, loads changing all the time so need to monitor constantly, especially when stuff goes out of season.

As above, display usually a waste of money.

Good luck.

Get your Tenpin Bowling Equipment from Tenpinshop 🙂
Shopify Expert
99 0 3

Great question! Thanks for writing. 

Wanted to throw in my $0.02 on this issue…

Always ask your SEM agency or vendor: 

Where do you see most incremental opportunities?

Even if your campaigns are already going well, there will always be opportunities to improve. You might think about the following scenario: 

If our brand increased our budget 30% tomorrow, what would your agency do with it? 

Don’t be afraid to hold your agency’s feet to the fire with such a scenario. And be sure to vet their answer and see if it’s on base with the historical knowledge of your brand. The goal is to figure out if what they’re doing is the right thing.

Anyway, we blogged about this today if you want some additional questions for vetting a digital marketing agency:

Hope that helps! See ya

Kevin Simonson is the CEO of Metric Digital, a performance marketing agency in New York City that focuses on driving revenue and customers through for ecommerce business via online advertising, email and other digital marketing channels.