Google Ads Optimization: A Triad

By Erik Blatter | April 9, 2020 (updated April 29, 2020) | Conversion Optimization, Digital Marketing, Google Ads

If you want your Google Search campaigns to be at their best, you need to optimize on three levels: before, within and after Google Ads. If these three levels harmonise with each other, the checkout will ring.

Do you regularly spend money on Google Ads and ask yourself what and where you can optimize your campaigns to get more out of them?

Far too often we only deal with the adjusting screws within Google Ads. If we look at the individual steps of a user up to the conversion (see graphic), it becomes clear that we orchestrate the music on only one level.

(This article by yours truly was originally published in OMT magazine. Since it is only available in German there, we publish the complete translation in English here.)

Level 1: Optimization Before Google Ads – Explore the Need

One thing in advance: If you skip this level, you will later have trouble composing irresistible ads and landing pages on levels 2 and 3.

The focus is on the user and his needs. Because when the user takes the mouse to navigate to the Google search field, something happens in his head. He pursues a goal, carries questions around with him and searches for an answer.

Play to the Notes of the Value Proposition

We have to get to the bottom of the intrinsic motivation of the user. So that we can attach to it in the messaging later. And to find a killer value proposition that not only maintains but increases motivation. Because the higher the motivation, the greater the willingness to convert. It is imperative that the value proposition penetrates all facets of messaging (ads, landing page texts, visual language, design, etc.) to unleash its maximum conversion power.

The Right Call-To-Action – a Pleasant Sound for the User

In the extension of the value proposition is the call-to-action. What kind of action do we want and can we ask the users to take? What is the logical next step in their journey? Often too much is demanded of the Google Ads audience. And the harmonious canon degenerates into a discordant sound. The right conversion contributes significantly to the success of a campaign.

A practical case study: Just by introducing a new conversion, we were able to halve the lead costs for one of my customers (a provider of heating systems for private households). We replaced an extensive quote request form on the website with a simple request for a free consultation including an on-site analysis. The case study is available in my blog (German only).

The Research Instruments

It stands to reason that we should take a closer look at the keywords and the motives behind them. The search term report within Google Ads often reveals a lot about the motivation and intentions of our users. If you’ve been running campaigns for a while now, be sure to do some research here.

Other tools and sources to enrich the found keywords with additional insights about the users are:

  • Customer surveys: Interview the people who decided the cost/benefit analysis in your favor. Tool tip: typeform.com
  • Website visitor surveys: Ask the users on the website while they are exploring your offer. Tool tip: hotjar.com
  • E-mail communication: Often the support or sales department is in active contact with customers and users who are willing to buy.
  • Interviews: either with customers directly or with sales
  • Reviews: Social media, Google my Business, Trustpilot, etc. Important: also read over there at your competitors

Level 2: Optimization Within Google Ads – Directing Campaigns

Now it’s time for targeting (keywords, audiences etc.) and ad messaging. Bidding is now mostly left to the algorithm. That’s why I won’t go into this in detail here. Side note: I expect that Google will gradually banish any manual adjustments from the Google ads interface. This trend has been apparent for some time now.

The needs and pains have been identified. We have dealt with the keywords and the associated motives. There is clarity about the value proposition. The structure of your campaigns is best tailored to this: for each need a separate ad group or campaign. In this way, you harmonise the keywords, ads and landing pages.

Better Ad Copywriting – so Your Music Gets Heard

The output of Google Ads visible to the user is the ad alone. It will probably take a little longer until the algorithm supports us here. So reserve yourself enough time for this. With your ads you stand out from the rest of your competitors. Aurel Gergey, a business colleague and Google Ads copywriter, rightly says: “If you don’t stand out, you’ll fail.” But be careful: Do not leave the thread here and pick it up again at the landing page. More about this later. By the way: Aurel Gergey has written an e-book (German only) about optimizing Google Ads ads.

A practical case study: As part of a testimonial video production for our client MOVU, we conducted a one-hour interview with around 10 clients. We explored the motives that motivated the testimonials to realize their move with MOVU. It quickly became clear that the move was associated with a lot of stress for everyone: A move is incisive and time-consuming. There is uncertainty about how to handle the upcoming move as stress-free as possible. Many things have to be clarified. Some distrusted the removal companies and were afraid of unexpectedly high costs.

We decided to take up the topic “stress” verbally in the advertisements. This addressed the neuralgic point. But we deliberately turned the message into a positive one: We communicated that MOVU reduces the stress associated with the move. To ensure the necessary attention, we used the not very common term “de-stressed”. In this way, we also focused on the benefits of MOVU. In the description of the advertisement, we devoted ourselves to proving the promise. We prepared the advertising message in the form of a mathematical equation – this simplifies reading and thus offers a taste of the promised de-stressing.

Search ad of MOVU. The advertisement translates as: “Relaxed moving? Save up to 70%. 5 fixed price offers free of charge. movu.ch/The-Relocation/Stress-Reliever 5 regional free offers and inspection guarantee and personal advice. It’ easy: compare offers, book online and move without stress.” The ad was based on the insights gained through customer interviews on level 1. Thus, the motives and fears brought to light were deliberately addressed. The promise “the relocation de-stressers” even made it into the headline on the landing page. See case study level 3.

More Resonance With Additional Audiences

Not only if your budget is limited, it can make sense to limit your keyword targeting via additional audiences. Is it possible to derive meaningful audiences from the insights gained on level 1 about your users? Google provides us with in-market, affinity, custom affinity and custom intent audiences. If you are dealing with voluminous keywords in your campaign, it’s worth thinking about it to get even more response from your users.

Level 3: Optimization Following Google Ads – the Final Chord

This is primarily about you keeping your promises. And to finish singing the song of your ad on your landing page. How often are we promised something in ads that we can’t find anywhere else on the landing page. The landing page is the place where the value proposition developed on level 1 can spread. In the head- and subheadlines, the visual language and the design. The interest aroused in the ad and the emotions that are spread should be further stimulated and the user should be asked to take action.

A case study from practice: For our client “MOVU” we identified the most conversion-strongest ad based on the historical data in Google Ads. We looked at the messaging and copied the content more or less 1 to 1 to the landing page – to the head- and subheadline. And lo and behold, we had a double-digit uplift in the conversion rate. And that’s with the conversion that is located further back in the funnel and is relevant for us.

Case study of MOVU: The headline and subheadline on the landing page are almost identical in content to the Google Ads ad. An example for the integration of level 2 and 3.

Ensure Pace With Separate Intent Landing Pages

With SEA traffic, we are lucky that the users are usually very focused. If you have identified different needs and intentions on level 1, which are expressed in different keyword clusters, you should think about dedicated intent landing pages. This way you can increase the relevance of your landing page, increase the speed and accompany the user faster to his destination. You have prepared the necessary campaign structure on level 2.

Conclusion

If you want to increase the ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) on Google Ads, you can’t avoid making music on all three levels. And if you manage to bring the three levels together into a musical ensemble: you’re not only doing your users a favor, you’re doing your wallet a favor. Whoever optimizes holistically wins.

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Erik Blatter is Head of Conversion Optimization at Wortspiel. As a certified polygraph with further studies in communication planning, he was drawn early into digital marketing. His relaunch of an online print shop was awarded the Swiss E-Commerce Award in 2012. The following two years he worked as marketing manager for this print shop. In 2014, he returned to the agency site focusing on Google Ads and conversion optimization.