Running a successful Google AdWords campaign

MEST, Thursday November 14th 2013

The Google Online Marketing Challenge(GOMC) is an annual global competition open to students to help them learn about digital advertising through Google AdWords. Each year, we have some of our MEST trainees forming various teams to participate in the program. With a $250 budget provided by Google, students develop and run an online advertising campaign for a business or non-profit organization over a three week period. Teams are able to develop the most successful campaigns win prizes. In recent years, MEST teams have excelled at the challenge- some of them becoming regional winners. One of such teams now operates a digital marketing agency, CLAK Impressions.

My team comprising, Osborn Kwarteng Adu, Osam Kyemenu-Sarsah, Emmanuel Anim and myself were invited to Google's maiden regional Online Marketing Lab (OML) held in Lagos 22nd - 24th of October 2013 with the aim of getting  participants to be certified Adwords professionals.

Here is a summary of our lessons learned:

1. Know the basics of Google AdWords.

It is not a good idea to go into the competition with no knowledge of the AdWords system. Know how bidding works, how quality score is calculated, etc. Be abreast with the basic vocabulary of the Google AdWords application. This will help you be able to set realistic goals, understand the reports, and have a good understanding of how your campaigns are doing.

2. Set realistic goals

Working with Google AdWords is similar to working with any business. Set your goals but they should be realistic. Mostly, people who like to use AdWords want traffic to their site, or some conversions. A conversion is simply a measurable action performed by a visitor to your site. For instance, playing a video, downloading a file, leaving an email address, etc. Setting goals will help you measure what your success rates are, and how best to make more visitors perform those actions the more.

3. Know your target market

One mistake we made was not knowing our client's target market well enough. Planning on launching a google ad? Know how your target market behaves, understand their purchasing patterns etc. For example if your client serves students, understand how students interact online. This will help you set realistic goals and plan effectively.

4. Let data influence your decisions.

The Google AdWords interface presents you with a lot of information. There are tons of information you will see, all sorts of reports. Since the data is based directly on user interactions, it will be in your best interest as a team to make decisions based on the data you receive. If you realise that your ads are receiving clicks but you have higher bounce rates on your landing pages, take a look at the landing page. If possible, let the developers know so they can optimise the page for the best results.

5. Plan and execute quickly, but not too often.

There is a 6-week window to run your AdWords campaign. However, you only have 3 consecutive weeks within which your campaigns can be running. A good practice will be to analyze data weekly, and to make the necessary changes. Watching your dashboard daily and making hurried uncalculated changes can cost you a lot - your ads may not be optimised enough to help you make the most out of them. However, waiting to make changes weekly will give you enough data about which days or particular times, which pages, and even which countries you receive the most clicks so you can make the most out of them.

These are some of the lessons we learnt during our 3-week GOMC campaign period and during our stay in Nigeria. For every individual looking to drive traffic to their site, a good understanding of the Google AdWords application will help you drive some initial traffic to your website in the early stages. And who knows, that's where your paying customers may come from. GOMC applications will be open next year, be a part of the digital marketing revolution.