• Michele Ramie

    Just a thought, have you thought about offering to take over their account and prove to them that you can make paid search work by managing the account properly?

  • StevenLockey

    If you ignore the self-promotion of the needless tools in the article above, its pretty accurate :)

    A good PPC campaign will do well, a bad one will do badly. We’ve got a few clients who use PPC that we manage, all of them who don’t already have as much business as they can manage have put more into it compared to at the start because it was giving them good returns.

    Its also very different depending on your industry, but in general, its an effective method of getting sales, WHEN done correctly.

  • http://www.LeadDiscovery.com/ Jerry Nordstrom

    Add culling the display network.
    The lions share of traffic from adwords comes from the display network (content/publisher network). Unfortunately, this is also the major source of click fraud and junk clicks. Take the time to target specific domains and if possible specific URLs. Review daily and block any and all poor performing publishers.

    And this is where I believe a great deal of businesses find Adwords is a losing proposition. Adwords has not provided the ability to block large groups of publishers at a high level, nor lock down your publisher sets. IE: I could dump a high % of potential click fraud by simply blocking any potential advertiser on a .info domain name or targeting only .com publishers in the USA. Or once identifying publishers that perform, locking the campaign down so that no new publishers can be added. The new direct advertising option in adsense may help address this. However we find it is the publisher network that drives high costs via poor performance or excessive management hours that results in pushing the small businesses out of PPC.

  • Marketing MadEZ

    Very good article , helpful to remove the doubts small businesses could have regarding Adwords. The tool is not the easiest to handle and requires time and dedication. If you do it right you will see results without blowing up your budget.

  • Larry Kim

    hi steven, i removed all branding from those screenshots. I generally don’t like to publish an article without real data/evidence!

  • Larry Kim


  • Larry Kim

    yes, we revisit the issue every quarter it seems. in a nutshell, my business is based on signing up a very high volume of new customers, on the order of hundreds every month. the challenge with more customized pricing based on each advertiser’s current performance is that it quickly becomes more complicated when you dive into the details. (eg: how do you define what exactly is “managing the account properly” or “making paid search work”). furthermore there are often elements outside of our control (eg: lousy website or unremarkable offer, etc.)

  • Todd Benny

    My advice is to contact a certified Google Partner to efficiently manage your campaigns. http://www.onimodglobal.com is who we use and they are great.

  • Larry Kim

    yeah any certified partner is great!

  • RightTech

    A lot of this gets down to the effort and feasibility of tracking conversions. None of the small biz I talk with have a good way to do this. Several use PayPal and the PayPal provided online shopping cart, and as far as I know there is no easy way to get conversion info using that (their sites are basic HTML or CMS and not ready for any significant coding)

    Others don’t sell online but are lead focused and get a good chunk via phone calls. They also believe that their customers are not interested in filling out forms. So while they could tag the email links on their site, that still does not capture the phone calls.

    Again, all these things can be solved for big companies, budgets and staff or contractors to put in place – but many small biz simply are not ready to get into that.

  • Allyn1

    The biggest mistake I run across in people saying “Adwords doesn’t work” is not in their campaigns, rather, in the completely useless, non converting 1998 website they are sending the traffic to (and resulting bad quality scores). You can’t put lipstick on a pig and expect a beauty queen.

  • http://www.jchweb.co.uk/ Jack Hutchinson

    I’ve seen this a lot where small businesses try to run AdWords on a shoestring budget with no understanding of how to optimize their accounts and then wonder why it fails. Learn how to use the platform before you criticize it. After all you wouldn’t try to drive a car without lessons….

  • http://karmaeconomics.blogspot.com/ lavista4u

    Pure Greed.

    I have been working on PPC campaigns since 2002, and was using Google since 1998 when it came out of stanford.

    What cost 1.25 USD few years back cost over 5 USD now while the keywords have remained the same in its evolution…I have tried all tricks and trade…I’m a Google certified professional scoring over 90%…

    Small Business, New Business…Just cannot turn it around with PPC..just like that…What Google should do is take in small businesses and based on their revenue devise an individual plan for accounts not based on keywords but performance. This will change the game….Keyword mining is a quick sand with no end is sight that will make you go in circles…impossible against Google stock greed.

    Its time they take adwords to next level and cut the crap called keywords avg. CPC…which has become a bane for small business….I grow …you grow should be the goal of Google moving forward..Charge accounts based on revenue growth not on keywords.

  • Derek Abbring

    Simply boils down to small business owners shouldn’t be trying to do anything online. Most small business owners are do-it-yourself type people who think they can build their website, design it, and market it themselves…even though nothing they do with their business is related to online marketing, web design or web development.

    They should hire a professional to handle it for them so they an get the results they are looking for.

    There are simply too many things to know about, do & keep doing that the business owner would blow through their tiny budget before they got their machine fine tuned.

    Sure there are additional costs to use a professional but there are plenty that only charge 5% of the ad spend & that’s well worth it if it means increase CTR’s and conversions.

  • http://www.encoding.com Matt Laufer

    We’ve tried multiple 3rd parties to help us with PPC, including Google’s own team of experts and full time in house expertise. We monitor daily optimize weekly and have a constant finger on the pulse of our efforts. We are in an extremely niche software market. Words that generate volume deliver poor quality. Words that generate quality generate no volume. We even tried the tool created by the author’s company, Wordstream. I can say with absolute confidence after several years of trying multiple approaches, PPC is wholly ineffective for our small business. I should also add that Adwords has become so cluttered and competitive, that without true PPC expertise, it’s nearly impossible to move the needle. Most small businesses simply can’t afford true PPC expertise. Based on my experience, I’m siding with the NYT.

  • Ian Harper

    I am self employed carpet cleaner and it works for me in fact Google cant give me what I need. I have to ever increase the size of the area I cover.

    I have money just sitting in my pre pay waiting for Google to use it, no luck. I want to buy more business adwords is the only media that I have use where you can see the price of a new customer.

    My view is people don’t want the pain or cost of learning how it works.

    I am very happy about my Cost Of A Customer, just want more

  • StevenLockey

    No worries, just looked a touch ‘you need to buy our tools to do this’ ;)

    Much better now and a very good article in general. Hopefully some people will actually think about their adwords campaigns after reading it! Just not my clients’ competitors hopefully :)

  • StevenLockey

    Hmm certified partners are well, a bit iffy. All it means is that you’ve passed a rather easy exam and have a certain budget spend on Adwords. Its not really an indication of skill or the effort they will put in to making your account the best it can be, but at least if they screw you over then you can report them to Google.

  • http://www.conversationware.co.uk Matt Lambert

    I think this is too simplistic – there are certain businesses that are not suited to ‘Search’ and that should be taken into account.

    Plus, many companies don’t have a suitably broad offer – if you sell accounts software to enterprises, then advertising on ‘accounts software’ will waste 95% of the spend. That understanding isn’t promoted, and because of that, Google shoot themselves in the foot, and everyone who cares about Search, by encouraging everyone to try the ‘free’ advertising vouchers without the guidance necessary to make it successful.

    It’s harder to unlearn something than learn it right. Teaching people ‘it doesn’t work’ is a lesson few will forget. It entrenches their opinions.

  • Todd Benny

    @StevenLockey:disqus not to call you out but you are completely incorrect. To qualify as a ‘Partner’ the company need to have an individual that has passed 2 separate exams, they need to have a 90 day budget spend over 10k AND they have to meet the ‘Best Practices’ threshold which is a metric Google has created for Performance and Customer Care in managing their clients Adwords accounts. A lot has changed with the new Partners program..

  • Louisa Stockley

    Wow. THere’s a lot of discussion to be had here, but my ha’penny worth – Google Certified Partners are worth using, despite a commenter’s accurate view that we only need to have managed a particular spend and pass 2 exams to qualify, if only because we have dedicated account managers at Google who are there to help us get our clients Adwords working. That’s a lot of combined expertise going into that account. It’s also true that the amount of management that goes into a campaign makes or breaks it, but this admin cost can price some small businesses out, especially if it comes on top of a very competitive market with high click costs. I think adwords management should come on a sliding scale to allow for concerted effort at the start to get the campaign profitable, then taper off when it does. This is somewhat thwarted by the adwords activity quality score thought so balance is needed. We also had a niche software client who couldn’t get the volume of clicks, so adwords just wasn’t viable in his case. But on the whole, as long as a small business has a very clear idea of his goal values, and the conversion cost plus admin cost never exceeds that, adwords is a perfectly viable tool for small businesses. All depends on the particular market.

  • http://ppccampaigngenerator.com/ Jarad Collier

    Google doesn’t give a crap about you or any of us advertisers. They pretend like they do with their support, forums, etc. Everyone that knows anything about PPC knows Google is hypocritical, breaks its own rules all the time, has double-standards, and greedy like you said.

    They are a publicly traded for-profit entity with shareholders to appease. They never ask for input from the community before they make changes.

    Look at how “Enhanced Campaigns” was simply forced down our throats.

    How many people, if given an opportunity to vote, would have said “Yes! Take tablet targeting options away from me because it’s obviously the same as desktop and laptop and add bid modifiers for devices instead.”

    The way it was sold to us was nothing but propaganda … “Enhanced campaigns provide new ways to help you reach the right audience at the moments that matter.” Says who?

    The truth is, Google was trying to get more people on Mobile, but many smart marketers knew that mobile performance was poor… so they just create a new concept of enhanced campaigns that targets all devices unless you put -100% and I’m sure they made a killing simply by switching campaigns over as advertisers (that pay attention) re-adjusted to the volatility.

  • StevenLockey

    The exams don’t mean anything as we both know.
    The budget spend, again means nothing.
    The ‘best practices’ is probably the most reassuring bit to be honest, but that doesn’t always help.

    None of that says you can’t take 50%+ of the client’s budget as your fee, which I know of at least one ‘Partner’ that does. As for skill, well I’m sure there are a lot of people who know PPC very well and don’t spend 10k per 90-days.

    So as I said, it’s only real defence is you can at least get the badge removed if they do screw you over as a client.

    What I was trying to say is don’t take a ‘Partner’ as a gold-seal, this is an awesome company, some of them are, but some of them aren’t. Like with any major expenditure, check them out first and make sure they know their stuff. If they try and jargon you to death, run a mile ;)

  • http://www.moability.com/ Camleen White

    depends a lot on how your company presents yourself. If you have the
    biggest selection, lowest prices, wholesale etc. The best ad for your
    business might not work for your competitors.
    Read more at http://www.searchenginejournal.com/6-reasons-why-small-businesses-often-fail-with-adwords/64012/#lFMhKULgEEilPZFF.
    depends a lot on how your company presents yourself. If you have the
    biggest selection, lowest prices, wholesale etc. The best ad for your
    business might not work for your competitors.
    Read more at http://www.searchenginejournal.com/6-reasons-why-small-businesses-often-fail-with-adwords/64012/#lFMhKULgEEilPZFF.9999

  • http://www.moability.com/ Camleen White

    I think it depends a lot on
    how your company presents yourself. If you have the biggest selection, lowest
    prices, wholesale etc. The best ad for your business might not work for your

  • Jess Fassett

    I am an internal PPC marketer, and I use a tool to help cull the herd, so to speak. It is fast, cheap and easy. I do not work for SPYFU, but I use it with great success.

  • luisgdelafuente

    Very interesting post about an issue that is almost no commented online. The real issue in my opinion is that Adwords is a tool made by engineers to be used by engineering-minded customers. Most of SMBs have not time neither capacity to deal with ADW successfully and this means there’s a huge opportunity for anyone really interested in solving this gap.

  • http://sporkmarketing.com/ Jason Lancaster

    I think *this* article misses the point too – the reason AdWords fails small business is simple. Small business owners shouldn’t be trying to use AdWords without either training or professional help.

    Google likes to promote AdWords as a simple and obvious advertising tool, but that’s a big fat lie.

    1. If you’re a small business owner who doesn’t understand the platform, you’re going to waste money on useless clicks. The only question is, How much?

    2. If you’re in a competitive niche (like plumbing or water damage or legal services), and you think you can manage your own AdWords campaign, you’re going to get crushed.

    There *is* a way for small business owners to find success on AdWords. Step one is to hire an AdWords professional to help you. Step two is to set aside some real funds. Step three is to get the hell out of the way.

    If Google stopped portraying the AdWords platform as simple and obvious, they’d have a much better reputation. Frankly, I think AdWords deserves all the bad publicity it gets. Google should stop misleading the public.

  • John McDougall

    I am amazed at how many accounts we take over that have a less than 1% conversion rate and yet had been putting all their effort into PPC management alone….One potential client many years ago spent 250k on Adwords clicks in one year and the owner did all the management or lack of it and didn’t even now what a conversion rate was. They sadly later went out of business. Amazing stuff. Paid search can be great for small biz if you take the advice in this article and focus on conversions. Thanks Larry for your recent awesome webinar on radically increasing conversion rates and the details on industry averages etc.