Welcome back guys – we hope you had a good Christmas and you survived those New Year celebrations without major damage. Now that it’s officially 2016 we want to push on with our theme of making this the year of AdWords success, so we’re back with another post for newcomers.

And today our focus is on how you can maximise conversions (those profitable actions) before you have enough data to make calculated changes to your strategy. It takes time to collect that data into something you can use to improve results – that’s the problem. And, unless you have a hefty budget to get you started with AdWords, you’ll need to be hitting targets right away.

The 3-step process

To put this into context, a simple 3-step process for building a high-converting AdWords account could look something like this:

  1. Maximise initial conversions
  1. Remarketing to chase lost leads
  2. Conversion Rate Optimisation (once you have enough data)

Now it’s step 1 that’s the tricky part in this process, because you’re still new to everything and you haven’t got any data to steer you in the right direction. So this is what we’ll be focusing on today.

Maximise your initial AdWords conversions from day one

The reason we say “initial” conversions is because you’ll have to come back to them later, once you have the data to make scientific improvements. But there’s still a lot you can do to maximise those initial conversions and there are three key stages to doing this:

  1. Planning: Which you need to nail to generate those initial clicks/leads.
  1. Campaign performance: Where your planning gets put into action, using AdWords features, settings, tools and everything else at your disposal.
  2. Post-click conversions: After a user clicks, when your AdWords account has done all it can, and the remaining conversion process rests on your landing pages and/or website.

Plan for maximum conversions

Don’t make the mistake of thinking PPC planning simply gets your strategy up and running. How well you plan out your approach will affect everything you do in AdWords. And, when you don’t have data to fall back on, planning is the only guide you have – essential for high conversions in those early stages.

  • Know your target audience(s): The biggest influence on your campaigns, keywords and ad copy, but these guys also tell which targeting features and bid strategies to use (eg: geotargeting, ad scheduling, device targeting, etc.)
  • Know your selling points: By knowing your target audiences, their pain points and what you have to offer them, you’re in a strong position to create campaigns and ad copy that grabs their attention – and ultimately landing page copy that converts.
  • Understand your keywords: Obviously, these are how your audiences find your ads, which is important enough by itself. But not all keywords are the same and the more you do to pinpoint the intent behind different keywords and their relevance in the planning stage, the better equipped you’ll be to choose and refine your list of keywords.

Note: You’ll also want to smart up on keyword match types, negative keywords and related AdWords features/settings to max those initial conversions.

 

  • Let your goals guide you: The finishing line that separates wasted ad spend and PPC profits. And without data the goals you set out in the planning stage will be the foundation of creating highly focused, high converting campaigns.

Campaign performance and conversions

If your planning was up to scratch then this stage becomes a much easier prospect – otherwise, you’re really shooting in the dark. We already mentioned how knowing your audiences helps you pinpoint which targeting features and bid modifiers to use – which nicely sums up why planning is so important and how it has a lasting affect on your AdWords success.

Campaign performance at this early stage mostly comes down to two things: your use of the AdWords platform and the ads you create for your audiences. We can’t run through everything in this article sadly, but we’ll summarise as much as we can in this short space. Also, go back to our first article in this series for some initial tips that help with campaign performance.

 

  • Campaigns: Each goal in your AdWords strategy should have its own campaign
  • Ad groups: No more than 20 tightly-themed keywords, but for high conversions you want to aim for less. Maybe even as few as one keyword for some ad groups.
  • Keywords: You generally want to avoid Broad match and explore Broad match modifiers and Phrase match Exact match could be one to experiment with at a later date and Negative match is always a winner.
  • AdWords settings: This is a real monster of a topic, but from a conversions point of view you’ll want to master the following:
  • Targeting and bid modifiers (Ad scheduling, location targeting, device targeting, etc.)
  • Ad extensions (callouts, sitelinks, location, etc.)
  • Ad customizers for time-incentive offers (eg: Sale Ends Tomorrow!)
  • Flexible bid strategies so AdWords adjusts your bids to help you meet your goals.
  • Ad rotation – set to “Optimize for conversions” (the default is “Optimize for clicks”).
  • Ads: Once your ads show you have nothing but your copy (and hopefully some ad extensions) to win that click. And without data, all you have in these early days is your planning and research to nail that headline, display URL and description.

 

Post-click conversions

You could argue the conversion process only really begins after a user clicks your ad. You’ve paid to get this visitor on your site and now you need to turn them into something profitable – which normally means some kind of conversion.

By this time your campaigns and ads have done their job and it’s over to your website to seal the deal.

 

  • Landing pages This is the first page users see after clicking your ad. Its role is to confirm users have found what they’re looking for and convince them to take that next valuable step towards converting. Check out our guides on landing pages for more information.
  • Page content: This starts with your landing pages, but it carries on throughout the sales path. Your content wants to capture the needs, desires, fears (or whichever emotion you’re targeting) of visitors and show why your products/services are the only ones for them. Focus on the following:
  • Headlines that capture the search intent of users and terms they may have used.
  • Subheadings that make your selling point crystal clear – this is why visitors need you, not the competition.
  • Short punchy pieces of copy (eg: bullet point or short chunks of text) that highlight the benefits, not features of your products/services.
  • Striking visuals that show the best of that product or service. Check out this Unbounce article for some of the visual techniques you might want to use.
  • Irresistible calls to action that makes it painfully difficult to leave without converting.
  • User experience: This is another huge topic but for landing pages you’ll want to focus on some key issues:
  • Distraction free design that keeps your landing pages as relevant as your campaigns.
  • Follow the content rules above.
  • Mobile optimisation for users on all devices.
  • User friendly forms, because nobody likes filling those things out.

 

User experience beyond the landing page: Your landing pages will often be a stepping stone between the ad a user clicks and the final stages of the buying process. This means user experience throughout that sales path is equally as important.

Note: At this stage, without data, we don’t recommend you dive in and make too many changes to your website – unless you have some very obvious improvements to make. You don’t want to waste time and money on UX changes unless you know they’re going to increase conversion rates.

So that’s how we suggest you maximise initial conversions before you have enough data to dive into conversion optimisation. As we’ve already said, you’ll want to start collecting data as soon as you get started with AdWords advertising, but the steps we’ve covered today should help you get results while the data slowly builds.