Let’s say you have done a great website for a client. The client is very happy. One day however, your phone rings.
“Hi, Mr. Client here. Thanks for the website you did – we really like it. We’ve noticed though that our competitor ACME Inc is appearing above us on Google. You know, in the paid ads at the top. Can you get us appearing there too?”
It’s very tempting to say ‘yes’, isn’t it. After all, how hard can AdWords be? Without thinking you respond with “yes Mr. Client, of course we can get you appearing above ACME Inc. Definitely. No Problemo. That’ll be X hundred dollars please.”
Three weeks later things haven’t exactly gone as planned.
To start with, you found that AdWords is more complicated than you first thought. You’re up to your ears in ad groups, keywords, ads and ad extensions. You’ve decided that the ‘dimensions’ tab scares you a little. And worst of all, your ads still aren’t appearing above or even alongside ACME Inc at the top of the page.
Mr. Client is getting antsy, and wondering what exactly he paid you X hundred dollars for – as well as now having a quickly expanding Google bill.
You look at ACME Inc’s ads again and wonder – how do they do it?
AdWords management can be a profitable addition to your business, but I would like to offer you five pieces of advice that will save you hours of toil, stress and lost revenue.
1. Use a ‘My Client Center’ from the beginning.
Not using a ‘My Client Center’ is a fast way to look incompetent to your new AdWords client.
You might be surprised to hear this, but Google are very supportive of your efforts to build a fledgling AdWords agency. In fact, they practically roll the red carpet out for you.
They’ll offer to help you with your initial campaigns, which usually isn’t a good idea (more on this in a bit). They will send you training materials and AdWords study guides – which are a good idea.
They’ll also provide you with something called a My Client Center, or ‘MCC’.
An MCC is unlike a regular AdWords account in that you cannot directly create campaigns or add billing information. An MCC is more of a holding account for accessing multiple client accounts under a single login.
This way the client owns and has full control of their account and stats. They pay Google directly for their clicks. And if you or the client decide things are no longer working, either party can say ‘bye bye’, and unlink the account from your MCC.
Trust me, it’s better that way. One less client management headache to worry about.
Your MCC also works in Google’s desktop editor program AdWords Editor, allowing you to make fast changes across your accounts.
2. Avoiding scope creep
If you are in the habit of charging for hours or itemizing your client bills by services delivered, you need to be careful of this.
Let’s say you charge the client for five hours of time to set up their AdWords campaign. You structure the account as best you can. You create what you think are great ads. And you set things live. Job done, right?
Two weeks later Mr. Client is back on the phone asking why he’s paid Google $2000 for just three inquiries. You look back in your account, and see that not all of the ‘great’ ads you created are delivering ‘great’ results.
You also delve around in the search query report, and discover that not all of the keywords you added are delivering the right people to the site.
Finally, you look in Google Analytics and discover the bounce rate of your AdWords landing page is astonishingly high. With the benefit of a little hindsight, you jot down four changes you think will improve the conversion rate of the landing page.
Which is all well and good, but you only billed Mr. Client for five hours up front, and that is all gone. Mr. Client is pretty angry right now, and he isn’t likely to be receptive about buying another three or four hours from you. “Just fix it!” he says.
Now you have a problem. What initially was a nice ongoing side income to your web design business has become a not-so-profitable headache. There’s a very real danger too that you will end up doing work for free.
There are various ways to avoid mistake number two, and one way is to charge for outcomes rather than hours.
The client isn’t really buying a set number of hours from you. They are buying an outcome. The client thinks that outcome is appearing at the top of Google alongside ACME Inc, but in fact the outcome is a steady stream of new customers at a certain cost.
If you can help achieve that outcome, that is more valuable to the client than appearing ‘at the top of Google’, which is what they originally came to you for. And they should pay you more for your help in achieving it.
3. Not taking sufficient time to learn about the client, the customers and the marketplace
Successful AdWords management requires both analytics and empathy. Possibly – I would argue – more empathy than analytics.
The stereotypical image of an AdWords account manager is an analytical, wiry fellow sitting in a room surrounded by towering computer monitors of PPC statistics.
The reality is quite different.
I spend a lot of time researching the market I will be running ads in. Speaking to the client’s customers. Phoning competitors to ask about their products. In short – researching as many ideas as possible that may deliver the winning ad and landing page combination.
Very few AdWords agencies pay sufficient attention to this step – if any attention at all. More than 50 years ago David Ogilvy remarked that most companies use research in the same manner as a drunk will use a lamp post – for support rather than illumination.
If you are going to run profitable AdWords campaigns you are going to learn a lot about your clients, beyond what they are willing to tell you. You are going to learn a lot about their customers; the problems they face, and the things that keep them awake at night.
If all that human interaction makes you feel a little uncomfortable then frankly AdWords management might not be for you.
I believe this is another reason to bill by outcomes rather than time. If you bill by time there is a huge temptation to skip the research phase, which will cause you problems later on.
4. Letting Google help
Let’s be clear about something.
I like the people at Google. They are well-meaning and helpful, and genuinely want your AdWords agency to succeed. They also have a very good technical knowledge of the AdWords system. If you encounter a technical AdWords problem, by all means go and speak to the AdWords support team.
While they are good at solving technical issues, they are utterly unprepared to help you better understand your client’s customers, and structure an account that is likely to deliver profitable conversions to your client.
They will offer to help set up your first campaigns, and personally I wouldn’t let them anywhere near.
If you want to see what they come up with, then fine. Have them set up their campaigns as new campaigns separate to yours. Just… be careful.
5. Failing to show the client your value
No client gig lasts indefinitely. Let’s say you charge the client X hundred dollars a month to manage their AdWords. You do great work, and the campaigns are delivering the required result.
Mr. Client however has a nagging sensation in the back of his mind. He has a nagging thought that says “Hmm. Do we really need to be paying these guys X hundred dollars a month? Couldn’t we do this ourselves?”
One day, Mr. Client will ring you up and ask you that.
The reality normally is that yes, Mr. Client does need to keep paying you X hundred dollars a month for you expertise and help. But you need to be ready to prove that to him.
Obviously, you need a full record of the results you have generated, but I think you can go beyond this. In our agency work, we keep a log of all the ad tests we run. We record the logic behind our ad testing. We keep a log of all the landing page tests we do. Of all the copy refinements we make.
We also spend a lot of time in our agency offering additional insights to the client. Sharing insights from the market research we have done, sharing insights from ad tests.
Recently, we’ve started to gather customer testimonials on behalf of our clients. An interesting outcome of which is that we generate better ad ideas to test based on real things a customer has said.
Your value to the client needs to be obvious, and you need to collect evidence of the value you provide.
Whether you are the client or the agency, I talk more extensively about AdWords mistakes to avoid in my book ‘When AdWords Is Expensive: A Simple Formula For More Leads In Less Time’.
I’m also part of Ben’s Pro Web Design Alliance if you fancy picking my brain.
Above all else, good luck!