So you’ve spent time on learning the basics of Google Adwords.  You’ve defined your goals, defined your Adwords campaign structure, learned the importance of tracking everything, and learned all about getting potential customers back through remarketing, it’s time for our final tip…for now.

Be patient.

That’s it. Be patient. This post should really be called, “In God we trust, all others bring data.”

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Adwords campaigns are a lot of work, and you should always make the data steer the ship.  And we’re not talking about one or two days worth of data, you really need a good week or two week’s worth of data before you make any changes.

Too many times, I’ve seen overzealous PPC Managers touching things incessantly.  They just poke the frog with a big stick and expect it to jump.  It doesn’t work, so they keep poking.  Poke…Poke…Poke.  STOP IT!

Depending on your business, the time of year, how you have your campaigns setup and a plethora of other factors, it could take days or weeks for you to get a real read on the data.

Short example:  If you started running Adwords campaigns on a Monday, and then expect results by Wednesday, what do you have?  Two days worth of data.  Maybe.  What if people aren’t looking for your products as much  in the early part of the week?  Maybe you’re just coming off of a holiday weekend and people are too busy playing catch up at work.  Maybe you got 50 clicks on your campaigns on those two days.  Is that two days worth of data any good?  No.

As your campaigns run longer, across several days, weeks or months, you should begin to be able to gather data about the days, times of day, devices, landing pages, ads, keywords, etc. that are the most effective for you.  Looking at just a couple of days worth of data can give you a misread and will have you making changes to your campaign on a Wednesday that will hurt you on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Depending on the size of your campaign, you should have hundreds or thousands of clicks before touching anything. A week worth of data will tell you.  Two weeks is better, because maybe you had a bad Monday one week, but a great Monday the next.

If you make a change to your campaigns, write it down somewhere, and then don’t think about that change for at least a week.  Don’t make any other changes during that week that might affect your first change either!

Analyze all driving factors that could effect your campaign during this time too.  Was the weather different?  Did you have a sale that was just beginning or ending?  Website errors or speed issues?

The most important thing that I’m trying to get across here, is to trust the data.  Always.   But you also need to understand cause and effect.  Without enough data to conjecture, you’re just shooting in the dark.  That’s not a strategy, that’s a reaction.

Theorize, adjust, write it down, and go away.  Come back in 2 weeks and see if your little plant sprouted.

When Starting New Adwords Campaigns

When starting new campaigns, you’ve done all of the research, word smithing and carefully educated guessing that you can.  Guess what?  You were probably wrong in many of your assumptions and guesses.

Whenever starting a new campaign or Adwords account, you should expect to making large changes for the first 2-3 months.  With a sledgehammer and chainsaw.

You’re going to learn a lot about your theories in the first few months, and it’s important to check your campaigns every week or two, to adjust ads, bids, keyword sets, campaign settings, etc.

Don’t expect a ton of immediate results.  You’ll get some.  They might even be a good/great start – but this startup phase is all about getting everything tuned in and running as smoothly as it can be.  Read as tenths or full percents in KPIs. We usually don’t spend at full strength during this time, because you’ll usually be wasting a good percentage of your money while knocking down walls.

After you hit that point, where you think it’s in good shape and you’re done making major changes, you’ll be making fine-tune adjustments every week or two instead to maximize ROI.  Read as tenths or hundredths of a percent to improve KPIs.  A 0.05% increase in CTR or Conversion Rate each month, will go a long way!

So, What Can I Touch Often?

Well, there are some things that you’ll want to check and touch more often than every week or two. These are the things that will prevent you from getting data or your campaign from performing. Daily, or every other day, you can look at things like:

  • Keywords that are below first page bid, increase to the minimum, or just above it by a penny or five.
  • Keywords with a low quality score – start building a list of keywords that might be in the wrong ad group, need better ads, better organization or landing pages
  • Ads that have been disapproved
  • Daily spend budgets – make sure you’re on track for what you want to be spending at each point
  • Check your changes from the previous days – I don’t mean starting touching things.  I once heard this called a “daily idiot check”.  That’s about right.  Make sure you didn’t accidentally break something in the previous days.
  • Pause or decrease Max CPC for any keywords that are clearly underperforming (only if you’re 100% confident and have days/weeks worth of data). Raise bids on keywords slightly if they’re paying off well for you too.
    • Just a sidenote:  Make bid adjustments in very small increments – both up and down.  10% up or down, at the absolute most, on any given day.  Unless it just sucks.  Then kill it.
  • Check brand keywords and make sure your average position is up in the 1.x spot.
  • Look at charts and make sure there aren’t any major drops in traffic, or indicators that something’s broken.
  • Make sure your landing pages are still live and working.
  • Check alerts and messages from Google.  I don’t follow these as the law (I’ll save Google recommendations for another post), but sometimes there are some good things in there.  Like “Hey, your credit card is going to expire tomorrow.”  That’s helpful to know.

All told, the above should take you no more than 5-10 minutes.  It’s just a quick health check.

In closing, don’t get overzealous.  It’s all very exciting, I know!  And I’m sure you have a client or boss breathing down your neck for results.  Be patient, and let data lead the way.

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