Here is what I found out:
Google offers two major avenues for your advertising dollar. First one is search traffic - if someone searches the keywords you selected, your add appears on the top and to the right of search results. If someone clicks on the ad, you pay the click fee - up to the maximum amount you agreed to bid (your position depends on the amount you bid).
Other one is display advertising - based on your parameters, your ads show on many sites that offer Google ads. For these you can again pay per click, or you may chose to pay CPM rate (Cost per thousand impressions).
I am very much simplifying what is otherwise very interesting and complex marketing avenue. Options you have are amazing - from demographics to geographic choices, you can really narrow down your audience and do some interesting marketing. In addition, even if you do not actually advertise, you can use Google's amazing Analytics tool to track your web side performance and see thousands of different parameters.
One of the most important parameters to use when tracking success of your advertising is so-called Bounce Rate - this rate shows how many visitors simply clicked in and left your page within few seconds - meaning that the probably clicked on your ad in error.
My approach was to offer reasonably high bid of $2.51 per click, and focus on about 40 keywords directly related to my business. I narrowed down my geographic reach to specific area I am targeting, selected appropriate times to advertise (not expecting CEO of medium size company to search for my services at 3am)... After 30 days, my results were as follows:
21,600 impressions, 32 clicks, $44 spent ($1.35 per click average)...
Average visitor visited 1.94 pages per visit.
Most important statistic was that 15 people were not considered by Google to be "Bounces". However, doing even deeper search, I found out that only 4 people actually remained on my page for longer than 1 minute.
So, I paid $44 to receive 4 visits (or $11 per visit) that seem to be seriously interested prospects. With such a small sample, it is hard to come up with conclusions, but based on this experience, as well as my 5 year history of using Google Adwords for my day job, here are some tips:
- When evaluating and planning your ads, it is safe to assume that up to 70% of all your money will go towards erroneous clicks. Easiest thing is to assume that your bids/budget are 3 times as high. So, if you are planning to spend $100 on advertising, ask yourself if $300 is fair price to pay for the results you are getting.
- Years ago, Google used to allow you to select actual domains and sites where your display ads would appear. Apparently, that may still be the option, but I had no luck in finding my way to this option. In general, Display Advertising will produce larger number of low quality clicks. In some cases, I suspect that site owners where ads are appearing have someone clicking on your ads in order to generate sales. For example, my ads displayed over 10,000 times on "Other Domains" without one single click, but on SingleParentMeet.com and two other sites, my ads showed up only 80 times yet they produced 6 clicks. Obviously, this is outside of any statistical possibility - so my recommendation would be to set-up two identical campaigns. First one should be strictly on Google Search site, while second one would be stricly Display Advertising - both with identical keywords, bids and other options. Once you have some data, use Analytics to see how much quality clicks you received form each - I bet Search would produce much better results.
- Experiment - best part of Google Ads is that you can create multiple campaigns, each campaign can have multiple ad groups, which in turn can have multiple ad versions and keywords. Simply play with it and see what works best. Given enough time, you will see that certain ads, keywords and options produce more results - then just focus on those.
As for Facebook advertising, results were even more discouraging. True, my business is not something average Joe would care about. However, after 30 days of advertising, $20-$30 in paid clicks, I am underwhelmed with the results. Here are my findings:
- I advertised specifically to the demographic that is over 25 years old, and interested in business related issues. I received 19 "Likes" (which is Facebook term for Click), but not one of those who clicked on my ad had any relation to my demographic. Based on their profiles, none of them own or manage the business. Most of them had basic education and average non-management related jobs. Since my ads were clearly spelling out that my services are for businesses only, it is easy to assume that most (if not all) clicks were erroneous.
- Positive result is that number of the "Likes" can be shown on my web page as "Recommendations" - so it looks like 19 people recommended my business.
- Facebook charges for advertising fees daily (even if they are under $1). So, in order to keep my books in the order, I would have to print each receipt and enter it into the accounting system. Very bizarre (and bad for environment).
- Facebook is clearly best suited for product-based advertising focused on residential and younger crowd. If you are selling Justin Bieber posters, Facebook advertising is made for you.
Tip: Use Google Conversions tool to track your goals. For example, if your desired result is to have someone fill out on-line subscription form, set-up Conversions to track number of visits to the "order confirmation page".