By Kim Palacios

We have bolstered results for at least a dozen Google AdWords campaigns by reversing a common mistake we see our clients make: running campaigns with a very small handful of ads.  This practice is counterproductive for reasons of cost, general optimization, and potential for lessons learned.

Companies typically write ads based on what they want to say to their customers, but ad writing for Google AdWords is really about bridging the gap between keyword search (or contextual discussions) and the product or service being offered.  Therefore, ads must really be distilled into groups that represent searcher intentions.  If your ad shows a searcher what she is looking for, she will click.  Here’s how this central concept relates to the number of ads in your campaign:

Suppose you own a company that sells candles online, has retail locations where people can make their own candles, and employs the preeminent world candle historian.  You have entered a set of keywords like “buy candles, discount candles, make candle gifts, make candles by hand, candle expertise, candle history, etc.” and you have placed them in the same ad group.  The untrained business owner might write an ad that looks something like this:

Xyz Candle Company
Buy or make a variety of candles.
Ask our world-renowned candle expert.
http://www.xyzcandle.com/

…but this ad and the structure are both problematic.  This ad forgets that most users searching or discussing candles will be focused on a single purpose.  In order to get the user to click on your ad, you must convince the user that you have exactly what they are looking for.

So, if Xyz Candle Company operates in three lines of business, it needs at least three ad groups and three ads.  It needs one ad to appeal to people searching for candles online, one to appeal to people searching for a candle making experience or retail location, and another to appeal to people looking for candle-related advice.

Buy Candles Online
From pillars, to tapers, to votives,
Xyz Candle Company has it all!
http://www.xyzcandle.com/
Make Candles By Hand
Design your own candles and scents.
Create them with your own hands.
http://www.xyzcandle.com/
Xyz Candle Company
Talk to our famous candle expert. Learn
everything there is to know about candles.
http://www.xyzcandle.com/

But these three ads aren’t enough.  In order to truly optimize your campaign, you’ll want to write ads meant for the same target audience and focus on seeing what messages play best.  For example, instead of writing one ad for the “Buy Candles Online” audience, what if you let four ads with slightly different messages run?  When you got the results about which ads had the most clicks, wouldn’t it tell you something about what your target audience responds to?  For example, all of the following ads are meant for people wishing to buy candles online, but the hold different messages that probably won’t perform equally:

Buy Candles Online
From pillars, to tapers, to votives,
Xyz Candle Company has it all!
http://www.xyzcandle.com/
Free Shipping on Candles
Spend $10 on candles or accessories
and we’ll ship your order for free!
http://www.xyzcandle.com/
Lowest Prices on Candles
Top quality candles at the lowest prices.
We’ll match any other price seen online!
http://www.xyzcandle.com/
Xyz Candle Company
Quality online candles and candle
accessories. In business since 1959.
http://www.xyzcandle.com/

Notice how the first ad promotes variety, the second gives a special offer, the third focuses on every day low prices, and the fourth focuses on quality and brand recognition.   Notice also that each ad only focuses on one message. If we let an ad group run with all four of these ads tied to the same keywords, and “Free Shipping” and “Lowest Prices” performed the best, our lesson learned would be that customers respond to savings, and the leadership team might decide to offer an online coupon to bolster sales.  If, on the other hand, “Free Shipping” and “Lowest Prices” performed the worst, we might conclude that people clicking on our keywords are not cost-conscious.  That might indicate a decision to write more ads and focus on existing ads that promote quality and selection.

Companies fail to extract value from Google AdWords because they don’t know how to structure campaigns in such a way that allows them not only to get clicks but also to gather valuable information about their targets.  There is no harm in starting with more ads than you need and whittling down until all that’s left is what’s truly working.  This is the heart of Google AdWords optimization.