5 Steps to 'Bernie Madoff-Proof' Your Local Advertising

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One of my cousins, Neil, invested a good chunk of cash with Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff. Neil is a smart, savvy and successful businessman. He built up a big insurance company from scratch. Yet Neil got bilked by Madoff and lost big time.

What made Madoff's massive swindle possible? It largely came down to fraudulent reporting. These people trusted Madoff with their money. But they did not and could not verify the reporting they were getting. 

When it comes to pay-per-click (PPC), most local business owners don’t truly know what is going on behind the scenes of their Google AdWords account either. They have no idea where their money is really going. They can’t tell what, if anything, is being done each month to optimize things. And puts them in the situation where they have to rely on the PPC agency’s highly filtered reporting to get information about the keywords, performance, etc. of their campaign.

Related: 7 Common Mistakes Companies Make With Google AdWords

So, what's the solution? Here we share the five steps you need to take to build a successful Google AdWords campaign:

1. Bernie Madoff-proof your PPC accounts.

Don’t get yourself in a position where you have to trust but can’t verify. You can easily avoid this situation by always using an AdWords account that you are in complete control of. You should own it, always have the username and password and have the ability to log in any time you want to see what’s going on in there.

2. Create a Purple Cow campaign.

Marketing legend Seth Godin wrote a book called Purple Cow. The title of the book comes from the following idea. Say you’re driving down a country road and see a cow pasture out the window. The cows in it are all normal cow colors, some combination of browns, blacks and whites. In a situation like that none of the cows really stand out and you’d get bored looking at them pretty quickly.

But what if among the browns, blacks and whites there was a purple cow? Now that would grab your attention.

There’s no shortage of local businesses running ads on AdWords these days. One of the keys to your success is to make your ads be the purple cow ads that stand out from the crowd.

3. The magnetic landing page.

It’s the most common and damaging mistake local business owners make when spending money on AdWords. It’s the mistake of sending AdWords traffic to the existing pages on your website. As well-designed as the current pages on your website may be, in most situations they make for very poor landing pages for a PPC campaign. 

Related: 4 Key Reasons Local Businesses Fail When Using Google AdWords

We’ve found the most effective AdWords landing pages are totally focused on the keywords your prospect typed into Google, have no links at the top and make it very clear why and how a potential client can contact you. 

4. Precision lead tracking.

I believe this one concept makes the single biggest difference in effectively managing AdWords campaigns for local businesses. With a campaign for an ecommerce site or other online business, it’s very easy to track leads and know which keywords and ads are producing the results, which is critical to AdWords success.

With a local business, however, where 60 to 70 percent of the leads can come from phone calls, it can be impossible to get that information.

A relatively new technology called Dynamic Call Tracking, however, provides that information. So for the first time you can see, directly in AdWords, which keywords and ads are generating leads and which aren’t.

Related: 10 Ways to Boost Results Using Google AdWords

This is huge. One campaign for a local business where a specific keyword (which you would think is one of the more relevant, obvious keywords to bid on) racked up over $2,900 in ad spend. However, because Dynamic Call Tracking was in place it became clear that the keyword did not produce a single lead despite all the money spent on it.

Using this data, the keyword was paused and the local business owner stopped throwing money away on it and instead focused his budget on the keywords that were actually producing leads.

5. Strategic expansion makes your phone ring.

Now that your AdWords account is set up properly, you may ask, How do I get more leads?” The first place to turn is Bing ads. It’s Microsoft’s version of AdWords and it’s very easy to take your AdWords account and copy it over to Bing Ads. Bing Ads will serve your ads on both the Bing and Yahoo! search engines. While they don’t have nearly as much traffic as AdWords, clicks tend to be cheaper so you can often get leads for less than you do on AdWords.

After that, turning to Google Remarketing and Facebook Retargeting is a great way to generate additional leads, often at a very low cost per lead.

Remarketing campaigns generally have cost per leads that are considerably lower than other forms of advertising and can provide a nice boost in calls to your office. It also increases your firm’s brand awareness – keeping your name top of mind of your potential clients.

If you’d like more on how to put these steps into action, join AdWords expert Adam Kreitman and I on June 16, for a free webinar. "How to Know if You're Getting Screwed by Your Online Marketing Agency" is the first in a free, three-part local business advertising training. 

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