The power of Google Adwords

Where do people look when they want a plumber, a holiday, an auditor, a computer techie, a job etc.? It used to be the Yellow Pages (notice how they've shrunk lately?) Now it's the internet, or more specifically, Google.

So you need to be where they are going to look.

First off you must have a website. This is no longer a luxury, it is an absolute necessity.

There are two ways of going about this -

1) Learn how to build it yourself. I took just two one-day lessons on Joomla! and from there built our site (the other popular option is Wordpress). Yes, it took a lot of my time, but I enjoyed it and the beauty of this was that I can now change the website whenever I want to without having to instruct an outsider, then wait for them to do what they think I want done. And the result is a dynamic, up-to-date website that reflects our practice's philosophies and character.

2) Get someone else to design it for you (preferably in Joomla! or Wordpress so that you can learn how to make simple changes yourself). Lyn Gunnel was my first choice when, several years later, I decided that the website needed a make-over and that it would be better to have someone else do it than spend the time myself (I no longer needed the learning curve). I've never met Lyn - she's based in the Cape, but with Skype and email, we've managed fine. She came up trumps. Now I've engaged Refract previously known as Chocolate Shoe Box, who have taken the site to a whole new level.

Right, so now you've got your website. The next job is to get people to visit it. That's when I learned about Adwords. Take a careful look at the results of your next Google search. If the light is very good, you'll notice that the top left hand three or so entires are on a lightly shaded background and there's a note to say "Ads related to xxxxxxxxxx (whatever you searched for)". Below that come the results arising from SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The ones at the top (and the complete right hand column) are there through Google Adwords. This is one of the ways that Google makes its money. You need to be upper left.

Now Google Adwords website is not the easiest to understand or navigate, so you are probably better off letting them help you. I didn't go this route, because I didn't know that it was available, but my daughter in the UK reports that they are extremely helpful.

Essentially the way Adwords works is that you decide how much you are prepared to spend (we started on R2000 per month). Then you set up a campaign with an advert and you attatch keywords to the ad. If someone clicks on your ad, your website opens. You also have to make a "Bid per click". This is how much you are prepared to pay for each click on your ad. The higher the bid, the higher up on the page you will be placed but that is not the only criterion. Google have an algorithm that evaluates your advert against various criteria and the higher your overall score, the higher you will be placed on the page. You can then set Adwords so that it spreads your ad's appearances over the month so that you do not exceed your budgetted monthly spend. That is, if you get lots of clicks, your budget will quickly get exhausted so they'll just put it up for say, 5 minutes in every hour. They'll keep you informed of this.

Now it is simple arithmetic. If your ad is up for say, 5 minutes every hour and you get R5 000 per month business on average via Adwords, then if you spend 12 times that much each month you will get 12 times the amount of business or R60 000 per month. You don't have to make that leap of faith. You can do as we did - gradually increase your budget and watch the outcomes.

When we started it was on a high cost per click (I wanted to be top left) and a low budget. The results were instantaneous! We soon started increasing our budget until now it stands at R25 000 per month and well worth it. (A later note - Refrat have pulled the spend down to less than R5 000 pm with even better results - see my later post called "Take another look at your website". You'll find it under the Blog category Marketing.

Now a word of caution. If each click may only make one sale, then the value per click to you is much lower than if the click can bring you an on-going customer/client, as is the case with our practice. So we might get a click that results in an R8 000 sale, but that same sale usually leads to the buyer becoming a client (see our earlier blog about selling bunches of bananas), so our value per click is much higher than a once only sale. There's a lesson here for all of you. Don't think customer, think client! Anybody that buys from you will either buy again or refer you to a friend, provided you give excellent service. And if you're not in the business of excellent service, go find a job with someone who is.

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