I was helping a client set-up a Google PPC advertising campaign today and noticed that Google now automatically directs small businesses to their “Adwords Express” website instead of the standard Adwords website . Google claim that Adwords Express makes it easier for business to create and manage their campaign so it is now their recommended option for all small and local businesses.
While I agree that it’s easier to create a campaign with Adwords Express than regular Adwords, my advice is to avoid it at all costs. Having now seen how Adwords Express works I am frankly amazed that anyone working in Google’s advertising department manages to sleep at night knowing what a lousy deal this service offers to small business owners.
Why is Adwords Express such a bad service?
When setting up a new Adwords Express account, you simply tell Google what type of business you have, the maximum amount you want to spend per day and provide the wording for your ad.
Once your campaign is up and running the only elements you can change are your daily budget and the wording of your ad. You have no control over which keywords your campaign is targeting, how much you are bidding on any keyword or where your ads will be shown.
With such little control over your own campaign, there are only two possible outcomes:
Outcome 1) Your campaign makes money
While you might feel happy that your campaign is running at a profit, you will have no idea which keywords were actually profitable. If you knew which of your keywords were unprofitable you could stop bidding on those keywords (or reduce your keyword bids) and spend your money just on those keywords which were actually generating a profit.
Let’s imagine that you set a maximum daily budget of £20 per day. Enough people are searching for your keywords that by 2pm every day your budget is reached and your ads stop showing.
If you knew which of your keywords were producing sales you could instead allocate your budget to just the profitable keywords and stop bidding on those that were unprofitable. Without this information all you can do is to keep increasing your total daily budget completely oblivious to that fact that most of your money is being spent on keywords that will never produce a sale.
Outcome 2) Your campaign loses money
What is far more likely is that you will keep running your campaign until your first credit card statement arrives. You will then see that you have paid several hundred (or thousands) of pounds to Google but have not generated enough sales to justify this huge expense. You therefore decide that Adwords didn’t work for your business and close your campaign.
Had you known which keywords were or weren’t producing sales, you may have been able to modify your campaign to make it profitable for your business. Unfortunately, you will never get the chance to find out.
Why does this matter?
One of the biggest benefits of online marketing is that consumers no longer need to be plagued with adverts that aren’t relevant to their needs and business owners no longer have to waste their money talking to people who are unlikely to ever buy their products.
For example, I might want to reach people searching for “digital marketing courses in London”, I certainly wouldn’t be happy to pay £5 per click to reach people searching for “Free digital marketing courses in London”. With Adwords Express I would just have to accept whichever keywords, and at whatever price, Google’s software chose for my campaign.
This is a fantastic way for Google to sell keyword inventory that nobody wants but a really lousy way for anyone to run their business.
What should I do instead?
Instead of logging into Adwords Express, login to Adwords. You will probably find the interface more complicated; there will be various configuration options that are likely to confuse you and you will probably find it harder to set-up and manage your campaign.
The solution however is to get yourself more educated, not to let Google make your decisions for you. If your PPC budget is more than £1,000 per month perhaps consider hiring a reputable PPC consultant to manage the campaign for you.
How can I switch from Adwords Express to Adwords?
Google make it almost impossible to find this out. It took me an hour of online research and several fruitless calls to their call centre in India before I managed to figure this out for myself.
The trick is to delete your entire campaign in Adwords Express and then login to the standard Adwords website with the same login details you used to open the account. You will then be able to re-create your account using the standard Adwords interface.