There’s a fairly widespread view that AdWords campaigns are SEM functions or PR functions. They are that, too, but what some marketers miss is that they are conversion activities.

Getting people to click through from the ad to the page is a conversion. Getting the visitor from the landing page to the desired next step is a conversion activity. Completing the transaction with a user is a conversion activity.

Some SEMs and PR specialists think about those steps down the line, but not all of them do. If your company is running AdWords campaigns, here’s the table stakes knowledge you need to have for a shot at success:

Complete Visibility

A lot of companies run multiple AdWords accounts, with separate people running the instances. That’s generally fine, unless one hand cannot see what the other one is doing – which happens more than you might expect.

If your company has multiple AdWords instances, you need complete visibility. That generally requires you to be organized a certain way:

  • One Google Analytics account despite multiple AdWords instances. You need to link all your AdWords accounts to the same Google Analytics account. The advantage is that you’ll be able to see if multiple accounts are advertising for the same phrases using different verbiage – this way, you’ll know if you’re cannibalizing your own campaigns. Additionally, you’ll be able to see more of what’s working, so you can tweak your strategy. If you don’t know how to link AdWords to Google Analytics, you can get started here.
  • Multiple AdWords accounts under tools like Manager Account. You can also hopefully see bids and efficiency for multiple AdWords accounts from one central place. If you’re not doing this right now, there are tools like Manager Account (formerly My Client Center or MCC) that can do this for you.

Messaging Continuity

No matter how engaging your headline is on the landing page for your AdWords campaign, it isn’t going to matter if you fail at this:

The headline of the page needs to tie very closely to the title of the ad.

It seems like a really simple idea, but a lot of companies miss this. Some organizations don’t bother creating landing pages at all, deep-linking AdWords ads into a sort of related section on the web site. Others create a landing page for multiple AdWords campaigns, so the headline can’t match the specific ad as there are a ton of them.

Don’t fall into that trap. Make sure your landing page matches your AdWords messaging. That’s true for the content on the body of the page as well, but it’s extremely critical for the headline.

Your bounce rate for paid traffic will give your headaches if you don’t focus on messaging continuity between the ad and the page.

‘Need help designing your landing pages?

Click here to read Building Landing Pages that Convert Better.

Specialized Messaging

On that same note, make sure your campaign landing page isn’t trying to serve too many masters. It should be very tightly focused on a few items:

  • The page matches the ad closely
  • The next set of actions that you want the users to take are clear
  • There are very few distractions

If you’re trying to save money by creating fewer landing pages, (or worse, no landing pages at all, just deep linking ads into pre-existing sections of the site) check the efficiency of the pages you’re sending them to. You might be disappointed that you’re not actually saving anything, just consuming your AdWords budget with very little to show for it.

Limited Conversion Activities

Finally, even on specialized landing pages that match the ad very closely, you can’t let your user choose from eight different actions.

One very clear call to action is ideal; if that’s not manageable, you can have a primary action, and a secondary action. When you do have two possible actions, make sure they are both from similar stages in the buying cycle.

You can’t expect to promote your early stage PDF, your middle of the funnel trial software, and the late stage price points and cart in one landing page. All that will do is make the case very poorly on all fronts.

Putting It All Together

There are a ton of organizations that manage AdWords campaigns very poorly. Depending on your space, that might be an opportunity.

If you …

  • link all AdWords campaigns to a single tracking tool,
  • have a management tool for all of the AdWords instances,
  • link the copy ad to the content of the page very closely, and
  • have a few targeted calls to action

… you’re much, much more likely to get the most out of AdWords.