10 Hard Truths – Why Google AdWords Doesn’t Work For Everyone

10 Hard Truths – Why Google AdWords Doesn’t Work For Everyone
Office table with digital tablet showing search engine marketing concept

As an Agency Director, I’ve worked with a vast cross section of companies when it comes to Google AdWords. We’ve had great success too: We’re growing as a business and only this week our Google Agency Support Team gave us the news that we outperform many of our peers when it comes to client acquisition and retention. We’re proud of that, and I know our team care very much about helping our customers succeed – maybe that’s why they give us such great reviews? The point I’m making us, no matter how good we are or how good Google AdWords is, sometimes, we just can’t help.

When I say ‘AdWords doesn’t work’ please don’t confuse this statement with “AdWords doesn’t work”. AdWords works great, I know, we’ve built a business on it, and we’ve helped 100’s of companies succeed because of it but every now and again, we find AdWords just can’t help.

Why? There are several reasons, but the most common are:


1. AdWords cannot compensate for a bad product, service or reputation:


colleagues talking negatively about a third person, bad reputati

It doesn’t matter how hard we try, if the product and service are flawed, customers aren’t going to buy it.

This is by far the main reason as an agency; we find some firms just don’t get on with AdWords. If the business does not have a defining USP or the product is simply not up to par, then it’s doomed. Of course, you can’t be sure this is the case until you try. We won’t take a business on as client that we strongly feel won’t benefit from AdWords but, we’ve been surprised in the past so until you try, there’s no way to know for sure.


2. Your expectations are unrealistic.


Happy businessman leaning on car with airhostess and pilot greeting business people against private jet

As an agency, we expectation manage HARD. Every single proposal we send out has detailed expectations; we state AdWords is not a hard and fast guarantee of success, but that doesn’t always stop the occasional unrealistic expectation. I’ve had clients, a month into a campaign claim it isn’t working when we’ve made it crystal clear they shouldn’t expect results within this time period. This always leads to clients growing impatient and not letting their agency have room to manoeuvre.

You also have to consider your budget. You should have a sensible budget which is relative to the products or services you sell.

For example, A £500 a month budget is not a relative budget to a firm selling credit cards.

While it’s likely you will generate some enquiries; you can’t expect to become the market leader when your competitors are spending similar amounts within minutes. An extreme example but the point is, be realistic.


3.You micromanage your agency



In most cases (certainly not all) your agency knows what they are doing. If like us they’ve won awards, handle millions of £’s of ad spend, are qualified by Google and have a proven track record, it’s likely your agency are more than capable of helping you succeed. When the client starts micromanaging campaigns, it’s a slippery slope. As your agency, we’re always going to advise you the best way to go, but ultimately, if you insist we’ll do as you ask – that’s your right as a paying customer.

Luckily, I can only think of a few occasions this has happened, but when it does, it ALWAYS ends in tears.

We have the benefit of experience when it comes to AdWords Management – you do not. If you did, you’d be managing your own account. We know when we should wait for data, we know when we should perform bid adjustments or ad tests, so please, let us do what we know is right and make you money as a result. Of course, client communication is essential, and this leads me onto my next point.


4.You don’t communicate with your agency


Young brothers talking with tin can telephone on grunge backgrou


We know AdWords, we don’t know your business. We want to hear from you regularly. We need to find out what’s happening within your business and understand your objectives. If you are planning a sale or a new product line, let us know, we can give you data and help you understand the demand; we can research and build new campaigns to help drive you forward.

If you don’t give us information, we can’t act on it.

One example of this was a client of ours a few months ago. Unbeknown to us, the client had a new website designed and published overnight. No 301 redirects were performed, and many of the landing pages for their ad groups were removed. This resulted in 404 errors from ads for a start: The client was paying for traffic from ads that led potential buyers to ‘page not found’ errors. Secondly, AdWords Quality Score suffered because the web developer (I use that term loosely) removed most of the content. This resulted in poor performance over a period until the issues were resolved. This led to THOUSANDS of £’s in lost sales which could have been avoided if we were aware.


5.You cannot be objective.


focusing on facts vs following your gut: man writing on blackboard while elaborating imaginative thoughts (right side of his brain) and logical reasonings (his left side)

Objectivity is crucial. Our job is to make you money and sometimes, we have to give some painful truths.

If your website is poor, if it’s not mobile friendly or generally just inferior to your competitors we’re going to tell you.

Now sometimes, website owners can become emotionally involved with their website. It’s bizarre. I appreciate a family member may have slaved away for months but being precious about it isn’t going to make you money, listing to your agency and making it work for your customers will make you money. Likewise, we gather LOTS of data during an AdWords campaign. Sometimes it becomes painfully evident a particular product isn’t paying for itself for example. We’ll move your budget to areas which do perform to make you money. I’ve had clients tell me they love (or are proud) a particular product so it doesn’t matter if it has a CPA of £20 and sells for £15.

It’s not logical, don’t be emotional, be objective.


6. Your website designer / developer has run out of talent.


Knowledge Is Power Concept


Part of our job as AdWords managers is to look at all factors which lead to sales. This includes your website and also the ability to track everything – including sales and phone calls. If we know what contributes to a sale (or conversion), then we can influence more of them.

We cannot improve what we cannot measure.

I’ve seen clients run their campaigns into the ground because their web developer does not have the required skills to implement call tracking, add a landing page or improve page speeds. Attention Web Developers: You are not a web developer if you cannot web develop.

While I appreciate many clients have had a long relationship with their web designers, the truth is, if they are not capable of evolving to ensure you grow as a business, then get rid, find a real expert: It’ll make you money.


7. You don’t listen to your agency


I find this very frustrating as an AdWords manager. We are on the front line, we look at your data regularly, we’re up to speed on the latest features of AdWords but sometimes, no matter how hard we try, a client just doesn’t listen to us. This will always end in tears at some point.

As an example: We took a new client a while ago. The client had an average account quality score of 3. We spent time writing new landing page copy, crafting new adverts, restructuring the account and a host of other tasks to increase the account quality score which in turn, would increase performance.

The client insisted that we retain the old ad and landing page content because he received good feedback from friends and family. (See my point about objectivity above!). 4 months later, the client stopped advertising claiming “Google AdWords doesn’t work”. *Facepalm*


8. You’re a ‘tinkerer’.


Close-up Of Businessman Hand Stopping Dominoes Falling On Wooden Desk

Do NOT ‘tinker’ with your campaigns if an agency is running it. By all means, request changes via your agency but don’t start changing things within the account – you’ll potentially screw it up completely.

If your agency is running experiments with new keyword combinations for example and you go ahead and pause an ad and create a new one, we’re not going to get that data. You’re basing your changes on ‘gut instinct’ unbeknown to your agency who are performing changes based on fact; then you’re going to run into problems.

There’s nothing more soul-destroying than logging into a client account to find performance has dropped off a cliff because a client has deleted a load of keywords, remove ads, built new campaigns. If you see something that concerns you, just ask your agency. Honestly, we don’t mind explaining why we do what we do. Don’t go and change ads (it wipes the data!!!!!)


9. You get through more AdWords Managers than hot dinners.


Impatient business woman at white desk making a phone call.

This is going to sound harsh but…

If you get through 3 AdWords agencies in a year, then the problem is probably you.

I get that many “agencies” offer amazing deals on cheap AdWords management or guarantees of “Unlimited Clicks for £200!” (Yes, I know you are!) but this doesn’t mean you’ll get results. I’ve spoken to several firms who move agency every few months: Perhaps some promise the earth and deliver nothing (they certainly exist) but after a while, you need to consider the following:

  • Are you basing your decisions on who is cheapest or who is best?
  • Are you giving the agency enough time to deliver?

When deciding which agency to use, do your research and make informed decisions based on ability to meet your objectives rather than price alone. Then, give them long enough to deliver: If they are like us, they’ll give you realistic expectations.


10. AdWords really isn’t for you


Office Desk with Tools and Notes About Digital Marketing

I love Google AdWords; I love the feeling of seeing graphs showing conversions soaring upwards, but sometimes it just isn’t to be.

If at first, you don’t succeed, don’t be silly about it.

Provided you’ve had a good agency, given it a good shot with a proper investment don’t keep flogging a dead horse. Sometimes, AdWords just isn’t right for you. It’s rare, but it happens. Don’t be too disheartened; there are other opportunities such as SEO, Social or even more traditional methods.Take it from me, as much as I love AdWords, anyone who tells you it works 100% of the time, are telling you porkies.