Ben Childs
By Ben Childs | Uncategorized | November 3, 2013

Activity Vs. Achievement in AdWords


It seems like everybody is busy these days. I know this because everybody always tells me so. And I’m not above it. When asked how my week is going, my default answer is usually “busy, but I guess that’s a good thing.” Why guess? What have I actually achieved?

When it comes to AdWords, too often we fall into the trap identifying “staying busy” with a sense of accomplishment.* There are obviously to-do lists to be completed and buttons to be clicked, but spending hours in an account isn’t the same as getting results. ** Not only that, but oftentimes too many changes can be self-defeating if: a.) you make them too fast at the expense of statistical significance and b.) you make too many at the expense of knowing the effect of any given change.

* From a small business owner: “I don’t need any help, I spend 10 hours a week in there.”

** “If I don’t see X hours/ week in account changes, I’m going to assume that I’m getting the raw end of the deal here.” (X has been anywhere from actually reasonable to quite ridiculous).

I’ve had more than a couple clients who got <200 clicks/month yet insisted on weekly meetings to review my performance.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the opposite is true. Those that work less certainly don’t, as a default, have a better handle than those that work more. However, many advertisers can’t tell the difference between more work and better work.

I see the following situation all the time in comparing work done in AdWords accounts. Consider the first 10 account changes from someone who has spent 15 minutes intelligently drawing conclusions from the data versus the first 100 (1,000? 10,000?) account changes from someone who has their head buried in the minutiae. They are going to look completely different. Of course, they’re also going to have drastically different results. If the first data-driven change is to stop advertising on a day when nobody converts, and this saves 14% of the budget, how many individual keyword bid changes would it have take to get there? As a philosophy, making decisions in order of greatest effectiveness (as opposed to random prioritization) leads to better results.

It boils down to either making more choices or making better choices. Which one do you want in your account? This may sound elementary, but I’ve had clients tell me they want the one who is making as many changes as possible over as many hours as possible.

This is obviously just a fun thought experiment, but it’s actually part of the thought process that we run through when working on accounts: Every couple months, remove yourself from the mundane account clicking and take a bird’s-eye view of the account. Not the monthly let’s-see-how-we-did view, I mean, pretend like it’s not even your account. Run some reports (especially ones you don’t usually look at) and then ask yourself what three levers you could pull that would have the greatest effect on the account. Or, more simply, what’s the greatest effect you could have on the account in the next 10 minutes? It may be hitting pause on that Campaign you’ve been slogging through, trying to save. It may be cutting out the bottom 20% of states based on performance. It may be increasing bids on weekends by 50%.

By limiting yourself to the decisions that have the greatest impact, you focus on what really gets results rather than just staying busy. After all, isn’t getting results the whole point of advertising? Less busy-work for you means more effective advertising and more time spent running your business.

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In the time it takes to read this sentence, you could be on your way to a well-oiled demand generation machine. Ready for your blueprint?

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