Do you wash your own clothes by hand? Of course not, why would you? We have machines that do that for a reason – to make our lives easier. So why are you still manually running an AdWords campaign?
Sure, people still manage keyword bids on their own and yes, there are experts
in the field, but if a machine can do something better, faster and cheaper than a human then it begs the question: Why would a human do it? Yet in the world of small business advertising, working by hand is still the norm.
A Promising Start
Thomas Hansen, the owner of a local furniture store in his hometown of Denver, Colorado was enjoying success with his early AdWords campaigns. He found the pricing to be affordable to him, and the fact that he was able to track his return on the investment made it easy for him to decide which keywords he would delegate the most money to and which keywords weren’t working. When bigger businesses started getting involved with AdWord advertising, bidding became a more time consuming process than what Thomas could handle. Before he knew it, he was spending more time on AdWords than ever before, but his ROI was dropping every week. There was nothing wrong with the copy of his ads, Thomas told himself.
“They worked before, why aren’t they working now?” he’d ask, as he stared at his computer monitor, his eyes beginning to redden. He eventually stopped using AdWords altogether, claiming there was no way it was profitable for him when all the major brands were taking over his keywords. Thomas lamented the fact that he couldn’t spend more time getting his campaigns back in prime shape but he had a business to run, after all.
How We Got Here
Nine short years ago Google gave us pay-per-click advertising with AdWords. This marked the first time businesses were able to take control of their ad budgets and extract a known return on their advertising investments. Business owners could target specific demographics based on keywords, ensuring the ads were only being shown to the right audience at the right price.
But almost as quickly as they gained advertising power, the small business community found themselves losing it. Here are four reasons why:
-Large brand advertisers flooded the market with big-budgets, buying-in high-end agencies with their expertise and automation software.
-Small business were ill-equipped to compete without the time, expertise and resources required to succeed in the new playing field.
– The fierce competition in keyword bidding resulted in the average CPCs quadrupling over the last four years.
-The complexity of the interface and the bidding process favored PPC professionals over small business owners who didn’t have the time, energy, or interest to put into AdWords every day.
Average CPC Costs From 2005-2010
Automatic for the People
Big-budget advertisers consistently get high quality scores, allowing them to pay less per click, while appearing more prominently on search engine result pages. Small-budget advertisers, on the other hand, often overpay and get sent to the back of the line. Yet it’s those same small businesses who make up the majority of Google’s advertisers and revenues.
Small business owners know their products and their customers. They can find their keywords and know how to write appealing ad copy. What they don’t have is the time to spend managing keyword bids for hundreds or thousands of keywords. Who does? That’s why large advertisers and agencies have long been making use of automation software. Companies like Marin Software, Clickable and Kenshoo have had great success servicing the high-end of the market.
But What’s Out There for Small Businesses?
Historically, SMBs haven’t had many options but there have been some recent developments in this space. Affordable web applications like SiteWit and WordWatch have come in to fill the gap and service a pent-up demand. Now small advertisers can actively compete with the big guys again.
Some things are just better when done by machines. Bidding automation delivers productivity and performance gains alongside labor, time and cost savings. Anyone who hasn’t introduced some degree of automation into their PPC management may as well be doing their laundry by hand.