Not all AdWords campaigns are created equal.

Unfortunately, many of them fail.

That might be a hard pill to swallow. But drink some water and chug it down because the faster that you realize it, the better your advertisements will be.

But what makes the difference between a failed campaign and a successful one?

Often, it’s the marketer’s ability to iterate on their current AdWords campaigns regardless of how trashy it is. Improving your ad, rather than creating a new one every time, will usually result in a higher click-through rate, lower cost-per-click, and increased revenue generation.

Think about it. If you iterate an old ad instead of creating a new one, you can test the sales copy, targeted keywords, and focused audience.

With a new ad, that potential falls by the wayside.

Here’s the problem with creating advertisements from scratch.

The problem with creating advertisements from scratch

There’s no such thing as a perfect advertisement. But a new ad will always be further from perfection than one that’s been refined by fire.

With an advertisement built from scratch, you can’t continue to polish out the imperfections of your AdWords campaign. Consequently, your ROI will falter.

But here’s what’s worse.

Instead of trying to improve on the PPC ad when it fails to bring in clients, you create another brand new ad from square one, killing any momentum that you had before.

In the end, there’s no such thing as a perfect advertisement, but there’s also no such things as a failed AdWords campaign. You can always learn from your mistakes and adapt your keywords, target audience, and sales copy instead of creating a new, untested, ad.  

To completely understand why this iteration is so much more powerful than its infant counterpart, let’s briefly discuss how your customers make decisions.

In a word, micro-moments.

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Google defines these as the moments that your customers or prospects are ready to take action.

Most moments of the day, your customers will mindlessly browse the internet out of habit. But every once in a while, a customer will open their smartphone and know exactly what they want to do, find, know, or buy.

You know these moments. When you go online and already know that you’re looking for a specific piece of information (i.e., “How to replace my car battery”), or you’re ready to buy a specific product (i.e., “Athletic running shoes”).

As Google says that, “They’re the I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-buy, and I-want-to-do moments that are loaded with intent, context, and immediacy.”

These are the most important moments for your AdWord campaigns to shine.

But here’s the thing: they can only shine if you iterate your strategy, targeting the keywords that define these moments for your customers. And you can only iterate your strategy if you consistently improve the same ad.

In other words, winning those decision-making micro-moments is a matter of running relevant ads to the right people, which is far easier with iteration than it is with directionless change.

That relevance also impacts your quality score — which Google uses to help determine your cost-per-click. The higher your quality score, the lower your cost-per-click and visa versa.

And the two factors that contribute most to quality score are relevance and user experience.

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The more that people like your ad, trust your ad, and click your ad, the better your quality score.

But, again, that relevance and user experience are built on correct keywords, appropriate sales copy, and optimized landing page context.

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The success or failure of those factors depends on your ability to learn from your wins and losses and then make educated changes to your AdWords campaigns.

But iteration isn’t just more effective. It’s faster.

Instead of setting a new budget, adding a new image, writing new copy, researching keywords, entering billing information, and selecting a new name and type every time you want to run an AdWords campaign, you can alter a past ad.

This will produce a better ROI for your money and time.

Now that you know the problem with new advertisements, here are all of the ways that improvement will allow you to win and why beginning again won’t.

Keyword research

Wizards don’t just wear pointy hats. They also run AdWords campaigns.

When a basketball team named the Wizards was trying to sell tickets to its upcoming games, their marketers looked to AdWords.

Here’s what they knew.

They knew that they didn’t want to compete with high-end ticket brokers by targeting the most popular keywords. They knew that if they were going to be successful, they’d need a different strategy.

One where they targeted keywords that wouldn’t cost them a fortune to compete but could still generate sales.

What did they do?

They used AdWords ad extension to encourage customer engagement. Which meant that someone searching for the Wizard’s schedule wouldn’t just see a list of games. They’d see a list of games that were specific to their individual interests.

The ad itself was dead simple.

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In just four months, the Wizards won a 277% ROAS.

But they couldn’t have done that if they didn’t run an ad that was relevant to their fan base. And while they started off on the right foot by targeting keywords that they could afford, many AdWords campaigns require iteration after iteration to gain that kind of insight.

Another person, named Jordan, hired an agency to run his AdWords campaigns because he was unsuccessful doing it himself.

Needing to generate leads quickly and unable to spend more than an hour’s worth of money on consultation, Jordan asked to see what the agency could do with his campaign in a single hour. Here’s what the agency said about the experience.

“While it normally takes many hours to build an effective AdWords campaign, in this case 1 hour was sufficient — because we were able to leverage all of our previous SEO work: keyword research and target lists by category as well as messaging and positioning. The campaign was live and getting clicks by the end of our meeting, and by the next morning one of those clicks had turned into a high quality lead.”

That might seem to contradict to the point I’m trying to prove, but it doesn’t.

The agency may have created a profitable AdWords campaign in one hour, but it was only because they leveraged all of their previous experience — keyword strategies that took years and years of iterations to perfect.

Another example of an AdWords campaign that tested keywords relentlessly comes from the mental health department.

Ross, the AdWords expert, started by selecting keywords he thought might be relevant to the target audience. But after running some tests with his list of keywords, these were his results.

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Clearly, the top two results were the ones most attention-worthy.

So he focused his marketing efforts on those two sets of keywords.

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The result was the dream of any AdWords campaign. He swiftly turned $520 into $6,120.

But only because he ran preemptive advertisements with different keywords to determine which keywords would perform the best.

That iteration made for a positive ROI.

But even with such remarkable success, Ross said that there was still something he should have done differently to increase that ROI even further. He should have used negative keywords.

Negative keywords basically tell Google who you don’t want your advertisements to target. That way, you’re not increasing your cost-per-click by showing your ads to too broad of an audience.

This can help increase your quality lead generation, meaning a higher CTR, fewer clicks, and an increased conversion rate.

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All of that keyword magic can only happen if you improve your current ads instead of constantly creating new ones from scratch.

Segmented advertising

One of the best AdWords strategies is targeting different people differently.

In other words, segmenting your advertisements so that low-commitment keyword searches display different ads than high-commitment searches.

But when it comes to segmentation, iteration is the only route to take.

One storage company used ad customizers and group clusters within AdWords to segment over 2 million advertisements. This allowed the company to test the factors of their advertisement at scale.

And all of that segmented testing and advertising resulted in a 113% increase in their CTR.

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This illustrates how helpful segmentation is in your AdWords campaigns. But what happens without segmentation?

A case study from BoxCrush, an online marketing agency, paints a clear picture.

Before BoxCrush came along and started segmenting their client’s AdWords campaign, impressions were high, and CTR was low. Afterwards, just the opposite was true.

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BoxCrush wrote on their blog about how they did it:

“The account was split into meaningful campaigns that targeted specific demographics. Ad Groups were built within each campaign. And targeted ads were written for specific audiences within each group.”

The results were consistently promising.

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But targeted and complex segmentation is only possible if you take the time to understand the versatility and complexity of your customer base.

Every business caters to a variety of different ideal clients. Through testing and iteration, you can determine who all of these ideal clients are and then target each group with appropriate advertisements.

You can also segment your AdWords campaigns by language. Here’s a graph that shows the most common language (other than English) in each state in the U.S.

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When you’re running ads in specific states, you might want to consider the second language that your audience speaks and try running some ads to that group of people as well.

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By iterating your current ads instead of creating new ones, you can segment your advertisements to cater to a larger variety of customers, increase your CTR, and generate higher-quality leads.

Seasonal advertising

Sometimes, the best time isn’t the best time.

It would be easy to create loads of AdWords campaigns that run during the holiday season in anticipation of Black Friday or Christmas. And for some companies, that will work. For others, it will take some adjustment.

Here’s the kicker. The cost-per-click during those times is going to skyrocket. And if you can’t afford that steep price, you’ll need to adapt your strategy.

One marketer had a $15,000 AdWords budget that was dedicated entirely to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day – the busiest times of the year for ecommerce businesses.

But his overall sales weren’t performing well. Here’s what his September looked like.

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The problem was that, during his chosen advertising times, the competition is through the roof, meaning the cost of advertising is as well.

But he knew he still needed to advertise during the biggest shopping days of the year.

Because of that, the company turned its attention to focus on long-tail brand-related and product-related keywords in hopes that the massive amount of online traffic during Black Friday and Cyber Monday would make up for the lower traffic generation his ads would produce.

Here’s one of the ads they ran.

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And here’s one where they added urgency.

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In the end, the company generated over $25,000 in sales over three weeks.

We can at least partly attribute this success to the wisdom of the company in targeting long-tail keywords instead of highly-competitive ones and adjusting their overall AdWords strategy during the busiest shopping days of the year.

Your business probably needs to run advertisements during certain times of the year, but that doesn’t mean you need to do it like everyone else.

Because doing so will increase your cost-per-click.

But to know what to do instead, you need to test your current advertisements and iterate on their strategy. When you’re trying to generate leads during the holiday season, the last thing you want to count on is brand new, untested ads.

Conclusion

Your ROI lives or dies based on the way you run advertisements. At least, that’s partly true.

A positive ROI depends on an AdWords strategy that iterates upon itself rather than using a random shotgun approach and constantly creating new ads that may or may not work.

Because the reality is that untested ads are… well, untested. Which means that they could work, or they could be a total disaster.

AdWords campaigns, on the other hand, that test and optimize keywords, segmentation, and seasons will increase your CTR, lower your cost-per-click, and give you a better chance at generating high-quality leads.

These ads might be old, but it’s for that very reason that they are so effective. They’ve been tested and iterated rather than created, deleted, and recreated.

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