The Adwords Campaign Structures we use to Increase Our ROI (Google Ads Guide)
Before we dive in, let me tell you a quick story. I’ve had a love hate relationship with Adwords for many years now; they like to go crazy once a year upping their policies and approval system so much you can’t really get anything going – so then we just go to Facebook, and when Facebook goes crazy, we tend to return to Google Ads.
Anyhow, I get a lot of emails asking me to show how we setup Adwords campaigns and structure them for success.
It’s easier than you think; but as pictures do mean a thousand words I decided to take some screenshots and show you how we do it.
Login to the adwords account
Click Create New Campaign
Set the objective whatever it may be. Search or Display.
Then under settings, make sure you click on the ADDITIONAL SETTINGS dropdown to extend it down… then look for DEVICES.
Now select COMPUTERS for campaign 1.
The reason why I prefer to do things this way is because websites look/behave/feel different on all those platforms.
Desktops allow websites to look their best at their ‘full’ resolution potential, clicking around and providing more information for the visitor. Mobile the screen size is much smaller, so people are less likely to be into filling out long forms and things like that, but you never know. That is why I like to break it up. Tablet while bigger in size, it’s still harder to enter lots of info as you have to do it on the touchscreen vs a keyboard so it may behave different. Again this is why we make 3 separate campaigns.
Does it make sense now why we break it into different campaigns?
5. Rinse and repeat above steps, and create 3 separate campaigns so you have one for each device type.
NOTE: You can also do this quicker by making 1 campaign, then copy pasting it, and then changing the bid adjustments to -100% for mobile, -100% for tablet, or desktop and just leaving one of them. But this is more advanced stuff, so if you are new to Google Ads, or you got a VA you don’t wanna confuse follow the above method.
We also like to exclude GAMES on every single campaign we do because we’ve found that this category ALWAYS converts way worse than other categories. This could be attributed to kids playing the games, accidental clicks in the games, or due to less intent vs people actually looking at topic related sites. Feel free to play around with in market audiences, and topics as well. But I find it’s not necessary as if you use the Conversion Pixel, after about 3-4 days of collecting data it starts to optimize things pretty well. The only thing we do is exclude placements that give us a shitty ROI or burn our budget.
Meet MANU! He’s an awesome, awesome guy that founded one of the most amazing pieces of news literature in our industry to date; WTAFF! WTAFF is a daily newsletter for affiliate marketers by affiliate marketers. If you haven’t signed up yet do so right here http://bit.ly/wtaff-subscribe
Let’s jump right into learning more about this awesome guy!
Could you introduce yourself for all the readers?
Sure. My name is Manu, I’ve been an affiliate for just over 3 years.
I’m Romanian, I live in Vienna, Austria, I’m a two-time Uni dropout and don’t regret that at all. Otherwise, a pretty typical introvert who spends a lot of time in front of the computer – just like many others in the industry.
Something less typical, but not unheard of is that I used to play quite a bit of poker in my early 20s, and it was my sole source of income for a few years – and wrote a book on it.
I’m also a moderator on STM Forum and spoke at a couple of Affiliate World Conferences.
Tell me a little about your beginning in the industry, how did you get started, why, etc.
I moved to Vienna like 5.5 years ago, to start a software dev company, with one of the co-authors of that poker book I mentioned.
We had your pretty typical ups and downs, pivoted several time through the years and at one point, our CTO, the 3rd partner in the company said he is burnt out and can’t do this anymore.
That’s when we looked into what other things we could do, where would our skill set fit best, so I gave affiliate marketing a try, after talking to a few poker friends.
Signed up to STM, got approved on a few networks and traffic sources, and had the first campaign up and running in like 2-3 days since deciding to give this a try.
It worked out well, started making money after like 1 month of grinding campaigns for 14 hours a day.
Fun times to think about, was having dreams (or sometimes nightmares) about campaigns back then, always woke up afraid everything collapsed overnight.
People seem to always ask how long it took you to get profitable and expect an answer in days or months, but it would be more accurate to think in hours. Pretty sure I spent over 400 hours in that first month, reading threads, talking to people, coming up with angles, doing banners, landers, etc.
So if someone spends 1-2 hours a day on affiliate marketing, I am pretty sure they won’t start making any decent money in one month.
How have things changed since then?
Well, I’m no longer afraid things will just collapse overnight, so I get really good sleep these days.
I think affiliate marketing is harder to start nowadays, I caught a good upswing in the mobile space when I got into it. I ran white hat mobile display, if you can imagine that!
But after 3 years, you almost don’t recognize the industry anymore. Many popular affiliate networks from back then aren’t so big anymore (new ones replaced them of course), the best traffic sources are no longer pops and display.
What verticals and traffic sources would you recommend for someone rather new nowadays?
It’s hard to name one only. I think anything between Facebook, Google, native ads, pops, adult can work but you can’t really just buy traffic with an aggressive angle, send to a few offers and make money from it.
Regardless of the traffic source, you really have to try and improve the lifetime value of visitors to more than just one conversion. You should try to gather emails, Messenger subscriptions, push, etc.
Generally try to pay once and sell multiple times, instead of buying the same impression over and over again.
What campaigns are you running?
Funny enough, not doing any typical affiliate campaigns these days.
Why did you stop? Is affiliate marketing doing so bad?
It’s not so much about affiliate campaigns being profitable or not. My goal was to use income from affiliate marketing campaigns to create a real business, as vague as that sounds.
It could have been a performance marketing agency, creative agency, maybe owning an affiliate offer, whatever. Like I said – vague.
Early this year, I sat down with the team and discussed what makes most sense for us this year. We can still pursue affiliate campaigns, learn the latest tricks and run them to death, only to get back to the drawing board a few months after.
Or, we could try to build our own product. Which turned out to be WHAT THE AFF.
What is that?
It’s a daily newsletter for people in the affiliate marketing industry. It’s a quick-5-min read, that shows up in your email inbox every weekday at 11GMT, packed with latest news, trends, tech and actionable advice.
We try to present all this in an entertaining way, using pop-culture reference and insider affiliate jokes too.
How did you come up with it?
So around mid-February this year, we made a list of what sort of products we could build, all based on our existing skills. We liked what we put on the list and decided it’s what we want to try out.
We mostly failed, we even had a crypto related product (no, not binary, lol), but all platforms banned the topic early in the year, so we stopped that. Like I said, we wanted a sustainable, own product, not the latest hack.
Then I ran into MorningBrew.com, which is a daily newsletter for people interested in finance, investment and the likes.
It was absolutely the best email I had ever seen. The structure, the length, the tone, and of course the topic, were just a perfect fit for me and I liked reading it everyday.
That’s when I thought to myself: “There’s so much noise in our industry, I would probably read something like this for affiliate marketing. Let me see what I can find”.
I couldn’t find anything even remotely close, so we decided to try something out internally, just as a Google Doc to see if we would have content on a daily basis and if we would actually like it.
That was a yes, so then I reached out to a handful of friends in the industry to sign them up to a closed beta of the newsletter. They liked the concept, helped me tweak the format, and then we launched it publicly at the end of April, basically on the 3 year anniversary of being an affiliate.
How is that going so far? You are not doing anything else aside from it?
It’s been getting overwhelmingly positive feedback. One of our readers actually printed a T-shirt with our logo and wore it at Affiliate World Europe in Barcelona. It was an amazing surprise!
Given how positive our readers are about it, we decided that this is definitely the “own product” we wanted, so it’s now the only project. Not testing other stuff out, not running affiliate campaigns.
We still haven’t figured out monetization for it. What I think makes the most sense is to offer companies a paid section for each email, and we tested that in the past couple of months.
Looks like a promising avenue, because we write the content for the companies, so while we clearly tag what is sponsored to not mislead our readers, we also keep the same tone for it.
That’s a big work-in-progress though, because companies are not used to our model at all.
What are the future plans for it?
The grand vision for this would be to become the go-to publication for all things performance marketing. But that’s a loooooong way to go.
In the near future, let’s say for the rest of the year, we want to grow our readership and figure out monetization (so if any companies are reading this and want to reach a few thousand affiliates, you know where to find me 😉 )
We have a few things in development there, and we just recently launched this giveaway for readers that includes a pass to Affiliate World Asia 2018 and dinner with myself and 5 best in the biz guests a couple of days before the conference, in Bangkok. If anyone wants to enter, they can go here: http://bit.ly/wtaff-ultimate-bundle
Taking a step back, what do you is the most important thing when doing affiliate marketing?
It’s probably not so different than other industries – you have to know the right people.
And it’s not just about superficial networking, but actually learning what others are about and trying to help them reach their goals.
I could not have launched WHAT THE AFF without all the guys who listened to my idea, gave me very constructive criticism, and then also shared it with their friends and their email lists.
I assumed I know just enough people that are willing to help with this to try it out. I don’t think someone completely new to the industry can try such a project.
So, to answer your question – your network is really important. Not your friends on Facebook, but people who say yes to a call with you to help you out, that spend time with you at conferences not just for the drinks.
Maybe as a newbie, it’s more important to have a trusted source of information but once you figured that out, it’s meeting the right people and actually connecting with them (not just on FB or LinkedIn).
Where can people find you, if they want to reach out?
I’m pretty easy to find – I guess the easiest one would be Facebook. Either on my personal account, or on WHAT THE AFF’s FB page.
As you might have heard (and in case you haven’t yet) I wrote an EPIC step by step guide on how to run the exclusive crypto offers from Grabads on Native traffic sources – you can read it here. Sadly the FB gods didn’t allow me to simply promote this guide to all of ya’ll aff marketers out there…
So, I had to come up with a work around because the pricks at Facebook wouldn’t allow me to promote/boost post the case study guide I created simply from the page saying it violates policy about cryptography lalala… even tho it’s an educational piece on how to run a native campaign.
I first tried various ways like leaving out the trigger words in the ads, and using semi-related imagery – but since I had to link it everytime to my actual guide, it kept getting disapproved because Facebook reviews whats on your landing page whilst doing approvals.
So, I signed up for lead pages and created whats called an opt in page, (you can see the actual page here) – then when people opted in, they receive the link to the guide on the thank you page which also allows me to gain more followers on social media, because I ask them to follow me if they don’t yet, and It also enables me to plug my design company Banners&Landers as well.
The GOOD NEWS is this method works, at the time of this writing already spent $312.11 – What the BAD NEWS is though, that the cost to acquire 1 opt in to the list to grab the guide is super high.
As you can see, I have a Website Conversions campaign, and one is being optimized for the VIEW OPT IN PAGE pixel event, the other is optimized for the THANK YOU PAGE LEAD/VIEW event (this fires when someone actually types their email and presses the button and they get taken to TY page).
My lowest price right now is $3.34 per person that signs up to the list, which is astronomical. My goal would be maximum $1 per person.
From my experience I know the following methods to lower CPA.
Try new ads – video ad & controversial ad that engages the users. – That means I gotta test 2 new ads.
Run a PPE campaign to my best performing ad in current adset – I was running a dynamic ad, so I gotta swift through and pick my best performing ad that got me the most conversions and run PPE just to that one!
Generate a lookalike audience from my viewed the opt in page and then run an adset using the best converting creative I am running PPE too.
Try new audience
So this is what we’re going to be setting up today and then run for a day or two and see what happens.
I picked the best ad using the Dynamic -> Combinations option from the dropdown menu FB offers. Now, I am a bit skeptical if this is really the best ad to focus on, because the ammount of reach it has is only around ~500 yet the other images/headlines have 2000-3000. But, I am going to take FB’s suggestion and run with it to see what happens.. SIDENOTE: Dynamic creative is good, but one of the cons about it, is it won’t evenly rotate the ads which you can manually setup if you do 1 adset for each ad. Which takes a ton of time but the data can be more consistent.
Sadly when I went to Business Manager > Page Posts and looked for the above ad there, I couldn’t find it. And when I clicked view post with comments using the Preview button that ad didn’t show. So I went with another ad, and grabbed the PostID from the actual address bar of Chrome Browser and created the PPE to run to this ad ID.
Now I am very curious if our CPA will decrease thanks to the PPE ad overall if we look at lifetime for our Opt In objective WC campaign using dynamic ads. My thoughts are dynamic ads suck and it’s better to do everything separate, but since time is of the essence and I needed to get this up fast – I didn’t break down the ads into separate adset combinations, etc.
36 hours later update: Ended up setting up #2 and #4 from above. The results are far from spectacular but the new audiences did better, PPE didn’t help it seems the original adset because if we look at lifetime, the value actually went up by 10 cents for each conversion and if we look at yesterday’s stats only then it jumped by almost a 70 cents.
So it seems the best way is to test new audiences, running PPE doesn’t help lower the overall CPA quickly (36 hours time).
I am going to end this case study here, because as always I confirmed yet again that doing dynamic ads when cost really really matters isn’t the way to go as you cannot control things as good as if you split things up into one ad per adset and separate adsets.
In my experience, dynamic ads are only good if you are working with bigger cpa goals and a few bucks here and there don’t matter; but when every dollar counts it’s way better to run separate adsets with the same ad in the adset (you can duplicate the same ad multiple times since fb’s algo is random it will give better CTR that way) .