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How AdWords Express Sabotages Small Business Owners Before They Even Get Started

July 15, 2013 by Andrew Lolk AdWords Tools


How AdWords Express Sabotages Small Business Owners Before They Even Get StartedAdWords Express is yet another feature in Google AdWords that tries to make it easier for small businesses to advertise on Google without spending much (if any) time on managing their AdWords account.

The idea of having an automated AdWords account producing passive income every month is enticing to all of us, but as far as I know this is not possible. However focusing promoting AdWords Express as the “go to platform” for generating passive income via AdWords small business owners might be more likely to jump on an opportunity like this.

After seeing a bunch of AdWords Express campaigns pop up during the last couple of years, I’ve decided to gather our experiences with them in this blog post.

Selling AdWords Express

The benefits behind AdWords Express are enticing to small business owners. The official selling points of AdWords Express are:

Let us do the work: Select a business category, write an ad, and set your budget. AdWords Express will automatically manage where and when your ads will appear.

No website required: Send customers to your business free Google+ page, or have them call you with one click on your ad.

Only pay for results: You only pay when potential customers click on your ad for more information. Set a budget that can be adjusted any time.

These three benefits from AdWords Express are perfectly created to make it interesting for small business owners who don’t have time to manage their own AdWords campaign, which have already tried and given up or for those who don’t trust getting help from a third party.

AdWords Express is essentially the same old AdWords platform but with less flexibility. What’s interesting for many old advertisers about AdWords Express is that it’s something new.

In many ways it’s like the Yellow Pages phenomena from years back. Everybody was advertising in the Yellow Pages, but when results started dropping many small businesses jumped on any directory that called them to sell a spot in a new directory. They hadn’t tried this particular directory yet and they hoped this time it would work.

It’s the same with AdWords Express. Advertisers who paused their regular AdWords campaigns due to lack of results are now trying out AdWords Express because it promises them something they’ve always wanted: automatic AdWords optimizations for free.

The Reasons Why your AdWords Express Campaign Is Failing

I’ve encountered four main reasons why most people’s AdWords Express campaigns miserably fail being tied to basic best practices for successful AdWords advertising:

1) Keywords Are Chosen Automatically Based on the Selected Industry

AdWords Express advertises that you don’t have to choose any keywords if you don’t want to. AdWords Express bases its keyword selection off the Google Places categories you’ve chosen.

Herein lies the first distinction. We run both AdWords campaigns and SEO “campaigns” for White Shark Media. The keyword selection for the two campaigns is very different.

I’m excited to be in the top 3 positions for the SEO keyword learn AdWords, but on the other hand I would never pay for clicks on these keywords with AdWords.

The same thing happens with your Google Places account. You will most likely have chosen a couple of categories matching your company, but it’s not a 100% match with the services you offer.

With AdWords Express you can be confident that you will experience a lot of irrelevant clicks. The higher your AdWords Express budget is, the bigger is the waste in your account.

2) All "Keywords" Are Broad Match

Keywords in AdWords have four different match types:
    • Broad Match
    • Broad Match Modified
    • Phrase Match
    • Exact Match

According to best practices in AdWords you should rarely use Broad Match. Only if you have experience with managing Broad Match keywords and have a plan for specifically optimizing Broad Match keywords should you include them as part of your keyword selection.

In AdWords Express all keywords are set to Broad Match. This causes your ads to appear on a huge amount of irrelevant search queries.

To better explain how irrelevant certain searches can be, try to review this list of search queries that we’ve found in our Clients’ accounts. All search queries resulted in a click on an ad and some of the clicks had a cost of up to $20 per click.

Bottom line: Broad Match is the only match type all AdWords experts routinely recommend new advertisers not to use. At the same time, this is the only match type that AdWords Express campaigns utilize.

3) No Option for Negative Keywords

Right after managing Broad Match keywords comes the fact that you can’t exclude any searches. Some of the most common searches are related to jobs. Thousands if not millions of daily searches include the word “job” and many wasted clicks happen every day.

In regular AdWords campaigns you can include negative keywords that will exclude your ads from being shown on searches like plumbing company job or plumber job in Miami.

Without the possibility to exclude searches you’re basically paying for a bag of groceries from Google, that can be filled up with everything they want – no matter if you want it or not.

4) No Tracking Options

Being an AdWords agency that is extremely focused on tracking, the lack of tracking turns into one of the biggest flaws that currently exists within AdWords Express.

While you can normally enable Conversion Tracking or call tracking in your AdWords campaign, AdWords Express campaigns only rely on impressions and clicks to let you judge the performance.

You always have the option to ask your customers where they found you, but a vague response like I found you on Google is rarely enough to really find out how they came across your company.

Who is Smarter: An AdWords Professional, AdWords Express or You?

At the end of the day it all comes down to finding who is smartest. Is it you, an AdWords professional or AdWords Express?

The person who can get the most out of the available budget is the person who should manage your account.

Low budgets (below $500/month) might be better off with AdWords Express. An AdWords professional will undoubtedly cost you at least $300 per month for the management of your AdWords account, which will only leave $200 for your AdWords account. This is too little and even though you should expect a big waste in your AdWords account, you might be better off choosing AdWords Express at these levels.

But the bigger your budget is the bigger will your combined risk also be. If you have any plans on expanding your AdWords campaigns in the future or if you are planning to have a $1000-budget to spend on AdWords per month you will be a lot better off either investing in your own AdWords education or outsourcing your AdWords management.

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