The idea of local marketing probably isn’t too new to you by now. But this week I want to touch on something that ties this very new online marketing phenomenon with a much older one – one that’s gone out of favour somewhat over the past few years – Google Adwords. But with a new, local, twist.
Introducing Google Express…
Launched in the UK at the very end of last year, in its simplest form, Google Express is an attempt by Google to try to simplify AdWords for smaller advertisers.
A quick recap for you…
AdWords is the service from Google that allows anyone (almost!) with something to advertise the opportunity to place adverts on search engine results pages based on the words people are using in their search.
Historically, as an advertiser you simply had to decide what words were relevant to your product or business and how much you were willing to pay for people who search for each keyword to click on the advert you write and display to them when they search for it.
If you’ve tried AdWords in its traditional form in the past, you’ll know that It allows a user to simply state what they want to pay as a maximum for a click and then Google will figure out the actual cost for a click based on a complicated formula involving quality scores, competition and your budget (although you’ll pay no more than your maximum). You could tell Google the max you wanted to pay for each click on a keyword by keyword basis.
As brilliant as it was in its heyday, it had its faults. And because of those faults e.g. words that got lots of clicks had no conversions, (sales or names added to a list for example) people wanted a service that gave a guaranteed return on investment – if they pay for clicks they get a reward from those clickers!
This led to the evolution of cost per action keyword tools called things like ‘the conversion optimiser’ – which meant that rather than simply setting a maximum bid at the keyword level, you were signing over a bit more control to Google to move bids around and go over or under your designated CPC if it looked like it made sense based on Google’s data.
Sound a bit complicated? It could be, at times.
But this new evolutionary step seems to be trying to simplify things.
What AdWords Express involves is that, as an advertiser, rather than saying you’ll pay X for a click or Y for a conversion, you just tell Google what you have to spend every month and they’ll figure out the rest.
It is paid for search (PPC) without any need for keyword research. Displays of an ad are based simply on locations and categories…
Too good to be true?
If you wanted to set up an online marketing campaign for a local business - be that your own business or one that you are acting as a paid consultant for - the theory is that it is as simple as picking a category, writing a killer headline and a few lines explaining your business, telling Google where to send people (e.g a website or direct to a Google Places page!) and then give Google a maximum monthly budget. (Google will even give you a recommendation for that if you’re unsure!)
Can I set it up easily?
First off, for any business you’re using Express for, you need a Places page set up (for info on how to do that see this post).
Once that’s in place it’s pretty straightforward to create an account.
Once you’ve written an ad and designated how much you want to spend, that’s it.
And that’s what worries me.
You see, unless your business is quite broad and neatly matches up to a category and is heavily location specific (e.g. it’s a café in Manchester that has a broad appeal) – then it all seems very unspecific. Vague. Broad.
That’s the one major concern for me – that Google will spend your budget on displaying ads to only vaguely relevant searchers if a business is in a more niche area or doesn’t fit in nicely with a category.
There is, however, plenty that is exciting about the service too...
It’s so easy you could get it up and running in under ten minutes.
If you were acting as a consultant you could manage hundreds of AdWords Express accounts with relative ease.
Another nice feature of Express is that Ads will automatically be shown on Google Maps via the familiar blue pin so that users can see where a business is situated before proceeding to a website or page (and before you pay for a click).
So you can create really specific ads - product specific and location specific - which means people in a certain area of the UK will be able to find you quicker and more easily.
To give you an example of how a 10 minute set up on AdWords Express may benefit a local business: let’s say you were a cupcake shop in Birmingham, for instance, your ad would automatically appear whenever a user searches for ‘Buy CUPCAKES in Birmingham’ or if they’re already in Birmingham, then if they search for ‘Cupcakes’ that ad will then appear, which means that search becomes easier for both the advertiser and (hopefully) more relevant ads are shown for any searcher.
What’s the point?
For local businesses the fear has always been complexity and that, with AdWords, it's easy to quickly lose a lot of money and swear off PPC and other search marketing tactics altogether.
Google realised this and about a year ago (as the big buzz about local marketing was beginning) and began offering a service they initially called Boost’.
Boost was directly linked to Google Places and essentially offered a business a way to create a simple AdWords-esque ad that would placed by category in the search engine results.
Near the end of last summer , Google took the AdWords notion of this one step further when they launched Express in the US.
Will it work for your business? Any business?
The overall problem with using AdWords Express comes from the testing aspect and deciding whether you're getting a good return on your advertising investment.
The recent changes to AdWords Express make it a much more appealing option to small, local businesses on a shoestring budget. And that’s something worth taking note of.
I’m testing out some of the functionality and effectiveness of this service for a full blueprints in an upcoming issue of the printed IID newsletter so if you or anyone you know tried this new system do let me know how has it worked for you.
My bottom line, for now at least, is that I’m skeptical of how specific you can get with it and therefore how effective it can be to businesses that don’t fit neatly in to a category. But that I am very interested by the speed in which you can set up an account and some of the features of an Express ad. All in all, it’s a service that is worth taking a look at in more detail!
Let me know what you think!
by Sara Baugh
Online Opportunities Expert
Sara has several years experience at the cutting edge of Internet Marketing and is a regular contributor to Internet Income Detective. You can sign up for her free weekly eletter here:
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