Here’s what I learned this summer (4)

This is the final observation I’d like to make from seeing so many UK industrial companies’ online marketing operations this summer: my surprise at how much companies are spending on pay-per-click advertising – and my concern at how much they may be wasting.
By pay-per-click advertising, effectively I mean Google AdWords, which dominates the market. If you’d asked me to have made an educated guess at how much this was being used in UK industrial marketing, I’d have probably said maybe a quarter of companies might have tried it, but maybe only one or two percent would be spending serious money on it regularly. I would have been underestimating the situation significantly.
From the small sample of companies I’ve been speaking to, I’d say that most companies have at least tried it, perhaps a quarter are spending on it regularly, and for as many as 10%, it’s quickly become single biggest advertising expenditure. I have met more than one company where the scenario is that once upon a time the advertising budget was several thousand pounds a month, but in recent years that has fallen to no more than several hundred …until they got into Google AdWords. Now their advertising expenditure has risen back up to two or three thousand pounds a month again, nearly all of it going on AdWords. If you have a competitor who you know is spending money on marketing and whose profile seems to be rising amongst customers, but which has been conspicuously absent from the trade press, exhibitions etc., this may be what they’re doing.
Now, I’m not going to criticise substantial investment in Google AdWords, although I know how easy it is to get carried away with this advertising outlet. Indeed, it’s an almost unbeatable way of getting people to your website, so it fits in well with my suggested marketing priority list for 2009, which is:
1. Make sure your website is as good as it can be;
2. Drive traffic towards it;
3. (A distant third) Everything else.
However, it can be very easy to overspend on Google AdWords without realising it. Remember the old adage “I know that only half of my advertising works, but the trouble is, I don’t know which half?” The problem with Google AdWords is that the effectiveness of your investment per pound spent peaks at a certain point, and the more you spend, the more likely it is you’ve passed that peak in the curve.
The key to efficient Google AdWords spending is not drive just anyone to your website. You need to be driving the right people to actionable pages where you can measure if they’re valuable to you, and calculate a value for that visitor. Learning how to do this will save you thousands of pounds in the long term, which is why we look at this inside the first few months of our Insider Programme.
So the fourth thing I learned this summer is that far more UK industrial companies are investing heavily in Google AdWords than I expected. I’m really encouraged by the initiative they’re showing, and it seems their increasing expenditure shows they’re pleased with the results. But I’d caution them to make their campaigns more specific and measurable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.