Running an ad campaign on Google is a great way to reach new customers, but it can be complicated to execute. A Google Smart campaign, which shows up in search, makes it easier. Here’s how.
The pandemic has shaken up consumers’ buying patterns, presenting new opportunities. Our competitors’ customers are open to new shopping options. New customers are entering the dance world, as parents look for ways to move their kids off screens. It’s time to rebuild our customer base and make it bigger and better than before. It’s time to pick up our ad game.
One of the most powerful tools for reaching new customers is Google Ads. You see them at the top of the page every time you search on Google. And so does everyone else.
The power of Google Ads is that they show up when customers are actually thinking about buying a particular product—for instance, they’re doing a Google search for “dance leotards” or “pointe shoes” —and not when their main intention is to scroll through their feed looking at baby pictures.
Running a Google Ads campaign can be complicated, so you may want to hire an agency to take care of it for you. It is possible to do it yourself—I have. But there’s a steep learning curve. And it takes time. I don’t know about you, but, post-pandemic, time is one thing I don’t have.
What’s a Google Smart Campaign?
Fortunately, there’s a simpler and cheaper alternative to get in the game and have your ads appear in search: Let Google and its powerful artificial intelligence (AI) create the ads for you through its Smart campaigns feature. It makes launching an ad campaign quick and easy, and it will manage your ads almost as well as if you did it all by yourself, but in much less time and with far fewer headaches.
I’ll walk you through how to do that. But before we begin, remember that Google Ads is not a substitute for optimizing your website for search and claiming your Google My Business page. Organic search still gets more clicks than paid search. But you do also want the clicks from paid search—especially if your website shows up lower on the search page.
How Your Ads Win
The first step is understanding how Google decides which text ads show up in a search. Bidding the most for the keywords in a search is important. But Google wants searchers to get the information they need. So Google AI will also look at the relevance of your ad and the relevance of the page that it is linked to and then decide if your ad shows up.
You may not be the highest bidder, but if the page you send people to has lots of relevant content, and your ad is relevant to the search, and many people have clicked on it, you could win a higher position at a lower price.
This is an important point to think about. Start working now on the page you will be linking to. Make sure it has the right keywords and lots of good content.
A great way to make your page relevant is to create a landing page just for your ad. For example, let’s say you wanted to feature a new ballet slipper. Create a page just for that shoe, and fill it with information on the shoe.
If you have a back-to-school flyer, create a landing page for it. This new back-to-school page will be seen as more relevant to Google, and it will help your ad win the auction. And because of the way the auction works, your ad will cost less.
Creating Your Ad, in 12 Easy Steps
Step 1: If you haven’t done so already, create a Google Ads account.
Step 2: Open your ad account, and on the left side, select “campaign.” Click on the plus sign to create a campaign. You should create a separate campaign for different products, and, each time, you use different messages to target different demographics. Select “sales,” then select “smart,” then select “info from this business account.”
Step 3: Choose where people will be sent when they click on your ad—your business profile or your website? Dance retailers’ websites tend to be more substantial than our business profiles (on Google My Business), so I suggest you direct potential customers to your website.
Step 4: Select the exact page on your website where customers will arrive when they click. The more relevant content you have on the page, the better. So if you are promoting pointe shoes and have a pointe shoe page—with products, fitting information and so on—send them to that page. If you have created a specific landing page for your ad campaign, send them there.
Step 5: Google will then suggest pages to track, so you know what actions customers have taken. Select all that apply.
Step 6: Write your ad. You have three sections of 30 words for your headline. The headline needs to grab the viewer’s attention. Make it simple, clear and related to what the customer is searching for. This is not the place to be clever. Use the avatar work discussed earlier to speak to the customer’s greatest needs.
Step 7: Once you’ve grabbed the customer’s attention, you have 90 characters in each of two description sections to tell them why they should come to your store. What makes your store unique, and how does that meet their needs? Again, your avatar work will help with this messaging.
Remember to talk about your customers, not yourself. So it should be “You will…” not “We have….” And use a call to action in this description.
Step 8: You can write as many ads as you like to test out different headlines and descriptions. Google will rotate your ads. You can then monitor the ads and drop those that aren’t performing.
Step 9: Pick your keyword themes. Select all that apply. If you are running different campaigns, you can select different keyword themes for each campaign. Keywords are the terms people use when they search. Google will pick the right keywords. You just have to select the themes that are appropriate to your business. For example, a keyword theme could be “dance shoes,” and Google would include keywords like “ballet shoes,” “tap shoes,” etc. There will be keyword themes you may not want to select, too, such as “used dancing shoes.”
Step 10: Select the geographic area where you want your ads to appear.
Step 11: Select your budget. You’ll be surprised at how inexpensive these ads can be. Remember, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Many more people see your ad even if they don’t click on it. You’ve still made an impression on them and you’ve not paid a dime!
Step 12: Review your campaign, and you’re done. Your ad will start running as soon as Google approves it.
Managing Your Ads
Regularly check on your ads. Keep the best and drop the underperforming ones. But wait a few weeks before you do that. Google’s AI gets better at serving your ad over time.
Because of this learning curve, don’t start your campaign right before you need it. I recommend starting a month before the back-to-school rush. Start with a smaller budget and increase it as your season heats up. And turn your campaign off or lower the budget once the rush is over.
Don’t forget that the meter is running. I’ve known a few retailers who received surprise bills because they forgot to stop a campaign!
The Bottom Line
Google Smart campaigns are so much easier to set up than regular search campaigns. And they’re easier to monitor. In regular search campaigns you need to be checking and tweaking your keywords regularly. With Smart campaigns, Google’s machine learning does that for you.
You do lose some functionality with Smart campaigns, but you gain so much time. And, to be honest, Google’s AI is probably smarter than we are.
There’s no better time to try Google Ads than this year’s back-to-dance. Smart campaigns are a great entry point. Make them part of your ad mix, and build your customer base back bigger than ever.
Gilbert Russell is president of Brio Bodywear, which has two brick-and-mortar dancewear stores in Ottawa, Canada. Through his consulting firm, No Qualms Retail, he also enjoys sharing his experience and knowledge with other independent retailers.