I’ve talked to a lot of software development companies, and most of them have a similar experience with Google AdWords. Typically, it’s something like:
- We tried AdWords but didn’t get great results.
- AdWords didn’t work and was a waste of time.
- We did AdWords for awhile, but it was too expensive.
- We’ve never tried AdWords.
But consider that AdWords represents more than 95% of Google‘s revenue…and Google made $60 billion in annual revenue. And that was in 2015, nevermind the likely increase in that number since then.
So what’s more likely…
- Google AdWords is one of biggest scams in history, and is really no good at helping companies get more leads, or
- Some companies just don’t know how to use AdWords to profitable generate leads
Let’s dig into this a bit more…
One of the problems is that AdWords is pretty simple system to get up and running with. You can just sign up, maybe use some promo code to get your $50 or $100 ad credit, and you’re off and running.
The problem is that there are hundreds of settings, options and so on that can cause your campaign to be more successful or to be an utter failure. The other issue is that the success of an AdWords campaign isn’t just tied to what’s going on in your ad account. You also have to convert the traffic from AdWords into leads and be able to effectively follow up with those leads and turn them into new software development clients.
I’ve been using AdWords for years and it’s a truly complex system that has had some big changes since it first came on the scene. It’s easy to screw things up, and you pay for those mistakes out of your company’s bank account.
It’s not uncommon to hear of companies spending thousands of dollars on ads only to get a handful of leads, no sales, and leave with a really bad taste for online marketing. But how are you going to grow your software development business? How are you going to get more clients, and be able to scale? How are you going to avoid that feast or famine situation that way too many software agencies find themselves in way too often? Are you really going to rely on referrals and word of mouth to keep new clients coming your way?
Here’s the truth….
As many of you know, I was an officer in the U.S. Air Force. When I was a kid, I loved planes….truth be told, I still do.
One of my favorite planes of all time was actually an experimental “plane” that was active in the early days of the space race. It’s called the X-15.
And I purposely put “plane” in quotes because this thing was more like a rocket with a dude inside, dropped from a bomber, and then flown literally to the edge of space, only to return, screaming to Earth and landing in the desert. Take a look:
AdWords is kinda like that. Beautiful, fast, wicked powerful but crazy dangerous if you’re not trained. You could probably take 9/10 pilots and put them behind something like that, and they’d crash and burn. But with an experienced pilot….well, just imagine the view, rocketing along at the edge of outer space!
AdWords is no different. Just that your “pilot” needs to know AdWords inside and out…all the switches, dials, instruments and settings. And be experienced…or else you’re going to be burning through a lot of cash with little to show for it. Especially in the software development market where the cost-per-click can be well past $10…sometimes upwards of $30 per click (don’t worry, you don’t HAVE to pay that much!).
Okay, so now that I’ve sufficiently scared the crap out of you about how dangerous AdWords can be in the wrong hands…
What about those software development companies that are killing it with AdWords? How in the world can a software company justify spending tens of thousands per month, bidding on thousands of keywords in Google AdWords?
Again, don’t worry, you don’t NEED to bid on that many keywords or have that sort of ad spend. But the lesson is that even though these kinds of software dev companies can spend that much on so many keywords, whether necessary or not, they’re somehow able to make that work…to make it make business sense. How?
Well, there are a couple of things they’re doing right. And the first thing is that they tend to avoid 3 of the most common mistakes software agencies make when rolling out an AdWords campaign. That being the case, let’s cover those right now.
Mistake #1: Creating ads that are easy to gloss over
Remember, your ads are showing up when someone searches for some keyword you’re bidding on (or some variation of that term in some cases). But the trick is that in order to get the lead, the first step is to get them off of Google and over to your site.
If you were a small business looking for help building a custom web app, which ad would you click on?
Your ad has to get them to click…
An effective ad uses benefit driven copy to entice the user to click, and also offers specific options right there in the ad that allow the person to immediately get to the exact info they’re looking for. Maybe they’re looking for your hours of operation, contact info, number of clients you have, technologies you work with, your client portfolio, to request a quote, or something else.
A basic AdWords ad is just a headline and a couple of lines of text. This is what you see most software development companies use. But there are features in AdWords that allow you to include all sorts of content like the examples described in the last paragraph. You only pay when someone clicks on one of these options, but you get the benefit of giving them more options to choose from and an ad that takes up just a bit more screen real estate than your competitors. Not too bad, right?
Mistake #2: Sending people right to their homepage
Once you get them off of Google and over to your site, you have to be sure you send them to the right place.
This next mistake isn’t just a problem that software agencies have. Even though AdWords has been around for years, and there’s countless advice and best practices to follow (even from Google) about where to send your traffic, the vast majority of companies advertising on AdWords still send traffic to right to their homepage.
Here’s why that’s a really bad idea…
Typically, your homepage offers lots of info about all of the various services your company offers, and links to interior pages where someone can find out more. But someone coming to your website from AdWords likely already has something specific that they’re looking for, some particular problem they’re trying to solve (or at least they “should” if you’ve chosen your keywords correctly).
By sending them to your homepage, you’re making it that much harder for them to get to the exact info they need, and even if it’s just one extra click, that can make all the difference. Also, ….
It’s ridiculously hard to track conversion rates on your homepage…
When you send traffic right to your homepage, there are simply way too many options someone can take…too many links, content, menus, etc. to choose from. Instead, traffic from AdWords (and most other places for that matter) should be sent to dedicated landing pages that specifically address the information that visitor is likely looking for.
And those landing pages should have 1 to 2 clear, simple calls-to-action that can be counted using conversion tracking. That way, you can know that for every 100 visitors to some landing page, x% of those visitors become new leads. And you can work to improve those results over time.
Your landing page may convert 1-3% of visitors to new leads…if you’re luck. It’s reasonable to expect a well-done landing page to convert 10%, 20% or even more. That’s more leads, just by sending your traffic to a better page. Simple win.
Mistake #3: Trying to pilot an X-15 without knowing how to fly it
As a software agency, you already have a good understanding of how bad an idea it can be to let someone go all-out with some tool without really knowing how to use it. Kinda’ hard to have a smooth flight when you’re still trying to figure out how the controls work, right?
And that’s not to say you can’t learn. If you’re reading this, you’re likely running a software development company or in a significant position at one. Either way, you’re a sharp cookie and you could definitely learn AdWords. After all, it’s not brain surgery.
But you have to be willing to put the time and energy into learning how to fly the “rocket plane” that is Google AdWords, or be willing to throw more money at it to overcome less-than-stellar results.
You need an experienced pilot…
But what if, instead, you had an experienced pilot, or crew of pilots, at the ready to help you get that plane where you’re trying to go? Then you could simply focus on running your business.
Some software development agencies want a handful of leads a month. Some want 20 – 30 leads a month, or more. Our job at Mix Digital Media is to figure out how to get you the amount of leads you need via AdWords (and other strategies) in order to grow your business and to hit your business goals.
Want to learn how we do it, and how you can add rocket fuel to your company’s lead generation?
The Strategy Session is a 45-minute call where you and I walk through where your business is now, where you’re trying to get to, and how you can best use digital marketing strategies to get you there. In the end, you’ll get a custom-tailored roadmap you can implement to start generating more leads online using techniques like Google AdWords.
Our Digital Marketing Strategy Session is 100% free, with no strings attached.
Having worked as a software developer in the past, Kenton now helps educate software development agencies on how to predictably generate more leads and sales through digital marketing.
Latest posts by Kenton Newby (see all)
- A Simple Online Lead Generation Funnel for Software Development Companies - February 1, 2017
- 3 Reasons Why Most Software Development Companies Lose Money With AdWords - November 15, 2016
- How To Get 5 New Clients For Your Software Development Business In The Next 30 Days - November 8, 2016