More threads by pbarnhart

Apr 5, 2013
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I'm collecting information from AdWords Express experiences - both good and bad - for either a white paper or ebook for small business. I've been working with AdWords pretty much since it launched, and up until recently I've though AWX was a poor choice for most SMBs. However, I've been doing quite a bit of experimenting in some SMB accounts (getting AWX out of the display network, using dynamic keyword insertion, how to interpret AWX data in GA) and would like to gather info from others who have also been using AWX for a better best practices.

And will be happy to share this data with folks here!
Thanks Phil,

Sorry I forgot to let you know I got the Adwords forum up for you, glad you found it.

Thanks for a nice 1st post to kick off a discussion. I don't hear AWX talked about much lately and have never used it so am curious to hear what folks have to say.
In my experience, I'd say that AMX is usually junk. However, in some circumstances, we've seen significantly reduced CPCs in highly competitive markets (i.e. legal in major cities). Need to regularly groom terms.
I've been meaning to write about this as well, but before I can I have to compile real data. So I don't have that for you yet, but I'll pop in anyway.

The BIGGEST problem I see with Express is business owners think they can do it themselves! Now you may laugh at that because that is why it was designed, but the fact of the matter, they are not qualified and Google is not good enough to make the best decisions for them which it is trying to do with their "smart" algorithms.

Let me give you an example.

Client 1 was spending about $13,500 a month on Express came to me and said he was losing his shirt. Told me he got on average 1 1/2 leads a week. As an attorney, he doesn't need many, but he needed more so that he could be pickier about the clients he took on. And at $13,500 he wasn't getting enough to justify the cost. (He is not a personal injury attorney.)

So I set up an adwords campaign for him. It took a month or two to "perfect" it as best I could on a small budget, but now he gets 3 or 4 leads a week on ONLY a $1,500/mo budget. That's huge! On top of that, I did SEO and he now gets that many leads from SEO as well.

Client 2 has a much smaller budget so she has much less to lose. She is spending $130/mo. I have not followed the details on this because I was called into do optimize her new site for SEO is all. But I do have access to her Google Analytics where I can see clicks from her ad campaigns. She spends roughly $10 a month on keywords that matter. $120 is a complete waste. Why? Because Google has chosen to show her ad for terms that might appear to be relevant to the ignorant and bring in an entirely wrong audience. And she doesn't know better or how to even fix it. I've not had my hands in Express to know if you have this ability, but I gave her a list of keywords to add to a negative keyword list. If Express provides that, that's great, but you're back at the problem of these SMBs trusting systems to do it for them, and the bigger problem that they don't really know what's best, how to fix what's wrong, or to even know how to tell when something isn't right.
Thanks for the feedback so far - certainly getting the accounts off the Display Network (yes you can do that easily), monitoring the dynamic sitelinks, deselecting search terms. and some other simple optimizations have helped the experimental accounts I am working with. It is certainly not as automatic as advertised, but it seems that some simple tweeks has made the experimental accounts less 'junky'

However, after working with some of my big accounts all day, working AWX is like walking out of Kitchen Stadium and into a studio with a hotplate and microwave ;)

I am now testing the thesis that its possible to create a decent DIY account for some (not all) business verticals with sub $500 budgets. More feedback or firsthand account info would be appreciated.
Sounds like an interesting bit of research Phil, If you're open to sharing a case study here when you're done, I know I'd be interested in seeing it. Good luck on the project!
I have had some horrible experiences with Adwords Express. In one particular case, I had an Adwords Express campaign account that had been started but not completed during the initial setup of the Adwords account. I set up the billing and campaigns for the client in the traditional Adwords interface and everything was launched. Fast forward two months... the client notices a bunch of charges on their credit card from Google that don't match up with the reporting in Adwords. Turns out that when I set up the client's billing in Adwords, it automatically linked to the AWX account that was half-way set-up months ago without any real way of seeing it aside from actually logging into AWX. The client ended up spending thousands on keywords that were unrelated to the their services.

Long story short... stay away from it! You can't even add negative keywords to your campaigns. It might be a cynical way of thinking, but it seems like a money-grab move from Google to prey on naive business owners. It most certainly doesn't hurt their pockets!

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