The AdWords Golden Rule
I’ve just spent weeks driving around France, Italy and Switzerland with friend’s enroute to and from the Monaco GP. I often find that I notice some trait or other that relates to business as I wander around. This trip was a particularly diverse one covering everything from WW2 German heavy gun emplacements, vineyards of Provence, the wealth and poverty of the Cote D’azur to Swiss road tunnels.
Whilst fuming on the way home at the over population and under capacity of our own Great British road network, I and my wife stopped at the m6 toll service. This place is a lesson in how to cook the worst chicken burger in the world, but I move on. Outside in the car park was a guy ranting at his friend because he had ignored the golden rule for something or other. He was really annoyed at his mate. All he had to do was follow the Golden Rule, but he had ignored it. How could he? It was the golden rule after all.
This struck an immediate chord with me; I noticed the exact same thing time after time on holiday. Case in point was the channel tunnel. We’re on the channel car train park in front of the doors. There’s a large sign instructing passengers to push the door open button, wait 2 seconds and then push the door open. Sitting there in the car it was like watching enraged monkeys at the zoo each time someone tried to get through the door. Literally both men and women were going nuts at the door, some nearly swinging from the roof in rage at the door. Clearly kicking, banging and running at it solved the problem. All they had to do was read the instructions to, wait 2 seconds and walk through.
Put it another way – the channel tunnel traveller by car is more likely to be middle class and reasonably well educated, yet they resort to their inner caveman behaviour as soon as a door doesn’t immediately open. What do you think happens as soon as they can’t see what to do on your website? Of course, they’ll take the time to carefully digest your information and systematically work towards a solution. Yeah, in your dreams mate!
Now the channel tunnel train designers can be forgiven far more easily than your website designer. You can split test each and every function of your site every day until it’s as efficient as it possibly can be. Whereas our channel tunnel designer were working to a deadline with in all likely hood no opportunity to test the positioning of door instructions in the real world.
A far more extreme and brutal analogy is a German World War 2 artillery bunker 10 mins from Calais. It is a real feat of engineering and testament to what can be achieved in a very tight deadline. The walls are 3 meter thick concrete! Outside sits 32 meter artillery cannon on a train! It’s unbelievably massive. Putting aside the tragedy of war, the engineering required rapid results in very short build times. For example not a mile down the road sits another bunker and this continues down the Normandy coast. These bunkers in one way stand as a memorial not only to those that fought, but to the split testing of designs and roll out of a set of standard designs in war time conditions.
Yet, just as the world was rapidly changing in ww2, it changes even faster today. No longer do you have to wait. AdWords allows you to rapidly test. You can run two ads, test the results in days and move to the next evolution of your ad. You can double your click through rates in a few days. If you start out with a 0.5% CRT, you can with split testing double this to 1%. This will enable you to hold a higher page position and with further testing you should be able to move to 2% CRT. Just stop and think about this you’ve improved your rate by 8x!
Sitting in Monaco watching Rosberg and Hamilton battle it out, the importance of holding pole position on the grid became blindingly clear. The advertisers in the top 3 positions today take the lion’s share of new business whilst everyone else battles it out for the scraps. I am not a F1 fan, so have no idea who came in third. By then all I could think about was let’s get a drink and have some fun. To become a world champion in your niche is not only going to require a market leading CTR, it’s going to take an industry leading conversion rate too. Nobody will remember you unless you hold the top positions. Typically clients assume they are going to need a new site to improve conversions rates, but nothing could be further from the truth. Apply the 80:20 rules to your site. Nail down and focus on the few pages customers actually use. As a side note, please don’t tell me your waiting to change your website before working on your AdWords – you might as well tell me your waiting for the business to close (it will come faster than you think with that approach in my experience).
Typically websites are full of thousands of pages that no one ever looks at or reads. Just focus on those essential pages. Split text small design changes and in a few evolutions you’ve doubled your conversion rate. Just think, if you increase your CTR by a factor of 8x and double your conversion rate you’ve improved your performance by a factor of 16x.
That’s game changing performance. Or put another way, split testing, is the golden rule of AdWords.
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