November 23, 2017

Why Google AdWords Is Losing Customers – Fast

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never cold call again

This article may sound strange to many, considering the fact that I was one of the world’s largest AdWords cheerleaders in years past, even recommending it over SEO. (Now I recommend exactly the opposite.)

In the fall of 2012, the New York Times ran a five part series on why small businesses are fleeing Google AdWords in droves. And based on what I’m seeing in accounts, I’m not surprised at all. AdWords is making less and less sense for both my existing and my prospective clients as time goes on.

But, this should surprise no one. As business genius Felix Dennis, the near-billionaire publisher of Maxim magazine, MacWorld, Computer Shopper, and countless others wrote in his fabulous book, How to Get Rich, “Public companies are not sane places!” Dennis explains that in a public corporation, all common sense is thrown out the window and the sole reason for existing is to drive up the share price and please Wall Street. Even profits are sacrificed if that means the share price will go up!

Needless to say, Dennis took his company private again as quickly as he could after going public.

Author MJ DeMarco has pointed out that in a public company, customers come last. Shareholders are catered to first and foremost, followed by the grossly overpaid executives, complete with their “golden parachute” bailout packages.

Henry Ford wrote, eons ago, about how any business that makes money by selling shares has lost any sense of character and integrity.

And now here we are in 2013, watching Google go down the same road. In a grand stroke of irony, the company that once sung the motto “Do No Evil” has officially gone to the Dark Side.

But enough of my bloviating. Let’s get down to hard facts, and the reasons why Google AdWords is not the friend to businesses that it once was:

1. “Information Harvesting” policy. Based on this relatively recent AdWords policy, any website that offers anything in exchange for an email address will be banned from AdWords. That means if you’re offering a report, a whitepaper, an e-book, a free sample, or anything else as an incentive for someone to type in an email address, your ads will be suspended, if they haven’t been already.

In this day of excessive email and spam, we all know that practically no one responds to an outdated “Subscribe to our Newsletter” form. You must offer something if you expect to get new subscribers. And now AdWords prohibits that common, best practice of all online marketers. And guess what? AdWords advertisers are bailing out over this. What’s the use in getting AdWords traffic when you’re not allowed to make it convert to opt-ins?

2. The Gmail “Promotions” Tab. As if it’s not bad enough that Google is crushing the opt-in conversion rate of AdWords advertisers with the absurd “Information Harvesting” rule, if you do manage to get someone to sign up and they happen to use Gmail, your marketing emails are automatically going to a new “Promotions” tab, which for all intents and purposes, is a glorified spam box.

Strike Two against Google. Let’s hope Microsoft’s “Scroogled” ad campaign makes a dent and moves people away from Gmail.

3. Absurd amounts of irrelevant searches. The #1 “Best Practice” of all time in AdWords has been the “one keyword, one ad” guideline. This means using phrase or exact match types and being sure that your ad groups are very tightly matched, sometimes down to one keyword per ad group, and that those keywords are extremely relevant to the associated ad copy.

But, here’s a dirty little secret: You can’t trust the data you see in AdWords or Google Analytics reporting. You won’t see the insane volume of completely irrelevant searches even on exact match keywords. Use a third-party web stats tool, and you’ll start seeing that no matter how carefully your keywords are chosen, even exact match, you are getting traffic from totally irrelevant searches.

This is outright fraud on Google’s part, but as one of my client’s lawyers told me as we discussed their arbitrary and capricious account ban, “Suing Google is like trying to sue God.”

4. Garbage Display Network traffic from garbage websites. This one took me by surprise. I’ve had one campaign in particular in one of my accounts that’s been a solid, steady performer since I created it in 2006. Not one day has gone by with a conversion rate below 35%.

That is, until the past few months. Suddenly, out of nowhere, conversion rate on this Display Network campaign dropped to 15%, and that’s on a good day. A review of traffic reports showed absolutely junk traffic from worthless, junk websites.

Ironically, one of Google’s more recent rules is that AdWords ads cannot be shown on parked domains. And yet, even though that rule exists, and even though I specifically have parked domains blocked in each and every one of my campaigns, I was receiving massive amounts of clickthroughs from – drum roll please – parked domains! And on top of all that, these domain names had zero relevance to my product or industry.

Strike four against Google. Oh wait, they only get three strikes! No wonder why businesses are walking away from AdWords en masse and telling Google to to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

#5: “Misleading Claims” Policy. This policy states that if you have any testimonials on your website – and practically any website that converts visitors into customers has testimonials – you must post a conspicuous disclaimer that results are not typical. I personally find this rule infuriating, because in the case of my Never Cold Call Again System, the results ARE typical. I’m not posting any wild or unrealistic claims, and yet I have to post that disclaimer text, that makes me sound like a bottom-feeding dirtbag infomercial “guru.”

Bing’s marketing is having an impact. AdWord’s market share is down to below 68%, which may sound high, but it was well over 80% just very recently. And PPC aside, more and more marketers are realizing that good, old-fashioned SEO has a much greater ROI than PPC, and, surprisingly, SEO traffic even converts better, on average.

Furthermore, marketers like myself are realizing that we can pull reports from Display Network campaigns, find out where the bulk of our conversions are coming from, and buy ad placement and traffic directly from those sites at a fraction of the inflated prices Google is extorting from us, all in the name of bowing down to Wall Street and pumping up that share price.

Finally, perhaps the biggest benefit of all when one abandons Google AdWords: No more absurdly strict, nonsensical policies to abide by! Want to give away a whitepaper in exchange for an email signup? No problem! Want to put testimonials with income claims on your landing pages? No problem! Want a website that actually converts traffic into customers, instead of acting as a worthless static brochure like AdWords wants it to? No problem!

B2B marketers, check out LinkedIn PPC. I’ve found that pages converting at 30% in AdWords convert as high as 80% on LinkedIn. B2C marketers, check out MSN/Bing ads. Because Microsoft’s core business always has been and always will be software, their online ad platform is a sideline, which means they won’t have to bleed you dry to keep Wall Street happy. This is the exact opposite of Google, which relies practically 100% on AdWords for revenue, and must keep coming up with new and more creative ways to get more and more of your money.

In closing, if you’re someone like me who thought AdWords was the only game in town for years and years, start thinking outside the box and expanding your horizons. You’ll be shocked when you see just how easy it is to get large amounts of high-quality traffic at a fraction of what you’ll pay Google. For me, the tipping point came when Google was earning more profit from my business every month than I was. There’s a whole world of Internet traffic out there, and AdWords no longer has that market cornered.

PS: For those who are wondering, no, I haven’t canceled my AdWords account – yet. Nor have I been banned for policy violations. But I am entertaining the idea of winding it down slowly, gradually reducing spend. I may or may not terminate the campaigns at some point, but with an extremely loyal email subscriber list of over a quarter of a million fans, I could conceivably generate massive revenue for years to come with no traffic at all, so I’m certainly not handcuffed to AdWords like so many are, and can easily walk away at any time with no regrets.

never cold call again


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