So, you're looking to get started on Google Ads, but you have no idea on where to start. You decide to take a bravery pill and create your first Google Ads account.
Chances are that you’ll first stumble upon something called a “Smart Campaign” – This is Google’s quick and easy way of getting you started.
Here’s Google’s description of Smart Campaigns:
“Get website sales with automated ads that show on Google, Google Maps, and across the web, and take advantage of minimal hands-on ads management”.
On the face of it, they seem great, especially the part about “minimal hands-on ads management”.
But reserve judgement for a moment…
In reality, Smart Campaigns aren’t actually that smart.
Now, before I criticize Smart Campaigns too much, let's talk about the benefits of using them.
First up, they are really simple to use. If you’re a beginner when it comes to Google Ads, they can be a nice stepping-stone into using this complicated platform. Google Ads can be a little overwhelming, to say the least.
All the complicated intricacies of creating Campaigns are made easy with the use of Smart Campaigns. Google will very much “hold your hand” throughout the creation process making it nice and hassle-free.
Smart Campaigns have even simplified the data they show you.
Within the Smart Campaign dashboard, you are only provided a limited amount of key metrics. This means that you can instantly find out how much you have spent, how many clicks have been driven and what search terms you have appeared for without having to go searching for them.
As you would expect with a simplified platform, it's really easy to get going. Realistically, you could create your first Campaign in minutes, even without any prior Google Ads experience.
A simple, minimalistic and easy to use platform sounds great, but in reality, it’s come at the expense of a LOT of features and additional functionality.
Let’s jump into a little more detail about the difference between Smart and normal ‘Search’ Campaigns.
First up, the Ads.
With Smart Campaigns, Ad creation is very easy, but there are a couple of crucial factors that will really impact the effectiveness of your Campaigns.
One, being the fact, you cannot tailor your Ad copy to match the user’s search.
If you’re searching for a specific product or service, you want the Ad to reflect your search. You want to know that the business on the other side of that Ad, can provide the thing you are looking for.
As an advertiser using Smart Campaigns, you don’t have full control over this – or the landing page they then go on to. Getting these things wrong can kill your conversion rates!
There are more limitations with Ad Extensions too.
For those who aren’t familiar with Ad Extensions, Google says “expand your ad with additional information – giving people more reasons to choose your business. This can come in many forms such as including call buttons, location information, links to specific parts of your website”.
Ad Extensions are a crucial factor in getting users to click onto your Ad, often leading to a big increase in “click-through rates” when applied correctly.
In total there are thirteen different Extensions you can use within normal Search Campaigns, whereas you can only use three within Smart Campaigns. That’s a lot to be missing out on!
Taking up this extra “real estate” is so important, as it allows you extra space to shout about the benefits of your product/service. Also, the more space your Ad is taking up, the more you push your competitors down the page. What’s not to like?
Next up, my biggest issue with Smart Campaigns… Keywords.
Even though Google Ads has changed massively over the years, keywords are still at the core of its effectiveness. It’s the keywords that match you to prospects actively searching for the exact thing you provide – It doesn’t get any better than that!
Now this is where Smart Campaign really fall down.
So, they can show your Ads to people searching for terms related to your business (and often time many that aren’t), but they won’t provide conversion data at keyword level. So, what does this mean?
It means that you have no idea which of your keywords are spending money, getting you leads and customers… and which one’s aren’t.
So, each and every day, you will continue to spend pound after pound on keywords that generate a big fat ZERO in return!
For us marketers, that’s enough to keep us up at night - and rightly bloody so!
You NEED to know the keywords that deserve your daily click budget, that’s the ONLY way you can turn Google Ads into a consistent, predictable customer-getting machine for your businesses!
You have the ability to see all of this data in normal Search Campaigns. You have total control. Something completely lacking within Smart Campaigns.
I could go on all day about the lack of features and functionally within Smart Campaigns, but my aim here is to get you thinking about upping your game if you have been using Smart Campaigns for a while – there is a whole other level that you have yet to tap into!
Now, I’m not saying you should never use Smart Campaigns. They can be a helpful introduction to Google Ads, but they quickly serve their purpose and inevitably start to hold you back.
As we enter 2021, we have the choice, slow, inconsistent trickles of new business or a tirade of new leads and sales that could make this year your best ever! Now, it’s up to you to decide.
Here’s to a prosperous New Year.
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