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How to maximise online sales at the same time as cutting marketing costs

Richard Davies, Professional Internet.co.uk, shares 20 simple actions a chartered accountant can take to safely slash their online advertising budget.

In the current climate many online businesses will be looking to cut expenditure immediately whilst trading. Richard Davies ACA, CEO of Professional Internet.co.uk businesses on how to maximise online profits without the need to spend (from £thousands to £millions) on, internet marketing, often on Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social media pay per click (PPC) forms of advertising.

In this article Richard shares 20 simple actions a chartered accountant can do to safely slash the online advertising budget, setting out the important checks which may drastically reduce the amount spent on Google Ads with possibly minimal, if any, reduction in sales/profits. The principles he outlines are in many cases are also applicable to Bing Ads, YouTube Ads, Facebook Ads etc.

1. Agency costs – most agencies will charge either a flat fee per month or a percentage (typically 10 to 20%) of how much is spent on Pay Per Click advertising. Can you renegotiate this overnight and save money immediately?

2. Measure the conversions of Google Ads i.e. see which keywords are delivering your goals (sales, enquiries, downloads etc.) and which do not. If your goal is receiving phone calls then use a phone number with full tracking analytics - possibly one Google offers.

Some businesses may not even have conversion tracking installed on their website which is a fundamental mistake. If you do not measure conversion then you cannot measure the return on investment of your spend.

Ensure that the cost of conversion is acceptable to the business e.g. If you sell a widget for £100 are you happy with a cost of sales conversion of £25? Once you track conversion you may even discover that some parts of your online advertising are unprofitable and should immediately be discontinued.

3. Ask the relevant person to show you the “Search terms” report for the Google Ads over the past few months and look for any irrelevant search terms you are appearing for. This is wasted money and the irrelevant terms should be added reactively to your “Negative keywords” list so you do not appear for these search terms again.

4. Proactively build a “negative keyword” list for search phrases you do not want to appear for e.g. phrases including the word “free” unless you really are offering something for free.

5. Find out if the keywords in your account are set to “broad match” which is the Google default. This may waste huge amounts of money as it means your ads will show for a whole host of irrelevant search terms e.g.

Keyword = jumper – you will appear in searches for “blue jumper” and “red jumper” which is no good if you only sell red jumpers!
Consider the use of broad match modifiers, phrase and exact match.

6. Ensure you are using the advanced fully featured Google Ads control panel and not the “lite” version which most people are on put on to start with by Google. Lite is simple but gives you much less control over your ads and costs.

7. Call Google themselves and ask them for a free review of your account. The quality of advice varies but you may be able to get a Google employee to cast their eye over your account. Use Google’s phone numbers, but if Google cannot help feel free to call us.

8. Stop bidding on your own trademarks if they already rank highly in the natural free listings. This is arguably a waste of money as nobody else is allowed to bid on your trademarked keyword. Report them to Google if they do.

9. It is true that the majority of searches are performed on a mobile platform but this is not always the best platform to obtain conversions from. Often desktop computers deliver a higher conversion rate and therefore a better return on investment. Experiment with reducing the amount you bid when advertising on mobile phones and tablets. Yes traffic will go down but profits may go up.

10. Similarly experiment with just advertising on Google’s own search engine and not its network of partner search engines which may not convert as well.

11. Check that your scheduling of ads is appropriate i.e. the days and hours your ads show have been set up correctly e.g. do you really want the ads showing 24/7 or is Monday to Friday 9 am until 5pm more appropriate or something else?

12. Check that the geographical targeting of your ads has been set correctly. Do you really want your ads showing worldwide or nationwide or do you just want them showing within 20 miles of your business address?

13. Ensure your business also uses Google Analytics which will help you analyse where your website traffic is coming from and identify any unusual activity e.g. click fraud.

14. If you see or suspect any significant fraudulent click activity then contact Google and discuss a possible solution, investigation or maybe even a refund. Consider installing specific click fraud detection and tracking software on your website.

15. Make sure your account is set up correctly to minimise nuisance/fraudulent clicks from certain countries which have a reputation for launching such attacks to waste your ad spend.

16. Check the demographics of your ads are set up correctly e.g. do you really want to be targeting teenagers if you are selling products or services for the elderly?

17. Switch off keywords which advertise products or services which cannot be delivered in the current business climate. This sounds blindingly obvious but people do forget to check all that all keywords are still relevant leading to wasted money.

18. As many people lose their jobs over the coming months ensure all passwords and access to accounts which control advertising spend are regularly changed to protect the business from disgruntled ex-employees.

19. Use all of the features in the Google Ads advanced control panel which give you larger, more prominent ads e.g. sitelinks & callout extensions see here

20. Last but not least ensure your website is of a presentable standard with calls to action.

Make sure the pages people are sent to from your ads are highly relevant to the keywords used. This will improve your Google “Quality Score” which determines to a large extent how much you have to pay per click for a keyword.

Make sure that your landing pages have a clear prominent call to action on them e.g. “call us now” with a clearly displayed telephone number.