9 Important Reasons Why Photographers Struggle With Google Ads
Online marketing – and in particular Google Adwords (now Google Ads) – is becoming increasingly important for the small business sector. In fact, most small businesses broadly understand the need to use search engine marketing. Yet many micro and local businesses – including photographers – get frustrated with Google Ads, and ultimately fail and give up. If you are a photography business managing your own Google Ads campaigns, make sure you are not making these mistakes.
1. Lack of Basic Understanding
Even if not hiring a Paid Per Click (PPC) agency, photographers and other small businesses do not need to become absolute experts in the intricacies of Google Ads. But there is a great deal of advice online that business owners can use to gain a good basic understanding. Ultimately you want campaigns that are set up granularly with well-written and tested advert messages for each keyword theme.
Start by ensuring good familiarisation with:
- The Dashboard and general navigation;
- How to organise and structure campaigns;
- The different keyword types (broad, phrase, and exact);
- The use of negative keywords;
- The use of conversion tracking.
2. Not Treating Paid Search As An Investment
You will be surprised how many photographers simply treat pay per click advertising as an overhead cost that reduces the bottom line profit figure (the “we can’t really afford it” syndrome!). Instead, they should be thinking about the rate of return on the advertising spend. Once the PPC campaign is mature, the mentality should be: “ if I spend an an extra £1000, the business will generate £2500 in revenue and increase net profit by £750” (for example). Once you are this mind-set you wouldn’t limit your daily budget, unless you have specific capacity issues.
3. Treating PPC As A One-Off Activity
Even if photographers have taken the trouble to learn about Google Ads, they often still make the mistake of spending intensive time setting up campaigns and then effectively sitting back to wait for the leads to roll in. In reality, the first 3 months are crucial to long-term success, and in particular the removal or adjustment of ad Groups, keywords and adverts that do not generate a return. It takes time to identify the campaign elements that are successful before advertising spend is stepped up.
4. Not Being Creative Enough With Ad Copy
Sometimes adverts which describe what is in the tin can be useful and effective. And yes, fitting copy into the Google Ads format is challenging. But in face of strong competition, more creativity can pay rich dividends. It is not necessary to be an award-winning copyrighter to come up with interesting and playful alternatives to the obvious. And the great thing about PPC advertising is that you can experiment and test different ideas.
5. Relevant Ad Copy
As well as being creative, always keep the ads 100% relevant. It’s pretty obvious that your ad copy containing “Wedding Photographer” is a bad idea when someone is searching for a family portrait photographer (though we actually still see this a lot!). Even more common for newbie advertisers is to use the headline Photographer in this scenario. This is not irrelevant of course, but a searcher is more likely to click on the Advert that headlines with the 100% relevant Family Portrait Photographer.
6. Stop Looking For Improvements
Even photographers who have successfully got to the stage where Google Ads makes a decent rate of return, have a tendency to stop giving their campaigns ongoing care and attention. The market is dynamic and they can always be improved. On the most mechanical level, negative words should continually be discovered, assessed and added. On a more adventurous level, Google Ads has pretty sophisticated methods of experimenting with different ideas both within the Google Ads itself and the changes to the website (for example, changes to the landing pages).
7. Jump To Conclusions Too Quickly
One of the great strengths of PPC advertising is the metrics that can be monitored and assessed. Much of the guesswork of advertising is removed and it becomes closer to an exact science. But the inexperienced can often observe differences (in for example a conversion rate or click through rate) and act too quickly. It is important that actions are based on enough data (and often time) to yield statistically significant results – and not based on pure chance.
8. Regarding PPC As Poor Relation to SEO
Many photography businesses are attracted to SEO organic search because the marginal click or visitor to the website is effectively free, whereas PPC, by definition, requires expenditure for each and every visitor. Whilst this is true, this perspective is a bit too simplistic. First SEO requires on-going work and attention, even if the underlying cost is not on a per visitor basis (worst case, it is still your time which has a value). Second, PPC has the advantage of targeting and controllability. It is like a tap that can be turned on and off; and also targeted at particular products, promotions and pages of the website. SEO and PPC should be regarded as complementary, and not substitutes. They both carry cost and they both need to be assessed against an their returns.
9. Ignoring Website Conversions
Otherwise good PPC campaigns are often let down by the website’s landing page (photographers as especially bad at this because they tend to rely too much on the strength of their portfolio). You could be the world’s finest expert in Google Adwords and yet not get any success if the business’s website and underlying offering are not up to scratch.
Even if your website has amazing photographs, search marketing is often not about getting immediate sales, or making the phone ring. It can often about getting prospective leads at a point in the sales funnel. This means having a persuasive landing page that is effective in gaining visitors’ details that allow the business to pull them towards a sale (for example, through onward email marketing). Photographers (especially) sometimes make the mistake of gearing themselves to an all or nothing sale. But if the visitor is not ready at this stage, then the advertising spend may well be wasted.
And finally make sure that your most valuable or meaningful conversions are fed back to your Adwords account – to help with the final-tuning of your campaigns. If you don’t know which keywords and adverts are working, then you are wasting money in the dark.