I struggled mightily with what to name this article. I thought about “How to get the most out of a free Google AdWords trial” but that seemed a little boring. “Experiments of a AdWords Cheapskate” was closer to the mark but I ended up going with “Who Wants Some Free Advertising?” because that’s exactly what this article is about.
In a post I wrote a few weeks ago I talked about AdWords, mentioned some pitfalls and said that we hadn’t used it previously, but had just signed up for a free $80 credit to test. I’ve now played with AdWords for a while and identified two strategies that may help an indie author bring visitors to their site.
If you’ve been following my posts, you’ve probably signed up for an AdWords account so you can perform some free and easy keywords analysis. If you haven’t used AdWords for placing ads yet, you should be eligible for a free trial credit. I googled “AdWords” and the top advertisement was from Google and had a link for $75 in free credit. It gave me a code to use when I logged into my AdWords account. When I applied the code, my credit balance changed to $80. I absolutely love the fact that I never had to give them any credit card information, so there’s no chance of exceeding the budget I pick for my ads.
When you first start, you create a “campaign”. You pick the region(s) you want your ad displayed in, what you’re daily maximum budget is, what by default you’re willing to pay per click, your targeted demographics, what search terms you want your ads displayed for and then you create your ad. I made demographics bold there because you really shouldn’t just gloss over that option. Advertisers a decade ago would have done anything for the type of targeting that we can now do easily on the net. I’ve read some of Lizzy’s books and loved them, but I’m not the target audience. I set our ads up to show for females only.
I made a text ad which stated that we had Free Romance eBooks for your Kindle, Nook, iPad, eReader or Kobo. The ad sat with a status of “under review” for 72 hours and was then declined. When I called to find out why I was told I couldn’t use Kindle or iPad in my ad. That’s lesson one for this. If you’re going to be targeting ads for a specific day (i.e. book launch) then get your ads in ahead of time and get them approved.
I went after females and the keywords “free romance eBooks” and “free romance novels”. Google politely suggested that I pay up to $0.65 a click. I agreed to their terms and set my daily budget to $10. Google showed my ad 2,700 times and sent me 21 clicks at an average $0.49 a click. $10.33 gone and 21 visitors to show for it. I’m glad it was their money and not mine 🙂 Google left me an alert suggesting that my daily budget was causing me to miss out on a lot of impressions and that I should raise it. No thanks.
For the next two days, I lowered the amount I was willing to pay to $0.25 a click. In those two days Google showed my ad 4,500 times, and I got 88 clicks for my $20.75. $0.24 a visitor is a lot better then $0.49 a visitor, but I wasn’t done yet. I channeled my inner tightwad and told Google I would only pay $0.14 a click. That day Google showed my ad 2,840 times and gave my 59 clicks for $8.21. I was actually happy with $0.14 per visitor but I had to see how far I could push it.
Lowering my bid to $0.12 a click dropped it to 1,927 impressions and 31 visitors at a cost of $3.70. I was surprised I had gotten down this far and was still getting shown. I had to try $0.05 a click, right?? I did $0.05 a click for two days and got 1,029 impressions and 15 clicks for $0.54 total cost. $0.12 to $0.05 was a big drop in traffic.
I knew I wouldn’t get much but I had to try $0.01. To my amazement I got 114 impressions but no clicks. I can’t imagine what sites Google has me at the bottom of with my generous offer to give them $0.01 of their own money back.
I spoke to the Google AdWords representative on the phone and he told me there was no time limit on using the credits once they were applied to your account. By all means, go grab them now if you already haven’t. How you should use them is up to you but two strategies seem to stand out.
1: If you have a book launch, signing, or other big event you want to draw people into, this could be a free easy way. If I had set my daily budget to $40 and my per click to $0.25, then I probably would of gotten about 250 visitors in that two day period. If that sounds appealing to you, then go for it.
2: If you don’t want to draw a lot of people at once but rather over time at an inexpensive cost, then try the “trickle” method. If my $0.05 numbers hold out over a long period of time then I will pull in ~15 people a day over the course of almost 4 months, for a total of 1600.
If you use the free credits Google offers, you’re getting free, no risk advertising for your site. Remember that these figures are for the keywords I chose, and that the cost for keywords can very greatly depending on their popularity. $0.25 may get you great placement for these words, but no visibility on more popular terms.
If you do take advantage of the Google AdWords credits, please post back here and let me know what keywords you picked, what they were costing you and your results!