Analysis of Competitive Edge College Advisors Google Adwords Campaign 6/23/15 Carter Jensen

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1 Analysis of Competitive Edge College Advisors Google Adwords Campaign 6/23/15 Carter Jensen I. Introduction Competitive Edge College Advisors (CECA) would like to maximize revenue per click by developing a Google AdWords campaign. By developing a successful Google Adwords campaign(s), this would allow CECA to attract more clicks to its website, thereby increasing business, thereby increasing revenue and company growth. The goal is to develop a high quality AdWord campaigns, aimed at increasing the size of their targeted audience, increasing the company s ranking in Google search engine results, increasing the amount of time visitors spend on the company s website, reducing the bounce rate for website visitors, which, when all combined, would result in maximizing revenue per click. CECA would advertise high quality online ads to their targeted audience through Google AdWords and by doing so, reach this specific audience exactly when they are interested in the services the company can provide. Competitive Edge College Advisors is a college advising firm located in New Canaan, CT and founded in Its mission is to provide guidance in the very important college search process. It is often when a high school students starts their college search, help is needed. College is the jumping off point in many adult lives. What separates CECA from other college advising firms is its ability to lend real world experience, perspectives and advice to its clients. Because of its focus on one on one guidance in order to leverage each client s skills and talents, it delivers a truly great product. The four founders, (Brent Haney, Lee Jones III, Doug Richardson, Kevin Rusch) combined their experience in finance, consumer packaged goods, publishing, and Wall Street industries provide a real world perspective to help their college bound clients. Many of their competitive firms are from academia; the partners at CECA feel their backgrounds are more relevant in this increasingly competitive college admissions landscape. Competitive Edge College Advisors was founded to allow high school students and their families navigate a successful college selection experience. Their clients are all special in their own way; their process allows the student to leverage not only their academic capabilities but their special talent whether it is athletics, music, dance, philanthropy, or any other extra curricular activity. The founders experience in business and parenting and their passion allow them to be the premier company in the educational advising and college consulting industry. CECA markets to a relatively small market. It is estimated that only 10% of any given Fairfield County family would consider paying a $5,000 $10,000 fee for an independent advisor. So while the company understands that word of mouth is the best source of business, their 2015 plan was to spend additional marketing funds on other targeted marketing campaigns. Google Adwords was considered a viable vehicle to test as it allows the company to target specific Key Words like College Advisor, College Essay, College Consultant, to name a few. II. Adwords Situation & Analysis What Google AdWords allows a smaller business to do is compete with larger ones in terms of marketing to a mass public. It is a pay per click business model which means that 1

2 every time a viewer clicks on the Competitive Edge listing, they are charged the bid amount. For example, the bid amount of a top key word like College Advisor Google charges the CECA account that amount. This is a downside as the company does not have control of the viewership. Given that they are marketing to a niche market makes it a very difficult proposition. For keywords to be successful and for ad text to be compelling, they both must attract and encourage an online user to click on the company s ad. The ad must grab and hold onto the user s attention long enough to entice them to click on the link to the company s website. Once there, the company's website has to maximize this opportunity and convince the user this company is the one to help them with the specific product or service they are searching for on Google. The ultimate goal at the end of this process, that of having an ad that pays for itself and a strong, appealing website, is to convince the user that they want to make contact with your company. Research has shown that the best ads are relevant, simple and precise and highlight the differences between your company and its competition. The ad should also describe any unique features of your company that are different from your competition. There is enormous competition for business through the ever expanding growth of the internet. Any company advertising on Google has a finite amount of time to catch the attention of an online searcher and this is accomplished through relevant ads. The best performing ads are usually the ones that people find the most relevant. Think about how you search and surf the web. You tend to focus on those things that are relevant to you. Keyword research is a fundamental part of online marketing. It is a vital tool for developing marketing strategies. The goal is to include words and phrases in your ad material that will generate traffic to your website and target those who are actively searching for the services which your company can offer. AdWords keyword research will help identify what your customers are concerned about, what they are looking for, and what they need. This is vital information for companies providing information online about what their business can provide. Google offers a Keyword Planner which can assist a company in locating strong keywords for their ad campaign that would be relevant for their product or service or your landing page. There are statistics on successful keywords that would prove helpful. Most advertisers find it useful to have somewhere between 5 and 20 keywords per ad grouping. The Google Analytic module is robust. One can research Keyword for ad group ideas, get historical statistics, see how a list of keywords might perform and even how new keywords might perform, relating to online advertising. You can also measure the success of a specific keyword and can measure the success (or not) of an AdWord campaign. A company can decide to discontinue an unsuccessful campaign and develop new keywords that has data backup that could work in a campaign for better results. These services would be very helpful to any company wishing to expand their online presence. There is a reason that Google s stock is so strong, they have excellent customer service and are helping in suggesting ways to increase an advertising budget. A company sets a daily budget; if the budget is not spent one day, Google s programming adjusts and will increase the budget accordingly the next day or during the week. When someone is conducting an online search, AdWords finds all the ads in the system whose keywords match that search. From those ads, the system ignores any that aren t eligible, like ads that target a different country or are disapproved. The process with each Google search is to decide which ads will appear for that specific search and in which order those ads will appear on the Google page. Today, every company should search for ideas to expand their Keyword list. They should find more specific Keywords that don t necessarily have a high search volume ( long tail 2

3 words) which might lead to a conversion. A conversion is when someone clicks on your ad and takes an action that a company would consider valuable to your business, either by contacting you directly or by purchasing something from you. A conversion helps you understand how much value online advertising brings to your business. Conversion tracking is an AdWorks free tool that can measure results and identify what customers do after clicking your ad, whether they purchased a product or filled out a form for more information. Conversions report all conversions made within your chosen conversion window, after an AdWords click. This is a great marketing tool to find out which ads, keywords and campaigns bring you business. This will help a company plan better campaigns and boost return on investment (ROI). By tracking conversion choices, a company can obtain a better sense of your campaign performance. The 1 10 quality score reported for each keyword is in your account. It is an estimate of the quality of your ads and your landing pages triggered by that keyword. Having a high quality score means that AdWord has determined your ad and landing page are relevant and useful to someone looking at your ad. Each time an AdWords ad is eligible to appear for a search, it goes through an ad auction process. Since the auction is repeated for every search on Google, each auction can have potentially different depending on the competition at the moment. Therefore can be normal to see fluctuation in your ad s position on the page or whether or not your ad shows at all. The auction determines whether or not the ad actually shows on the Google page and in which ad position it will occupy on the page. Only those ads with a sufficiently high Ad Rank may show up. Ad Rank is a combination of your bid price (your cost per click, CPC), your ad quality and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats. Ad auction eligibility is determined by having better quality components in your ad. AdWord measures ad quality in order to determine whether your ad is qualified to appear at all. Higher quality ads can often lead to lower CPCs, meaning you pay less per ad when they have been determined to be of higher quality than a competitor who may be paying a higher CPC rate. This usually happens when your company uses highly relevant keywords in their ads. Every time someone performs a search that triggers an ad that competes in an auction, AdWords calculates an Ad Rank in the auction. Your Ad Rank is recalculated each time your ad is eligible to appear and completes in an auction. Your Ad Rank is calculated using your bid amount, expected click through rate, ad relevance, landing page experience and your ad format. The quality of your landing page is determined by how relevant it is, how easy it is navigate and how easy it is to understand. Also included are the quality of your ad and your website. This is how you could win a higher position at a lower price when your competition has a higher bid. That is, by using highly relevant keywords, ads and extensions. Extensions are site links. The ad with the better expected impact from extensions will generally appear in a higher position on the Google page than another. To improve your ad position, a company can increase your bid or they can focus on improving the quality of their ads and their website. All high ranking ads are eligible to show in the top positions, provided they exceed a certain Ad Rank threshold. Other ad placement is along the side of the Google page or on the bottom of the page. These statistics can be located in your AdWords Statistics column. AdWords provides a service called Flexible bid strategies for ad auctions which automatically set bids to optimize your performance goals for your AdWord campaigns. The system can be programed to automatically set bids to help you get the most clicks within a target spend amount you choose, or when site visits are your primary goal or when you want to maximize traffic, or to help you get your ads to the top of the page or the first page of results of 3

4 a Google search or when you want more visibility than other domains in search results. These are just some of the bid option arrangements one can set up in your AdWord account to maximize the auction process for ad placement on a Google page. Ad position is the order which your ad shows up on the Google page. In general, it is good if your ad appears higher on the Google page, because it is more likely more customers will see it. Ads can appear on the top of the page, on the side of the page and on the bottom of the page. Ad position is determined by your Ad Rank. Today s marketing code is all about help, not the hype. Creating content on your website that attracts traffic and grows your business is the goal of every social media marketing program. The various social media platforms provide so many ways to reach out to a targeted audience. This particular audience is an online advertiser s most valuable business asset. The ad campaign they create must be focused, thorough and have a compelling message on all the social media platforms the campaign chooses to utilize. The strategy is always to raise awareness of your company, to market your product, your service, and your credentials. As a company, you must provide information and content the user actually wants to engage with. You can t hold their attention for very long with mediocre information. AdWords provides tools that can help a company to provide and share their marketing materials and ad campaigns on the internet. These services will target relevant blogs, posts, and target audiences. You can also use these tools to track the hits to your website and analyze how effective the distributed content was to the targeted audience. AdWords would be an excellent solution for a company wishing to increase its online footprint, to increase its visibility and to maximize its revenue per click. The key to a successful AdWords campaign is to focus on keywords that prove to yield a high click rate on your ads, creating clearly written and precise ads that grab and hold onto a user's short attention span, and producing a strong, appealing and informative website that will entice a user to contact your company for the service he/she has been searching for and that you can provide. The AdWords program enables businesses to set a budget for advertising and only pay when people click the ads. AdWords provides many helpful programs that allow a company to maximize the potential success of a marketing campaign staged through the AdWords program. If you know what your customers are looking for, you can focus your campaign, your keywords, your ads and your landing page on words or information that is more relevant to them and, thereby, making more customers likely to click on your ads. The ads generated through AdWords can be seen by customers the moment they begin searching for a particular service online and in today's world that is key. A subscriber only pays AdWords when someone clicks on their ad, visits your website or calls your office through your ad on Google AdWords. It is an excellent way to attract more customers, to bring in new website visitors, grow an online presence, and provide additional service to returning customers. A company can target their ads either globally, nationally, regionally or by targeting certain cities. With Google AdWords you can manage your own campaign and make changes when desired. Remember, no visit, no fee. You set the budget, so your campaign costs depend on what you are trying to accomplish with your advertising. There is no contract to lock you in. You can adjust your campaign by searching for new keywords or ad text if it is not producing the desired results, pause the campaign or end the campaign at any time. And, the tracking tools AdWords offers always show you what AdWords campaign is delivering. III. Findings 4

5 A look at the data that Google Adwords provides allows us a better picture on how the platform is working for CECA. The following is a chart showing the keywords used in CECA campaign: As such a business as CECA, a lot of the keywords are related to college and the college advising business. The chart above looks at the year to date (Jan. 1 June 24, 2015) of CECA campaign. It gained 1,646 clicks, 574,732 impressions, cost $3,719.77, and had an average ad position of 1.6. The graph below better shows the day by day progress of the campaign. The college application keyword scored the most clicks and impressions. The AdWords program enables businesses to set a budget for advertising and only pay when people click the ads. AdWords provides many helpful programs that allow a company to maximize the potential success of a marketing campaign staged through the Adwords program. If you know what your customers are looking for, you can focus your campaign, your keywords, your ads and your landing page on words or information that is more relevant to them and, thereby, making more customers likely to click on your ads. A secondary problem that affects the business is the cost of sending a person to college in general. With the student loan crisis occurring in this country, fewer and fewer people can afford to hire a company like CECA to 5

6 help them find a good college to attend. This problem can cascade the already tough business of finding CECA online. What would have to happen in order to make CECA more attractive to potential clients using search engines. IV. Recommendations After discussions with company executives and working with Google Adwords data over the past 2 weeks, this analysis has two deductions. 1. The first is that Google Adwords is an great marketing vehicle. They are a very well run company with provides a great product. However, it has not worked for CECA. The ROI on the investment has been poor. Specifically, there have been no conversions into contracts. While the company felt it would at least be a break even proposition using Adwords, it has not. 2. As CECA is a niche market provider, the website needs to be impressive and superior to its competition. Presently, the site is stagnant and does not have any relevant material that demonstrate their superiority in the marketplace. As this was discussed with the partners, they agreed with this finding and have just recently hired a web developer to improve the site. This is the best marketing investment that CECA can make at this point in time. V. Summary The reality of this business and the industry is that there are many firms that claim to be college advisors. CECA has made a long term commitment to growing the business. They are not afraid to try new marketing programs but have decided that the real way to grow this business is by word of mouth and holding quarterly events on relevant college related subjects. Based on this analysis and conversations over the last three weeks with my direct supervisor, Brent Haney, the company will not implement Google Adwords in the future. The major learning that I have gleaned from this is that if you are going to use Google AdWords, the product must have a broad market with a very straightforward message. 6

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