Common DIY Marketing Fail: AdWords

This is the sixth part in a series, “Common DIY Marketing Failures,” in which we examine some of the common downfalls for businesses who attempt to market themselves online without the guidance of an expert. Just joining us? Browse our previous DIY fails posts on: keyword stuffing, citation profiles, bad link building, content fails, and social media.

When business owners first learn of Google AdWords, what it does, and how it works, there’s a first response we see that tends to be pretty common…

“Seems easy enough… I can probably manage that myself!”

What can be really deceptive is that, on some level, this is true! Learning the basics of how AdWords works can be accomplished in an afternoon, and a committed business owner can get ads up and running pretty fast. However, there is a world of difference between a campaign that will work, and a campaign that will work well. Let’s take a look at our local Pants Store Owner, and see if we can figure out where he went wrong.

First things first, Pants Man starts up a campaign and adds some keywords. Maybe his list looks something like this:

  • pants
  • pants for sell
  • cheap pants
  • khaki pants
  • corduroy pants
  • pants store

Looks pretty straightforward. Next up, he’ll need to write an ad. He keeps it simple, opting for something along the lines of this:

pants ad


Now equipped with an ad and the keywords it’ll show for, Pants Man sets his budget and pushes them live! Excited to let the campaign run overnight to see how it performs, he goes home and eagerly awaits the morning when he can check his stats.

The next day, he logs into AdWords and his campaign seems to be limited by budget. People are clicking his ad, that’s great! Upon a closer look, however, he notices that there weren’t actually any orders from his increase in traffic. What went wrong?!

Lots of things went wrong. Pants man forgot to set up geographical targeting, meaning his ad budget was quickly exhausted by a nationwide audience. Furthermore, he sent users to his homepage, not a relevant landing page based on their query. He has committed the rookie mistake of confusing traffic with success.

There are a ton of things Pants man could have done to increase the effectiveness of his marketing dollars — tight geographical targeting settings, more relevant landing pages, long-tail terms, sitelink extensions and more are just scratching the surface. Agencies with ongoing relationships with Google may even have access to special AdWords Beta features that aren’t available to the general public!