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There are two main problems being a startup: 1) we have limited capital which means we can’t waste money on poorly performing campaigns (which is a good thing, actually); and 2) as founders we have to do everything ourselves and learn all of this marketing stuff, and its usually the hard way.

So, here are 4 easy ways you can increase your AdWords conversion rates by 3 o’clock this afternoon.  This is the stuff I experimented with, and I went from a 12% conversion rate to a 56% conversion rate and it now performs better than our organic traffic most of the time.

1. Believe it or not, certain times of day perform better than others.

At 12 midnight your ads will start appearing, and if you’re like us, your measly single-digit daily budget will be gone by the time you wake up in the morning.  First, try to get your budget to last through a good part of the day.  This is tough if you bid on expensive keywords, but start by turning the ads on by 8am.  My guess was I might get a “better” crowd of folks in the morning, than the wee hours of the night.  I did notice an uptick in conversions by playing around with the time of day my ads turn on.

2. Set a daily budget, not a total budget.

4 Ways To Increase Conversions

In AdWords, you have two ways to pay for ads: set a max spending limit, and Google will deduct from the budget until it is exhausted; or set a daily budget, and once
you’ve hit the daily limit, your ads turn off until the next day.  IMHO, choose the latter, because if you’re not on top of this, Google will blow through your max budget before you even blink and eye.  In my case, choosing the latter option meant I could only make a $7 mistake (yes – sadly, that’s our daily budget).

3. Use exact match phrases, not broad (for now).

My advice would be not to go too crazy with keywords, especially broad match keywords (Learn the difference between broad, phrase, exact match and negative keywords here). I started with maybe 10-20 keywords MAX, and I made them all “exact match”.  I wanted to make sure the folks who saw my ad were for the exact words I was targeting.  Some may argue I’m missing out on a lot of opportunity by not using a broad match strategy, but my argument is that I don’t have that much time to spend managing this, and I’d rather cut out as much waste as possible in the beginning.

4. Manage the content network yourself, not Google.

Okay, this is the most important one out of the 4 items in this list, and here’s why: when you choose the strategy of a few keywords with exact match as pointed out in #3, you will get 90% or more of your clicks from Google’s content network (there’s simply not enough in the search network to go through your budget yet).  The problem I found was that Google was putting our ads on what I thought were completely irrelevant websites.  Now I’m sure Google corrects itself and they simply cast a wide net to see what they can catch, and optimize from there (if you let them), but I didn’t want to spend the money waiting for them, so I optimized it myself.  I noticed this because I saw that I was getting a decent amount of clicks, but the conversions on the other end sucked.  They were at somewhere between 8-12% (organic converts at 55-60%, so this better improve or I was going to kill it from the budget).  So in your campaign, you can choose to manage all of the website in the network that YOU want your ad appearing on.  Just go to Opportunities > Placement Tool, and you can actually search for sites by keyword.  Instead of having our ads appear on 300 irrelevant sites, I narrowed it down to about 50 highly relevant sites.  And then BAM!  300-400% conversion improvement in 48 hours.  It worked so well, that I’ve decided to keep it in my marketing budget.