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Should you avoid Google AdWords Express? Google is getting real aggressive on their ploys to get small businesses to start using AdWords to drive increased sales to their business.  You may have seen an email come through your inbox recently which looks really similar to this:

Save $500 Google Ads Offer



Sounds enticing, right?  Well, unbeknownst to the small business owner, this program is called “Google AdWords Express” which is a service designed by Google where they will set up your campaign for you, and give you a $500 credit if you spend at least that on your first month.  They’re like the “drug dealers” Jason Fried talks about in his book “Rework”, where they get you a taste for free, knowing you’ll be back for more with cash in hand.

Well, there are a couple of problems with this program.

1) I’m not sure I trust Google setting up my campaign for me.  If the end-all goal is to please shareholders, and that means increasing revenue through the cash cow, which is most certainly AdWords, then what incentive do they really have to optimize my campaign as a small business to get the highest amount of leads for the lowest cost?  If you’ve seen the AdWords interface lately, you might notice that a lot of the tools and campaign optimization techniques are all really designed to get you to increase your budget.  OK, fair enough.  Except:

2) The Google AdWords Express program doesn’t allow for conversion tracking!  What the what?  That’s right….the Google AdWords Express is pretty much all automated with very limited analytics and tracking.  Store owners are going to have to rely on the old unreliable question of “where did you hear about us?”

I guess the one benefit the AdWords Express program does have is that many of the cost-per-clicks (CPC’s) on keywords are less than what you would be paying in the traditional AdWords program.   That means for words you may be paying $2-$3 per click already, could cost as low as $0.80 in some cases.  In others, like more competitive terms, the rates are about the same.

One company reportedly canceled their subscription because they found Google was bidding on their own brand name.  In other cases, Google was able to get better performance by splitting ads into separate groups, like one for “dog washing” and one for “dog sitting” – something a small business owner trying to manage an AdWords account wouldn’t know to do otherwise.

At the end of the day, if a small business is spending $50/day or more on AdWords, you should avoid Google AdWords Express, and instead consult a certified professional to help navigate the waters for you.  If you’re spending less than that, then give Google AdWords Express a shot.