Google changes the way AdWords works all the time. I'm continually reviewing all their changes just to keep up with the latest features. It's not easy.
Regardless of the new features Google AdWords has, the first thing you need to decide when setting up your new AdWords campaign is the list of keywords to target.
What keywords are best? That's a real tough question to answer since Google hides them from you in your Analytics reports.
According to Google's search engine optimization point of view, they don't want you to construct your website based on targeted keywords; meanwhile their AdWords system is all about keyword targeting and budgets.
Can you say conflicted?
AdWords has some really good built-in keyword suggestion tools to help you pick the keywords you could target, but you'll never know if these suggestions are good or bad until you start spending some money.
Regardless of all the new features in AdWords every few months, one setup tactic remains the same... The Test Budget.
The Test Budget is an amount of money specifically earmarked for testing of your online ads. This should be at least $400 but probably no more than $2000 per test. Since this is a "test" you should not *expect* any return on the ads, instead you want to see *if* the ads will return anything at all in association with the keywords you've chosen.
A lot of labor can easily be sucked up when you set up a complex campaign in AdWords, and all that labor cost would be completely wasted if you are targeting the wrong keywords, the wrong time of the day, and the wrong days of the week.
With a test budget you would set up a few simple ads for different sets of keywords. These ads would display all day long for at least a week. A two week test during a non-holiday period would be better.
At the end of the testing period, you would run reports to show you what days of the week the ads were clicked, what time of day they were clicked most, and the keywords people searched that actually triggered your ads.
With these 3 factors, you can then create a more complicated campaign to target the best days, times, and keywords.
This Test Budget won't help you write the ads, or test ad effectiveness, for that you still need a creative team. But it does give your creative team better ammunition with which to target your customers. Keep in mind that there will still be a lot of labor, and probably a high cost, to set up the complicated campaign.
I realize that the idea of spending money on a test is not something that you want to hear. In fact it might sound like you are throwing money away.
In reality, without the test phase you are jumping right into full scale advertising. Considering the setup costs, and the cost to run a full campaign, imagine how much more expensive it would be if the campaign failed completely?
Earmarking money as an AdWords Test Budget is a smart idea and will save you a lot of money, and disappointment, in the long run. Consider a new test every time you want to change the strategy of your AdWords campaigns.