I had the pleasure of working with over a dozen startups in Poland and abroad, I talked about Google Ads at the Cracow Startup Week, and at the beginning, the basic question was always: “Do Google Ads for startups make sense?” In my opinion, they do, but you have to approach them completely differently than normal Google Ads campaigns.
Does it make sense to do Google Ads for a startup?
Yes. Definitely. However, it must be remembered that we have to approach startup campaigns completely differently than e-commerce campaigns or services whose products are already known. In the case of regular Google Ads campaigns, my workflow (in a nutshell) is as follows: at the outset, I focus on the types of campaigns that potentially generate the most sales, i.e. Text Ads and Shopping campaigns. Only in the next step (when the campaign pays for itself) I test other types of ads (Display and YouTube) and remarketing. This allows you to quickly get income from the campaign and invest the earned budget in tests.
In the case of startups, it is a bit different. The product is unknown, so search campaigns for keywords related to your brand, product, or service will get very few impressions. In this case, you should do it a bit differently and properly reverse the diagram I wrote about 180 degrees.
At the very beginning, you should start by building awareness with our potential clients. Display campaigns and video campaigns on YouTube with well-chosen groups and destinations are perfect for this. I personally support these campaigns very often with additional text campaigns, but it all depends on whether the budget allows us to do so, or not.
What types of campaigns to use for startups?
What I will describe below is of course only an example of the use of Google Ads, but it is based on the experience from previous campaigns for startups that I have run in which such campaigns have worked.
Google Display Network
In Google Display Network, let’s not focus on interests and topics. These are very broad groups of an audience and in my opinion, they did not work. Targeting that is definitely worth your attention is Custom Audience Groups targeting keywords that users search for in the search engine. I wrote a separate entry about this targeting, “Targeting image ads at people who search for specific terms in the search engine” and you will find more information there. However, it is worth remembering that when using this targeting in the case of startups, we must use keywords related to the industry, services, or products that our potential users are searching for. We can’t use keywords with our name or services/product because, as with text ads, the audience will be very small.
Another targeting that will be appropriate for startups will be placement targeting. We select the pages that our potential users visit and target our advertisements there.
It’s also a good idea to test your keyword targeting. Thanks to this targeting, we can display our ads on pages where the keywords are located. This will also help you learn about new pages (placements) that we can use for placement targeting. Here, it’s worth using keywords that we’ve already used in custom audiences.
If our product or service is aimed only at men, women, or people in a specific age group, then you should narrow down each of the above-mentioned targetings to demographic targeting.
YouTube video ads
Video ads are, in my opinion, one of the most interesting options for startups. While in a graphic advertisement we have to present our product or service on one graphic, in the case of video advertisements, we have several seconds of film or animation. Many startups are so innovative that showing their operation only in graphic ads is difficult, and creating a good animation or advertising movie is not such a big expense these days. Alternatively, you can try to record something yourself. In our pockets, we have smartphones recording in full HD with good stabilization, which is enough.
The ad format I always recommend to my clients is a skippable in-stream ads. This saves you some budget when the user skips the ad and the videos or animations may be longer.
How to set your campaign targeting? For video ads, I recommend targeting placements (specific videos or channels) or keywords in video descriptions and titles. For YouTube ads, you may be tempted to test your topic-specific targeting.
As an addition to image and video campaigns, it is worth creating a text campaign in a search engine, containing words related to the brand and name of the product or service. It will be an add-on that will allow you to find us in the search engine.
Another option for using text ads is a campaign that contains keywords related to similar products or services, or those that are also used by users who may be interested in our product or service. This is where the budget problem usually arises. Such a campaign will be expensive as your keywords and ads will not be as well suited to your landing page as your competitors’ pages. So clicks will cost much more, and therefore at the very beginning, with a limited budget, I advise you to replace this form of advertising with a graphic ad targeted at custom audiences.
How to develop Google Ads campaigns for startups?
Over time, when we collect the right amount of data, we can start testing new targeting options and new custom audience lists. If we notice an increase in search ads, it is worth transferring a larger part of the budget to them over time and expanding them with new keywords. At the very beginning of the campaign, we should also create remarketing lists that we can now use in remarketing. It’s a good idea to do it right after starting the campaign because you won’t have to wait for the remarketing lists to get full later.
We must remember that at the very beginning of the campaign, we actually build the “recognition” of our product or service. I do not like this statement very much, because very often people misuse this term and explain campaigns that do not bring the expected results. However, in the case of Google Ads campaigns for startups, we must be prepared that conversions at the very beginning of the campaign will usually be low. With this Google Ads setting, we actually reach users who are only at the top of the sales funnel.
To have something to draw conclusions from, which we will later use in optimizing Google Ads campaigns, it is worth setting micro-goals in Google Analytics that will help us measure the quality of traffic. We accumulate much more such micro-goals than the most important conversions and we will have a larger data pool that will show us in which way to develop the campaign and whether the traffic delivered to the website is of good quality.
Being at various events and talking to owners, I notice that marketing in startups, and in particular in technology startups, is very often overlooked or treated very occasionally. A lot of money is invested in technology, and the marketing of this budget has far too little. It is worth remembering that even the best product or service must be somehow “shown to the world”. In my opinion, Google Ads, if we do it skillfully, is a very good option that will allow you to get new customers relatively quickly. And yet we all care about it, developing our own business.