I took a fairly unscientific approach, and really just tried to absorb and learn what I could. My budget was next to nothing, and I wanted to see what I could do on a really tight budget. I got a reasonable amount of traffic but unfortunately, I don't think I got any product conversions (purchases). My completely unscientific approach and limited budget was a bit of a let-down -- and I really didn't spend as much time as I wanted on it. We were asked to spend about an hour a day on "the challenge" in between our regular stuff.
There's a tremendous amount of really good help and documentation, and a lot of time can be spent just reading -- which was one of my main goals -- there's a lot more to it than just knowing what the acronyms mean. It's probably a good idea to plan for that before starting a campaign.
I think the trick is to come up with a plan of action, and metrics to help you evaluate your success/failure and progress. An obviously critical aspect is to get the right keywords and creative that makes sense for the keyword sets you want or need to use. Then bid-up, burn-in, track, and quickly peel out the stuff that isn't working.
I ran two pretty basic campaigns:
1) Starter Campaign - Budget Optimizer enabled [ $20.00 / 30 days ]
2) Campaign #2 - Price focussed adverts [ $5.00 / day ]
Here are some numbers...
Clicks Impr. CTR Avg. CPC Cost
11 24,627 0.04% $0.24 $2.63
63 99,620 0.06% $0.79 $49.96
74 124,247 0.05% $0.71 $52.59 (Totals)
Writing really good creative is imperative. Ad position is also another key factor in terms of getting good results. In terms of generating traffic, you can judge for yourself. I was also able to get some purely organic traffic as well, but I don't have those numbers handy. That said, I was able to easily get more than double that traffic on my blog without spending a penny -- so I'm definitely still a strong believer in organic traffic generation.
I didn't get to spend much time on this area but the coolest feature for me was Google Analytics. Lots of data to look at -- graphs, maps, charts, and numbers galore -- and it helps you figure out what's going on and think about ways to handle your campaign.
Granted, there are puny numbers and it feels a little "Mickey Mouse" to me, but it was really interesting and I learned a bunch. I'm not sure of exactly how well others did, but there were a good handful of conversion purchases -- just not from my campaigns. I think my lack of conversions (and the same for other participants) is partly due to the nature of the product, and I think we could probably make some improvements to the product creation and the check-out process as well.
Ultimately, two conversions would have paid for my entire campaign, but as I mentioned before it was my first foray into AdWords and SEM, and there's definitely a LOT to it. I've had an AdSense account for a while (obviously), and I had an AdSense but never really used it until now, so I probably could have done the reading without spending anything but I think you really learn a lot more just by messing around with it.
I learned a lot for $52.59, why not give it a try? Hint: There's an AdWords link conveniently placed in the column on the right »