Report Central - Scripts

Why adwords scripts aren’t as clever as you think

Have you ever noticed how there’s that one person in your business that can preach how to do something but always runs for the hills when it comes to doing the work? They’re that “clever” person that’s always there when things go right but never when it goes wrong.

In the media adwords scripts are the guy that takes the glory but in reality they’re not the person making the difference, it’s the account manager.

Scripts don’t build the actual foundations of a campaign, people do. Scripts don’t even put up the walls a campaign needs to be strong, experience does.

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So where do scripts come in and why are they so useful?

Adwords scripts dictate how fast those walls go up. Without people and experience scripts mean nothing – and yet today people think scripts are the answer to all their problems. Equip a college grad with a script and all will be ok.

I don’t have a problem with adwords scripts, in fact we use them all the time; but somewhere along the adwords journey someone proposed the myth that great scripts are all you need. Scripts became more than just a cool tool to help you squeeze that extra 5% out of what you’re doing; they became the endgame.

Whole brands were constructed around great scripts and global awards were handed out to those that could make the next big script. Adwords scripts became the Tesla of the adwords universe. Everyone wanted a piece, mention their name and people would instantly buy in whether they made a difference or not.

What happens when you rely too heavily on a script…

I’ve blogged before about how 80% of campaigns don’t need to use a digital agency to get good results. Well the truth is, just like you don’t need an agency, you can run a great campaign without a script too.

To me using an adwords scripts is much like using a sat nav; they help you get to where you’re going faster but the same work could be done using a map (even if it takes longer and is a bit more clunky).

If you’re too reliant on scripts then not only could you could end up like the youth of today when the battery runs out on their sat nav – lost, but worse, put in the wrong address and you’ll end up going the wrong way. A script is only as good as the information and data you put into it.

Yes scripts are great, but much like putting a great boot on an epic football player they should be used to turn potential into greatness, not cover up for a lack of skills.

Sadly as time has gone on, adwords scripts have become viewed a cheat book, fast forwarding the inexperienced to glory; except in the hands of the inexperience they don’t tend to work.

The difference between average and great campaigns…

It’s a shame that more businesses don’t really understand the difference between average and great results, because if they did then those that hide behind the mystery and wonder of a good script wouldn’t last for long.

I have the steadfast belief that google adwords is viewed as some sort of hocus pocus by the majority of companies; a view point that plays into the hands of booth google and the digital agency industry. Until this Tesla like reverence of scripts (and google) is resolved I have no doubt thousands of marketing departments will be duped into thinking a great script that worked for a global business will work for their business when they could have got better results by finding someone who knew what they were looking at in the first place.

An example of scripts at their worst…

Just last week we rescued an account from the over scripted, under experienced clutches of an award winning digital agency in New York.

I’m sure this agency is running some great campaigns for some huge companies and getting great results. After all lots of fresh data + a great brand = guaranteed adwords script success.

But for a small to medium sized business that doesn’t really have any buzz about it, putting an inexperienced adwords manager on the account with a script playbook to go at just doesn’t cut it.

I’ll give you an example of how the lack of experience played out in real life:

  • The client asked them what they felt about the landing page – “it doesn’t affect conversions”. False
  • The client asked them if the CTR was any good – “I don’t know”. False
  • The client asked if they could link leads generated to sales revenue – “We only look at lead volumes”. Oh dear

A quick look at the account will tell you the source of the problem. Despite spending upwards of $2,000 a month on a retainer, the PPC manager was spending just thirty minutes a week looking at the campaign, using scripts to do the rest.

It seems for this college grad, a script was less a tool to turbo charge their results and more a way to do less work.

How to use adwords scripts well…

If you’re looking to take your adwords campaign to the next level, then a script is undoubtedly the way to do it, but it shouldn’t be the only playbook you’ve got.

To really succeed in adwords, you have to understand the line where experience ends and scripts come into play. Scripts are work horses that can do the work of three PPC managers, but experience is the piece of the puzzle no computer can as yet replicate; the human factor that understands instead of just reacts.

Think of the difference between experience and a script as that of a Captain and his crew. Yes the crew lift the sails and mop the decks but the captain plots the course, reads the weather and avoids the danger.
If you’ve found a great script, that’s no replacement for understanding your adwords account. As a general rule before you let a script loose on your campaign you need to take your adwords exams to get a general feel for what it takes to run a pay per click campaign.

Even then, adwords exams are like an 11+, they don’t equip you for the real world. We’d never dream of letting someone fresh from their exams loose on a live campaign.

Once new recruits have their exams under their belts, we let them shadow experienced ppc managers and perform many of the roles that the adwords scripts will perform so that they understand the basics of what the script is doing instead of just pressing go.

If you’re in the market for a new script, it’s worth remembering that scripts don’t make the magic happen, so if you’re thinking they will solve some mystery for you think again. Often if you can’t solve the problem without a script then you won’t be able to solve it with one either.

Scripts are exceptionally useful when in the right hands, so if you think a script is your only way forward, try looking for the right pair of hands first and see where you end up.

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