Google Adwords vs Solo Ads
Round two of the mother of all traffic battles: Google Adwords vs Solo Ads.
Igor offers a deep look into how the two traffic juggernauts match up in the following categories:
– ease of use
– average customer value
– offer type
– ad and offer shelf life
Find out what’s the right traffic source for you.
Igor Kheifets: I'm Igor Kheifets and this is the List Building Lifestyle, a podcast
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Welcome back to another edition of the List Building Lifestyle, with your host Igor Kheifets. What could be better than getting your absolute most ideal prospect right at the second that they're looking for a solution? For example, if you're selling pipes, right, what could be better than having someone go and log in on Google, and just type something like "buy a pipe," or "buy pipes," and have your ad show up, and say, "Looking for pipes? Oh, great. We got 20% off special today on all pipes. Click here." There's really fewer things that can be better than that. Perhaps the only thing that is better is having a friend recommend your business or your offer right at the right moment, at the right time, to the right person. For example, if I was like, "Hmm, you know, Billy Bob, I'm looking for some pipes," and Billy Bob was like, "Oh, yeah. You know, there's a great pipe place on the 42nd Street that I got some pipes from last year. It was amazing. The pipes are strong and good, and they last, and the service was great, and the price was super affordable. In fact, it was 20% cheaper than anything else I was able to find."
That would probably be the most ideal scenario, but the next best thing to it is just getting your ideal prospect right at the second that they are looking for that solution. But the only way you can do that is if you do Google AdWords. Now, if you don't know what Google AdWords is, Google AdWords is basically you popping up an ad on Google's search page when your ideal target prospect is looking for some kind of keyword, preferably a keyword that is actually related to your business. If you're smart, if you're really good at it, and if you're really technical, it can actually nail down the buyer keywords and really go hard on it. With that said, Google AdWords is probably the best traffic source you can possibly hope to get. That is why a lot of people back in the early 2000s built incredibly businesses, both through Google AdWords and with Google Search, like literally skyrocketed to millions of dollars overnight, because they got in front of a targeted audience with a good offer, and they didn't need to pre-sell that audience. They didn't need to do anything, because they were simply getting in front of a buyer audience. People who were already looking for something to buy, and that's cool.
But let's face it. Today, Google AdWords is ... I mean, it's no longer a fair game. I mean, think about it. If you're in the business of, say, selling information products on how to make money online, you can barely even advertise. You'll probably get banned more often than not, but if you can, the "make money online" is a keyword, right, so if you want to bid on "make money online," or "work from home," we're talking about $15 to $25 a click. Not a lead, a click. That's very expensive. I don't care who you are and what you sell, but to break even or to make money on those types of ad prices, you need to be pushing a lot of product at a premium price. I haven't figured out a way to do that. It's just way too expensive.
The other downside to Google Adwords these days is that Google is so big that if they're as big as to say that they can give you a full-on business, that they can build you an income, they're also big enough to take it all away. Now, I remember when I was doing coaching calls and I was actually coaching people one-on-one, and I was doing this high-end coaching program of mine, I spoke to this gentleman who was selling DVDs back in the early 2000s, when people actually used DVDs. I'm talking about the players and the discs. He was selling DVDs purely off of SEO, purely off of Google Search, and he was making millions of dollars a year almost passively. Then Google changed the algorithm, something changes, and they basically shut this guy off. Now, I don't recall exactly whether it was free search, or paid search, but it really doesn't matter, because it happens in both. This guy loses his entire business overnight, and spends the next 10 years trying to recover.
Now, here's the problem with that. You see, when you have it so easy, when you have it so comfortable and convenient that Google is the one sending you traffic, all you can think of when they take it away is, "How can I get it back?" He spent the next 10 years trying literally to rank websites, to find offers like that, and he couldn't. He couldn't succeed. Now, I spoke to the guy. He's very smart, very shrewd, but his mindset was just messed up from that point forward, and he was dreaming of getting back on sucking the Google's titty, but that was just a dream that hindered his success, and kind of decided his fate from that point forward.
Google AdWords, as much as I want to say that it's really the best, but it's just no longer practical. No longer practical. There's still some opportunities, though. There's still some opportunities with, say, click to call ads. I'm seeing this as a new kind of emerging niche market, where people start bidding on pay per call affiliate programs. Now, this is something I haven't even heard of up until earlier this year, actually, and turns out there's a whole ... There's networks out there that will pay you on a pay per call basis, and that's pretty cool. With Google, you can do that, because a lot of the search traffic today on Google is mobile, right? People just look for things on their mobile phone. You can capitalize on that by promoting offers that are pay per call. The pay per call, or the click to call prices are still acceptable enough for you to do that, right?
There used to be a time, I remember, when Google clicks were like, I don't know, one-seventh of a cent, and seven cents, and three cents, and five cents, and people would literally make money by arbitraging the clicks, sometimes with a 10% margin. Other times they were just promoting affiliate products before Google banned all affiliates. It was so easy back in the day, even though to me it seemed very hard, but now it's truly, truly difficult to be able to show up at the precise moment in time in front of your best customer without losing the shirt off your back. Because again, even if you can do that, which in and of itself is very complicated, even for someone like me, like I actually had to hire an agency to build out my entire Google AdWords campaigns and stuff like that, and watch the stats, and it's just crazy. They had to call compliance. We had to create disclaimers, and it's just stupid.
We had to do all of that, but even if you are smart enough to figure out how to set it all up, it's still, the price is just impossible to deal with, which is where I really want to stack up Google AdWords against Solo Ads. A couple weeks ago, we've done an episode where we stacked Solo Ads against Facebook Ads, and I declared that for me, unless you are trying to run for president and you need a lot of exposure and a lot of video, unless you sell food-related items, or unless you're an e-commerce business in a niche market or a local business, Facebook Ads is not the right choice for you. For me, Solo Ads are number one, because just give me access to targeted people who are already spending money on things and want to sell them. They also allow me to do that in a very easy way, like literally just finding a list, and mailing that list. No technical mumbo jumbo necessary.
I want to stack up Google AdWords and Solo Ads, and see which one's better, because the fight isn't as obvious, or I guess the matchup isn't as obvious as with Facebook Ads, because Google AdWords is very high quality. The one thing that I really hate about Facebook Ads is this. I would probably be willing to deal with all the bullshit that comes with Facebook Ads, if I knew I'm getting a really high quality, high value customer, but because I know I'm not, because I know I'm getting a customer who's actually worth maybe one-twentieth of what a Solo Ad customer would be worth to me, because of the way they make buying decisions and spend money, I see no point in dealing with all that BS when it comes to Facebook Ads. But with Google AdWords, it may be worth a shot, because Google AdWords' average customer value is almost the same. Slightly under, but still almost the same as email traffic, which is incredible, right? Not to mention that, again, you're getting in front of the best prospects.
But let's think about it this way. Is it really scalable? Because with Google AdWords, even if you have a mass appeal keyword, you're always facing two big challenges. The first challenge you're facing is the price. The price, again, I will keep coming back to this again and again and again. The price is just too high to ignore, okay? You're dealing with a very high price, often in the double digits per click, and that means you have to sell really expensive items, and you have to convert them on a click base. Literally, one click, one sale. That's how you need to make it happen.
Besides that, you're also dealing with competition. The moment there are competitors, there are senior ads, guess what? They just knock it all off. Literally try to push you off by either outbidding you, or blatantly stealing your copy, and stealing your offers, stealing your ads. It's a visible traffic source. This is another thing that on one hand is a good thing if you want to build branding, if you want to get in front of a big market, but on the other hand, it kind of sucks, because for as long as you're operating in a visible market, other people can easily copy what you do. Now, with Solo Ads it's different, because for someone to copy what you're doing is they need to be on those lists, and they need to see your ad all the time, or they need to know that where you advertise, which is, again, very hard for them to accomplish, because for the most part, it happens ... It's not a public thing, right? It's not a public display like Google AdWords or Facebook.
Now, another thing you're facing, another challenge that you're facing with Google AdWords is that you're not really allowed to market the same way you're allowed with Solo Ads. With Solo Ads, you can market pretty much any product, and you can market it in pretty much any way. For as long as the person's sending out the promotion is okay with the way you market, you're good, and for the most part, nobody even cares, because just, "Okay. That's your style, that's the way you want to do it, go ahead."
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With Google AdWords, you can't. Your website needs to have certain elements to it, and a lot of times they want your website to have several pages. They want things to be on the website. They want you to almost not use landing pages. If you try to just send traffic to a regular, average, classic capture page, you won't be able to do it. You need to make it seem like an authority site, sometimes, and again, that's another challenge you probably don't need to deal with when you run advertising, because that is difficult enough on its own, right?
Now, another challenge actually that I ran into is when I tried to scale my webinar campaign. I couldn't really find keywords that worked, so I would go for broad keywords that made sense for my offer, but what I ended up bumping into is, I got limited traffic, for one, because I was always outbid by my competitors, even though I was already being charged about $15 a lead, which was way above my minimum, but I was like, "Okay, let me try and optimize this first and then I'm gonna try and get my lead cost down." I was already way above my norm, way above my acceptable cost per lead, and in addition to that, I was also getting very little traffic.
Now, it makes no sense if I'm bidding on a popular keyword, for one, but eventually I realized that I was just simply being outbid by other people, or I fell a victim to the Google score, because Google will actually not show your ad if it doesn't get enough click-throughs. What it will do, it will limit your traffic, saying, "Your ad isn't getting clicks, and your clicks aren't converting, so we don't want that bad user experience for the people. If it converts, that means it's good user experience and therefore we'll keep it, but if it doesn't then we will punish you with higher click cost, we will show your ad less often, and we will basically make your life difficult. We will not give you our traffic."
Again, it all comes down to if you're sucking on the 800 pound gorilla's titty, get ready for that gorilla to take that titty away. That's just the way the world works. If they're big enough to give you things, they're also big enough to take those things away. The question you need to ask yourself, are you willing to go through all that trouble to figure out that one good offer, that one good ad, and that one good creative, and that one good campaign, and then to try and figure out how to break even, or recoup your money, or maybe generate customers at a loss and recoup your money down the road, or would you just take an easier route and just run an ad to a targeted audience? Okay, maybe not as fired up to buy right now as a Google AdWords customer looking for a solution at that very moment, but still pretty damn targeted, and who's known to spend a lot of money per transaction because they're email subscribers and are already buying things yourself?
In my opinion, the answer is obvious, and again, this is where I have to kind of mention that it also depends on the type of product you're offering, okay? If you're doing mainstream stuff, if your product doesn't require local interaction, if it's not like a physical store, whatever, if you're doing self-help weight loss and stuff like that, the big niches where it's super competitive on Google, then those are the niches for you to try and do Solo Ads, but if you're doing local marketing, then Google AdWords will definitely be a very interesting experience for you, because you can target only the local markets. Therefore, you can minimize your cost per click, you can increase your reach, you can increase the targetedness of your ads, and so on and so forth, right?
Google AdWords definitely is a great traffic source. You can make it work, and you should be making it work in particular scenarios, but when it comes to big, mainstream markets where location isn't a factor, then you definitely look into Solo Ads, because today, after people been aggressively marketing online for what, 20 years probably at this point, there are so many mailing lists for you to hit it's ridiculous, and there's more mailing lists coming up each and every single day, because there's influencers building audiences, there's people recognizing the power of email, and there's just overall abundance of customers everywhere. You can probably find a couple of lists with total size of one million people, and just build your business around that if you wanted to. I don't recommend that, because one is a bad number, and you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, but with Solo Ads, you can truly just tap lists all the time on an ongoing basis, and walk away with low ad costs, with low lead costs, with high margins, with high conversions, and for as long as, of course, you optimize your offer.
With Google AdWords, even if you nail it down, what happens is it just stops working after a while. When I started advertising my traffic agency on AdWords, the first two months were great. We were generating leads at below minimum, below the required minimum, right? My required minimum was, I think, $50 a lead, and we were getting them at like $22 or $26, so I was really happy with that. But two months later, it just died. Literally died. For some reason, Google traffic has its own shelf life as well. I've never seen it happen with Solo Ads. Even if it does happen with Solo Ads, I can always reposition the offer, and I can mail it again from a different angle, I can repackage it and sell it in a different way, but with AdWords, there's nothing that I was able to do to get back the same volume that I was getting when I just started out.
It's as if it's the same 4,000 people that are searching for the word "Solo Ad" every month, and all of a sudden they get tired of your ad. It makes no sense, but that's exactly what happened. I don't know how to explain it. I just know that at some point, the ads died, and ever since then we've been trying to bring up new ads, and always testing new creatives, et cetera, but we're nowhere near close to the volume that we've been getting. It's just nuts. Plus, of course, over time, the more my competitors saw that I was advertising, the more they started advertising as well, so all of a sudden we went from having like three ads on a page to having seven, and everybody's fighting for attention. Then they started stealing my unique selling proposition, and on, and on, and on, and on.
This is the downside of using a public traffic source, where other people can see how you advertise, which actually makes me want to bring you back to the Facebook Ads argument, which is ... I'm now realizing I forgot to mention that Facebook now makes it easy for you to spy on all your competitors, because if you want to see all the ads that they're using right now, all you have to do is just go to their fan page and click on "ads," and Facebook literally shows you all the ads, every single one of them. They don't tell you which one is making them more money, but they literally expose all of their ads on one page.
Now, for an advertiser, that's suicidal. For somebody who is researching the market, that's actually pretty good, but if I spent a year optimizing a Facebook campaign, and then Facebook enables this feature, and now all my competitors that I know are watching me just go and just kind of blatantly steal my shit, then how will it make me feel? It would be a huge disappointment. It's not fair, and it would be unfair, because I work hard, and I spend a lot of money to test, and tweak, and optimize, and now they just get to steal my work.
Again, another rock into the Facebook garden there, but yeah. That's why I really don't like public traffic sources. I really don't like being visible, unless I'm doing something that I know my competitors will not be able to replicate. Unless I've done some really, really deep work that put me on a different level, that put me in a position where it's like even if they know what I'm doing, they'll never be able to copy it, because it's just not gonna work for them, because they don't have the skill, or the brains, right? But a lot of times, anyone can copy your ad. Anyone can copy your creative. Anyone can copy your headline. That's just the easiest thing to copy, and anyone can copy pretty much whatever you wrote on your page, too, as well as your proposition. They can just say the exact same thing, and even if they don't deliver, they can still say it, which takes the attention away from you being the unique service provider on the market. Something to think about.
Anyway, my verdict for Google AdWords versus Solo Ads is that if you're in a mainstream market, Solo Ads are definitely a better option, easier going option, less barriers than Google AdWords, lower price, high margins, easy access to audiences, no need to develop ads and creatives, and they're not gonna die on you all of a sudden. Google AdWords, still a very high quality traffic source, very competitive, so get ready to deal with really just high, high, high click prices and ad prices in the double digits. Get ready to deal with competition. Get ready to have your ads stolen. Get ready for the ads to have a shelf life, meaning that you have to always come up with new ads all the time, hoping to hit that home run again, and again, and again.
Get ready to hire someone to manage your stuff for you as well, because if you're not careful and you kind of let a bad ad run for longer than it should, even for a day, it can literally eat up hundreds and hundreds of dollars just like that. It's also very technical, so you'll need to hire someone to actually manage the technical side of it for you, run split tests, optimize, install tracking codes, and do all kinds of crazy stuff, and make sure you get a good compliance expect on your team or at least consult them to find out what you need to put in your page in order not to get shut down by Google, because it'd be a shame for you to get shut down after you've done all this hard work. And of course if you're a local business, then Google AdWords is definitely something that you need to be looking into, simply because people search for local solutions on their phones these days, and they also have now the click to call things, and that's just very useful. That's just very easy, and there's definitely a big opportunity there for local businesses.
With that said, thank you so much. This is Igor Kheifets, and until next time we chat, have a good one.
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