AdWords is a great place to lose a lot of money if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even if you know how to work the system, you still need to have a clear plan of how AdWords is supporting your business before you start sinking money into clicks that may never convert.
For online companies that want a download or just visits, this may not be too tricky, but for e-commerce companies sales take longer and your SEM plan needs to factor in the sales cycle.
Here is a basic plan to use AdWords for consideration purchases:

Know your sales cycle

You can’t evaluate anything until you know how long it takes someone to buy. Do people shop for a week or for a month? For verticals like travel, a customer may search dozens of sites over a number of months before finally purchasing a ticket. If you don’t know this then you may discount a campaign before it has a chance to produce sales. Setting up E-commerce tracking in AdWords is one way to get data on your sales cycle.

Track your customers on site

If you haven’t connected your AdWords and Analytics accounts, do that now. You need to know where your customers are dropping off and what actions they are taking. Don’t assume that visitors arriving from paid search will act the same as other visitors. You need to understand their behavior and then adjust your destination URLs and optimize your campaign to lead customer down profitable paths.

Understand the purchase cycle

You need to know when you’re capturing customers in the buying cycle and cater to them there. If someone is gathering information, get their email address so you can market to him later. If they are ready to buy, then put them down the checkout flow. You can do some of this filtering through the words you use in AdWords. ‘Buy camera’ and ‘camera reviews’ are both people who want to buy a camera but are likely in very different sections of the buying process. Show them different ads and send them to different places on your website where you’ll push them towards different actions.

Re-market, re-market, re-market

In many verticals only 1 out of every 100 visitors will complete a purchase. For the 99 people who left the site without buying you can follow up to see if you can convert them down the line. If they are early in their purchase cycle then you still have a chance to sell to them. AdWords lets you create Re-marketing lists within Analytics to show ads to people who visited your site. Create these lists based on the different actions you’ve tracked. People who visited product pages may get one ad while people who visited the reviews section get another.
Kate Endress is the CEO and cofounder of, an ecommerce site selling designer prescription sunglasses and features cutting-edge video “try-on” technology. Kate is also a graduate of Stanford University and was previously a private equity investor before becoming an entrepreneur.

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