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I was working as a software developer when I decided to quit my job to start a business. I had been creating heat maps to identify threats in cybersecurity data and so I hung up my shingle as an analytics expert, and picked Google Analytics as a platform.
I quickly got my first jobs. They were almost always fixing revenue tracking problems for e-commerce and other transactional websites. These typically included all manner of ecommerce, health clinics, information sales and accommodation.
As well as fixing tracking errors, I specialized in creating analytics reports that would help the owners and managers of these transactional websites to make more profit from their websites.
Interestingly, when it came to the analytics, I discovered that the e-commerce businesses didn’t place a lot of value in the reports, but their marketing agencies did. Most of the businesses large enough to use an analytics specialist were already using an agency for their marketing, and so the owners and managers of these businesses didn’t use the analytics reports or revenue tracking themselves. The agencies would ask me for them, and then use the analytics reports and tracking to improve the Google Ads or SEO results for the client.
This was all well and good, but I quickly discovered that the agencies had a different opinion to mine on how to use the data from the analytics reports! Often the reports would be shelved if it didn’t tell them what they wanted to see, and the insights within never saw the light of day again. It frustrated me to no end. I wanted my clients to get the results I promised when they hired me for analytics, but it felt like I had no control over what my clients and their agencies did with the results.
One day, one of my biggest analytics clients contacted me out of the blue and asked if I would do their Google Ads for them. I had been thinking about learning Google Ads for a while because I noticed it was primarily SEM agencies who requested analytics. I could see how having Analytics and Google Ads in the one service would be really useful. At the time though I had never run Google Ad campaigns for any clients. Also I had been referred this client by a Google Ads agency and didn’t want to step on their toes.
Since I didn’t want to damage my relationship with the agency, and since I was so scared I would botch it, I said a big N-O to my client. The last thing I wanted was a reputation for was being a terrible ads manager, who messed up the accounts after stealing them from the agency!
Despite this, friends started asking me to manage Google Ads for them. I tried out my ideas on a handful of small business clients and I immediately got good feedback from them. My clients told me that no one had ever given them personalized attention or answers to their questions, and they had tried Google Ads agencies before and had made no profit. For the first time, they were starting to make money from their Google Ads!
I didn’t know much about running Google Ads campaigns so I was making it up as I went along and I felt really embarrassed about it. My clients saw me as the expert, but I felt like a fraud. What I was actually doing was generating analytics reports and using those reports to guide their Google Ads strategy. I had no idea if I was doing it “right”. Certainly I didn’t feel like I was doing it “the normal way”.
(It turned out I didn’t need to be so worried because the bar was pretty low. I’ve since seen the bad results some unscrupulous agencies get for their Google Ads clients).
It wasn’t long before my big analytics client who had originally asked me to run their Google ads for them discovered that I was doing Google Ads management after all. Again they asked me to run the ads for them. This time they said they had already decided to leave the agency anyway, so they would either go with me or someone else, but they had made up their mind.
This time I said Yes.
This was no ordinary client. My client managed a large number of hotels and so I literally adopted 20 Google Ads accounts overnight. I went from minimal Google Ads experience to becoming a full-time ads manager. Saying I was nervous was an understatement!
I didn’t want to let my client down so I threw myself into learning everything Google Ads.
My strong suit has always been the analytics and this never fails to benefit my Google ads clients. In this case the agency had not been correctly tracking revenue from the transactions in Google Ads and had not added any audience targeting. These areas were my specializations so we got some quick wins on the board. Within six months my hotels clients were reporting their highest results from Google ads ever.
The client said to me, “We literally had no idea what was working and what wasn’t. Now we can see it clearly!” Since my analytics-based strategies work best with high traffic websites, I quickly specialized in Google Ads for e-commerce and transactional websites so that more businesses could get the benefit in my data-backed approach.
There were a few twists and turns in the road however…. my initial lack of experience with Google Ads came back to haunt me a few times when I made mistakes and had to learn something new. I’ll tell you about those mistakes next time, and how I resolved them and came back stronger.