This is the first in a series of interviews we’re conducting with AdWords advertisers who got unusually high scores using our AdWords Performance Grader. We’re reaching out to high scorers to find out what strategies contribute to their strong AdWords performance.

Our first respondent is Marko Kvesic from Zagreb, Croatia. Follow Marko on Twitter.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been using AdWords? Are you an agency or an advertiser? What is your primary goal for AdWords marketing?

I’m the Online Marketing Manager at GoTraffic Online Marketing Agency. I have a master’s degree in traffic science and I’m a Google AdWords Qualified Individual. I’ve been using AdWords for more than eight months. Since I work at an agency and I’m managing my clients’ accounts, my primary goal is to achieve results based on my clients’ needs and goals. I insist on strong communication and interaction with my clients so I have the whole picture and fully understand each client’s situation. Based on that knowledge I create campaigns. Some clients want to build a strong online reputation with AdWords, some want to increase revenue or even traffic on their sites. All these different goals require different campaign organization.

There are tons of metrics in AdWords – what are your top three key performance metrics in AdWords and why?

My top three performance metrics are:

  • Quality Score – The most important thing in AdWords is to be relevant (give the user the right answer to his query) and the metric that indicates relevancy is Quality Score. I pay close attention to Quality Score and focus on getting higher scores (by increasing CTR, optimizing keywords, ads and landing pages). It’s also very important because with high Quality Scores I pay less per click. I always try to get higher Quality Scores than 6.
  • Conversion Rate – When a user clicks on an ad he must take some action on the site. You always want to make sure your click dollars are not being wasted. To increase conversion rates I try to include a call to action in my ads and set up proper landing pages.
  • Click Through Rate (CTR) – CTR is very important because it shows my ads are relevant, clickable and my Quality Score is higher (which means I’m paying less for the clicks). To increase CTR I always try to include keywords in the ad text and study the “See search term” report to include some negative keywords. I highly recommend DKI (Dynamic Keyword Insertion) which bring great results for me and increases my CTR and Quality Scores.

Can you describe your AdWords management strategy? How do you set your campaign objectives, and how do you know what’s realistic or not? What about your AdWords management workflow? When you’re doing your account optimization work, how do you decide what to do next? How do you prioritize your work?

I can divide my AdWords campaign management into three phases. In the first phase I do a lot of research. I communicate a lot with my clients in order to determine what exactly they want to achieve. I must have a full understanding of their products or services and their business. I research their market, competitors and, most importantly, target audience. In that phase we also determine campaign expectations and goals.

In the second phase, I create campaigns based on my client’s goals. I approach my campaign organization solely on the basis of the goals of my client. If the campaign goal is to increase revenue and high return on investment, you must organize your campaign differently than if the goal is more traffic on the site (for example).

Another important question is if the client wants to advertise on Google Search Network or Google Display Network – since those two networks function in different ways, the organization of those campaigns is also different. When I’m organizing campaigns for Google Search, the first thing I do is thorough investigation and categorization of keywords. I create tightly themed ad groups. How many ad groups do I have? As many as necessary, as long as I stay relevant.

Here are some more techniques I use in this phase:

  • I create ad groups of related keywords with exact mach only keywords, and ad groups with broad and modified broad keywords.
  • When I’m creating ads I use DKI as much as possible, because I realized that people want to see keywords they type in search box in the ad – that makes ads more clickable.
  • I bid based on my client budget and goals (if the goal is traffic on the site I use CPC, if it is conversion I use CPA, if it is branding I use CPM bidding).
  • I focus on increasing Quality Score so I pay less for the click.
  • Location extension is a must.
  • I also implement sitelinks.
  • I do location targeting and ad scheduling based on client needs.

In campaigns for the Display Network: 

  • I always do some research with Ad Planner and find out where is my target audience.
  • I use the contextual target tool which is great for organizing contextual targeting campaigns in GDN.
  • I create tightly themed ad groups with 3-5 keywords.
  • I usually create a “discovery campaign” where I detect the best performing placements, then exclude them from the “discovery campaign” and put them in new display campaign with only the best performing placements.

The third and final phase is testing and optimizing. I always try to improve my campaign results. I regularly redefine my keywords. When I detect the best performing keywords, I usually remove them from that ad group and put them in a new ad group with ads created just for that new ad group. I often research the “See search terms” report where I detect new and negative keywords. I always test my ads and I try to have at least two ads in one ad group, where I replace the worse ad with a new ad. I’m especially focused on improving Quality Score, conversions, ad positions and bids. Testing and optimizing is one of the most important things in my campaigns. When you create your campaigns the job is just getting started with a lot of testing and optimizing. I carefully analyze campaign results, detect what part of the campaign needs further improvement and that’s how I know what to do next in my account.

Any advice or tips for AdWords marketers that didn’t score as well as you?

My advice is always be relevant, create relevant campaigns and give the user the answer to his query as precisely as you can. There must be extreme relevance between keywords, ad text and landing page content. Narrowly focused ad groups, each one a variation of a single keyword. Use DKI for better ad performance and higher CTR. Use negative keywords to eliminate irrelevant traffic and increase CTR. Bid high in the beginning to get more clicks (although more expensive) but you will increase CTR and Quality Score, then gradually lower your bids. Track keyword conversion, and split-test both your ads and your landing pages.  Pay close attention to your account performance, determine which parts of your campaign are not doing well and optimize them. When you are creating campaigns always have the target customer in your mind.