Digital Marketing Through Online Ads With David Rothwell

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TBT 138 | Online Ads

It’s not okay to just put your online ads out there and get nothing but likes, shares and follows. Whether you’re doing it on Google Ads or any other platform, there is a sure-fire way to really put money in the bank. Veteran digital marketer, David Rothwell talks about this in his newest book, Ask the PPC Manager. Known as the Google Ads Money Expert, David has more than 15 years of digital marketing experience to his name. For all those years, he has taken note of and studied the most common mistakes that people do when it comes to online ads. Listen in as he explains how to make the most out of them in this conversation with Penny Zenker.

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Digital Marketing Through Online Ads With David Rothwell

In this episode, we want to focus on how you can work smarter. We’re in the midst of the pandemic, who knows when the pandemic is going to be “over?” We need to think about the digital strategies that we are employing so that we’re not reliant on being in front of people. That’s why I brought David Rothwell, as an expert in this space. He’s a digital marketing and online advertising expert with remote and homeworking experience with Google Ads, Google Merchant Center and Google Shopping. He’s written a book around this whole topic. We’re going to pick his brain so that we can get a better understanding of what we can do in this even more important time for digitalization. David, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me, Penny.
It’s my pleasure. You said this is old news to you to be working from home and doing this digital thing.
I call it abnormally normal because things are seriously abnormal but my work, what I do, how I do it, and who I do it for has not changed for the last years that I’ve been doing this. I’ve been working from home, working remotely for online businesses, service providers, physical and digital product businesses with Google Ads, specifically. I was in the early days of getting involved with that. 2005 was when I went professional. It happened by accident because I was an IT manager for a long time, twenty years career in IT. I got laid off in the dot-com crash in 2001. Soon after that was 9/11, and I couldn’t get back into full-time work in my corporate career any longer. I was forced online. I wanted to get out there with my IT, telecoms and network consulting. I needed a website and to get found in Google. I got into the whole website, SEO, Google AdWords thing as it was called back then. I’ve been here ever since. I published a couple of books along the way on Amazon, and this is still what I’m doing after all those years.
Do you think digital marketing is any more important now than it was in the past because of the situation?
Yes. With the pandemic situation, there is a digital land grab going on because many businesses and business owners can’t do physically what they’ve been doing for however many years they’ve been doing it for like events, in-person, physical type things. Everybody has been forced to go online with it. I was accidentally there in the early stages of it. I’ve carried on with it over this amount of time. Think about food, restaurants, home deliveries, click and collect, and stuff like that. You can’t go any time. You can’t go to events. There are tons of things you can’t go to physically any longer. Digitally, you’ve got to do the equivalent of that. That is not new. That’s been around for twenty years. People are now left with no choice but to do that instead of what they were doing before.
Do you think that those people who are investing in Google Ads are going to be better off than those who are not investing in Google Ads?
Since 2005, when I first got professional in this, there are a lot more ways to reach people online. There are all the social channels, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and others. They are all important. They all have their audiences and their way of working. The thing that makes Google Ads different and unique from everything else is that it’s search-based where people go and look. They type stuff into Google search. They say what they are interested to know more about. They tell you what they’re looking for. I call it digital telepathy. It’s like mind reading because they’re telling you what they want. I also call it the ultimate in permission-based advertising. People are giving you that permission to show your stuff. They expect to find you when they look for things.

TBT 138 | Online Ads

Online Ads: What makes Google Ads different from everything else is that it is search-based.

You’re more likely to take action than you slipping an ad in front of somebody’s face who wasn’t interested. If I’m on Facebook, those ads would come annoying to me. Sometimes if I keep seeing the same people because Facebook thinks you’re going to like this, and I’m like, “No, I’m not going to like this.” I get more annoyed every time that I see that person’s ad.
It’s digital stalking going on here. They are following you around and clever technology underlies it. That suffers from the same fundamental problem that many advertisers run into who are doing Google Ads, which is all about targeting, which is to reach the right people at the right time, in the right circumstances, and pitch your offer. As far as Google search is concerned, if you go to,,, you go and search. That is completely different to all those other things, which are interruption-based like TV ads, commercials, radio ads, Facebook ads. They are all interruptions, so they are different. That’s not to say they don’t work. They can work like gangbusters. They can work well, but it’s all down to this targeting thing, which is reaching the right audience. This is where many advertisers who were using both those platforms under this common stack because they don’t know how that targeting works. You only get to figure that out by spending a lot of time working with it.
I like the idea of Google Ads for that reason. People are searching so they want something now. You’re likely to be able to convert them into whatever you’re converting them into, whether it’s a free thing, an informational thing or whether it’s already making a meeting with you. You and I worked together, and it’s been helpful for me to get set up. I did that at the beginning of 2020, just before the pandemic. That was good for me because it takes some time too for things to work. Everyone who’s coming to my website is having an event. If I’m looking for my keynotes, they’re searching for a motivational speaker and they’re having an event.
I know that those people who are hitting my site are ready to buy something. It’s rarely that somebody is on the look. They usually have a project and they’re doing that. I’ve seen that to be hugely valuable because a number of other platforms that I was using to generate those types of leads are not working anymore. Since the pandemic, the traffic has gone away, and that traffic has increased. I’m a big fan of looking for these digital ways to find people who are having the problem that you’re solving, and targeting them incorrectly, and then being able to convert them. What are the common mistakes that people make that you can advise people on? Maybe they’re shying away because, “I tried that and it doesn’t work.” What are you seeing on that side?
This is a good lead into my book. I published a couple since 2014 and contributed to a couple of others. If people want to find those, look on Amazon for my name, David Rothwell, and you’ll find all my materials there. My book, Ask The PPC Manager, is all about how you can make this stock work properly, correctly, and avoid all the mistakes that I’ve seen people do for the past years. It’s based on a real case study, a ten-year relationship I had with a client who is a professional service provider as opposed to a physical product provider. Physical and digital products are quite different. Physical things go into a box and get shipped. Digital things are delivered online. There are subscriptions, memberships, download, Software as a Service, tickets to virtual events, the remote ones, not the physical ones.
I worked with this client for ten years and he’d gotten started in 2006 with a new business. He didn’t know what to do. He did not know how to reach people, what people are looking for. We got him aligned with this I’m sharing. He was successful with this and he grew his business every year. It’s highly seasonal because he was an airport transfer guy. Winter ski transfers in Switzerland is his game. The objective to what we were doing was to get butts on the seats. People sitting in these buses, transferring from Geneva Airport to the Swiss ski resorts. He was successful with this and he grew his business every year for ten years running. He was so successful, he bought out two competitors and sold this business to an international travel company.
I wrote up his case study in fine detail. I was curious to know how come this incredibly successful guy, when it was straightforward from Google Ads Campaign Management side of things, and a lot more to this whole thing. It’s not just the campaigns. It’s the website, the offer, the price, the sales process, the average order value, customer lifetime value. It’s all the numbers in here that are underneath it all. I wrote the case study off and I decided to tell the story of this case study but in a slightly different way than describing it. Back in 2013, I read a good book called Built to Sell by John Warrillow. He’s written a couple of other great books as well, but he was telling his business story.
He builds and sells businesses, and he tells the story of that in a fictional way. In 2013, when I read it, I thought that was such an interesting approach to telling the real thing. I thought I’d like to have a go at that. I registered the domain name. Years and years went by before I got random. It’s COVID that made that happen for me writing that story. I started writing my next book as I thought. I’m supposed to be in Asia for four months on a remote working program. I was three weeks in Hanoi, Vietnam, which was fabulous, then the whole world went crazy. I’m trying to get back home and when I got back, I started to think, “What am I going to do now when all the circumstances are different?”
Google Ads is the ultimate permission-based digital advertising platform. Click To Tweet I decided to write that story, which is what the book is. It tells people in a simple way, “Here’s what we did. We started with nothing, and we did this and this.” It’s a sequence of events to make all this stuff work correctly, mathematically, numbers-based, math-driven, and how it worked for him, and how it can work for other people and other businesses because the principles are the same. What we’re trying to achieve with any of this stuff, call it Facebook, Google Ads, whatever you want. We take a dollar and we put that dollar in, and we get more than that dollar back. Every time we put a dollar in, we get more than a dollar back. That’s what we’re trying to do. There are many business owners who don’t grasp that fundamental concept. They think it’s fine to put dollars into Google Ads, Facebook Ads, this, that and the other, and still not see any money coming back. They might see likes, shares and follows but they don’t see money in the bank. That’s the thing that drives me nuts, which is why I wrote my book about this case study, “Here’s how you do this. Follow this journey and you can do the same thing.”
The number one mistake is that they’re throwing money at it without seeing it to the end as to where the return on investment is.
Many people are going about it backwards as I write about in the book. In this situation with COVID, people are going to think, “I’ve got to get online. I need a website or a web presence. I’ve done that. I’ve built a website. I’ve used a platform to do it for me like Book Like A Boss or whatever.” You think, “Now I need people. How do I get them? I’ll go to Facebook or Google and I’ll buy them, and get the clicks.” They haven’t figured out their average order value, their customer lifetime value, their sales process, their conversion rate. They don’t even know their cost per click to start with until they’re doing this. These are the numbers that you have to have to calculate whether the thing is making money for you or not. Unless you do that work, to begin with, you just go to the end of the thing. You start with campaigns, starting with your business, then your numbers, then the money, and finally the people, which is the target in the campaigns. That one is the last. Lots of people are going about it completely in reverse order.
It’s because people are so tactical. Somebody says, “You need to be in this,” without understanding what it is that makes them successful to be in it. They’re like, “I’ll get in it.” I’ve seen that many times as well. People don’t understand strategically the process in which order they need to do it. If you do it backwards, you’re throwing your money away.
Many businesses do that, and they’ve been doing it for years. I still see it now. Speaking to clients or prospective clients who are doing this stuff, and they still don’t know that they’re going about it the wrong way. What happens is they try it and it’s too complicated, and they lose some money. They give it to an agency and the agency says, “This is going to take weeks or months to figure out. Come back to us and we’ll tell you what’s going on.” Time goes by and you say, “What’s happening?” They’re like, “We’re still experimenting.” This stuff can work quickly. It can work in 60 minutes or a few hours or a few days. It’s coming at it from the tactical point of view, rather than the strategic. What are all the things got to be joined up in place to make this thing work? People say, “It doesn’t work. Google Ads doesn’t work. It’s too expensive.” It does work. It’s not about what it costs. It’s about the money that you make that’s the point. You can say it’s too expensive and then go to Facebook for cheaper clicks, but you still got the same underlying fundamental problem of you having not figured out your business, your numbers, and the money before you go off and buy clicks, and where you buying from.
Why does it take time to figure out and get the machine working? We tend to be more impatient about things. It is with all the digital age, with text messages that get responded within less than three minutes. We’re impatient. We expect results quickly. What can we do to set our expectations correctly and why does it take some time?
You are not any more impatient than I am. I am a very impatient person. I’ve had the pleasure of working for and with American companies since 1985 when I was hired by a California-based company. I’ve worked for another big American company, KLA-Tencor Corporation in the ‘90s. I’m familiar with American businesses and American people and I thoroughly enjoy it, but I am that impatient person. The thing that I liked much about search is it’s very fast. You can position an ad and have it showing within minutes of turning it on. This was the thing that made me pay attention to it back in 2003 was when I first tried these kinds of ads because I got a website, and I was trying to figure out this SEO stuff. I have an early background in that whole thing. It was taking weeks to get any results. This is back then when it was hugely simpler, more straightforward and faster to do. It’s way more difficult and challenging these days.
My natural impatience was, “Where the hell is my thing? Why isn’t my stuff showing up?” I discovered these little itty-bitty ads and started running a few. My ad was showing up in minutes. I’m like, “This is incredible.” That feeling has never left me even now. I’ll turn on an ad for a client and it shows all the things that I’ve designed into it. There it is. It’s fantastic. The other thing about the impatience thing and why sometimes it can take time, and in a situation like yours, it will take time because there’s a buy-in cycle. There are things that take time to evaluate, figure out, make a decision on, and something not trivial like, who’s going to be my keynote speaker? How do I select them? What’s their background experience and pedigree? That isn’t a real quick decision. That takes time to evaluate.

TBT 138 | Online Ads

Ask The PPC Manager — Self-Managing Google Ads That Make Money Without Agency Fees

Believe it or not, it’s a relatively quick decision. They have quick turnarounds and I find that they do make decisions quickly.
What I found accidentally a bit was that from well-targeted, incredibly targeted campaigns, people will visit your site, buy and give you money or book you in 60 minutes or less, 30% to 70% of the time from their very first ad click. This is all about reaching the right people at the right time, in the right way, with the right offer, for the right price, in the right place, all those targeting things. That works one way for Google. It works a different way for Facebook. It works a different way for all the other things. If you get it right, you’ll reach the right people when they’re ready. They will be interested and willing to sign up with you.
Getting it right, and this is the point that I was meaning, is there some testing? Anybody who does marketing understands that you’ve got to throw some different messaging out there. You did a lot of analysis on keywords, but then you have to put it out there, and you have to put different variations of it out there so that you can see which ones are pulling better. That’s marketing 101 as well with A/B testing. It does take time. That’s where people don’t appreciate. It’s that testing takes time and that you need to tweak, variant, and see whether it’s in the ad itself or it’s on the page that they’re going to. There are little tweaks that need to happen all along the way. They have to be measured and monitored in order to see that.
The thing that’s great about Google Ads is it is a testing lab. It’s great for this. You could try out all kinds of stuff. I have movie quotes after movie quotes that I trot out as I talk to people about this stuff.
Let’s hear one.
“It’s a test designed to evoke an emotional response,” Blade Runner. “You once told me not to get emotional about stock, Gordon, don’t,” Wall Street. These things are true because it is about figuring out what people are interested in and looking for. If you’ve never run any of this advertising before, you’ll have some ideas about what you do, who you do it for, how you do it, and how you want to reach people, but you have no data at that point. You have to run a test. I call it a PPC Discovery Campaign. I’ve run these for clients for 30 days. We carefully targeted, discussed, and agreed upon things to try and reach the right people.
For instance, you’re a keynote speaker, but you’re also a lady keynote speaker. That is a completely different thing to a male, man or whatever keynote speaker. Some people looking for a keynote speaker will be agnostic. They don’t mind either way, but other people will specifically look for a woman keynote speaker. They might look for a particular topic for that person or time management keynote speaker. We’re tapping into the mindset of who are typing those keywords into Google and telling you what they’re looking for. We want to start with that narrow focus because that nails your thing. If people are looking for a female time management keynote, that’s 100% you.
If they land on my webpage because they saw my ad and they see what they want to see, then they’re going to book an appointment with me.
Eliminate, automate, delegate. Click To Tweet They’re going to take it further unless you’ve done the next most important thing, which is to disqualify the wrong people. What we’re doing both with ads and with your landing page, your website, your whole content thing is you are trying to disqualify the people who are not a good fit for you. Even if they’re looking for a woman time management keynote, then you might be too pricey or too cheap. Who knows? You can’t make that decision. Only they know what their budget is and their timescale. You may not be available when they want you. You’ve got to disqualify the wrong people as much as you can straight away, as well as pre-qualifying the right ones. We can do this with Google Ads in a couple of ways.
One is the keywords, which is how you trigger the ads and what that ad says. The ad says whatever your landing page says about you. The two of them are inextricably linked. The ad is a mini shop window setting up the click expectation for people who see the ad. They’ll likely click on it and come through to the page. Here is what we thought we were going to get. Here’s this person. Here’s more about them, and then your sales process takes over from there.
I want to ask you a couple of questions that I ask all my guests, and I want to encourage everyone who’s reading, go out and check out David’s books. Listen to that case study, see what it is, and how you could benefit from doing more with this type of digital marketing. David, a couple of productivity types of questions. You said you fell in love with the fact that it was speed. You could put it out there and it was immediately online. How do you define productivity and why?
You can be busy and spend an awful lot of your time messing about, fiddling, experimenting, trying stuff out with Google Ads Campaigns, but when you’ve hit something that works, you can heavily automate big pieces of it. I discovered this by accident back in 2010. I was invited to speak about it at one of Perry Marshall’s first conferences in Maui. People still don’t understand this, but there’s an awful lot of automation inside Google Ads Campaigns. As impatient as I am, I’m also lazy about things. I don’t believe in doing things over and over again when I don’t need to.
I love systems, processes, procedures and automation. There’s an awful lot of automation inside of Google Ads Campaigns that you should use under the right circumstances. It doesn’t apply to everybody, but for the right nature of campaigns, they can be very heavily automated. Agencies will tell you, “You can’t do that. You can’t figure this stuff out. You can’t use automation. You can’t trust Google. They’re going to rip you off.” I’ll say, “That’s all wrong with all due respect.” This isn’t opinion, this is years of experience of doing this stuff. I know automation in the right situation with Google Ads Campaigns can work brilliantly. I don’t want to do it any other way. I don’t believe in making myself a lot of work that I don’t like doing so let the systems do it.
It’s been a theme lately, I had a whole discussion on a panel that I was on about someone saying the same thing that you said. I say that too that sometimes I’m lazy. I look for the best way to do it so that I can do other stuff. We mean lazy in the sense of wanting to do it in the most intelligent way.
One of my main mottos is “eliminate, automate, delegate,” which is get rid of stuff you don’t want to do or the wrong stuff. Automate systems, processes, procedures, delegate, and give this stuff towards the people who can do it for you.
What do you consider to be your shortcut? Everybody’s got their go-to shortcut and it sounds like those are your three go-tos.

TBT 138 | Online Ads

Online Ads: Targeting works differently for different platforms, but if you get it right, you’ll reach the right people when they’re ready.

Systems, automation, elimination, only do stuff that you need to do. Do it one time and build a system or a process that can do it for you. Don’t keep doing stuff over and over again. There are people who work like that and that’s fine for them. It isn’t fine for me. I don’t like doing that.
If you’re reading and you have any ambition to take your business to the next level to do something more impactful in the world or whatever it is that’s important to you, maybe it’s having more time to spend with your family. It means that you want to be as efficient as possible in doing the things that you’re doing, and creating the impact that you want to create. How can you do that? At the same time, do it efficiently and effectively. David, thank you for being here. Do you have a website that people could visit you on or anywhere that you want to send them, or anything else you want to share with us before we end the show?
Look for my name on Amazon, David Rothwell, you’ll then find all my books, including Ask The PPC Manager. The website for that is You can go there. You can read the full book there because it’s all online. If you want the copy, digital or physical, you can go to Amazon to buy it. I love to have people read it and leave reviews. Tell me what they got out of it, if it helped them or if they’ve got questions.
Thank you, David.
It’s my pleasure. Thank you, Penny.
I hope that you were able to get some insight as to how digital marketing is more important now than ever. It’s all part of that strategy of eliminate, delegate and automate. In that process is looking for the best ways to do that. If you were selling something, it’s not just focusing on the marketing aspect, but also the conversion. You want to understand where your website is then converting and getting that whole process in place. It’s seeing how in this digital age, Google Ads and being on Google is as effective or more effective because of what David said in terms of permission-based marketing. I like that. I think that’s more strategic and smarter than the other type of marketing, which is a little bit more of that digital stalking. Either one, they might both work for you. That’s why I wanted to have David on the show. Thank you all.

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About David Rothwell

TBT 138 | Online AdsDavid Rothwell is the Google Ads Money Expert and author of ‘The AdWords Bible for eCommerce’ and co-author of the Amazon #1 best-seller ‘Sales Genius#1’. He has 13 years digital sales experience with Google Ads, Google Merchant Center and Google Shopping.
David helps sell more products and services and make more money for selected professional services, digital sales companies and ecommerce merchants. His world-wide clients make money on a commission-only “share of the profits created” basis, not the typical agency model of a percentage of ad spend.
This game-changing profit-center strategy means everyone makes more money, from customers, suppliers, payment processors to shipping companies.
David’s system is completely different to other agencies. He counts transactions and money instead of simply counting clicks or leads. His unique engineering approach stems from over twenty years in the IT industry including Olivetti and Hewlett-Packard, and managing European IT, telecoms and support for KLA-Tencor Corporation.
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