We turned our adwords campaign around (in a very competitive field), but it involved planning, organization, and using sound statistical methods to make decisions, not gut feeling.
That's the thing... I don't intend to use gut feeling. I want to use the important data we have in GA to help turn things around, not guesswork. It's just a bit overwhelming.
I would start with one of those for dummies books (yes they have one for adwords) for organizational and marketing skills, and then either take an introductory statistics course at a local univeristy, or hire someone to do the math, if this is not your cup of tea.
I bought an eBook about AdWords quite a few years ago. It was great. That was probably back in 2006 / 2007, and while many of the principles remain, AdWords has moved on a bit since then. I'm sure I could do with a refresher and I've spent a lot of time these past couple of days reading up on things.
As for hiring someone... I've done that, although not for just statisical analysis, but to run the entire campaigns. In July 2010 I outsourced the management of our AdWords campaigns and I took a back seat because I was finding it hard to devote time to it. The person was well qualified (or so it seemed) and I was hoping he could push things on a bit. We parted ways about 6 months ago because I was unhappy with the performance of the campaigns.
I just did a comparision. I looked at some data from when he took over to the present day (I've not changed much since we parted), which covers 31 months. I then compared this to the same data range before July 2010 (so back to November 2008). Here are some stats:
Metric (before / after)
Clicks = 140k / 81k
CPC = £0.43 / £0.44
RPC = £0.74 / £0.62
ROI = 73.02% / 41.86%
Margin = 42.20% / 29.51%
PVV = £0.76 / £0.59
These figures exclude the display network (only started that in July 2010).
This got me thinking... why did I hire this guy? I remember thinking at the time that the campaigns were slipping, so I also looked at the 6 month period leading up to July 2010 to see if that was the case. The stats show it was almost on par (and in some cases better) than the full 31 month period prior to outsourcing.
I know this isn't totally accurate and doesn't account for other variables. There was less competition a few years ago, that's for sure.
I still have the data for these old campaigns. Maybe I should just rebuild based on those.