If you grew up playing Nintendo in the 80’s like me, then you probably remember the Contra “cheat” code to get 30 lives – up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, start. That is forever ingrained in my memory!
Contra was an incredibly difficult and frustrating game if you played without that cheat code. However, with 30 lives, it was nearly endless fun…
I mention that because there are similar “cheats” when using Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords). And Google Ads can also be incredibly difficult and frustrating when you’re using it without these cheat codes. Of course, it’s not really cheating and what I’m about to walk through is perfectly legal and within Google’s terms of service. I just call them “cheats” because they are quick and easy ways to instantly boost your campaign performance and return on investment (ROI).
So you can see this in action, I’m going to also walk through a case study for one of our Google Ads management clients.
We launched Google Ads for this client in June 2017 and below is the graph of conversions and cost per conversion from June through September.
As you can see, in the first month we drove 22 conversions for a cost per conversion of $69. Those numbers improved steadily through September when we drove 98 conversions (increase of 345%) for a cost per conversion of $51 (decrease of 35%).
How did we generate these big improvements in such a short amount of time?
The answer is by utilizing 3 Google Ads cheats. These are going to sound simple, but I promise if you apply these to your campaigns, you will see dramatic results very quickly. Of course, these cheats are only a fraction of what you need to do to maintain a healthy Google Ads campaign. Just because you have 30 lives in Contra doesn’t mean you’re going to win… A lot of skill is still involved, but it’s a whole lot easier when you have those extra lives!
Let’s dive into each of the 3 cheats…
1. Budget Optimization
Of all 3, budget optimization is by far the most important. But before you can even use this cheat, you have to first structure your campaigns properly.
There are a nearly infinite number of ways you could structure a Google Ads campaign. You can structure campaigns for each of your core products or services, for each of your target locations, for top performing keywords versus test keywords, for exact match keywords versus phrase match keywords, and the list goes on and on.
When we launched the ads for our client, we had 5 main campaigns organized by the different types of prospective clients we wanted to attract. Each prospective client had different keywords and we weren’t sure which was going to perform the best. By separating them into 5 campaigns, we had the ability to allocate our total budget across them differently.
This brings us to budget optimization. We quickly determined that some of these campaigns were performing better than others so we allocated more of the total ad budget to the top performing campaigns (and reduced the budget for the poor performing campaigns).
Over time we actually paused all but 1 of these 5 original campaigns. That dramatically improved the cost per conversion because we were focusing all of our budget on the top performing campaign.
It sounds so simple, but this was a huge factor in the overall account performance.
2. Schedule Optimization
Now that you have the proper budget allocated across your campaigns, it’s time to look at your ad performance during different times of the day. This is called Schedule Optimization.
Typically, when you launch a campaign that is driving phone calls you’re going to only show ads during normal office hours. That’s an easy “cheat” to avoid spending your budget during hours when no one is available to answer the calls.
In our case, our client wanted to drive leads via a webform so it wasn’t obvious which hours to block. Rather than guess, we let the data decide.
As we started to collect click and conversion data, we were able to determine which hours were most effective for our campaign. We found weekdays between 5 am to 11 am worked best so we boosted bids during those time slots and lowered bids during other times when performance wasn’t as strong.
Again, a simple edit that had a big impact on ROI.
3. Device Optimization
The 3rd cheat is device optimization, which is now critical for every business. Did you know that more people are searching in Google on their mobile device than on their computer? And depending on your industry Google Ads performance per device can vary drastically.
For our client, we found there was much more search volume for mobile devices versus computers or tablets. When I look at performance from June through September, then here are the conversion rates for each device:
- Mobile = 7.42%
- Computers = 9.69%
- Tablets = 4.81%
Clearly, our bids can’t be the same across all devices if the conversion rates are so different. That’s why we used device optimization to adjust our bids per device and ensure we’re getting the most conversions at the best price for each device.
Like the old Nintendo game, Contra, Google Ads can appear to be impossible for many businesses. However, once you apply the 3 “cheats” above, I’m confident you’ll be well on your way to a successful ad campaign.