What if I told you your Google AdWords campaigns could be generating more leads and sales without any additional budget?

I’m sure that would get your attention.  And based on my experience auditing hundreds of accounts, I can almost guarantee you’re leaving money on the table.

To prove it, I’ll walk through a case study from one of our clients where we were able to boost the number of leads by 79% while at the same time slashing cost per lead by 36%.  As you’ll soon see, the result is more leads month after month without an increase in ad spend.



About 2 years ago, we started working with a dentist.  This dentist was advertising in AdWords Express and he wasn’t happy with the results he was getting from his budget of about $2,000 per month.

If you’re not familiar with AdWords Express, then don’t worry, you’re not missing anything.  AdWords Express is Google’s watered down version of AdWords that doesn’t have all the functionality of a regular AdWords account.  Due to the severe limitations of AdWords Express, I do not recommend it for any business.

One of the biggest drawbacks of AdWords Express is the lack of robust conversion tracking. That means it’s nearly impossible to calculate your return on investment (ROI) from your ad spend.

Plus, you have very little control over your targeting, which leads to lots of wasted ad dollars…

OK, I’ll stop bashing AdWords Express and get back to the case study…


Here’s What We Did

As you probably guessed, the first thing we did was set up a regular Google AdWords account and shut off the AdWords Express account.  That alone was a huge improvement, but of course we didn’t stop there.

Next, we worked with our client to set up proper conversion tracking.  It was critical to be able to see how many phone calls and contact form submissions we were getting from the ad campaigns.  More specifically, we set up the following conversion types:

  • Calls from Website – These conversions tracked how many people called the dental office after clicking an ad and using a phone number listed on the website.  Only calls that lasted more than 60 seconds are counted as conversions.
  • Calls from Ads – These conversions tracked how many people called the dental office using a phone number listed on the ad.  On mobile devices, these are called “click to call” conversions from the ads.
  • Contact forms – These conversions tracked how many people completed a contact form on the website after clicking an ad.


Once we had conversion tracking data, we were in a position to make improvements.  As we collected more conversion data each month, we reallocated our client’s ad budget to the best performing keywords and ads.

Plus, we began testing new ad copy and and new landing page copy to further improve our conversion rates.

I could go on and on detailing every change, but the updates listed above had the most impact.  Let’s now take a look at the results of all this hard work…


The Results

Below is a graph of the past 2 years that shows both ad costs per quarter (blue line) as well as the number of leads per quarter (orange line).


Due to some technical issues, we didn’t have conversion tracking working 100% until January 2015.  So let’s compare January – June 2015 versus 2016 to see how well we did with optimizing this account.

  • From January to June 2015, we generated 136 leads for a cost per lead of $75.46
  • From January to June 2016, we generated 244 leads for a cost per lead of $48.10

That’s an increase of 79% in leads and a decrease of 36% in cost per lead! Or, to put that another way, we were able to generate 108 more leads from almost the same ad spend!


The Key Takeaways

First, if you’re currently advertising using AdWords Express, then I strongly recommend moving to a regular AdWords account.  Sure, regular AdWords accounts are more complicated than Express accounts, but those extra bells and whistles can be the difference between positive and negative ROI.

Second, you can always improve!  I could have easily compared the results we’re getting versus the old AdWords Express account, but that wouldn’t have been fair :)  Instead, I highlighted the year over year improvements we made to a regular AdWords account.

Third, improving AdWords campaigns does not happen overnight.  Keep in mind we’ve been managing and optimizing this particular account for about 2 years now.  Don’t expect any one tactic to boost conversions and cut cost per conversions like this example.  This case study was the result of small, consistent improvements month after month after month…


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