When I started playing football back in 1989, I distinctly remember how proud I felt when the coach gave me my first trinket on my helmet. It was a star because I contributed to one of our wins that year. I also remember my older brother who had dozens of trinkets on his helmet (similar to Ohio State players who have buckeye trinkets all over their helmets) and I dreamed of the day I’d have a similar helmet.
Unfortunately, that day never came… My youth program stopped giving kids trinkets because they said it wasn’t fair to the kids who didn’t earn any trinkets. In other words, everyone on the team had to be treated fairly regardless of their performance on the field. Hey, I’m all for equality and fairness, but in sports it doesn’t make any sense. Teams must pay more attention and give more reps in practice to their best players if they want to win. It’s that simple.
And the same is true when it comes to managing Google Ads (AKA Google AdWords) campaigns. You simply can’t treat all your campaigns equally. Instead, you have to be ruthless if you want to maximize performance, and I’ll highlight this point with a case study of one of our clients.
The Challenge & Our Initial Analysis
One of our clients, a dentist near Boston, MA, came to us after working with a previous agency for several years. Performance was OK, but not great and they were shopping around to see if we could improve their results.
As always, the first step was to review the account to see if there were any opportunities for improvement.
Right away we saw a big problem. There were 13 campaigns and the daily budget was exactly the same for every single campaign. On the surface, that doesn’t seem like a big problem except when you find that the number of conversions and cost per conversion for each campaign was drastically different. That means the campaigns were being treated equally, despite the fact that some campaigns were outperforming other campaigns!
That would be like benching Tom Brady for half the game in order to give his backup an equal amount of time on the field. Again, that kind of fairness doesn’t make sense in sports or in Google Ads management.
Plus, we saw lots of broad match keywords, even though many of the conversions were being generated from specific keyword phrases.
And lastly, we saw devices were being treated equally because there were no device-specific bid adjustments.
That gave us confidence we could show some big improvements pretty quickly with this account.
You can probably guess what we did, but just in case I’ll walk through the 3 primary edits we made.
First, we allocated the budgets separately across the campaigns to ensure we were giving the most budget to the best performing campaigns. This sounds so simple and obvious, but it’s often overlooked because most people’s first inclination is to spread out budgets evenly across campaigns.
And third, we added device-specific bids. For some campaigns, we had to reduce the bids for computers and/or tablets because mobile devices were outperforming them.
The graph below tells the story far better than I ever could…
As you can see, the conversions increased and the cost per conversion decreased as soon as we implemented the 3 changes highlighted above.
The month before we took over the account, this client generated 10 conversions for a cost per conversion of $152.46. The month we took over, June 2017, our client generated 16 conversions for a cost per conversion of $44.28. That’s an increase in conversions of 60% and a decrease in cost per conversion of 71%!
Of course, you see fluctuations month to month, but the general trend after we took over has been an increase in conversions and a decrease in cost per conversion. This was primarily the result of being ruthless in our ad management. Instead of treating all campaigns, keywords, and devices equally, we systematically weeded out the under-performers so we could focus our time and ad budget on the top-performers.