Don’t go green with envy over the success of your competitors’ Adwords campaigns. Photo via Kaboompics.
I know, that’s a pretty harsh headline. But it’s true.
Some of your AdWords competitors are making more money than you.
Whether you’re trying to generate leads, get new SaaS users or make ecommerce sales, there’s an AdWords competitor out there who’s able to spend more than you to acquire new business while alsomaking more money at the same time.
But here’s the good news: You can get much more from your modestly sized budget if you’re willing to look at things a little differently.
Let’s take a look at the four biggest things you need to change:
1. You complain about lead quality, but haven’t adapted your offerings
If you have an AdWords campaign that’s serving you well, you may be tempted to pump more money into it.
But don’t assume that more traffic = more conversions.
Your AdWords traffic is composed of a colorful bunch of people with a different set of needs and dramatically different budgets.
There’s nothing you can do to change that.
All you can do is adapt your offerings.
Consider how Google has three different products to choose from when it comes to PPC:
Which one are you using? Small mom-and-pop shops may get by with Google AdWords Express where not a lot of customization is needed.
Smaller to medium sized businesses might have all their needs met with regular Google AdWords with ad scheduling and keyword targeting.
Enterprise level companies might only want to use DoubleClick because of the additional abilities like bidding separately for tablets or access to other ad networks beyond regular Google Search and Display. With our PPC and landing page agency, KlientBoost, we know we don’t want to work with every single lead that comes through our door. We only want to work with companies that fit our requirements (like a certain amount of ad spend per month).
And in the beginning of our agency journey, we were throwing a ton of leads away since all we cared about was signing up people for our month-to-month services, our biggest bread winner.
I felt like Captain Ahab chasing around a bunch of Moby Dicks.
Costa Mesa, CA — that’s where our boat is docked, and our office.
But we all know that whale hunting is ridiculously tough on the shoulders (and illegal). Plus there are way more sardines than whales in the ocean.
So how could we profit off those sardines smaller fish?
Since our lead volume kept growing from our marketing efforts, I had to do something different to take advantage of those fish.
So I started experimenting.
What if the people who can’t afford to work with us on a monthly basis could still get help from us?
With that “Aha!” moment, we introduced one-time growth packages where we helped clients set up their AdWords account and landing pages, and then handed them the keys to run it.
We didn’t create new ads, landing pages or change anything in our PPC accounts. Because someone searching “PPC agency” could have a budget of a $1 million a month or just $100 a month.
Fast forward two months and we’ve made $32,500 from that one decision change. Money we’d otherwise have missed out on.
And these new packages then give us the opportunity to potentially work with those customers on a larger scale when they can afford our month-to-month services.
Here’s a quick look at our Stripe history with some of those recent charges. Not bad if you ask me!
So even if you get conversions from people who are ready to buy, but can’t afford your solution, what are you doing to get their foot in the door?
Have you considered offering them something of complementary value to your core offering?
2. You’re obsessed with your conversion rates, but not your sales rates
If you are doing a good enough job getting AdWords traffic, then trust me, it’s not the quantity of the conversion you should be worried about, it’s the quality of those conversions.
You’ll want to make sure you track and qualify your conversions fast enough to understand if they’re worth spending time on (especially if you’re trying to generate leads).
Let’s use LeBron James as an example. On the surface, some AdWords keywords and display placements could be looking like a superfly LeBron James in a golden leotard with fancy dance moves (getting a ton of leads), but on the back-end, they’re not getting you enough championships (a.k.a. sales).
Don’t be fooled by the pants and fancy dance moves. Image via Giphy.
What your competitors already know is to track the entire process from click to close (first AdWords click to you actually making money) and optimize off of sales, not leads.
If you’re trying to generate leads, your competitors might already know which keywords have the highest sales rates (from paying over the phone), not just conversion rates (from converting on the landing page).
And that’s where your competitors are laughing all the way to the bank.
The flashiness of leads (and golden leotards) inside your AdWords account has you focused on getting more, without realizing that you could cut your budget in half and still get the same amount of sales.
But how do you do that?
The secret is called ValueTrack parameters, and it’s a URL parameter string you can append to your final URLs inside the tracking template field of your AdWords account.
The “Ad URL options” field is where you want to add those parameters.
You can custom create your own URL parameter string or adopt what I recommend below:
Next, you’ll want to make sure your landing page form has the hidden fields (like GA_network, GA_device, etc.) to capture that info along with the form fields the visitor is filling out.
This URL parameter string that you add to your AdWords ads will help you see which networks, devices, keywords, campaigns, etc. that your conversion came from and how much money that conversion meant for you.
Here’s what that hidden field data looks like inside Unbounce.
In the world of lead generation, let’s break this down with a hypothetical example:
Keyword #1 = 20% lead conversion rate and a 10% sales rate
Keyword #2 = 10% lead conversion rate and a 50% sales rate
If you were only tracking lead conversion rates, then you’d think keyword #1 is performing better because of the higher conversion rates and lower cost per conversion.
But if you do the math, it’s keyword #2 that’s making you more money.
Keyword #1 = 1 lead for every 5 clicks (20% conversion rate), 1 sale for every 10 conversions (10% sales rate). 50 clicks = 1 sale.
Keyword #2 = 1 lead for every 10 clicks (10% conversion rate), 1 sale for every 2 conversions (50% close rate). 20 clicks = 1 sale.
As you can see, not tracking the quality of your conversions can be detrimental.
Even without a fancy CRM, you can quickly backtrack and see which areas in your AdWords account are bleeding money. Better yet, increase bids on the keywords and placements that are giving you high quality conversions to get more of them.
3. You’re getting conversions, but your sales game is weak
But I’m not talking about manually spending more time emailing or calling prospects.
Because how many times have you complained about not being able to get a hold of your form leads?
Let me guess — quite a bit.
What you do after they convert matters just as much as what you did before they converted.
If your AdWords competitors are smart (and I know some of them are), then they already have an email nurturing program in place to drip value on their leads.
You know, to keep their prospects engaged, fed and happy.
And while some of your competitors may be bigger than you and have more money, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t do the same.
For our PPC agency, here’s what our workflow looks like when we’re trying to give someone a custom proposal:
What our proposal looks like
AdWords screenshots of ongoing monthly improvements
Monthly service or one-time package
Custom goal setting ideas (scale or get lean)
Links to our partner webinars
Podcast/interview links (showing thought leadership)
Case studies from current clients
Call to action of getting a proposal
New AdWords screenshots of improvements
The goal of each email is to showcase our skills and the features and benefits we can bring to prospects and their business.
We were super impressed with the continuous open rates (50% average throughout the entire sequence), but even more blown away to see that leads we’ve never heard from initially didn’t reply to us until they got the sixth email (out of nine total).
Which, funny enough, is a link to the podcast I did with the peeps here at Unbounce
Here’s a snapshot of our first four drip emails.
So if you’re spending precious dollars on AdWords, how are you making sure that none of your conversions are going to waste?
If you think you can afford to have a “lead nurturing program” that’s made up of only two phone calls and one email, then you’re wasting your time and money.
Because it takes much more effort these days to to turn a conversion into a sale, you need to equip yourself with the tools that sales professionals use on a daily basis.
IFTTT stands for “if this, then that,” and it allows you to automate some of your lead nurturing touch points.
Let’s say someone comes through as a lead on your landing page. You can then use IFTTT to connect with them on Twitter and linkedin (if the emails match) with a certain amount of time delay.
This will make you look like you’re going the extra mile compared to some of your competitors (who your lead could be talking to) to really want to work with the lead.
But don’t take my word for it.
I spoke with Sujan Patel from ContentMarketer.io who gave me a new perspective on the focus of nurturing:
When someone decides to become a lead it means they’ve decided to “explore” or find out more, not purchase (you made a good first impression). Lead nurturing keeps you top of mind (or close to it), builds credibility, trust and helps you passively demonstrate your value.
The same thing applies to AdWords traffic.
If someone finds you via PPC, then they also know they have 10 other options (the 10 others search ads on Google) that they need to explore and will most likely compare all the options.
If you’re fortunate enough to get a conversion, then you must strongly consider the nurturing part as well. Because sometimes, there’s a big gap between getting a conversion and actually making money.
4. You’re getting sales, but you’ve never tried increasing your prices or upselling
I remember my first PPC client.
I just got back from a pitch at a local crossfit gym in Newport Beach and I recall how nervous I was that I nearly sputtered out my price when they asked.
“Uhmm… That would be uhh… $250 a month for everything we talked about, which includes keyword bidding, ad testing uhmmm… negative keywords…”
I felt like I had to defend myself, even though they were clearly interested.
Right after the meeting, I went straight home to my bed and fell asleep because I was so emotionally drained.
Then — to my surprise — when I woke up, I had a PayPal notification showing that they’d paid.
Since then, we’ve increased our average price to be almost twenty times what it was back then.
Another tactic to consider is the upsell. GoDaddy gets aggressive with its upsell, even before you’ve bought anything:
Sure, I’ll take .net, .org and .info.
So when it comes to paying a decent amount of money for all your AdWords clicks, strongly consider what you can do increase your prices without increasing your resources.
So what’s next?
Now that you’ve been spending the last couple months improving your AdWords metrics and landing page conversion rates, I hope you have a stronger incentive to learn about the other improvements you could be making (both during and after conversions).
In the long run, the changes above will improve your bottom line from other marketing efforts. It won’t be long until you can’t even see your AdWords competition in the rearview mirror.
Marketing experimentation and A/B testing are extremely powerful tools for digital marketing optimization. However, the customer-first science principles behind them don’t have to be limited to digital environments. In this article, we explore how we used the same scientific principles to improve conversion in a call center.