Hopelessly Devoted to Revenue: A PPC Love Story

By Kayla Kurtz | @one800kayla | Senior Digital Advisor at Hanapin Marketing

February’s PPC Hero series has been dedicated to helping you relieve particular pain points in your PPC accounts with a little TLC. To wrap-up the series, I’ll tell you a very tragic story of love gone wrong. The story is this: PPC metrics in my ecommerce account are skyrocketing and performance has increased on every data point (CTR, conversion rate, average CPC, etc.), but my key performance indicator (revenue) is nose-diving.

First, We Fell in Love.

As is typical with new relationships, when I was first placed on this account, I had so many plans! Restructuring, realigning settings, ad testing…and on and on. Again, as is typical with a new relationship, we had a week or so of getting to know one another and the general ins and outs of the campaigns, how they spend through the week versus the weekends, etc. Once I had a firm grasp on where we could make the biggest impact, I prioritized my tasks accordingly and set up month-to-month outlines of when I would test particular elements, when to expand and contract the account and all the optimizations I was looking to make from my end.

Then I Found Out There Was Someone Else…

Not long in to the relationship, I had a sit down meeting with the client to discuss the account’s performance. Things were going well; PPC metrics will steadily improving and revenue was at least even, if not exceeding, revenue year-over-year. However, the client had seen a recent trend in in-store sales where accessories for our product were selling more than our main products. Also, the client had recently discontinued a brand of a particular accessory in lieu of an exclusive contract for better margins. Essentially, the client was asking me to alter my game plan for the upcoming months and shift spend more towards accessory-based keywords, particularly the keywords for that discontinued stock. This wasn’t necessarily going to throw off my entire plan, just required a little alteration, so no problem.

Unfortunately We Had A Fight…

I began making these changes rather quickly to assist the client, as needed. Not long after, I started to see a bit of a dip in revenue across the board. We had switched to a new CMS in that same time frame; so much of the drop was attributed to making that change. Another two months later, we had stayed fairly on top of our revenue numbers, but the decrease was visible. We were running head long in to the holiday season at this point, so focus was moved to breaking out holiday-based campaigns with accompanying ad copy. This moved the needle a great degree through November and December. Once January showed up, though, we had a much bigger rift in our relationship than we thought.

And Then He Left!

Still reeling from our vast increase in PPC metric performance and huge revenue numbers to end the year, it came as a bit of a shock when January’s revenue numbers almost completely stalled. We went from doing around $100k in sales a month to doing about $25k for the month. Guess who wasn’t happy? The client and myself. My client wasn’t making any money and all the work I had put in to ad testing, increasing quality score and expanding reach to increase PPC metrics was practically ignored. Why? Because at the end of the day, if the client can’t pay the bills to keep the lights on, my 300% increase in CTR is pointless. Those clicks need to equal sales and revenue. Revenue straight up left me. He didn’t even leave a note…

So I Did A Little Soul Searching.

And by soul searching, I mean account analyzing. I dug in to pieces of our Analytics and AdWords that I’m sure had never been touched. What was incredibly frustrating was that by all normal measures, revenue should be going up. I’m sending through more qualified clicks, but making far less money. Then I decided to check out the comparison of my accessory and main product keyword spends to their revenue production. What did I find? Over the last 9 months, I had slowly shifted to spending 70% of my ad budget on accessories and only 30% on my big revenue earners. Basically I was sending through more clicks because it’s a larger pond of accessory buyers to fish in than it is to hang out around the main product puddle. However, that little puddle was worth three times as much as the whole pond and I had stopped investing in the pond.

But I Wooed Him Back!

As soon as I found the issue, I was relieved to find that my error was a fairly simple fix: realign budgets more heavily to my main product campaigns and ad groups and less towards my accessories campaigns and ad groups. We’re currently seeing the return on that change and I’m happy to report…revenue is making some headway! My secondary goal now is making sure my PPC metrics stay level to where they are now or continue increasing, with increased monitoring over spend versus revenue when it comes to accessories over main products.

The Moral of Our Love Story

You don’t need anything but lyrics:

Hopelessly Devoted to PPC Revenue

“…hold on to the end. That’s what intend to do. Hopelessly devoted to youuuuu.” There will be times when you’re doing all you think you can do to move the needle, but revenue just doesn’t cooperate because of a secondary focus. At all times, when changing up your game plan, for whatever reason, make sure you realign all your goals and consider all the outcomes so you can prepare yourself.

Check back tomorrow for the full series wrap-up and be sure to leave your thoughts, experiences and suggestions in the comments section below!