Why You Can’t Manage AdWords Without A Multi-Device Strategy in 2013

I was presented with a pretty big account a couple of months ago from one of our Clients who asked me for help to build out their future strategy. They came to me with the following talking points.

  • We think we’re doing pretty well in Search and we don’t need much external help (yes, this was their first talking point)
  • We need someone to help us set up a system for our internal workflow and nothing else. We want to handle strategy and management ourselves
  • What areas of improvement do you see?

Even though the advertiser quite arrogantly didn’t think they could do anything better, I took the time to figure out how they could improve their current account. What I came across startled me quite a bit.

They were ready to pay me five figures in consulting fees for a document stating how they should better manage their existing setup, but they were missing out on two huge areas of improvement. Their current SEM manager had simply set a -100% bid on all mobile traffic because it wasn’t converting adequately. Not an -80% bid, no. But a -100% bid that left all mobile traffic and visibility out.


After diving further into the data, I suggested very quickly that what they needed wasn’t just an improvement in workflow. They needed to get ready for dealing with tablets and mobile devices. This could be a very important area to take into account given that people on the move could be great potential clients for them.

After going back and forth for a while, we decided to start up again mobile traffic with a –80% bid adjustment. The next part of the story is as follows:


The Return Of Mobile Traffic And What That Meant

Once we restarted the mobile traffic with a significantly lower bid, we started to see a modest increase in traffic. Resulting in the following traffic numbers in the account for the last 30 days:

59.889 visitors last month

  • 63.5% from Desktop
  • 6.6% from Mobile
  • 29.9% from Tablets

Remember that in this case I have implemented a bid adjustment of -80% on all campaigns due to low conversions. The amount of mobile traffic could be much higher if the website would be able to convert the visitors satisfyingly.

Also, note that these numbers are solely from AdWords. The overall traffic numbers for all sources are double this data.


How Is The CPC Divided Between The Three?

An interesting thing to note is how CPC changes on each device. Seeing that we’ve implemented a -80% bid adjustment the CPC on mobile should be radically lower while remaining about the same for tablets.

The numbers seem to confirm this:

  • $0.25 CPC on Desktop
  • $0.05 CPC on Mobile
  • $0.26 CPC on Tablets


What Happens To The Conversion Rates?

The website for the case study is not optimized for mobile or tablets. This means that our conversion rates on the three devices are radically different:

  • 2.62% conversion rate on Desktop
  • 0.76% conversion rate on Mobile
  • 1.77% conversion rate on Tablets

If you’re thinking that the lower conversion rate on Mobile is due to a lower position or lack of visibility of certain phrases that can be more competitive, that is not the case.  I double-checked with the data prior to excluding mobile traffic, and the ratios in conversion rates were pretty much the same.


How Does The Lower Conversion Rates Decrease Our ROI?

This is where it starts to get interesting from a business and marketing standpoint. The lower conversion rate from Tablets and Mobile alone plays a big impact in the overall returns we’re seeing from AdWords.

Assuming that we could get the same conversion rate for Tablets and Mobile if we initiated a new responsive design previously split-tested to find the most efficient one, our gains would be the following:

  • 72 extra sales from Mobile
  • 152 extra sales from Tablets

Mobile has an average value per sale of $82 and Tablets has a slightly higher average value per sale of $93.

In rough numbers, over the last 30 days we would have seen substantial extra revenue derived from the exact same investment in AdWords:

  • $6,496 from Mobile
  • $13,305 from Tablets

Without spending a dime extra in AdWords or paying an outside consultant to manage it for you.

Simply make a solid investment in transforming your current design into a responsive design and make a couple of split tests. I’m confident that you can find expert developers and even CRO consultants who can help you reach a break even on your new investment within the first month.


What Should You Do When Moving Forward?

I would like everyone who reads this blog post to go to his or her AdWords accounts and Google Analytics and check the same numbers. Find out what kind of impact it would have on your business if you actually were able to achieve higher conversion rates from Tablet and Mobile traffic.

Once you know the exact revenue you will obtain, it will be a lot easier for you to make the necessary investments.

I would recommend the following three steps:


Step 1) Make The Investment To Go Responsive

Don’t wait any longer. The time is already here and you’re losing out every single day by not joining the wave of companies who are ready to offer an amazing experience for all their visitors – not just desktop users.


Step 2) Optimize For Mobile But Don’t Forget About Tablets 

This is something I see again and again. Mobile visitors get all the attention and making sure that Tablet users get a super experience is merely implemented as an afterthought.

Think about it. How many responsive websites do you know where the company has thought of a new navigation structure, thumb-friendly buttons and a bunch of other usability improvements? When you check the design on your Tablet you just get the slightly smaller version of the desktop design – nothing else is changed.

Make sure that all your features still work on the tablet. I visit many ecommerce sites with my iPad and on many occasions the features don’t work or are super slow to load. Take away the features that aren’t completely necessary or that slows down your website on tablets. You’ll be pleased to have done it (remember to test this first).

My main point is that you shouldn’t just think of mobile – consider your tablet users as well. There are a lot of them out there.


Step 3) Optimize Your AdWords Campaigns To Mobile

Once you’ve launched the new responsive design, make sure to follow up with mobile preferred ads and new bid adjustments that adhere to the new conversion rates you’ll be seeing on mobile (hopefully).

Don’t forget about the features available in your AdWords campaign that can allow you to get even more out of your Mobile traffic.