The Greatest PPC Comeback of All Time?
February 9, 2017
I am not a die-hard NFL watcher. Even when my hometown team has played in the big game I am not one to be glued to the TV, pile of wings on my lap, screaming wildly at amazing plays. But I do watch it every year. I enjoy the spectacle, the pomp and circumstance, the commercials. This year I was even less inclined to watch as a team more hated than Duke Basketball vied for the coveted Lombardi Trophy. But I watched nonetheless and when it was all but apparent the Falcons were going to take down Tom Brady and the Villains of the AFC, I turned in for the night.
Imagine my surprise the following morning as I sipped my coffee and scrolled through my newsfeed to find headline after headline claiming the Champions (notice how I refuse to mention them by name?) pulled off the greatest comeback in NFL postseason history.
This got me thinking: do we see this kind of successful comeback in everyday life? In PPC? When our backs are against the ropes, how often are we winning when we come out swinging?
While I will not tout the following success story as the greatest of all time (the play clock has not run out yet), it does illustrate the immense success you can find if you:
- Have an agency that works with you, not against you
- Have an agency willing to go to the mattresses on your behalf
- Adapt and scale your goals
- Get creative
Journey with me back in time as I walk through my comeback story and see how many football metaphors I can fit into one blog.
Down and Out from the Start
Last April, Hanapin was fortunate enough to sign a client in desperate need of some TLC (Thoughtful Logical Coaching). After a somewhat successful run on AdWords, Google suspended the account for website violations. The prior agency said, “sorry, there is nothing we can do”. Enter Hanapin. As the clock ran out on the third quarter, we huddled together and said “We got this. We can do this.”
Listening to Feedback
My client had goals to reach. Giving up was not an option. So, I did what smart PPC players do: I used my resources. Just by asking Google, I identified the problem, researched solutions, and formulated a plan for relaunch. On Thursday, May 26th, less than a month after beginning to dig into solutions for the client, the site relaunched in AdWords.
Finding the Receivers
The first full month of running in Google, the client had 200 conversions under their belt with $1,167.21 in advertising spend. This was through 6 search campaigns and 1 display campaign. The ball was in our hands. Our first hurdle was getting the account profitable. The CPA goal was $0.35-$0.40. And at an average of $5.84 per lead, we were basically 4th and long with little chance of a field goal.
Sometimes the best strategy is trial and error. In another life, this account was capable of profitability. I knew success was there. I just needed to tap into it. Search was proving to be too expensive. Again, I used my resources and played around with targeting options in AdWords Display Planner. The planner, in my opinion, isn’t a perfect tool by any stretch of the imagination but when your tried and true methods of yore don’t work, time to ask Google for help.
When my husband and I were in the early years of dating, we would play video games on occasion. As someone who was deprived of video games as a child, any and all forms of this entertainment were new and exciting. I had no idea what I was doing. For instance, when playing EA’s NCAA Football, my go-to play was throwing a Hail Mary pass on first down—every first down. After several occasions of squaring off against my now-husband, he refused to play me any longer. Something about how in life plays like that never worked and that it wasn’t fun to play someone who did the same thing every time. I don’t know, maybe he was a bit of a sore loser?
My point is this: I knew I needed to get CPA down fast and I knew I needed to grow the account. Throwing caution to the wind, I counted on Google to catch what I was throwing out there. Over the next few months, I launched and tweaked new display campaigns: topic targeting, demographic targeting, interest targeting, managed placements, contextual keywords. I gave it everything I had and held my breath.
At the end of August, AdWords accrued 51,770 conversions and spent $22,424.95, pulling in an average CPA of $0.43. In two short months, the account boasted:
- An 1,821% increase in spend
- A 25,785% increase in conversions
- A 93% decrease in CPA
I wasn’t done. I was just getting back in the game. I was not going to take a knee.
The Fourth Quarter
Moving into the fourth quarter (I mean that both literally and figuratively), the account was becoming more and more profitable while growing. By November, the account was ready to launch new offers and initiatives. A new site was introduced to the account and saw immediate success. In just 14 days, the site accrued 35% of the total conversions for November at an average cost per conversion of $0.32. This was it. I could feel the weight of sterling silver success in my hands.
On November 15, 2016 the newly released site was suspended by Google for violations. Panic started to settle into the nooks and crannies of my strategy. I was so close. How could I succeed with my best player benched?
This entire journey has taught me many things, but the biggest lesson is how to persevere in the face of adversity. Google and the AdWords Policy Team shut one door. They did not shut all the doors. At the end of November, with one offer down, the account produced 208,236 conversions across three advertising platforms, spent $81,257.64, and decreased CPA from $5.84 to $0.39.
I continued to work what I knew to be sound and push campaigns to the limit. 2016 ended with December boasting $83,486.92 in total spend, with 83% of the spend situated in AdWords. While conversion volume dipped month over month, (186,759 total conversions in December), the potential of this account was apparent and in less than a year my team and I were able to take our client from a hopeless situation to champion-worthy status.
AdWords account growth April 2016 to December 2016
- Advertising spend growth: 5,886% ($1,167.21 to $83,486.92)
- Conversion growth: 82,173% (200 to 164,545)
- CPA decrease: 1,290% ($5.84 to $0.42)
Like I said earlier, this is not me saying this account had the greatest PPC comeback of all time. I do like to think this is a success story we all can experience from time to time. I did nothing magical. I didn’t cheat the system. I used my brain, my team, and my resources to bring a client out of a hopeless situation and back into the game. So here is my final pep talk: do what you know, try what you don’t, find opportunities, and fight, fight, fight.
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