There is a delicate balance between optimizing for performance and creating a beast of an account that is impractical to manage on a daily basis. In a recent test, we put this ying and yang to the test with a large account expansion to increase relevancy, quality scores and conversions.
Our client sells their home services product across the entire United States. We had been running a narrow set of geo specific ad groups for a targeted selection of states and cities that included numerous ad groups, for over 130 cities, to see if the geo specific keywords and ad copy would increase the volume of leads. The new build was going to consist of over 17,000 ad groups, 500,000 versions of ad copy and 2 million keywords (including negatives and multiple match types). That is a rather large campaign build-out, and was in addition to their already large account structure.
The structure of the account already allowed for ads to show in these geographies, so it’s not like we were introducing entirely new segments of search queries. What we WERE doing is pulling back the curtain on which geos were getting traffic, and exposing the true cost-per-lead (CPL) at a level that allowed us to bid accordingly by geography.
We were aware that awareness sucks. When you have all these geographical keywords falling into a single keyword phrase with no city modifier there are some low cost conversions and some high cost conversions, and they blend together to create a tolerable cost-per-conversion (CPC). Nobody wants to tell the CEO that not to bid on NYC, for example, because it’s too competitive. Now that we knew which cities were driving up the cost of business, it was time to evaluate the data.
When a single hiccup can cost any client $100,000 a day, the timing of a launch like this is critical. This particular client’s highest volume days are Monday through Wednesday. Launching this enormous build at the beginning of the week was a gamble we couldn’t stomach. Introducing a massive volume of NEW keywords, with NEW ad copy and NO history could have been a disaster on a high volume day. Most importantly, quality score will need time to improve on queries that were already triggering ads, resulting in a short term increase of CPC, CPL and lower average positions.
At a high level we had some great gains:
- Clicks increased +467% over our previous geo ad groups
- CTR increased to +3.78% from +1.57%, a gain of +141%
- Total spend increased a whopping +625%
- Conversions increased +394%
- Cost per conversion jumped +47%
- Conversion rate decreased -12.89%
As we expected, there are opportunities to weed out some expensive geos to lower costs. It’s still early, but these results are not exactly the kind of numbers we were expecting on the back end, while pretty much surpassing any type of reasonable expectation we had on the front end (below shows a comparison of the original smaller build, on top, versus after, on bottom).
Small Changes Require Big Investment
What we didn’t expect to see was how this large build would slow down our daily maintenance process. Even simple tasks require patience.
We made bid adjustments, and AdWords editor took 1 hour to update the account before bids were in place. Tasks that used to take 15 seconds can take hours now. So, while it’s technically possible to have an account this big, it is creating a whole new set of problems in terms of daily management.
We will continue to optimize the bids, keywords, and negatives to bring down the CPL. These results are only 30 days after the change, and there is a lot more to test and tweak to figure out this strategy. Some ad groups have +100% CTR, +50-100% conversion rate, and cost per conversion of the price of a single click. Weeding out the expensive keywords is having a positive effect, and we expect to see some stellar results over the coming weeks and months.
If this sort of analysis makes your eyes glaze over, why not hand over your account to a team of geeks that eat, sleep and breathe AdWords? Let Online Performance Marketing take your account to the next level. Contact Us for a free consultation today!