Blog Case Studies Planning Search Strategy

Google AdWords: 1,500% ROI!

What’s AdWords Worth To You?

I recently organized some Google AdWords advertising for a relatively new company.  They are in the landscape design business.

I had a $200 coupon and they needed some visibility.

We spent the $200 (and about $200 extra) on a simple campaign focusing on an array of broad generic keywords (eg. location-specific phrases like ‘Ottawa landscape services’) and very specific keywords like ‘professional landscape design’.

The More Specific, The Better

So many prospects and clients that I work with complain that they’ve tried AdWords before and it either (a) ate up all of their budget very quickly and/or (b) didn’t yield results.

The problem?

Targeting has to be specific to the Google Search network only.  Don’t use Google’s Search Partners and NEVER use the Content / Display Network.

Similarly, keywords used have to be very specific.  Try to avoid splashy and broad phrases like ‘shoes’, ‘baked goods’ or ‘lawn mowing’.  You can also use specific keyword strategies like Exact targeting, but that’s a whole other discussion.

Anyways, the case study above proves both of these comments in the results:

  • Generic and ‘fatty’ terms like ‘lawn care’ generated lots of traffic, but no response
  • Specific terms yielded a ton of leads and several closed deals with respect to NEW clients that used Google Search and who responded to specific ads.

While trying to respect the specifics of the client with this test, the results were astronomical:  specific keywords and ad copy yielded an ROI in excess of 1,500%.  In other words, for every dollar invested, they made $15.

That’s astounding, but it’s also very doable for other newcomers to AdWords.

Local, Local, Local

I make no secret about the fact that I love Google AdWords for micro-targeting for my clients.

In other words, I set up three different types of campaigns, all balancing the merits of local targeting in unique ways:

  1. Location-specific targeting with the campaign settings.  I set the location for a tight range surrounding
  2. Language-specific targeting with the keywords and ad copy.  With a broad target (eg. Ontario for an Ottawa restaurant) I’m able to capture the attention of ‘staycation’ visitors that are seeking out eating opportunities related to their destination.
  3. Location-specific targeting with international target settings, all with a very low budget.  The hope is to catch international visitors as they seek out opportunities to interact with local services.  The other rationale for this is that mobile phones and other services may be set to ‘home settings’ that would otherwise limit Google’s propensity to display a relevant local ad.

A restaurant or lawn care service or other local service provider will certainly also want to test variables and phrases like ‘limited time offers’, ‘for this week only’ and ‘while quantities last’ in order to push people from tire kicking to actually doing something like making a purchase.

Proper Settings = Proper ROI

The key message here is to pull back with your expectations when you start a Google AdWords campaign.

When you build a campaign, be as specific as possible.  Stop with the ‘tuna trawling’ approach and drop out a line.  The latter will take much longer, but the world will be better for it.

In fact, most campaigns take 2-3 months to ‘hit stride’ and produce effective results for you.

Another important reminder:  don’t chase bids the way Google encourages/wants you to.  Take your time.  Relax.  People will come when they’re ready to come and the response will be on your terms, and not with anyone else.


Bill Wittur
Digital Strategist
Bottree Digital Services