Decrease Spend, Increase Conversions [Case Study]

One of my points last month in 8 PPC Spring Cleaning Necessities was to have the right geo-targeting. I pointed out where you can find which cities and states you are appearing in, and I mentioned briefly that you should create state-specific campaigns for the ones that are performing the best.  At Distilled we recommend two types of campaigns: the locally targeted campaign, and the nationally targeted campaign.

Local campaigns focus on a specific geographic area, normally around headquarters or storefronts. Keywords listed here don’t include the location name. Specifically for Nerds on Call, we have one local campaign targeted at Sacramento. Keywords do not include “in Sacramento” because the geotargeted area is Sacramento. People looking for a local business or service may only type in “computer repair” and expect Google to serve them local results.

There are also people who will search for “computer repair in Sacramento” and we include this query in the nationally targeted campaign so we can appeal to those inside and outside of our locale with intent to purchase/convert in Sacramento. 

Nerds on Call operates on a national level in addition to having several locations along the West Coast, so this was the best way to obtain national market domination through AdWords. With this method of targeting, they were obtaining a 13% conversion rate through phone calls, form conversions, and live chats. Nerds wanted more.

The second week in April, we decided to concentrate budget only on Washington, Oregon, and California instead of trying to obtain more clicks on the national level.

Before the change, Nerds were converting about 13% of their visitors from paid search. Afterwards, we saw conversion rates jump to 21% and spend drop by 5%. By focusing our budget and increasing our impression share in the areas that really mattered, we were capable of creating two big wins for Nerds on Call: more customers and decreased spend.

It’s important to note that we did see a small drop in traffic and impressions; we also noticed the geotargeted campaign (without “Sacramento” in the key phrase) received a significantly lower CTR than the nationwide focused campaign (with “Sacramento”). However, the nationwide (higher CTR) campaign did not convert as many customers. If we hadn’t used both types of targeting, we might have been missing out on a large portion of our customer base.

Here are some actionable protips for your own account:

Run Two Types of Campaigns....
If you’re limited on budget, only look to your top performing campaign. Check which locations it is running best in. If that happens to be in California, then make a California-specific campaign, and create an additional nationwide campaign with locations tagged on the back of the key phrase.

Visit Your Dimensions Tab….
Are you receiving clicks in an area with no conversions for the last 3-5 months? Exclude that region/city/etc. If you aren’t getting any return and you’re on a restricted budget, why push money into an area that will continue to give no/low return?

[But] If Calls Are Important To Your Business……
Use call tracking to make sure these areas aren’t actually providing you great business. Check with your head of marketing or POC; talk about where your phone calls are coming from. If calls create 50% or more of your business profit, it’s worth getting proper call tracking into place. Verify you have keyword-level call tracking. If you don’t, and need to persuade someone as to why it’s necessary, tell them “Without call tracking, we’re pouring money into a bottomless pit of hopelessness.”


Jasmine Aye

Jasmine Aye

Jasmine is our most senior US member of our advertising team and has had several years experience running paid promotions in house and at Distilled. She has become exemplary at understanding offline conversion attribution processes for large and...   read more

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  1. Hi Jasmine,

    Nice article about targeting. I'm surprised you didn't mention exclusions, but nevertheless, I take the same approach with a poorly (or average) converting site. Really honing in on the prime areas, while excluding some, allows me to incrementally boost conversion and see where the problem areas are.

    Just out of curiosity, why wouldn't you have "Sacramento' keywords in your IP Campaigns as well as your National Campaigns? I guess it's more of a preference thing, since no matter what the National campaign should pick up the traffic, but I like to organize my campaigns so all IP traffic goes to the IP campaigns, and traffic outside the svc area with local intent goes to the National Campaign.

    Thanks for the share :)

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  2. amr

    thanks very much to this tips about geo targeting

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  3. Tim

    I'm curious to know if anyone has played with the new-ish settings in AdWords to segment campaigns separately targeting "People in my targeted location" and "People searching for or viewing pages about my targeted location." In the campaigns cited in this article, I'm assuming you have it set to exclusively target people actually in the geographic location in order for the location-related keywords to be segmented properly?

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    • Jasmine Aye

      You are correct, Tim! This campaign is set on "people in my targeted area." I did test the "people searching for or viewing pages in or about my targeted area" (for another client) but I turned it off again because we started getting visits from outside the US which would have proved problematic for a retail client focused on the continental US.

      Overall, I haven't been too impressed with the keyword or location settings AdWords has recently rolled out. Have you made the switch yet? or tried? How did it work for you?

  4. Great Article on Geo Targeting Jasmine, Thanks for the Share :)

    It definitely makes sense to used strict Geo Targeting with generic keywords.
    This would surely help marketers cut on the irrelevant traffic & overall costs
    especially those with local businesses as in you example.

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  5. I found that buy decreasing my spend that the conversion rate increased. That is because I got less visitors and the people who wanted to buy from me were there because of referrals rather than from random yet targetted traffic. So less spend on finding traffic is going to increase conversion rates.

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    • Jasmine Aye

      Thanks for contributing! I'm glad to see you could increase your conversions by dropping your monthly spend. That's not very common!

      It's great that your word of mouth traffic was capable of finding you through AdWords adverts. If you decide to broaden your scope again, you should definitely keep your eye on the search query report so you can transform that random traffic into more relevant traffic. I'm more than happy to have a look at your account if you want to discuss this further; we are offering free account audits and I'd love to help out in any way I can!

  6. Thanks for the great post! This is very helpful, especially with the new ZIP Code targeting.

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  7. Saurabh

    Great article- I was wondering if the same Keyword research principles apply to SEO and organic impressions. Do you think that a landing page optimized for a keyphrase like "Local Computer Repair" is more relevant to local searchers than "Computer Repair in Sacramento", (assuming all other factors like content etc are the same).

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    • Jasmine Aye

      Great Question! I don't have the exact data to back me up on this (still in testing) but I think clicking any title (SERP or advert) that said 'Local Computer Repair' then being directed to a page that only had a headline of 'local computer repair' would be less effective than a headline like 'Sacramento Area Computer Repair'. By saying 'Area' it immediately implies the business serves the suburbs and will go outside the city to make a sale. Clicking on a title that only says 'Local' and seeing that reiterated on the landing page would make me wonder "how local is local?"

      I spoke with Jacob, one of our Seattle consultants, to help answer this question. Doing your keyword research for those local & city-specific terms to determine what your page should be about should come first, then optimizing your content from there to include the other terms we discussed should be after. So maybe you H1 headlines the page as 'Computer Repair Sacramento' then maybe an H2 right under that stating 'local computer repair' would get the message across and allow you to start ranking for the most trafficked term while also appealing to that local notion people expect to see.

      This is just one reason why having PPC supplementing your website is ideal. You can get geotargeted traffic results for terms like 'local computer repair' without having to worry about trying to make it technically SEO perfect. Having that safety net of included and excluded location settings allows you to create a page that receives traffic and is targeted directly where you want it to be, while you can work on building other parts of your website up to rank on the first page.

  8. Hi Jasmine Aye,
    Thanks for this great informative post !
    Nice infographics which is clearly showing that conversion rates are jumping upwards while spending rates are dropping.

    Thanks again

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  9. Ian

    Hi Jasmine

    What is the best way of reducing the cost of keywords in a PPC campaign?

    For example if I was targeted a city in the UK i.e. Glasgow and I am selling double glazing, conservatories and pvc doors.

    Would I be better putting all of the keywords

    Double Glazing
    Double Glazing Glasgow
    PVC Windows Glasgow
    Conservatories Glasgow etc

    into one campaign or seperate the 3 into 3 different accounts? to help reduce the cost of the keyword? along with a landing page for each of the 3 campaigns which will have the relevant keywords in the page copy and tags?

    And what other steps should I be looking at?

    Many Thanks

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    • Jasmine Aye

      Great question!

      I would approach this situation by creating one Glasgow-only geotargeted campaign (either the metro area or a small radius around Glasgow) and one adgroup for each of these search intents. Then I would make a UK targeted campaign with only the Glasgow-specific keywords separated into adgroups. After you have this set up, you have a few options to help you lower CPC:

      Make sure you are limiting the number of broad and broad modified keywords in the account.
      Use the search query report to get rid of keywords that are being matched to your selections that are not converting well for you or are becoming too expensive.
      Using the Dimensions tab you can review the days that you receive lower CPC or higher reward. You can also review the times of day that are most beneficial. Then go to the settings tab and exclude days and times that aren't providing good business.
      Automating keywords bids will help you manage your position. I would say the best spot to target if you are low on budget would be Position 3.

      I hope this helps you!

  10. Hi jasmine,

    Thanks a lot for this awesome post. I have not been in the market of PPC but still i have a lot of information about PPC. I have been checking Conversion rates for many of my clients and thanks a lot for telling us about Geo targeted method and new ZIP Code targeting. :)



    reply >
  11. Ian

    Hi Jasmine

    Thanks for the reply, just picking up on a few of your pointers

    In each ad group for example if it was for 'conservatories'

    How many keywords should be in each one, the reason for my asking is if you use more keywords will the cost increase as the focus is diluted, even if the keywords are related to 'conservatories' or 'conservatory' as at the moment they are auto £2.44 which I feel is quite high, as I am only targetting 2 small towns in this campaign until the organic search results beds in.

    What is the recommended at present I always feel that 'broad' match keywords are best?

    You mention the search query report where can I access this from? and how can you tell if they are converting or not?

    Finally you mention about automating keyword bids which is what I tend to do, how can you accurately gauge where you will appear in the results based on your spend/budget per day

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  12. Interesting - I happened across Nerds On Call's site via their Flickr account and cartoons - I'm guessing you guys had a hand in that? The site was veeeery impressive from a conversion standpoint. I'd say testing making the blog content more scannable would also help you win...

    I'm curious to know, are those conversion rates for visit-to-lead or visit-to-sale? Obviously it's a big difference, but with phone and live chat it's plausible that they get a high conversion to sale...

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    • Jasmine Aye

      Thanks, Gab! I'll definitely forward your blog tip on to them. All Nerds on Call branding was created prior to our partnership with them.

      These conversion stats are clicks-to-new-customers only (by means of phone, live chat, and form submission). I should edit the post to include this -- Thanks!

  13. I am not certain the place you're getting your information, however good topic. I must spend some time finding out more or working out more. Thank you for fantastic info I used to be searching for this information for my mission.

    reply >
    • Jasmine Aye

      Almost all of the information came from the dimensions tab. Then the client also provided some CRM information that helped us determine how we were performing month over month, week over week.

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