Tripling Paid Conversions: Optimizing Digital Ads Case Study

July 13th, 2018 by Joshua Loomis

Digital paid advertising gives you hundreds of different levers for tweaking to try and find the best results. I was completely confused by all the options the first time I laid eyes on Google Adwords.

But I’ve learned my share of lessons, and I’m going to share a few of them that we used to triple paid ad conversions for one of our clients. First, let’s start with the basics of paid advertising. If you’re already an expert, you can skip down to the discussion of the client’s specifics.

Paid Ads 101

Depending on your business, digital ads can be a key channel for growth. Paid ads aren’t for everyone, but with the right planning, targeting, and budgeting they could boost your revenue.

Let’s briefly cover the main types of ads you can run and the different types of ad targeting. The different types can then be combined with different targeting methods for a wide range of specialized campaigns.

For example, you can show specific ads to IT engineers in New York who have viewed your pricing page.

Ad types are as follow:

Search ads: When you run search ads, you are usually using Google Ads (formerly known as Google Adwords until a few weeks ago) to create text ads that appear in Google search results. Ideally, your ad will appear above the general search results and will help drive traffic to your landing page.

Display ads: Display ads are images that can be shown all over the internet. These are the classic internet ads that appear on every site. No extra copy can go with these ads besides what is on the image and they can come in a wide variety of sizes.

Social ads: These are all the ads you see on social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and more. Each social network has a unique audience that may or may not be a good fit for your product. We’ve seen the most success with Facebook.

Types of targeting are:

Keyword targeting: Keyword targeting is most frequently used for Search campaigns, but can be used in others as well. You simply pick the keywords associated with the search or web page that you want your ad to be associated with. Example: if you sell red sneakers you’ll want an ad for your shoes when people search for “red sneakers.”

Demographic targeting: This is your classic marketing based on age, geography, job title, etc. If your best-converting audience is 60-year-old library clerks in Rhode Island then that’s who you want to make sure you’re showing ads to.

Retargeting: Retargeting is a unique method where you show ads to people based on them having visited your site already or a specific page of your site. Retargeting is essential for growing your marketing ad funnel and for catching prospects who don’t convert on the first visit.

By combining all these ad types and targeting methods, you can create unique funnels for your prospects to make sure you’re showing ads that are most relevant for them at their stage of the buying process.

What Was the Status of Our Client When We Started?

We were hired by an enterprise SaaS company to increase the number of trial starts for their software that can be attributed to paid ads through Google Analytics.

Our client needed several new campaigns, new ads, and for all their campaigns to be optimized for higher conversion rates. We also had control over editing landing pages for the ads.

Search ads were being run through Google Ads and retargeting display and Facebook ads were being run through AdRoll. During our first month of onboarding and setting up the new campaigns, they had only 12 trial starts through their paid efforts.

What Did We Do to Improve Their Campaigns?

Over the next 3 months, we took several big steps to increase trial starts. The first step was to redistribute the budget based on what had gotten the best results so far. Each month the budgeting would then be reevaluated.

Adjusting spend is an easy to change the overall audience you’re bringing to your site since each ad campaign brings people with interests specific to that campaign. You should always double-down on campaigns that have shown a high level of success. Don’t be afraid to halt or completely redo unsuccessful campaigns.

The next step was refreshing the ads and landing pages as needed with new designs. By creating new ads, you have a chance to grab the attention of prospects who had become numb to the previous ones.

We also edited the copy of the landing pages to be more in line with the best performing ads. By having a higher correlation between ad copy and landing pages, you’re more likely to have the quality of your ad rank higher which will allow you to run it cheaper.

The biggest step was improving their ad funnel. While the client was running different retargeting ads for mid-intent buying and high-intent, the criteria for each part of the funnel was not clear and there was only a small difference in ads shown to each.

We built an initial ad campaign targeting new prospects that introduced them to the client. Next, we focused mid-intent ads that directed prospects towards downloading an ebook or signing up for a webinar. Finally, high-intent prospects were shown ads about signing up for their free trial.

What Were the Client’s Results?

By reallocating budget, creating new campaigns, and refreshing ads on older campaigns, we were able to double trial starts from 12 to 24 in the first month.

After building out a full funnel of retargeting ads the second month, we were able to hit 32 trial starts.

We noticed that certain display campaigns were driving a lot of traffic, but not trial starts. So, we created a new display campaign to push users closer to starting a trial directly and reduced the budget of previous display campaigns.

By the end of the third month of optimization, we had hit 42 trial starts while keeping the amount spent the same for our client. We were happy to report that we had tripled their initial number of monthly trial starts.