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Our Google Ads Playbook: Capturing 91% More Qualified Leads

Utilizing strategies that we’ve now built into the Everflow platform, we turned a 9% ad spend increase into a 91% increase in 2022 Q4 quality leads through simple optimizations.

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Our Google Ads Playbook: Capturing 91% More Qualified Leads

When it comes to leads, Google Ads is like playing catch with an untrained dog, excitedly bringing you a dirty shoe or Skittles wrapper instead of your expensive frisbee.

Google Ads eagerly delivers conversion after conversion with no regard for quality, leaving most of us to waste a significant amount of money on junk.

Not seeing a strong return with Google Ads is even worse for business in today’s uncertain economy, where funding is drying up and layoffs are everywhere. As a fully-bootstrapped company, we don’t have a war-chest of funds, all of our growth campaigns at Everflow need to deliver an effective return on investment. 

We set out to create a process to gain more customers, not just more leads, directly from our spend and make Google Ads cost-effective for growth. Spoiler: we succeeded and we’re going to share exactly how your business can do the same.

Utilizing strategies that we’ve now built into the Everflow platform, we turned a 9% ad spend increase into a 91% increase in 2022 Q4 quality leads through simple optimizations. 

In this article, we'll delve into exactly how we’ve refined our Google Ads strategy, providing actionable insights and solutions to help you return more quality leads in your own business.

Let’s get started. The first step to better leads is to rethink how you’re using Google Ads. 

The Pain Points Of Google Ads

To achieve more growth with less spend with Google Ads, you should be able to analyze deeper, assess conversion quality, and optimize your campaigns with performance data on a regular basis — all things that aren’t really possible within the standard GADS setup. An additional solution is required to make all of the above happen.

To start your journey to more GADS success, you need to start focusing on the other tools that you have in your tech stack. In our case, we stepped back from the GADS dashboard and became laser-focused on leveraging Everflow’s platform to find a solution for these shortcomings.

Everflow Cracked The Code On GADS

Fast forward to today! 

We’ve upgraded our Everflow integration with GADS to solve the aforementioned pain points, which transformed the effectiveness and performance of Google Ads.

Ready to do the same for your business? Even without using Everflow by the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to: 

→ Plan Your Strategy For Easy Optimization

→ Structure Your Campaigns For Testing and Scaling

→ Gain Actionable Insights With More Detailed Reporting

→ Generate More Quality Conversions For Higher ROAS

Now, let’s get started with how to plan your strategy and lay the foundation for bringing in more high-quality leads with Google Ads.

Planning Our Google Ads Strategy

After an early onrush of low quality leads, we went back to the drawing board to rebuild our entire strategy from the ground up in pursuit of a reproducible formula for driving revenue-producing leads.

Here is what we learned while developing our new strategy:

  1. Determine Conversion Goals

Start by defining your conversion goal, i.e. the “money event” you are aiming for in your campaigns. For many brands, this may simply be a direct sale – but it does not have to be. 

At Everflow, we used Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) as conversion goals, which is common for B2B companies. 

  1. Research Keywords With Buyer Intent

When conducting keyword research for your campaigns, it’s necessary to find keywords with the right buyer intent. If a potential customer is Google searching, what problem do they have and what solution are you providing? Keywords with proper buyer intent ensure your ads align with what your target audience is searching for. 

It's tempting to believe that our best keyword for internal GADS campaigns would be 'Affiliate Marketing,' given its high volume and conversion rate. However, we found that the majority of conversions from that keyword were low quality because the intent was incorrect for the solution we provided.

Most users searching ‘Affiliate Marketing’ were individuals looking to make some extra money in the affiliate business and not searching for an affiliate platform. Whereas our target audience was experienced marketers looking to take their growth to the next level with Everflow.

By taking this into account, ‘Affiliate Marketing Platform’ proved to be the keyword with the best buyer intent for our purposes. It probably didn’t provide as many conversions, but the conversions were of much higher value.

  1. Build Optimized Landing Pages

When creating landing pages, you will want to optimize them for your specific conversion goal. To get started, you only really need one landing page dedicated solely to ads to ensure that every click you pay for is equipped to capture that lead.

Here’s how we optimized our landing pages for higher-quality leads: 

  • Utilized one-page landers with clear CTA or a form submission.
  • Prioritized page speed over elaborate design.
  • Kept content concise and easy-to-digest.
  • Prevented users from navigating away from the conversion goal.

With our landers dialed in, we next created a solid campaign structure for repeatable success!

How We Structured Our GADS Campaigns

We carefully designed our campaign structure for easy scalability and testing, without compromising ROAS. Our campaign structure now consisted of three key campaign types:

  • Sandbox Campaign

This campaign type is exactly as it sounds: it’s our place to play and try out new things. Having a specified place to do ad copy and keyword testing allows you to find what works and what doesn’t without wasting money.

For our sandbox campaign, we tested 5-7 ad copies with 15-20 keywords and let them run until they reached ~30-40 conversions (just enough for testing data). We zeroed in on the winners at both the keyword and ad copy levels to move over to our general campaign. 

Note: There should be clear winners. If you don’t have obvious frontrunners, you haven’t found your winners yet!

  • General Campaign

We then allocated a higher budget for the keywords and ad copy that we knew worked and focused on conversion value to see how we could scale for optimal results.

For our general campaign, we tested 5–10 keywords and at least two ad copies that succeeded in the sandbox and focused on a single geolocation for each. We did all we could to generate value and scale based on ROAS. Over a 30-day window, we began to see keywords rising above the rest.

  • Scale Campaign

Finally, we moved over the highest-converting keywords so that we could scale them with confidence. By separating out only our most successful keywords and ad copy, we increased ad spend with little risk.

For our scale campaign, we incorporated only 3-5 of our most successful keywords. Each keyword had its own dedicated landing page and ad copy variation. We watched closely as Google optimized these campaigns over a 60–90-day period so we could increase the budget on those with the highest ROAS until we found a sweet spot.

By replicating this refined structure, your business can allocate most of your budget to scale campaigns that generate the most value, while continually testing for new winners without impacting your ROAS.

Our Lead Structure

When setting up your campaigns, you should optimize Google Ads for the goals that make sense for your targets by assigning values to each lead stage.

On our campaigns, the conversion stages were Lead → MQL → SQL → Customer. For B2C, the conversion stages typically look like View Content → Add To Cart → Initiate Checkout → Purchase

Each of these stages was assigned its own value to communicate how much the conversion was worth to us. Take a look at how we structured our conversion stages: 

Assigning value to conversion stages helps Google optimize for higher-value leads.

To ensure Google showed ads to the most valuable prospects, we separated the various conversion stages with definable actions or characteristics like this:

  • Lead = Any Email Address
  • MQL = Company Email Address
  • SQL = Demo Booking
  • Customer = Trial or New Client

Assigning value to each stage in your unique lead structure will help Google’s algorithm show your ad to new customer targets that will bring higher conversion value to the campaign.

Once you have the structure fully in place, it is time to fine-tune your campaigns as the conversions start rolling in. 

Five Optimization Strategies Inside The Everflow Platform That Helped Our Campaigns Succeed 

Optimizing your GADS campaigns regularly based on the results you see will ensure that you don’t waste ad spend on low value keywords or neglecting to scale those that will yield growth. To do this, easy access to detailed reporting is vital… 

By setting up Google Ads as a custom partner in Everflow, we were able to use direct linking to track our media buying alongside all of our other marketing efforts. Strategic decision-making became easier when we had one dashboard containing our source of truth for all traffic:

All marketing efforts displayed in ONE dashboard helps us gain perspective on our campaigns.

Once our campaigns were up and running, we concentrated on finding ways to tweak them regularly based on what we were seeing. Throughout the process, we learned that even the most simple optimizations can have a significant impact.

Here are a few ways we’ve leveraged our own platform to improve campaigns:

1. Bid On Conversion Action Value

As we established at the start, Google Ads eagerly delivers conversions with no idea of their quality. But how can Google know who is a quality potential customer to show your ads to if they don’t know who your customers are? 

By setting up unique values for different stages in our lead structure, Google gained a better understanding of what kind of customer brings more value to our business. 

For Everflow, an enterprise company email is far more likely to become a customer than a generic Gmail address. To communicate this to Google, we assigned a higher value to MQLs that used a company email address. 

Each conversion stage value is passed back directly into Google Ads with Everflow's GADS integration.

When you start to bid with value, the goal is to get as much money back for the money you put in. Bidding on ROAS allowed us to scale efficiently because we knew that every time our ads ran, they were bringing in a value that’s more quantifiable than clicks and impressions.

We had the Everflow platform pass back these conversion values directly into Google Ads with a simple integration. Through this integration, it became incredibly easy to set up conversion stages and assign them value for high-quality results.

Everflow's Google Ads integration passes back conversion values directly into GADS for auto-optimization.

2. Analyze All Traffic For Actionable Insights

We used Everflow to track clicks, conversions, and events so we could properly attribute them down to the ad copy level. This ensured that we knew exactly which ads were bringing in conversions and the quality of the traffic coming in. 

With Everflow filling in all the missing data with server-side tracking, we had a treasure trove of transparent reporting that gave us a deeper understanding of what was going on post-click, so we could make strategic decisions regularly on which keywords or ad copy should be scaled and which should be thrown out.

Everflow provides a wealth of click data that you can't get from GADS on its own.

Our platform detects a whole slew of additional click attributes like browser type, device type, IP address, search query, and more. With this kind of comprehensive data, you can gain powerful insights on how to improve the effectiveness of your campaigns. 

3. Catch Intent-Based Geo Targeting 

The default for Google focuses on intent. This can throw a campaign off course when it comes to geo targeting. Early in our process, we turned on a campaign only to receive a ton of conversions from Nigeria, which was not on our geo-targeting list.

Without the help of Everflow's thorough reporting, it'd be easy to miss hiccups like intent-based geo targeting.

This happened because of intent-based geo targeting. It’s possible someone in Nigeria searched for “French restaurants” which resulted in Google targeting them for ads as if they were in France (one of our actual geo targets). We were able to catch these mishaps quickly by looking at the granular data in Everflow’s reporting, so we wouldn’t waste any more money on geos that didn’t provide any value to our campaigns.

4. Spot-Checking Event Rates

To find the keywords that are the real winners, you need to keep a close eye on conversion-to-event ratios. The more events compared to conversions on a keyword, the more beneficial that keyword will be to business growth. 

This fictitious example below features everyone’s favorite dog breed (including our SVP of Marketing):

Based on event rates, "best corgi breeds" is the frontrunner to be scaled.

“Top corgis” has a pretty good conversion to event ratio, and “best corgi breeds” has an even better one. Those keywords are ones we’d scale.

On the other hand, “how to find happiness through corgis”, while an intriguing concept, is no good when it comes to event rates and should be thrown out. 

5. Make A Negative Keyword List

For search terms, Google strongly incentivizes broad matching because it allows them to spend a lot of your money quickly. That doesn't mean you should write off broad matching entirely. We found that by simply adding a large number of negative keywords, we could take advantage of the way Google's algorithm rewarded broad matching without blowing our budget. 

Using our fake corgi campaign example, you can see that the keyword “top corgis” resulted in the search term “corgis in top hats”:

Broad matching can burn you if you don't know how to use it!

This gets further off-base when the search term is completely unrelated to the keyword, as can be seen in the final two rows. 

Let’s say we bid on “how to find happiness through corgis”. Google might equate the intent as surrounding “happiness” rather than “corgis” and bid on “happiness project” or “how to find happiness in meditation,” which is completely unrelated and a waste of our money.

By looking closely at your keywords, by search term and value in GADS, you will be able to catch these broad matching duds and continually add them to your ever-growing list of negative terms.

Make Google Ads Work For YOU

Google Ads Search is not a “set it and forget it” platform. If you treat it as such, you’ll end up spending all of your ad budget on junk leads as worthless as old shoes. Just like a big eager dog, Google Ads needs to be trained into bringing back something you actually want – new customers. 

We set out to crack the code to making Google Ads a cost-effective tool for growth. The valuable insights we’ve gleaned can be replicated to help your business reach new audiences outside of your limited networks. 

By implementing the playbook we’ve laid out in this article, you can get more growth through high-quality leads with minimal additional ad spend to make every dollar count in a changing economy.

Without further ado, we wish you the best of luck in all of your media buying efforts!

If you’d like to start using the Everflow platform to take your Google Ads campaigns to the next level, check out our webinar and Walnut demo on Everflow’s Google Ads integration.

Or book a demo of the full platform with our team today!

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