2,146% Increase in AdWords CTR: Common Killers, Simple Solutions & the “Secret”

Let’s be honest…

A 2,146% increase in AdWords CTR sounds crazy.

And it is.

So in the interest of full disclosure, here’s a bit of the back story. (And don’t worry, there’re screenshots below to prove that crazy claim.)

I started working with Client X last year around May but didn’t get into their AdWords for a couple of months. At that time, they’d been running your average, let’s-just-put-something-up-and-keep-our-fingers-crossed campaign.

That meant they were committing at least…

Five Common (CTR) Killers

1. The keywords weren’t focused.

To give you an idea of what this means, they were running 18 keywords groups with 54 individual keywords. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a high number of keywords (and, of course, Google is always tempting you with more).

The problem was: those words weren’t the actual words their ideal prospects were using. And even more CTR killing…

2. The ad copy didn’t include the keywords.

Instead of customizing each ad to match the triggering keywords, just two run-of-the-mill ads (no promise, no pain) were servicing all 54 words.

3. Nobody was optimizing for losers or winners.

Not for CTR. And not for ultimate conversions.

4. The landing page didn’t match the ads.

Actually, there was no landing page.

Instead, each click was simply driving traffic to the client’s home page in the vague hope that the visitor would just know what to do. This meant, there was no scent between ad and action and no CTA once they arrived.

And, worst of all, there was…

5. No valuable, compelling offer.

(More on that later.)

These five common killers meant there was a huge opportunity for improvement just by implementing some simple solutions, which (of course) aren’t all that simple if you’re struggling to set up your AdWords campaign in the first place.

The following screen shot (with Client X’s name and niche blurred out) shows you the actual math behind that insane 2,146% increase: 0.13% CTR to 2.92%.

What’s more, the numbers actually get better when you drill down.

This next screen shot shows how that 2.92% has now been optimized to produce three top-performing ads at respective CTRs of…

  • 6.9%
  • 4.6% 
  • 3.02%

The lower performers have subsequently been dropped.

Not only that, but the actual CPC dropped in half as well: from $0.41 in the first campaign to $0.19 in the last (check the first screen shot for confirmation).

And just to drive the point home further, here’s one more visual of what that CTR looked like over the last year.

So, how’d we jump 2,146%?

Three Simple Solutions

1. We focused our keywords.

Focused keywords are narrow keywords generated by your audience NOT by you. These are the words your ideal prospects are plugging into Google to try and solve the problem your product fixes.

Just as important as finding the right keywords is identifying the wrong ones.

This is where negative keywords are so vital.

You’ll normally start out with a handful of words you think someone might add to a search that overlaps with your product or service but disqualifies them from what you’re actually selling.

For example, if you’re a running coach, you’ll want to attracted people who’re searching for running, but not folks shopping for running shoes. Shoes then becomes a negative keyword.

Even better than your own gut instinct, however, is AdWords’ Keywords » Details » Search Terms » All feature. This tool give you a glimpse into the actual searches that activated your ads and it tells you what terms get the lowest CTR.

Case in point, +games (along with Client X’s niche title) was one of our primary keywords. But it wasn’t until we took a close look at the Details and found words like “board and “video (as in “board games and “video games) that we realized all those impressions were essentially wasted.

In hindsight, those are obvious. But don’t underestimate your blind spots.

In the end, both positive and negative keywords are the primary way to qualify your audience and make sure the right people are seeing your ad in the first place.

2. We used those focused keywords in the ad copy itself.

Maybe you already know this, but on a Google Search Engine Result Page (SERP), the search terms are displayed in BOLD… even in the ads.

This offers two advantages:

  1. It calls attention to your ad.
  2. It matches what your prospect really wants, which is why they searched for those specific words in the first place.

3. We created custom landing pages to match the ads’ headlines.

Instead of just sending our costly clicks to the home page, we built landing pages whose headlines matched the AdWords themselves.

This made for a much better user experience and helped the visitor find what they were looking for… as well as know they were at the right place.

And now, the “Secret”…

We built an offer into the ads that was:

  1. Based on the most popular and profitable search terms we could identify,
  2. Promised a piece of original content that our prospective customers actually wanted… and
  3. Was FREE.

In Client X’s case…

The golden word was “Sample.”

That’s what finally turned the corner.

Of course, this secret isn’t really a secret. It’s the fundamental principle behind content marketing: providing your prospect with free, valuable content related to your product or service that they actually want.

Before putting everything in place, we had to actually build that valuable sample (which wasn’t easy) and create a landing page with one (and ONLY ONE) compelling CTA.

But, there it is…

A 2,146% increase in AdWords CTR from five common mistakes, three simple solutions, and one (not-so-secret) “Secret.”

Leave any of your golden insights to AdWords dominance in the comments.