by yuliak
15 replies
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So I was starting on using Adwords to market my web design and mobile development agency and went on to ispionage to check on what my competitors are spending and converting.

So what really disturbed me is companies paying over $100-150,000 / month are only getting 2300-2600 clicks and however expensive their services might be they're no way making even close to what they're spending per month.

So either to unreliable or there's something that I'm missing out.

Another thing that added a wrinkle to my pretty face was that I contacted 5-6 companies who specialize in Adwords and none of them have been able to give me satisfactory answers specially as to the conversion percentages for my niche. I don't see why I should be paying them 5-10% of my Adwords budget to do something I can do myself. If I'm going to loose anyway, I'd rather loose my money learning something.

I plan on spending $50,000 / month but I dont want it to vanish in thin air.

Would appreciate input from anyone who has run Adwords campaigns for their web agencies and have successfully converted.
#adwords #mystery #ppc #web design
  • These kinds of services cannot possibly be accurate unless they have access to user accounts, which of course they don't. They are best guesses. I've checked them out for fun before to compare what they say and actual numbers and the data they have is nowhere near accurate.

    You or they are assuming that someone is paying a certain amount. Like I said, best guess. Another assumption is that the competitor is making a profit. They likely are so it means they are not paying $50 a click which is about what you say based on your numbers. Or they are paying that much and making a profit. In that field, the cost of clicks is lower so obviously one or more assumptions is incorrect.

    Besides, my view is that even if you knew exactly how much someone is spending, or any other of their stats, it doesn't help you. It certainly won't make your campaign better.

    There is no such thing as a standard industry conversion rate. One site may be really good at converting with a great offer and another really bad. There's an average obviously if you knew everybody's numbers but you can't go by that. Myself, I usually know if a page will convert but I couldn't tell you a specific percentage. So no surprise you're not getting an answer. Besides, that's not what the company's job is. Their job is to get you as many quality clicks as possible at the lowest possible cost. The selling job is yours once you get that traffic but a good company should consult with you to try and improve.
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  • Profile picture of the author ppcmanager
    Web Design & Development is a competitive niche and CPC's have always been on the higher side.

    You can still be profitable but what you need is a highly optimized landing page which does a very good job of converting traffic into leads, a campaign set-up with high QS and Low CPC that filters irrelevant clicks as much as possible, and decent daily budget. Try focusing only on your local City level to start with.

    This works for my Web Design Clients, even though they do not charge upwards of $2500 per project. Avoid bidding on keywords with CPC higher than $15.

    And yes, your leads-to-sales conversion rate in the back-end needs to be good as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author AnthonyCapetola
    Agree with ppcmanager:

    Start on the local scale. Have a super-quality landing page for ads. Use Ad Extensions.

    You're facing a highly competitive niche market and CPC's of $15 + are absolutely normal. So many things determine the outcome of AdWords campaigns.

    If you have 50k per month to spend and are unfamiliar or inexperienced with AdWords you may really want to consider having it managed for you. You'll blow 50k in 5 minutes if you don't know what you are doing.

    AdWords has gotten increasingly more complex over the years and even being AdWords Certified means just about nothing in the long run. You'd have to be working with AdWords for several years so as to understand the system and control your spend enough to maximize ROAS and minimize Ad Waste.
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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Hi yuliak,

      Sites like are extrapolating from very small data samples and tend to be very inaccurate.

      As far as conversion percentages for your niche, it sounds like you are looking for an industry average conversion rate. For that information we would need to know the specifics of your particular niche, the data might be available however it isn't likely to be meaningful to your business. Please allow me to explain.

      There are a lot variables that will effect the conversion rates, a campaign will typically target many market segments and each segment will have it's own individual conversion rate, every keyword you target will have it's own individual conversion rate, each channel segment will have it's own individual conversion rate. Each value proposition, each ad variant will have their own individual conversion rates. Conversion variables like lead generation verses onlines sales, will each have their own individual conversion rates.
      Ad position will effect conversion rates, landing page designs, headlines, value propositions, and CTAs all have significant effect on conversion rates. I could go on, but you probably get my point.

      While it is interesting to compare your own conversion to the industry benchmarks, as previously stated, it generally is not meaningful for your own business. The reason is that every company has a different business model, a different strategy, and different goals.
      • If your strategy and goals are to grow market share, you will likely have a lower average conversion rate than someone that is maximizing current profits.
      • A strategy of maximizing current profits will generally have much lower conversion rates than a strategy of maximizing ROI.
      Industry benchmarks include all of these different strategies and tactics as an average of aggregated totals. It won't be relevant to a company that has very specific goals and strategies which are not reflected in the industry benchmarks. Industry benchmarks are more useful when comparing differences between industries, not as a standard for players within an industry.

      Comparing your metrics to your direct competitors, the ones that have a nearly identical marketing strategy, is much more meaningful, but not nearly as much as comparing your actual metrics to the goals of your carefully crafted marketing plan.

      A lot of advertisers tend to focus on averages and benchmarks, market leaders rarely compare their performance to averages that aren't based on the same strategy, they instead focus on planned verses actual. You might consider industry benchmarks when crafting your marketing plans, just don't look at them as a standard, because averages lie. Your own standards should be relevant to your chosen strategy and not based on an average of mixed strategies and tactics.
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  • Profile picture of the author yuliak
    Thank you guys for your feedback.

    I was planning on starting local but I've ended up investing too much in the infrastructure, hiring people and forging offshore partnerships so I need large volumes of business to get me to even break even.

    Is it good to have a large range of keywords covering most possibilities or should I go for the most obvious ones?

    For example: "developing iphone applications" could be used by people for different purposes where as something on the lines of "iPhone app development company" or "iphone app developers" would be most likely used by prospective customers? What do you think?

    Another thing I noticed was some of my competitors in my niche are even using keywords like "iphone app development tutorial" so I dont under why would they even want to target that area?

    I still kind of refuse to believe there are no industry averages or conversion estimates for certain generic keywords, I probably will have to find someone whose had extensive experience managing campaigns within my niche or have to burn some buck to figure things out. I think Ill have to go slow and steady burning baby amounts to configure my campaign properly.

    I cant seem to figure out negative keywords section though? Can anyone give an example?

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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Hi yuliak,

      Yes, start with the obvious keywords first. You do want to test every keyword that is extremely relevant, so go ahead and do very thorough keyword research. Closely monitor your Search Terms report for new potential candidate keywords as well as obvious negative match keyword candidates.

      Some keywords will be clearly targeting your prospective customers, while others will be a little vague, but might still be be profitable if you can get low enough CPC. Sometimes a keyword you think won't work well turns out to be an excellent performer. It all boils down to testing segments to see what works and constantly adjusting your bids to reach a targeted ROI goal. Just make sure all of your keywords are highly relevant, not simply related to your product/service.

      Make sure your account structure is well organized and highly granular so that you can easily manage things down to the individual keyword level. Treat you ad groups as marketing experiments, every ad, and every keyword is a test, allow your test result data to inform your decisions. After a few cycles of testing and adjusting you should be a in good shape going forward.

      As far as industry conversion data, most companies tend to hold their individual conversion rates as a highly sensitive secret. As stated earlier, individual conversion data is highly useful, but aggregated conversion data isn't that meaningful, so for that reason obtaining the aggregated data is generally not done. Simply put the value of the data doesn't merit the cost of obtaining the data.

      If you feel that the aggregated data in your case is worth $5,000-$10,000 then you can contract with a competitive intelligence provider and they will attempt to gather the data for you, it is just not going to be cheap to acquire.
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  • Profile picture of the author wbakhos
    The reason why you are getting keywords like "iphone app development tutorial" popping up in these tools is that the tools DO NOT go into the advertisers accounts and look at the keywords.

    They use search queries to gather what they are most likely bidding on.

    For example in the above term you mentioned, they could be bidding on Phrase match "iphone app development"... but when someone types in "iphone app development tutorial" then the ad would be triggered (UNLESS they are using 'tutorials' a negative keyword).

    Its a good sign because you know that your competitors are not optimising their campaign correctly and are paying for tutorial traffic when they shouldnt be (and paying more per click mind you!!).

    So just use this as a guide to developing your keyword list but take note of words that they shouldnt be paying for and make sure you DONT pay them them. Add them as negatives. Here are a few negatives to consider:

    - free
    - diy
    - tutorial
    - jobs
    - tools
    .. and so on.

    Start off small and build from there. Track track track and check your search queries religiously.

    Also don't just use Adwords conversion tracking but also link up with Analytics as the attribution modelling is super cool and you can set remarketing lists to good segments that.

    As you can see there is a load to determining conversions rates from your setups, your tracking, your remarketing strategy and management capabilities, through to your landing page.

    Hence why its hard to say the benchmark conversion rate is X. Anyone that gives you one really doesn't get it.

    Hope this helps...
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  • Profile picture of the author yuliak
    OK I just started a tiny campaign with the most obvious keywords (346 keywords) with a flexible budget optimized for maximum clicks.

    It was a two hour campaign.

    Net Spend: $180 USD
    Total Clicks: 74
    My Ad position on an average was 2-3.

    Out of the 74 clicks I received 30 emails from Indian companies offering their outsourcing services and 3 emails from genuine clients. I secured a windows mobile app development project from one of the 3 clients and negotiating with the other two. I'm making sure they dont go anywhere else.

    So from what I conclude of this is that the Indians technically destroyed my overall Adwords campaign however I was lucky enough to bag a really good project.

    How do I get the Indian companies to not click on my Ads? They would just destroy my Adword campaign! Seriously!
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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Hi yuliak,

      What geographic locations were you targeting? Try narrowing down the targeted locations and/or create separate campaigns for each country you are targeting. Go into your campaigns' advanced location targeting settings and select "People in my location" to narrow the targeting.

      Did you try adding adding India to your excluded locations in your campaign settings? That should block most of it.
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    • Profile picture of the author ppcmanager
      Originally Posted by yuliak View Post

      So from what I conclude of this is that the Indians technically destroyed my overall Adwords campaign however I was lucky enough to bag a really good project.

      How do I get the Indian companies to not click on my Ads? They would just destroy my Adword campaign! Seriously!
      Please don't take this negatively but I laughed so hard I almost fell of my chair after reading this part They should not be clicking on your ads.

      Anyway, do what @Dburk said. You may also take this a step further and add all US states in location targeting, as opposed to targeting the whole Country. This is to ensure your Ads are not displayed even if anyone located outside US searches on, and not their respective country specific Google tld (like .in, .ca etc.) So as long as they don't use a Proxy server whose IP address is from any of the US State, your ads will not show up.

      Having said that, 3 leads from your first try in a competitive niche like Web Design is good performance. I hope you do well in the coming days.
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      • Profile picture of the author yuliak
        haha I can understand. I probably sound like a lousy noob.

        Out of the 3 leads the second one matured as well. So *touch wood* for a $180 campaign I bagged a good 5 figures in revenue. (I'm not disclosing the exact amount so my campaign dont get jinxed lol. Cant help it Im Russian!)

        So I think this is really beginners luck. I'm going to go a little deeper now and try this out by increasing my budget from $180 to $500 USD while trying to keep our Indian friends from clicking on MY ADS.

        *fingers crossed*

        Thank you soooooooo much for your kind help. Really appreciate your valuable input as it really helped me in tweaking my campaign.

        Wish me luck. Would be happy to have some more tips to further optimize my campaign.
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  • Profile picture of the author yuliak

    I only targeted US, Canada and UK.
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    • Profile picture of the author dburk
      Originally Posted by yuliak View Post


      I only targeted US, Canada and UK.
      Hi yuliak,

      The default settings in your AdWords campaigns use your targeted locations and applies the following rule: "People in, searching for, or viewing pages about my targeted location". People in India will still see your ads if they include a reference to any of your targeted locations in their search term.

      I recommend changing the setting under the "Location options (advanced)" section of your campaign settings to Target "People in my targeted location". That will prevent your ads from being triggered outside of your preferred locations.

      You can go a step further and specifically Exclude people located in India, or any other locations you choose as well.

      The ideal settings for location targeting is just one of thousands of things you need to learn before can reach an intermediate level of knowledge in PPC advertising. Google makes it very easy for practically anyone to open an account and create a campaign. They will even offer to setup the campaign for you. This does not mean you will be successful. There is a fairly steep learning curve to becoming competent at PPC advertising. Prepare yourself to dedicate much time and resources to learning this craft.
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  • Profile picture of the author ppcmanager

    So how is it going? it's been almost a week, curious to know whether you continued generating leads.
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  • Profile picture of the author yuliak
    wow! Adwords is seriously a monster.

    It's overwhelming how things can scale so fast. It's amazing how the instant you press Active your phones start ringing and emails start popping in. I'm taking it very slow by adding a keyword and monitoring it's performance. I also realized it's stupid to overbid for competitive keywords as they've become somewhat generic search keywords for companies who provide associated services like outsourcing companies in India.

    Everytime I get an email or a call I make it a point about asking them of the keywords that they used and trust me none of them had used the competitive keywords. I also asked some of the outsourcing companies on the keywords that they used and they always use competitive keywords like Web designing companies, web development companies and so on.

    So I decided to lower my bids for competitive keywords which lowered my costs considerably without effecting the number of leads that we have been receiving.

    Within 5 days I couldn't resist increasing my daily spend to $1,000 USD / day. Adwords is pretty unpredictable. There was a day when we didn't get a single lead.

    Some of the leads have been window shoppers (dreamers) or genuine leads but without enough budget to get their project developed who I decided to forward to our outsourcing partners against commissions. I don't plan on letting anyone go empty handed lol.

    $1k per day has been enough to keep my entire sales team busy so I think we shouldn't be increasing our budget. I've decided to hire another resource or two and increased the budget to $2000 per day.

    About our Indian friends. They keep on coming from right, left and center and I guess they're somewhat of a acceptable cost to any campaign.

    By the way I cant thank you guys enough for helping me shape my campaign. Should you guys ever require any help I would be happy to go out of my way to oblige.
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