Turn off AdWords?! What I learned…

As I started this blog eight years ago, I wanted to discuss my fear of online advertising. Why the fear:

  • It would be addictive … my success would depend on others, and thus
  • I would give away the power of my own website … my content (my product info) would be used by others for profit and control.

I’ve been able to cut-back or eliminate some advertising sources over the years, but the very obvious power of AdWords had me under its control.

Would I ever be able to shake AdWords? Was I paying for traffic and conversions I would get otherwise? Thankfully, my boss never asked these questions. But I always wondered.

Turn OFF AdWords?

This fall, faced with a very strong sales forecast and production capacity issues (what recession?!), I knew I could turn off AdWords. Sweaty palms when I did it.

That was three months ago. Today I turned AdWords back on.

I got my answers!

I just finished looking at website traffic and sales quote activity during that AdWord-less period (on a week-by-week basis), compared to the previous period. There were two key questions in my mind that were answered:

Did I lose prospects, or did they find us anyway?

  • My conversions dropped by almost exactly the same amount as AdWords had delivered previously. So the prospects whose clicks I didn’t pay for did not ‘find my site’ anyway. Other data confirmed this conclusion.

Did AdWords generate additional traffic?

  • AdWords appeared to generate two quotes for every one conversion. Now sometimes we make two different quotes for prospects, but not at this ratio. I attribute the extra to call-ins or direct emails to reps by these premium prospects. (i.e. the real-world total conversion rate of AdWords clicks is double what your Analytics says it is.)

I hope you appreciate these real-life statistics. I don’t think I’m giving away any real secrets. The one advantage of starting with AdWords so early is that I am used to paying the premium this additional traffic costs. And now I know I’m not an addicted fool, but a smart Marketing Manager!

5 Replies to “Turn off AdWords?! What I learned…”

  1. Fascinating! Thanks for doing the real-world testing most of the rest of us are scared to do. I tend to be skeptical about the concrete value of PPC, AdWords in particular (despite the fact I do some management myself), so it’s good to hear it can actually be all it’s cracked up to be. Also great to hear another marketer confirm my suspicion that AdWords’ recorded conversion rates are far lower than they are in reality. Would love to see your real world data on that topic…

    Thanks for the data!

  2. Marjorie, I might let you take a peek. There are lots of ‘interesting’ observations to make in data, but not always sure that it changes anything. These two observations were key in knowing this advertising is worth it.

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  4. I just had a REALLY interesting experience.
    I was paying $20k/ month for traffic with great conversion and good ROI. I shout them off completely one day, with the same sweaty palms, and was shocked to see NO decline in traffic or Sales. I’m kind of blown away. What does this mean?

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