How one digital marketing agency identified and diverted 43% in wasted ad spend

This is a guest post by Jordan Nishkian, Content Strategist at WebServ, a digital marketing agency located in Irvine, California.

Wasted ad spend isn’t helping anyone.

According to SearchEngine Journal, the average AdWords account wastes 61% of its budget on search terms that never converted and 76% on the wrong search terms altogether. There is a relationship between wasted spend and cost-per-conversion, but it’s not linear; it’s exponential. In other words, a 10% increase in wasted spend does not equate to a 10% increase in cost-per-conversion. It equates to a 44-72% increase.

Wasting money on non-converting search terms isn’t only putting a dent into the budget, but it’s also taking money away from the search terms that matter. As a digital marketing agency that cares about value, WebServ’s main priority regarding PPC is always to allocate their clients’ ad spend wisely in order to help them see the best results.

That’s why our agency uses CallRail Dynamic Number Insertion and tracks visitors with call tracking. Together, Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) and visitor tracking allow us to observe who called our clients and what search query led them to make that call. We also use these tools to see the outcomes of the calls (whether they were answered, abandoned, or missed), which helps us learn about the quality of the generated leads.

One of our clients, Sober Partners, has truly benefited from this combination of tools.

Objective: Improve ad performance—and reduce waste

Although Sober Partners was getting a high conversion rate from its PPC campaign, not all of the calls were quality leads. Using DNI and Keyword Level Reporting, we were able to identify keywords that were generating low-quality leads. Seeing this, we defunded the poor-performing keywords, aiming to minimize wasted ad spend and improve the lead quality.

When we bring on a customer, we often find that the client is wasting upwards of 50% of their ad spend on Google ads by targeting keywords that don’t convert or generate qualified leads.

Solution: Deploy Call Attribution and Visitor Tracking

DNI assigns a visitor a specific phone number, allowing marketers to accurately attribute where the calls are coming from—whether it’s through organic search or a PPC ad—and see which sources are driving the calls.

Visitor tracking, on the other hand, takes keyword data passed from Google Ads and reports it back in CallRail. This gives marketers the ability to effectively track PPC visitors and which keywords led to an opportunity.

While Sober Partners’ original PPC campaign was generating calls, the calls weren’t driving business for the rehab center. Our goal was to start focusing ad spend on keywords that produced qualified calls. This would decrease the conversion rate, but would ultimately make up for it in quality. “Simply put, keywords that lead to unqualified leads are wasted spend,” WebServ’s PPC Specialist Nick Chepkevich explains. “Keywords that drive qualified leads can generate revenue for the business.”

We were able to isolate wasted spend to a small number of keywords, which allowed us to focus on winning ad groups, vastly improving the quality of Sober Partners’ leads. The first step was to identify the wasted spend.

“This is done by listening to phone calls and determining the quality of the lead,” Chepkevich says. “From there, we pause the low-quality keywords. In theory, that wasted spend gets allocated toward keywords that generate revenue.”

While Sober Partners’ ad spend was being utilized more efficiently, the company also reaped the benefits of more qualified leads—the rehab center generated multiple admissions from the spend that was wasted the month prior.

Results: 43% of wasted spend reallocated to profitable keywords

Using DNI and visitor tracking allowed our agency to:

  • Learn more information about the calls coming through
  • Identify that 43% of ad spend was being wasted
  • Divert wasted ad spend to profitable keywords

“Wasted spend is a huge problem when we bring on a client,” says Preston Powell, COO of WebServ. “By using visitor tracking and effective campaign structure, we are able to significantly improve ad performance.”