How to Reduce Google Adwords Cost Per Click

How We Lowered Adwords Cost Per Conversion From $584 to $45

We inherited a wildly unprofitable Adwords account from another agency.  The client was a regional real estate appraiser that chose his former agency because they claimed to specialize in marketing home appraisers online.  He reached out to us after receiving a recommendation from a attendee at one of our events and granted Sagapixel access to look under the hood at the account.

how to lower cost of adwords
Overall metrics from the previous agency’s campaign over roughly 100 days. $584 per lead.
overall numbers from when Sagapixel managed this ppc account
Metrics after 100 days of having Sagapixel manage it. Cost down to $45 per lead.




A Massively Mistaken PPC Strategy

I log into the account and as always, go straight for the cost per conversion.  In my view, the most important metric of a marketing campaign is its effect on cost per customer acquisition and its relationship to customer lifetime value.  An ad campaign that costs a client $10 to make an $11 sale is rarely going to profitable once fixed costs are factored in.  I ask the client to estimate how much profit is made on a new home appraisal, and learn that his $584 cost per client contact is nowhere near profitable.

Find Stuff to Cut Out


The first thing that I do is look at the time of day and days of the week that have seen the most conversions:

ppc conversions by time of day and day of week
Conversions by time of day and day of week (over lifetime of the previous campaign)

In most cases, I have found that PPC campaigns perform best during certain times of day and days of the week.  This being the case, it would only make sense to concentrate one’s ad spend during these high-performing times.  One look at the previous campaign and it becomes clear that it makes no sense to run the ads during the weekends, since not one conversion was tracked on a Saturday or Sunday over the lifetime of this account.

I also notice that there were no conversions outside the hours of 7am-7pm, and the highest converting times were between 11am and 2pm.  The previous campaign was running 24/7, despite the fact that no one was clicking on the ads and converting:

There were clicks all times of day
There were clicks all times of day; they just didn’t convert

We limited the ads from 8am-6pm, Monday through Friday.


Often, I log into accounts that have no negative keywords, but that wasn’t the case with this account.  There was a healthy list of negative keywords, but there was one clear thing missing: negative keywords generated from search terms that triggered the ads.

A thoroughly managed Adwords campaign has its search terms monitored constantly.  From the nature of the list that I saw, the keywords were clearly a predetermined list that was simply added to the account:

premade negative keyword lists are not a panacea
Clearly, no account manager would add terms related to Utah for a campaign running in NJ; this was a premade list devoid of any NJ-specific keywords.

You need to look for search terms such as the following:

negative keywords from search terms

Real estate appraisers do not do mass advertising.  If a person is searching for an appraiser by name, he or she is likely already a customer of that appraiser or has already received a recommendation from a friend.  Bidding on branded keywords in this industry does not make sense in this case (this was confirmed by the 0% conversion rate for these search terms).  There were no such negative keywords in this account, so we added them (a lot of them).

This is how you do it.  Click on “keywords” on the left bar, then click on “search terms” across the top:

how to generate negative keywords from search terms

Find the search terms that you don’t want triggering your ads, and add them as negative keywords.  That’s it.


There are thousands of blogs out there that explain how to a/b test (or split test) your ads.  I have little to add to that conversation outside of “you have to do it because it really helps.”  I recommend that you start learning about it here.

Today, Our Real Estate Appraiser Has a Profitable Adwords Account

One does not have to be an expert in the real estate, legal services, or construction industry to make PPC work.  The important thing is to make decisions based on the numbers and common sense.  If a keyword, time of day, specific type of device, ad, or anything else that you can use to adjust your bidding doesn’t work, stop bidding.  Cutting out what doesn’t work is almost always the best approach for accounts that have limited budgets and it is likely the best approach for you.

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