How I reduced my cost per lead by 63%.

Google Adwords has proven to be one the best lead generation tools for small businesses. The ability to place your brand in front of a potential customer at the exact moment they are searching for a solution can be incredibly rewarding for your business. It can also be incredibly expensive and cost prohibitive when done poorly, which brings me to this purpose of this article. In order to make Google Adwords a viable option for one of my clients, Chop Tree Services, I needed to reduce their digital campaign’s cost per conversion. Conversions for this campaign were phone calls and contact form submissions for tree services such as tree removal, trimming, stump grinding etc.

First, the numbers. To gain a better representation of Chop’s overall digital performance, I aggregated 3 months worth of data, May through July for 2015 and compared it against the same 3 months in 2016. I believe that the 90 day comparison year over year more accurately shows a consistency in performance trends rather than a 30 day period. Here is the comparison from 2015 to 2016:

  • Overall clicks: 63% Increase
  • Click-through-rate: 224% Increase
  • Cost-per-click: 9% Decrease
  • Conversions: 307% Increase
  • Conversion rate: 153% Increase
  • Cost-per-conversion: 63.8% Decrease

The results clearly show that overall, the performance of Chop’s digital campaigns made some notable improvements. However, I feel as though it is important to share some of the insights I used to help navigate my digital strategy to product such a change in performance. Here are some of the performance reports I looked at.

Conversions x Device

Looking back at historical data, we discovered that Chop was paying quite a bit more for mobile conversions. Recognizing tree removal services as a fairly low-involvement purchase, our initial strategy had been to target mobile devices aggressively. However, after analyzing data, we discovered that desktop devices were actually converting at a much higher rate.

In fact, desktops were 70% more likely to convert than mobile devices. Knowing this, we could then assume that the average cost per conversion from desktop devices would be lower than mobile, since it would take fewer clicks to convert into a phone call or form fill. Well, we weren’t wrong.

The reports showed that desktop conversions were 42% cheaper than mobile conversions. Thats huge! Once we affirmed this suspicion, we adjusted our device bid for mobile devices. We didn’t want to exclude them completely, because they were still converted, but rather we wanted to shift our budgetary preferences over to desktop devices.

Conversion Types

Another report that helped provide insight into how potential customers wanted to interact with the business was viewing All Conversions by Conversion Action Name, segmented by Device Type (since we are focused on desktop conversions). Using this report we could see whether or not people preferred to call on a phone or submit a contact form.

What we noticed was a strong preference by desktop users to submit a contact form request online quotes. Now, it’s not exactly mind blowing that users are submitting more forms from desktops compared to mobile devices, but it IS something worth investing more energy into, now knowing that this is the source of the majority of our conversions.

Shifting our A/B testing experiments to our desktop contact form, we began making changes to messaging and design that would encourage the visitor to submit a quote online. Below is our original landing page contact form.

Looking at the headline and call-to-action in the button specifically, we wanted to speak to potential customers’ urgency and time efficiency.

Simple color changes were implemented to help the form stand out from other elements of the page. Also, the messaging now reflects users’ desires to get fast results, in this case a custom quote for tree services. As illustrated in the graph below, our A/B testing of small design changes and messaging was a success in improving the conversion rates for online quote requests.

Average Position x Conversion Rate

Being the best at your digital campaigns always means showing up in that #1 Ad position, right? Not necessarily in this case. While we did see a strong correlation in our average ad positions, what was interesting was that there was very little difference in our conversion rates when we showed up in the #2 position compared to #1. If we could maintain a higher conversion rate, while paying less in cost per click because we are now bidding for a #2 average position instead of #1, we could consider that a winning strategy.

Using the automated bids tool, we set our keyword bids to decrease by 10% when their average position was better than 1.5, using data from the previous day. This helps to keep our cost per click low, assuming that our conversion rates will maintain relatively the same. Here is what the automated bid looks like.


Adwords reports offers marketers lots of great tools for discovering insights into how they can improve their campaigns. By segmenting your performance data in ways that can contribute to your overall digital strategy, you can make some significant changes to your campaign’s efficacy for the client.