I just turned off Google AdWords

For the past few months, we spent a few $K a month testing out AdWords strategies for Paperform. The largest campaign was generating new trial users at under $4/trial, which, given our historically solid conversion rates from trial to paid users, should translate to a money making machine.

There was only one problem; trial users from AdWords didn’t convert to paid users. Literally the only paid conversion we received from any of our AdWords trial users over the past 3 months were for the search term “paper form”. What are the chances that these weren’t people already looking for us?

I have to admit, when I first double checked the conversion stats for leads from AdWords, I thought there must be something wrong with our tracking. I really wanted AdWords to be a viable, consistent source of leads for us. But after checking across Google Analytics, MixPanel and Intercom, I had to concede that AdWords wasn’t working for us 😢.

Now, I’m not saying that PPC can’t work for us, just that as a young bootstrapped SaaS business, it’s probably not going to be worth our limited time and capital needed to make it work.

So what now?

Once I gave it a day to sink in, I realised that this wasn’t all bad news. In the same period of time, Paperform has grown 10–15% month on month. So it turns out Paperform has been growing in spite of AdWords, not because of it. Before I investigated the data, we assumed that a chunk of growth from the past few months could be attributed to ad spend, after all, we were getting significantly more trial users from ads. Now we know that’s not the case, and the sales are coming from elsewhere.

So what now? Now we go back to what we know works for growing our business. Content, partnerships, referral have been an incredible investment for our businesses’ growth. We go back to what works, but we also look to the future. It’s an interesting dilemma to have; to experience consistent and increasing growth but to discover that growth wasn’t coming from where you thought it was.

Do you have ideas on how to grow a SaaS business in 2018? Then we might just be looking for you.


I’m Dean, a Co-Founder of Paperform. We help you make forms you can be proud of.


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