Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Spending $66,372.09 On Paid Advertising Taught Me

scotch magic ad

A bit more than 3 months ago I launched a landing page on my personal site, I never really completed the landing page as I got a bit lazy and didn’t complete the case studies on it.

None-the-less, it does all right. It converts at 3.7 percent, in which 37 people out of 1000 fill out the lead form. I also tested a shorter version of the page and conversions went above the 5% mark, but the quality of the leads decreased drastically… for this reason I went back to a long sales letter format.

The way I currently drive traffic to that landing page is from Quick Sprout. From the Hellobar at the top, to the “consulting” link in the top navigation, and even the two banner ads in the sidebar, I’ve been able to drive at least 6000 visitors a month to just from Quick Sprout.

Because I wasn’t satisfied with the volume of traffic I was getting on, I decided to test a few different advertising sources… LinkedIn, Google AdWords, Retargeter, Perfect Audience, and StumbleUpon Ads. Here is what I learned:


Compared to the other paid traffic sources, LinkedIn had the second lowest conversion rate at 1.6%. On the flip side though, it provided the highest quality of leads. I’ve tested it in the past with a handful of other campaigns, and I’ve quickly learned that LinkedIn ads tend to do the best for B2B companies.

The big issue I had with LinkedIn is that it doesn’t drive a ton of volume, especially if you compared it to some of the other paid advertising channels. And to get the most traffic out of LinkedIn, I was paying around $4.76 a click, which gets really expensive.

In most cases I would have turned off the LinkedIn ads, but due to the quality of the leads, I left it on.

Lesson learned: LinkedIn can drive high quality leads for a B2B company, but it will cost you an arm and a leg and you shouldn’t expect a ton of volume from it.

Google AdWords

As you already know, Google AdWords can drive a ton of traffic and it tends to convert well. On average I spent $5.62 per click and my conversion rate to a lead was 6.55%.

Volume wasn’t the issue with Google, but lead quality from LinkedIn was literally 15 to 20 times better. My ads were setup right, I was only targeting my ideal customer, but for some reason the lead quality wasn’t that great.

Because of this, I turned off Google AdWords as the cost per lead was too high, considering most of them were not qualified.

Lesson learned: Google is typically a great channel to advertise on for both B2B and B2C companies. It just didn’t work well for me as I was pitching a service that was in the 6-figure price range.


I used Retargeter to remarket my Quick Sprout readers and get them to head over to The cost for this was extremely low for the volume of traffic I received as well as the number of leads.

I was paying under $2 CPMs to have my banner ads shown across the web to anyone who has been to Quick Sprout in the past. My click through rates on the ads were around .2% and visitors converted into leads at a rate of 5.05%.

The reason I think Retargeter worked so well is because:

  1. Quick Sprout receives well over 100,000 unique visitors each month, which means I have a big enough pool to remarket to.
  2. Those visitors are likely to convert because I’ve already built up trust with them through my blog.
  3. Although Retargeter’s backend wasn’t the most usable, they were optimizing the ads on their end. From geo targeting, to selecting which ads to display based on click through rates, to day parting, they reduced my CPM costs and increased my click through rates.

Now the biggest flaw that I saw was that over time your ads get a lot less clicks, even if they are served to new people. My click through rates dropped well below half. Due to this you continually have to create new ad designs and copy for Retargeter.

Lesson learned: Retargeter can work well if you have a big enough user base and you continue to rotate up your ads on a weekly basis. This will keep your click through rates high.

Perfect Audience

Similar to Retargeter, Perfect Audience remarkets to your user base, but the difference is they specialize in Facebook remarketing. Retargeter can also remarket on Facebook, but the CPM rates Perfect Audience provides for Facebook is really affordable.

Perfect Audience ran around 33 cents per CPM and it had a click through rate of .16%. A visitor converted into a lead at 3.58%. The quality of the leads weren’t as good as LinkedIn, but they were decent.

The biggest downfall with it was that your click through rates on your ads decrease over time unless you can continually rotate them up, similar to Retargeter.

Lesson learned: If you want to remarket on Facebook, Perfect Audience is the cheapest and most effective solution I’ve found. You just have to be willing to create new ads each week.

StumbleUpon Ads

By far StumbleUpon Ads were the cheapest form of traffic. I was able to buy visitors to my landing page at 5 cents a visitor and I was able to buy thousands of visitors a day.

The big issue with StumbleUpon is that it isn’t a high quality traffic source and the visitors don’t convert too well. They converted at a rate of .05% and the leads were the worst out of all the traffic sources.

Due to this, I ended up disabling StumbleUpon after a month as it wasn’t providing  a positive ROI. In the past I have had success with it, but it was more so to content pieces than to a landing page that was selling something.

Lesson learned: Don’t use StumbleUpon Ads to drive traffic to a paid product or service. StumbleUpon Ads should be used to seed social media traffic to your content, not to paid products.


I’ve been doing paid advertising for over 7 years now and much hasn’t changed when it comes to buying quality traffic. Google AdWords, LinkedIn, and forms of remarketing still seem to be the best forms of ad buying.

The sad part is, AdWords and LinkedIn continues to increase in price year over year, but it is still worth using them. I’ve also found banner advertising to work well in the past, I just didn’t have time to test it out on as it is a time consuming process.

Do you have any ad buying tips you would like to share?


Terry Leahy John W. Thompson Graham Mackay Mikael Lilius Mikhail Prokhorov

No comments:

Post a Comment