Mass Firearms School is a firearms safety training & range shooting facility based in Holliston, Massachusetts. Their training courses are focused on educating gun owners on proper and safe use of their firearms so they can obtain a Concealed Carry Weapons Permit. Massachusetts residents are required to show proof of completion of a firearm safety training course before successfully obtaining their permits.
- Increase firearm safety course registrations
- Maintain a profitable cost-per-conversion between $30-35
Political and social issues are external factors that have affected ads performance in the past, creating ups and downs in both search and conversion volume. In addition, all ads campaigns were utilizing traditional Manual CPC bid strategies which resulted in declining performance as the PPC industry has moved towards automation.
In November 2021 we made the switch from Enhanced CPC to a Maximize Conversion strategy with a Target CPA of $55 for our core keywords like “license to carry class”, “concealed carry class”, “massachusetts ltc”, and other similar keywords in Google Ads. Starting out at a higher Target CPA allowed the bid strategy to have space to optimize off of the keyword set with fluctuations in cost-per-conversion between keywords.
In the following 60 days, the campaign had achieved an 18% increase in class registration conversions compared to the 60 days prior, while also decreasing cost per conversion from $70.93 down to $55.12, a decrease of 22%. So far, the bid strategy was increasing conversion volume while also decreasing CPA to the campaign target.
While conversions initially increased, the Target CPA of $55 eventually became less achievable and conversions started to decrease. Google’s bid strategy simulator recommended increasing the Target CPA closer to $90, but this recommendation was completely incompatible with the client’s ultimate goal of a CPA between $30-$35.
In an effort to move closer to the client’s goal CPA range, we reduced the Target CPA of our core campaign to $30 for the next 30 days. During this time, we saw a 36% decrease in campaign Cost / Conv. at a $31 CPA along with a 37% decrease in class registration conversions and a hefty 60% decrease in spend. These negative effects resulted from limiting the automated bid strategy with a far lower target CPA.
Our team started by completing a full audit of the account and creating a list of action items broken into four quadrants- high impact, low work, high impact, high work, low impact, low work, and low impact, high work. We started by tackling the items on the high impact, low work list. This list included things like changing the attribution model on conversion actions from last click to a position-based model to more accurately reflect the customer lifecycle. We also implemented responsive search ads into each ad group with 12 headline & 6 description options to test against the outdated expanded text ads that were previously implemented.
Once the initial clean-up of the search campaigns was complete, we started on the high-impact, high-work list. This included consolidating the ad groups within each search campaign by product category from the single keyword ad group structure that had been previously implemented. The next step was tackling the shopping strategy. When we took over management, a standard shopping campaign was running which accounted for roughly 35% of the total ad spend. Performance had been gradually declining over the last year to a low point of a below 1x return. After seeing great performance from Performance Max campaigns with similar e-commerce clients earlier in the year, we decided to introduce Performance Max into our shopping strategy. We re-allocated 50% of the shopping campaign budget into Performance Max & implemented ample photo and video assets into each product group to ensure that Google had enough options to test.
In conjunction with building out the Performance Max campaign, we also onboarded Feedonomics- our go-to feed management partner. Our primary goal with Feedonomics support was to improve the product headlines in the shopping feed in an effort to improve CTR & ad relevance.
To bring conversion volume back up, we decided to test Google’s automated bid strategies combined with broad match keywords. This match type is widely feared in the PPC industry for generating irrelevant search terms and wasted ad spend but in our experience it can yield positive results when carefully leveraged with Google’s automated bid strategies..
Around mid-February of 2022, we created an A/B test. We duplicated our base campaign, narrowed down our top performing keywords and changed them to Broad Match, while also setting the campaign Target CPA to $30 in order to resemble Variant A. We then let the Battle of the Match Types commence.
Within the first 7 days, there was a night-and-day difference in performance between these two campaigns. The initial results were as follows:
||Cost / Conv.
Within the first 30 days of running this new campaign we increased class registrations by 113% and decreased cost-per-conversion by 4% at a $29.58 CPA.
With careful and consistent testing, we were able to scale class registrations for Mass Firearms School while achieving their desired cost-per-conversion. This use case of leveraging the power of Google’s Smart Bidding strategies with Broad Match keywords demonstrates the future of successful automation in digital advertising.