We Failed Launching a PPC Service – Here’s Why

We have been running paid media and advertising campaigns for clients for years as part of our collection of services, primarily in B2C & FMCG sector with great success. Our clients provide us with clear goals and KPIs and we work with their design/development teams to make sure everything is setup before we ever push play on any campaign.

So when we had a session about our own business and the direction we wanted to take it, what seemed like a great idea at the time was to take our PPC/paid media team and spin it out into a separate little unit and use it as a source of lead-gen for our core business. Good idea right?

When it came time to pick our target market/audience, another “great idea” we had was to target smaller businesses with smaller budgets. We could then generate some results for them with minimal budgets, and have them grow with us and take on more and more of our services.

In order to do that though, we had to price the service in a way that was appealing to these businesses and ensure that we will not lose money in process. The number we arrived at was £150 per channel, per month – a number that would work only if certain milestones were reached in terms of number of clients.

The Brand & Design & Ad Concepts

Since this was an experiment and also a bit of fun, we also decided to pick something a bit fun and quirky – PPC Penguin. We found an open source HTML landing page template to customise, mocked up some very quick graphics (one of the reasons we think it failed – but we will get to that), and whipped up some very simple and direct ads to run across LinkedIn, Facebook & Instagram.

We will save you having to visit the website because you can see the landing page embedded here (the white image) and the carousel ad (the two teal images). We were not trying to be too clever or sophisticated here, we just wanted to highlight that we can run paid advertising across all the major platforms, for a very low fee. What do you think?

In hind sight, we should have made everything with a teal background, or everything with a white background for some continuity, but that is really small potatoes in the scheme of things.

The Results of the Paid Marketing

The easiest thing to do is tell you upfront we had zero enquiries across all the channels were we ran ads – so total leads generated and sales made were 0. For those that would like to see the specifics, here they are

ChannelImpressionsClicksAVG CTRAVG CPMAVG CPCTotal Spend
Spend in $AUD

To give some context to these numbers:

  • The reason why Google was paused so quickly is that we were not banking on the competitiveness of the keywords. In order to meet our return on ad spend (ROAS) goals, we had to keep it under $10. We did check the Keyword tool but thought with some of our optimisation strategies we could do beat the numbers from Google, but we realised only later that we were going toe-to-toe with other PPC experts who were all optimising for the same numbers we were.
  • Very interesting to see that the ad creative performance in terms of CTR was almost identical on both FB/IG and LinkedIn. The takeaway we got from this is that the ad just wasn’t that great.
  • There is clearly a demand for PPC agencies based off these impression numbers. This is probably the biggest positive out of the experiment – if we were to give this a go again, there is definitely a market there looking to grow their business via paid advertising.

Why We Think It Failed

So how did experienced marketers fail to promote and generate business, especially when they pride ourselves on the results they generate? Good question and we think we have some good answers:

  • Don’t assume or take things for granted – we thought that our experience and abilities in B2C and FMCG would translate to B2B. We should have done more homework and treated this like a client coming to us, rather than a project.
  • Cheap doesn’t have to be nasty – The design was terrible, let’s all admit it. We confused move fast and break things and the crazy inflatable arm man and being cheap. Businesses that have small budgets have the same core appreciation of value as larger ones, and if we are to give this another go, we should respect the people coming to the website.
  • Lead with the offer on the ads – The second tile of the ads had the real kicker – the price. We went back and forth on this and if we had more time and budget, we would have setup a proper A/B test to ensure that we would have seen what worked best. Always put your best foot forward first.
  • No social proof on the website – Once again, something we should have put on, but the idea was floated that for this price, social proof wasn’t as important because we had in our minds this was a great price and offer that would be enough for someone to at least take a punt with us.
  • Call to action should be book an appointment – This is something we are going to take away for all our B2B work going forward, having a Calendly link or means of properly securing time, rather than filling in a form and waiting for someone to get back to you. Basically – the equivalent of a B2B shopping cart.

What’s Next Then?

To be honest, we are not sure. Whilst we didn’t make any cold hard cash from this experiment, it has really sharpened our swords for any B2B work in the future. I am sure there are many successful B2B teams out there that are pulling their hair out right now at our little effort here and the rookie mistakes. Trust us, we see them clearly too in hind-sight.

And that is the primary driver for us to give it another go – to learn from our mistakes and definitely not be as confident and cocky this time around. So stay turned, subscribe to our newsletter and we will keep you all updated.