Growth July 13, 2020

I helped a DTC Ecommerce brand scale to a 7 figure revenue using Google Ads - here's an inside look with real data and screenshots

Jonathan Wilson @JonathanOctober

Hey Indie Hackers!

This is everything I've learnt from 4 years spent working on Google Ads for a client's dtc ecommerce business. I've been working with Google Ads for about 2 decades now.

[I wanted to include all my screenshots and images but Indie Hackers won't let me because of my new account, sorry!]

I've extracted the 5 most important steps that helped me achieve this. I spent several months on this one so I genuinely hope you find it helpful and learn something from it :)

When I first got this account, it was barely profitable and the campaigns were a huge mess because of how many times this account had changed hands.

There were loads of small issues that were collectively keeping the campaigns from being profitable.

1- The organization of campaigns was completely messed up.

-All his products were lumped together in a single Ad Group.

-There was one ad spending $866 for a $28 return - a failed experiment completely forgotten in the mess.

-There were some good campaigns, like a Google Shopping Campaign with a $42,000 return. But because of money-wasters like the one above, he was never hitting 6 figures per quarter.

2- The basics were missing - tracking was incorrectly set up, had errors, and was missing crucial data.

It’s simply not possible to make good analytical decisions about the campaign if all the data is incorrect.

It's not enough to track Clicks, Conversions, and Cost-per-conversion!

The crucial fix was:
-Tracking actual sales separately rather than grouping it in with all conversions.
-Tracking native Conversion Actions using Google Ads.

3- After this, he was finally able to focus on scaling up revenue.

Once I was able to analyze what was working and what wasn’t, we achieved a healthy 3.0X Return On Ad Spend.

But high ROAS itself isn’t enough - revenue is the most important metric to optimize for.

We got the best results through:
-Looking deeper into Campaigns, Ad Groups, Ads, and Keywords.
-Feeding his product catalog into Google Ads to implement Dynamic Remarketing.
-Finding new ways to scale by running smart budget-conscious experiments.

That was kind of the starting point. Here's what I found to be most important for fixing such issues and then scaling up -

1> 📊Learn the right way to track the right metrics - Traffic, Purchase Value, and Micro-conversions - using both Google Analytics and Google Ads.

Even though basic tracking was already setup, there were a lot of technical errors which meant incorrect data. Our idea of the overall ROAS was completely off because of this too.

The Native Conversion Actions provided by Google Ads lets you see a detailed picture.

2>👨Analyze the customer buyer journey and use this to understand how well your ad campaigns are performing.

There are multiple touchpoints in any customer buyer journey. You need to understand this well in order to track the right metrics and analyze how well your Campaigns are performing.

3> 🗄️The number one reason for wasted ad-spend: Poor organization!

This really isn't an exaggeration - there was so much wastage going on in that account. A lot of agencies will do the bare minimum and won't bother with being meticulous and detail-oriented. You can make a huge difference by keeping that in mind.

This account had an ad running that was spending $866 for a $28 return!

4>🛠️Optimize every layer of the campaign by performing a detailed analysis of Campaigns, Ad Groups, Ads, and Keywords.

This is the next step for being meticulous and detail-oriented. Once you have everything organized, take a top-down approach and look through everything. Analyze everything. Find out what's working and what isn't. Run experiments. Try new keywords.

5> 📈Implement the best retargeting techniques and start scaling up your returns.

Retargeting gets you sales that would have otherwise been lost - $30,000 in sales in our case.

I know a lot of marketers consider ROAS to be the most important metric. Once you've optimized everything, the next step is to focus on scaling up revenue. And in my experience, this often means that you'll no longer get ridiculously high ROAS values all the time. And that's okay. For us, ROAS went down from around 3x to 2.5x, but our revenue scaled up to almost double.

I spent time including a lot of my images and marked-up screenshots but Indie Hackers wouldn't let me include more than one link. You can find the full write-up over here:

I've also got a downloadable checklist there that'll help you keep track of all these steps and apply them yourself ;)

Also, feel free to ask me any questions you have here or in the comments of the article- happy to help out this community.

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  2. 2

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  3. 2

    Wow!, thank you so much!

    Jonathan Wilson.

  4. 2

    Looks like a solid framework! I'd follow you on Twitter or buy a book that helped put these practices into action with a little closer guidance.