When Sales Mysteriously Dry Up…

Sometimes you can do all the right things with AdWords, like deleting expensive keywords that don't lead to sales, and discover that your best efforts have actually killed your sales.

What's going on, and what can you do about it? Read on…

The Tragedy of the Discontinued Vegan Pizza

One of my favorite stores, Trader Joe's, has carried Roasted Vegetable Pizza for many years now. As a family of overly-scheduled mostly-vegans, there were days when that cheese-free frozen pizza was all that stood between our children and raw potatoes for school lunch.

And since we don't have the world's biggest freezer, we made a couple of 50-minute round trips to Trader Joe's every week, where we also picked up produce, tomato sauce, the occasional tub of soy ice cream, and various shampoos, conditioners, and candies. Our average basket was just under $100, of which less than 10% was vegan pizza.

So it was with great shock and sadness that I found the Roasted Vegetable Pizza discontinued one day this winter.

Discontinued? How could that be? The one healthy-ish vegan fast food that we've built our morning routine around? This will not stand!

Howie Writes an Email

I went to the Trader Joe's website and filled out the Contact Us form. A few days later, here's the reply I got:

See the big mistake they're making here (in my world, at least)?

They're only counting the sales from the pizza itself.

But once we stopped buying the pizza, we stopped shopping at Trader Joe's completely. We went back to overpriced Whole Foods for healthy stuff and the local Harris Teeter ("the Teet," as I fondly think of it) for the regular stuff.

Our Trader Joe's spend dropped from somewhere in the $400/mo range to more like $25/mo. And since Trader Joe's doesn't track my individual purchase behavior with a loyalty card program, they have no way of knowing that this one vegan item is responsible for huge amounts of sales. (Assuming, of course, that there are other weirdos like us out there.)

Back to AdWords

The same thing can happen when you delete a low-ROI keyword in AdWords. Lots of people might have been searching for that term and clicking your ad, and not buying right away. But they may need that first exposure to your website before they can return on a different search a few days later. If you don't track what we AdWords geeks call "Click Attribution," you may be cutting out insufficient but necessary links in your sales chain.

Until recently, the only way to attribute sales back to non-converting clicks was through very expensive 3rd party software. But now Google has released a beta version of click attribution, which is coming soon to an AdWords interface near you (unless it's already there).

In the screenshot below (click on it to see it nice and clearly), you can see how four campaigns produced conversions in two additional ways than the normal Impression > Click > Site Conversion path. 

You can see assisted clicks, where a visitor clicked from that campaign to the website and didn't convert off that click, but rather a subsequent search. 

And you can see assisted impressions, where the ad was viewed and not clicked, but later the same searcher clicked a different ad off a different search.

This is game-changing, and it's confusing, and it's hidden and Google isn't making a big deal about this.

So if you want another huge competitive advantage in the AdWords game, this is it.

You can find this feature – called "Search Funnels" – within the Conversion sub-head in the Reporting Tab:

If this really helps you, please go to TraderJoes.com and tell them you want the Roasted Vegetable Pizza back! ;)

Camp Checkmate – Free Pre-Camp Email Course

While you're here, I thought I'd just throw in a mention of Camp Checkmate Chicago, which will be held on June 10-11, 2010 in Chicago. 

You can find out more and sign up for the extensive pre-Camp Checkmate training series of articles, tutorials, exercises, and live and recorded webinars and teleseminars at CampCheckmate.com.

I'm giving away so much material because, quite honestly, there's no substitute to being there and experiencing Camp Checkmate. Check out some reactions to a recent Checkmate workshop I gave at the System Seminar:

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3 Comments. Leave a comment or send a Trackback.
  1. #1 • Steve Rau said on April 21 2010:

    I read your Adwords for Dummies book and follow your newsletter, both are excellent.  Unfortunately, I can't really afford your higher end services at this point.
    I am hoping you may be able to answer this question.  Is there any way I can get my Adwords account reinstated?  They shut me down for an unknowingly bogus advertiser I was promoting while trying to learn the world of affiliate marketing, and that campaign was stopped many months before they slapped me.
    The problem is that my Adwords account is tied to my main money site and small Internet business of PlayBallAcademy.com.  I spent two years implementing your strategies to optimize my campaigns and overnight all that hard work went into the crapper.
    I migrated to Yahoo, but my campaign is nowhere near as effective as my Google campaign.
    Can you throw a fellow teacher a bone and suggest a resolution to my problem.
    Best Wishes,
    Steve Rau
    Co-Founder PlayBallAcademy.com
    High School Business/IT Teacher

  2. #2 • Kristie McDonald said on April 23 2010:

    When you say disabled, it depends if your account was literally disabled or if your ads have stopped running due to low quality score.  The chances of getting a disabled account reinstated without a Google Rep is highly unlikely. Unfortunatley it is also difficult to get a Google Rep assigned without an Agency relationship. 
    If the affiliate promotion had nothing to do with your money site, then I recommend that you open a new account for your PlayBallAcademy site.  You can easily recreate your old campaign(s) into the new account using Adwords Editor's backup and import features.  Make sure you shut all the campaigns off in the old account so you don't break google policy by having more than one account for a single domain.
    Going forward, it is a best practice to run only one site in your adwords account and never mix testing new things like affiliate marketing with your money site – this doesn’t just go for Google but all of your marketing efforts.

  3. #3 • Steve Rau said on April 25 2010:

    My account was disabled.  I will try opening the new account as you suggest and I will definitely not make the same mistake twice by running multiple site campaigns in this account.  
    I also don't trust many of these advertisers anymore in the CPA networks.  I'll only be directing traffic to well branded advertisers as I dabble into the  affiliate marketing arena again.
    Thanks for your response.