On Attempting To Run A Google Ads Campaign

Posted 1 March 2022

In the past, advertising my work has made me miserable. Even thinking about it seems to turn the people I want to help into non-specific punters, stereotypes, marks.

I appreciate that every industry has its own jargon – shorthand for concepts that outsiders don’t need. So I appreciate that there’s a reason why marketers and advertisers refer to potential customers as “avatars”, “target audience” (or whatever).

It just feels uncomfortable – to me, anyway – and too easily leads me feel that any people “out there” who might like what I have to offer won’t sign up for it unless I become some kind of cunning manipulator.

And that creates a slightly furtive, shameful feeling. One of the things I’ve learned about shameful feelings is that they tend to evaporate if I allow the sun to shine on them, by sharing them.

So: I propose to do that by writing openly here about my attempts to use advertising.


Specifically, I’m advertising to people about to make a wedding speech. I believe I have something useful to offer, and the additional income would be helpful.

Picture by me.

Over the last eight months, I’ve been doing an experiment using Google Ads.

I created an ad that shows up when people Google “How to write a best man speech” (and other similar queries).

I’ve spent about £1.30 a day, amounting in total to £162.31. (If you’re working out the maths, that’s because I paused the ad for three months around Christmas.)

Google tells me that approximately 10,000 people have had a sight of the ad. Of those, 977 have clicked to see my website. (I don’t know who they are.) In other words, about one person in ten. Google tells me that this is a decent rate, and that each click has cost me 17p.

If I had put in front of these people something they could buy (a “product”, as I suppose I must get used to describing it) I’d probably have covered the cost of the ads.

As it is, I’ve had seven of those visitors sign up to receive my emails. (Alas, for several months I didn’t send any!)


Rather than try to do everything myself (a lifetime habit), I’ve asked for help from somebody I know and like and trust. R.W. does this kind of thing for a living. She said 17p per click is quite good.

As for the product, she says that it’s entirely possible to sell something that costs £50 even to people who don’t know me. (Technical term for these people: “cold traffic”.)

In other words, I’d only need to help four people, at £50 each, to cover the cost of the ads. Four people out of 977 who click to visit my website doesn’t seem impossible.

But I’m paying for R.W.‘s help, so I need to cover that cost too. It’s not a great deal, and that should be entirely possible. I’m quite excited, really.

I sent her an email this morning.

From: JPF
To: RW

One thing I’ve come to like about the Google ads is that they seem to yield fairly immediate responses, so it should be possible to start with a lowish daily spend (£3ish, up to £5ish) and increase steadily as and when they become effective.

In the first instance, the purpose is to create something that pays for itself as soon as possible, while delivering valuable instruction and confidence to people who need it. Becoming a zillionaire is a secondary ambition.

I’m very keen to get started, and I know that you have a lot to juggle, so I’d rather you took a lead on how this can be fitted in.

I’ll blog again about this when I have more to report.


Update 3 March 2022

Email from R.W. today, proposing a way ahead:

From: RW

Thanks for sharing the blog post, I will try to avoid freaking you out with any cringe-worthy marketing jargon!! ;-)

I’ve been mulling over whether it might be best to try to sell the course straight away or take a slightly slower approach to give people more time to make a decision. In an ideal world we’d test this, but I don’t think the budget will allow it.

So my suggestion would be to err on the side of caution and give people the choice – buy the course now or if you’re not quite sure, sign up for a free thing first. The free thing could be the first lesson from the course or something else. You would need to write a series of emails which could be sent automatically over a few days once people sign up, to help them get to know you a bit better and help them decide if the course is right for them. This could be set up in Mailchimp with one of their basic paid plans. I can help you set this up. Is this something you’d want to do, though? Obviously it’s entirely up to you!

How far have you got with planning the course? I recently did a workshop with an instructional designer called Laura Willson on ‘Planning a Transformational Course’ which you might find quite helpful & relevant… Apart from anything else I think the way she structures her offering is really interesting – she offers to review her students’ course plans if they complete within a week of buying the course, which is a great value-add for the customer and a great way to get people to actually open the course and do the work!

Another thing to consider is that the cost of bidding for keywords might go up quite a lot when we get into wedding season, so we may need to factor that into pricing. I will have a better idea when I look at your account history.

As a first step, could you please let me have your Google Ads customer ID, I can then send you a request to access your account.

I replied:

From: JPF
To: RW

Thank you. Please don’t worry about the jargon: you might actually help me get more comfortable using it!

Do I need to let you into the Google Ads account, somehow?
The number is xxx-xxx-xxx

I re-did the landing page after we first spoke and before your latest email. You’ll see that I’ve removed the video I showed you, and put three options at the bottom of the page, including something a bit like the Laura Willson idea you mentioned, though without the clever time-sensitive element.

Having to-ed and fro-ed about Mailchimp / automations, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d prefer to give participants full access to the course, all at once, in a short series of password protected pages on my site, plus the option of signing up for additional, personal help.

Please let me know where I can do better what I’m trying to do!


Update 14 March 2022

Email from R.W. last Friday.

From: RW

Hello JP,

Please find attached a strategy document with some thoughts & suggestions for the campaign. I’ve recorded a Loom video to explain everything – I’ve realised afterwards my screen is too blurry to read, but all the docs I show you are attached.

If you’re happy with the plan, the next steps are to create the 4 landing pages and send me the url for ‘thank you page’ for tracking purposes.

I waited till today to read the documents and watch the video. I was really pleased by the thoroughness of R.W.‘s written plan, and the warm, encouraging way she delivered the spoken version. I’m so pleased we are working together.

I spent several hours implementing (some, not quite all yet) of RW’s suggestions. I’ve asked a handful of people to record testimonial videos. Added the tracking code. Sprinkled Google “keywords” throughout.

If you’d like to see a snapshot of the first version of the landing page, as it stands today, click this link to download it:

How To Write A Best Man Speech - And Enjoy Delivering It John-Paul Flintoff.pdf (1.6 MB)


Update 20 April 2022

Email from RW on 30 March, containing variety of technical things to set up for Google Ads to work.

Twenty days later, I have finally done them.

As well as the page for Best Man speakers I’ve created two very similar but different pages: one for a “Father of the Bride” and one for wedding speeches generally.

Google recommends spending £14 a day on the ads to gather enough information about what seems to work. That seems an awful lot, and there’s no guarantee of success, RW reminds me.

I say, let’s do £10 a day and see how that goes for a month.


Update 29 April 2022

From RW

Just wanted to check in with an update on how the campaign is going.

It had achieved 278 clicks at a cost of £65 but (assuming the tracking is working as it should) there have been no conversions so far. An average conversion rate for cold traffic is around 1%, so I would have expected to have had a couple of sales by now.

The click through rate is above average – around 7% – so the ads themselves seem to be working well to get people to visit the landing page. Google has flagged that the ‘landing page experience’ is below average. It’s mobile-friendly, loads perfectly well and so I think this must be down to Google’s automated system judging they’re not closely matched enough to the keywords. However I’m not convinced that’s heart of the issue and it’s not affecting our CPC (at 22p, is very low – perhaps too low).

Here are my theories about what the problem could be – and how we fix it:

-Problem: Landing page is not persuasive enough. Solution: we test different copy on the landing page, eg try adding a money-back guarantee or including more granular detail about what’s in the course. We have three different landing pages so could tweak each one slightly and see what works.
-Problem: Traffic is cold. Solution would be to ‘warm them up’ by capturing their email and sending a series of nurture emails. However I know you were reluctant to create any complicated funnels.
-Problem: Traffic is low intent, i.e. we’re reaching people when they’re still at an information-gathering stage (hence low CPC). Either we need to ‘warm’ them first, as above, or try some higher-intention keywords. This is tricky because nobody is searching specifically for a wedding speaking course, but we could try to target people looking to hire a wedding speechwriter. This would require a new landing page though, to persuade people why they should choose the more challenging DIY approach.
-Problem: The offer. It may just not be something people are prepared to pay for, or the price could be wrong.

There’s no easy, guaranteed fix unfortunately – all we can do is experiment and test different theories. Let me know how you’d like to proceed (if at all) depending on your budget/energy/enthusiasm levels.

All best wishes,


Update 30 April 2022

From JPF

Thank you. That’s really helpful.

I’ve let your suggestions percolate for a day, and now made a few changes – but only to the Best Man page.

- I’ve added a promise to refund, and also changed “approximately 2 hours per module” to approximately 2 hours in total, which may look less intimidating.

- I’ve lowered the price of each option. Working on the basis that we might have expected 1% conversions on 278 clicks, and that it’s cost £65 so far, I settled on £45 × 2.78 = £125, a perfectly decent margin.

I may also create some kind of downloadable PDF, which is not quite the same as warming people up with an email funnel, but with links on the page it might still be useful.

Anyway – thank you again!


Update 6 May 2022

From RW

Hope you are well. Unfortunately it looks like we’re still yet to make a sale. Have you any thoughts on next steps?

From JPF

Hi Rachel – I’m well, but this is a bit dismal! I am mystified, to be honest, though I’m sure the answer lies somewhere in your diagnosis last week.

For what it’s worth, I’ve looked at Analytics (do you have access to that? I can’t remember). The main things I noticed are:

Each of the three pages has just two returning users
The highest number of views are for the Father of the Bride (270).
The highest average time is Best man (34s).
The highest proportion of people scrolling is the general wedding page: one person in 22.


Maybe people just don’t want to pay for this.

I’ll have another think about what I might do differently on the page, and get back to you later today.


Update 9 May 2022

Google Analytics, focusing on the Best Man page (for now).

The average time visitors spent looking at the page was just 34 seconds.
Only seven people out of 188 scrolled down the page at all.
Between those 188 visitors, the page had 207 views, so 19 people had come back.
Only eight people, across all three pages, had looked at the video I made.
Nobody (!) had looked at the testimonial videos.

To encourage more people to scroll down, I put illustrations at the top. I cut the word length drastically, removed all the videos, and suggested that visitors sign up for an email.


Update 13 May 2022

From JPF

Been looking again at the stats and finding myself absorbed, baffled, entertained by them. It’s amazing how some kinds of (utterly uncertain) clarity suggests itself over time.

Currently the highest percentage of scrolling is on the Best Man page (14% of views, compared with 3.8% for Father of Bride).

And the General wedding page has the highest ratio of returning users (3.6%, compared with 0.8 for Father of Bride).

Father of Bride has consistently attracted the most views/users, so I have tried to increase the views, time on page and scrolling by making changes a bit like the ones I made earlier to the Best Man page: drawings at the top to elicit scrolling, offer to send first module free in email…

Anyway, I will definitely celebrate if even one person signs up for an email, let alone (heaven forbid) actually pay for my help!

Have a good weekend.



I’ll blog again about this when I have more to report.

Thank you for reading.