Measurable Results Delivered For Our Residential Service Client

SEM Case Study #1

Table of Contents

  1. Current Environment
  2. Issues Brought up by Management
  3. Goals
    1. Developing Data Collection
    2. Separate and Standardize
  4. Methodology and Process
    1. Narrow Funnels
    2. An Ability to Adapt
  5. Debrief
  6. Evaluate
  7. Adapt
    1. Productive Parts
    2. Liabilities
  8. Results

Here is the real-life case study of one of our clients who approached us with specific issues regarding their customer acquisition. This case study outlines a sample of marketing challenges growing organizations face and how our search ad campaigns adapt to unique projects to fit diverse company goals. While you are reading the case study, you may see your organization has faced similar challenges with customer acquisition. Afiar specializes in creative solutions to make paid search work best for individual company needs.

Current Environment

The client, based out of Reno, NV, served residential and commercial aquarium owners. Their services included aquarium cleaning, aquarium design, aquatic health services, along with commercial aquatic services. Three employees managed 26 clients under monthly contracts, and averaged 3 unique projects (aquarium design, emergency maintenance, etc) per month.

Of these clients, roughly half (12) were acquired through referrals. The remaining 14 clients under monthly contracts had been acquired through Google Adwords at $101 per qualified lead and $231 per acquisition. The acquisition source for unique projects varied significantly.

Issues Brought Up By Management

  1. Many leads being generated had no intent. Cost-per-qualified-lead was driven up by a high number of unqualified leads.
  2. Not many qualified leads were commercial clients, which were the most lucrative
  3. Too many leads were unqualified because of the wrong demographic (income)


After evaluating the issues brought up by management and reviewing the current environment our team had created two goals for the immediate term future. 1) Develop an organized data collection structure to better understand demographics 2) Separate and standardize the commercial and residential projects.

Developing Data Collection

An inexperienced marketer would hear the issues brought up by management and immediately begin making changes in hopes of increasing lead quality. This is an ineffective strategy because there is not enough information to determine why leads are unqualified, why most leads were residential, and why most leads couldn’t afford basic pricing.

What an experienced marketer would notice right away is that all three issues brought up by management were actually the same issue. All three of these issues stemmed from an undefined target demographic.

Our team implemented thorough event tracking throughout the website and developed an organized method of collecting and storing user/customer demographic data with Python Pandas and Excel. This data is used for remarketing and lookalikes as the business has expanded brands and location.

Separate and Standardize

Imagine yourself owning a restaurant with a lobster tank and you need daily maintenance to keep the tank looking pretty for customers.

Now imagine visiting grandma and you notice her living room fish tank has been taken over with algae. You want to call a professional to clean the tank and make sure the fish are healthy.

Now picture this, both of these people are shown the same advertisement in the same place when initiating a Google search query ‘aquarium maintenance near me.’ Does this sound effective to you? If it does, I hope someone else manages your marketing.

This was the current situation with the client, and it became our number one priority to separate and standardize the commercial and residential advertisements. Another goal was to increase the quality of the project for commercial customers so we could comfortably raise the price of commercial services without losing much conversions. This wasn’t as big of a priority for residential as they converted much better and clicks were cheaper.

Standardizing the projects involves creating Standard Operating Procedures designed to lead consistent, frequent, and effective future testing. This included scheduled rollouts for new landing pages with designs based off of the successes and failures of previously collected data along with several series of A/B tests for Copy, Descriptions, Ext, etc.

Methodology and Process

Narrow Funnels With An Ability to Adapt

When we first stepped in to audit some of the work being done, every single one of us involved at Afiar agreed that $231 per acquisition was much too high for a niche like this. In peak times, for the best commercial clients, with a poorly rated campaign, we would expect to see acquisition costs like this. But for the current situation there was no reason.

The first steps we took involved narrowing the funnels by a landslide. The client had hired agencies to manage paid search before, however the work done was less than ideal.

Narrowing the Funnels

The current projects involved Ad Copy and landing page content that could appeal to both residential and commercial clients however the content was put together into the same project. Having separate ad copy, descriptions, landing pages and outreach for different services or products is crucial. With separate projects data collection becomes much easier and later down the line after this data is interpreted it is magnitudes easier to implement changes that take advantage of this newfound data.

While some professional services convert better with final URLs directed towards the website (for example, attorneys should never use landing pages without headers), we found the most effective method for this client was very narrow funnels with specific landing pages. Specific LPs and Ads for maintenance, cleaning, fish health, design, and so on.

An Ability to Adapt

With user data being collected effectively, standard operating procedures to adapt the campaign are able to be setup easily. With data being collected, it will become apparent which funnel features are more or less effective than others.

For example, if a certain landing page is failing to convert, there should be a quick and outlined process for what to change and when to change it. There will also be detailed steps listing when to review the new changes.

If a project is unable to adapt to the data being collected, it will slowly lose effectiveness. Even if a paid search campaign is performing well, reviewing data and adapting the project will still help bolster the effective ideas and take the foot off of the gas for the less productive ideas.


The following were the desired outcomes and concerns of the client after the initial project was completed but before the projects were running for significant time:

  • [Client Worried] Commercial clients will convert poorly now that we raised commercial pricing
  • [Client Worried] Top-of-funnel low-intent keywords were going to be a waste of money
  • [Client Hoped] Less people will call (paid search) asking if the business was a recreational aquarium
  • [Client Worried] With a lower CPQL the leads would be less quality


Once the newly organized projects have had time to play out, it became apparent what was working and what wasn’t.

One of the first things our team took notice of within the first week of going live was that our CTR had dropped from slightly above 5% down to about 2% for both residential and commercial projects. Whenever CTR drops after campaign tweaks or changes, it is important to evaluate the conversion rate for those ads or groups immediately. What we noticed is what conversion rates from landing pages had increased by more than 100%. Conversion rates that were originally below 2%, were now well into 4%. Since there was no change in budget or change in lead conversions, it was safe to assume that this was a lucrative shift and it was safe to let things keep rolling as-is.

A couple of services, such as commercial/industrial cleaning, were performing exceptionally well.


Productive Parts

As mentioned above, some areas were performing better than expected and some were performing worse. One particular service, commercial/industrial cleaning, was performing exceptionally well. We had noticed by the fourth week we had already acquired three 5-digit customers with an acquisition cost of $80. In situations like this, it is vital to funnel more resources into the productive service.

Our immediate response was dramatically increasing that campaign budget as well as expanding the location reach (we were willing to take clients further away for a higher price). This resulted in another three 5-digit clients within 2 weeks. Ultimately, this one service had generated over $60,000 in revenue from $470 in spend within 6 weeks.

UPDATE: As of April 2021 this client has created an entirely new Limited Liability Company tailored exclusively towards commercial and industrial cleaning. (As any good business owner would after seeing returns like above) The client has continually chosen Afiar LLC to continue managing these SEM campaigns.


Alternatively, services such as residential fish health services were unproductive. After some tweaks and adaptations based on data, we wait another 2 weeks. Ultimately we discovered services like this will remain unprofitable through SEM and drop them altogether and encourage the client to pursue acquisition through a different medium for this service.


  • Closing potential was successfully increased across the board for all types of leads. Originally, the client had quoted about 1/5 clients being ‘qualified’ (Important to note: This is arbitrary as the actual number of total leads vs qualified leads wasn’t being recorded before we got involved) Now with automated and standardized record keeping we can see over 4/5 (80%) of incoming leads are now qualified.
  • Commercial customers originally composed less than 5% of all customers even though these commercial customers generated almost 15% of revenue. Our team quickly exploited this opportunity. Up until the business was split (mentioned above, a separate LLC created for commercial), we had driven commercial share up to 21% which generated almost 50% of the clients revenue. (Which had now increased 20%+ two months in a row).
  • Our team was able to reduce cost per qualified lead to $31 from $101. This ultimately brought down cost per acquisition to an average of $69.

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