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Google Ads $0.01 Clicks (in 2002), Guaranteed Conversion Bidding, & More

Kyle: Hello, and welcome to the Google Ads Strategy Show. I’m your host, Kyle Sulerud. And today I’m going to be talking with Kevin De Vincenzi. Kevin is a longtime marketer. He comes at marketing from a lot of different angles, has a couple of different companies that he’s involved with. Rapid Response Marketing is his marketing agency, which provides Google Ads services to a lot of different clients. And he also has an affiliate marketing company. I wanted to talk to Kevin here because I know he’s doing some big things with marketing, and specifically with Google Ads and I wanted to see what I can learn from him and hopefully everyone listening, you can learn some stuff, too. So Kevin, welcome.

Kevin:  Thank you so much. I really appreciate being on the show. Yeah, Google Ads is an amazing platform to work on. Because you’ve got so many different ways you can work on it. Right, Kyle? And you know this as well. I mean, now you’re working in YouTube, before with Google Ads, there’s so many different things that you can do.

Kyle:  Yeah. And so how long have you been using Google Ads at some level?

Kevin:  I’ve been using it pretty much since they launched their pay per click at a penny a click. I don’t know, is that 2000 to 2001? I don’t remember. I just remember how cheap it was. And how there was no approval process and everything was just like go go go go. Obviously, that’s changed, it changed for the better. I mean, they’ve refined their process. There’s a lot of great algorithms and tools that you can be a part of, with different bidding strategies, and it’s just taking the time and testing to figure it out.

Kyle:  So what were you advertising at that time when you were paying him a penny.

Kevin:  The first business I started was pagers, you know, those old little beepers. We did something called the Forever Pager. So essentially you pay once for the pager and then your lifetime service was free. So we started that with email marketing, and then moved that over to search marketing, that did really well. 

We then moved into cell phones and started doing cell phone marketing primarily for companies like Sprint, on their prepaid units. So again, at that time, it was really strict to get approved for a cell phone, it wasn’t like now where everybody can just have a cell phone. Primarily, I don’t know what the percent of the market is prepaid, but it’s mostly conventional now. Back then, it was a really stringent process. A lot of people just went prepaid. So we handle a lot of those units as well. And and it just evolved from there.

We’ve done a lot of lead generation depending on what the market is looking for, whether it’s people looking for a business opportunity, people looking for a service. Now we’re in so many different markets, if it’s a home service, if it’s blinds, windows, plumbing, locksmith, healthcare, Medicare options, we pretty much cover the full gamut.

Kyle: Let’s back up a little. And then we’ll talk more about what you’re doing now. So pre-Google Ads, how did you get into the marketing or in business?

Kevin: Yeah, email marketing. I actually owned a wireless store in Las Vegas, and I met somebody in the entrepreneur room of AOL. You might be too young to remember the AOL days

Kyle:  I had AOL.

Kevin:  Okay. Yeah, they had the entrepreneur room that was a group, maybe 200-300 people that I recall, that would be in that room, and it was just business chatter. 

So it was a weekend that I was actually on a boat in Lake Mead and somebody called me and said, “Hey, I’ve got this kid. He’s 17 years old, and he came up with this “How to Fix your Credit” ebook, and he can’t process it, can you help me? And at that point, I had the wireless store, we’re taking credit card payments, and I said, “Sure, we’ll help you”. For nothing, just to be able to help him out. And he did phenomenal with it. 

So we were manually processing these things. It was crazy. So he said, “I want to repay you, how can I repay you? What do you have that’s nationwide?” 

So we picked that Forever Pager that I mentioned previously. And he sent an email on it. And the first run that he did, ( I forget how many sales it was), but a couple hundred sales, it was phenomenal. 

And then we ran back to the store to go process everything. And then he did it again. And he did it a couple times over a few months. And I said, “You know what, I’m gonna take a year off and just learn internet marketing”. So I started learning email marketing and everything on my own and just took it from there. 

At that point, it was just putting on products that there was a need for. So we produced an AOL anti-timer. Because if you remember, in the AOL days, it would log you off and if you stayed on, if you were idle on AOL, just so they could clear up their bandwidth, the dial-up so we had something that would move the mouse. 

And that was on a diskette for $14.95 and $19.95. And then we ventured into background search, PC spy, PC Spy 2000, PC Spy 2001. Find out anything about anyone, that was our product as well. And a bunch of different products like that, that consumers loved. Unfortunately for us, we have to process each one manually, and we also have to then burn it en masse on a 3.5 diskette and then ship it out. So it was quite a process, but it was highly profitable and it was a lot of fun.

Kyle: So that’s bringing back some memories for me because I actually got started, if you could call it a start, in internet marketing in 1998 on eBay, and I was also burning information on 3.5 inch diskettes and then mailed it out to people after they sent me checks in the mail.

Kevin:  Yeah. And in ‘98, or maybe ‘99, I remember buying Amazon’s homepage. And I believe it was eBay’s as well for $99 a week. Like they were featuring on the homepage, you and other people, but you were literally on their homepage. I did that with calling cards, that was doing really well, and a bunch of other products. Yeah. Pretty crazy.

Kyle:  Yeah. So things have come a long way, of course. Luckily, and because I guess in some respects, we’re not getting 1 cent clicks anymore. But the marketing tools at our disposal are a lot more sophisticated now. We can track things, we can utilize artificial intelligence. So I know you’re doing some cool things with Google’s pay per conversion feature. Can you talk about that a little and how that’s working?

Kevin:  We’re using that very effectively, that was introduced to us by our Google team about a year and a half ago. And it was a learning curve, Kyle, it definitely was. But then I went to Google Marketing Live last April and spoke to some engineers, and tried to really understand how they’re basing their algorithm and everything. 

And we’re seeing a lot of success. So it’s essentially just finding whether it’s a sale or a lead, finding something that you know, where your conversion point is, and then making sure that you’re integrated properly with Google so it’s reporting all the sales, and then just let Google do the work, so you can’t beat it. 

I mean, even if it’s an affiliate deal, and the affiliate deal is $30, once you set it up, and it’s all about the work you put in, it’s all about the foundation. They say a house with a poor foundation is gonna fall. Same thing when you’re setting up an ad set, set up the foundation properly, so the better your creative, the better your call to actions, the more your click-through rate is going to be, in a sense, the higher your conversion will be and the more Google’s gonna serve you. So that’s really the winning process there. 

So it does take work. But if you have a CPA deal that’s paying you $30, and you’re bidding at $24 or $25, you’re guaranteed that you’re making $5 a sale. Or anywhere else, whether you’re using CPA bidding, or any other bidding model that Google offers, nothing’s on a guarantee, everything can be…we have some deals that are running at an $18 CPA, and the next day, it’s a $45 CPA. And that’s totally out of your control because Google’s algorithm is just serving different ads. The only thing you can do at that point would be to manually cut off keywords, etc. But now you’re interfering with the way Google set it up to get to your goal CPA, which, yeah, they do a really good job getting there. I mean, the best I’ve seen out of all the automated tools in regards to traffic sources.

Kyle:  And just to be clear, for everyone listening, that feature is only available in Google Display campaigns. So are you focusing a lot on the targeting when you’re setting those up or are you letting Google do the work there?

Kevin:  I’m letting Google do the work for the most part, because then they tend to deliver more traffic as they asked it in a sense. So they’re sending a lot of traffic. As long as it’s a general enough audience that you’re trying to target, you’re fine. If it’s something more refined, then I would put some audiences in.

Kyle:  So it really is about the offer, right? 

Kevin:  It’s about the offer, it’s also about the creative. We’ve had media buyers that we’ve worked with that have just, logged in and put in one image and one tagline, and they’re like, “Oh, it’s not working”. Of course, it’s not working. Google’s recommendation is, 50 banners so they can test this size, mobile, non-mobile, they do all the testing. So the more creative you put up, the better. And we use that strategy.  

When MySpace was really big, we worked with the MySpace team, pre-Facebook. And that was a strategy with them as well. It was “Kevin just upload 500 new creatives every week”, and that was pretty much our full-time gig, was just uploading the creatives, so they could test through and find what was going to work. 

So it’s the same thing here, put good content up, high-quality images, good call to actions, and it’ll do the work, if the offer warrants. If the offer doesn’t convert anyway, it doesn’t matter. You’ll get some clicks for the first day and then they’ll die off. And then the end of it is figuring out where the sweet spot is. So your CPA is $30, you bid 24, you’re getting 50 sales a day. Well, what about if you go to 25? Okay, what about if you go down to 23, and now you’re just tweaking it, you have to give 24 hours for it to kick in and finding out okay, “where’s my optimal volume with my optimal ROI?”, and you’ll know where that is.

Kyle:  So what types of offers work for something like that, for the display network, in general? In our experience or maybe there’s a specific offer you can share just generally…

Kevin:  We’re buying heavily on our internal properties which we own, which is a cell phone tracing type software. Also Deep Search Pro, which is background searches. Those do phenomenally well just because people are constantly searching “where’s my boyfriend?” or “where’s my girlfriend?” 

And then lead generation. We have a lot of different lead types, whether it’s people that are looking to move. We do people that want to sell diabetic strips, kind of like the old cash for gold offer, you know, sending you diabetic strips and we’ll pay you cash for them if you have excess. 

So anything that pretty much will appeal to the masses, is what I would say….not to get really niche. Unless you’ve already got your audience to find on Google search. If you have audience to find in Google search and you make them work, then take that same audience over to this guaranteed CPA and see if you can make that work as well.

Kyle:  Do you still test guaranteed CPA campaign versus a regular display campaign? 

Kevin:  I always start with a regular campaign first, and then the ones that prove out, I’ll move them to guaranteed CPA. So I won’t use guaranteed CPA as my as my as my testing ground because Google uses the information from the whole accounts, right? So they aggregate all the information, so I’m already giving them information. By buying Search, they can then use that on their display network as well, as far as what the conversion rate should be or what have you.

Kyle:  Okay, got it. Let’s talk a little bit about your agency. What types of clients are you helping there? Are you just helping them with Google Ads? Are you offering other services?  

Kevin:  Now we’re a full service. So we do TV, radio, print, but quite a bit with Google. I mean, Google, to me is the failsafe. That’s the one thing that we can go to, and no matter what business type they are, we can structure a landing page, a lead funnel, what they really need to make their phone ring, or get a lead-in or a store visit. So that’s really our focus. And it’s larger clients. Generally, a client spends about $25,000 a week.

Kyle:  So when a client comes to you, are they looking for a particular service? Are they coming to you saying, “I need more business”? How can you help?

Kevin:  It depends. If it’s Google-specific, they’ll normally come to us because they’ve tried on their own and they failed. So a lot of times their MCC will take over an existing account, go in and take the learnings from the account and then tweak it and optimize it for them. Because they might have been missing something. It might have been the way the creative is displayed. It might be their landing page, you know what they say on their landing page. It might be their sales team. So we just take a full approach to looking at every aspect of the business to figure out how to maximize them. 

And we do that with everything. I mean, we’ve got a client right now that’s doing continuous glucose monitors. So basically, if you’re diabetic, you can wear this on your arm where you don’t have to prick your finger anymore. And just innately, we’re not getting paid for it. But part of what we do is we’re also monitoring his phone room and making sure that the calls are being handled properly, the proper information is going out, the consumers got the right experience. So we know that we can tie the numbers all the way back and say, “Look, we sent you, 70 calls yesterday, you enroll 10 of them, you could have actually enrolled 15, here’s why.”

So we’ll give them that feedback as well to try and improve their business. Because after doing this for 24 years, there is a lot of insight. And, you know, it doesn’t matter what the business model is, it’s the principles that you need to follow to have a successful business.

Kyle: And how are you getting clients, yourself?

Kevin: Mostly referrals now. I’m active on a lot of the boards. It’s funny when this COVID-19 scare hit, I didn’t think it would affect me at all. And initially, we lost almost 80% of our clients. And when I say lost, they went on full pause. Clients that were in e-commerce, that there’s no reason they should have paused. I got “Kevin, I want to hang on to our cash, and we don’t know what’s going to happen. We lost our credit lines.” 

I mean, I heard so many horror stories. Luckily, most of them are back. So that’s the good news. But during that time, I relied heavily on my network. My LinkedIn network that I’ve got over 9,000 connections, all the Skype groups that I’m a part of, just talking to different people, helping people and providing value first, and then that opened up a lot of opportunities for us. 

So we’re doing a lot on YouTube. As far as influencers go, we’re working directly with guys that have channels that are doing content and going live, and we’re customizing products for that. 

So going back to our background product, we’ve got a client, so he does this crime talk, he talks about recent news with crime or what have you. When he goes live, we’ll get about 1000 viewers watching them live. So we give them a background product co-branded to him. So he’s able to run background searches live while he’s live and talk about the people that he’s already discussing anyway. And things like that. So out of the box ideas, but they’re working really well. So we’re going to keep expanding on that. These are markets I probably would have never touched pre-COVID just because everything else was running so well. You evolve, right?

Kyle:  Sure. Have there been any other big pivots that you had to make because of COVID?

Kevin:  Yeah, just changing the way that we’re doing marketing. I mean, ads are cheaper now, which is good. But the budgets aren’t what they used to be as well. We’re handling more clients now than we were in January with lesser budgets, but that’s okay. It’s opening our market, we’re gearing towards $25,000 a week in spend on each individual client. Now we’re taking the lesser budgets, hoping to get them to $25,000. And we’re seeing good results so far. So it’s definitely expanding our horizons.

Kyle: Got it. And I’m sure (because I’m experiencing the same thing) I answered, coming back online. And then you still have the new clients that you obtained, maybe with a little lower criteria than normal, but everyone’s happy. And as a result, your agency is probably set up for some pretty nice growth this year.

Kevin: Absolutely. For sure.

Kyle: Well, Kevin, this has been interesting for me, that’s why I do this show. I like talking to interesting people about marketing. Is there anything else that I should have asked you about that I didn’t?

Kevin:  Yeah, our podcast that we just started, we just filmed Episode 10. So guess what, you were on it!

We did a podcast about 10 years ago that was called Inbox Radio on Webmaster Radio. That was a lot of fun. So we revived it, great information, we’re not ad-supported. And we just have industry veterans like yourself, Kyle, that we have on, giving out great information just to help the market out, because there’s so much information out there.

So if people just go out and learn and better themselves, they’ll be able to provide value and at the end of the game, and there’s so much opportunity. Somebody gave me this adage years ago, there’s all these gold coins falling from the sky and you have these two little cups. You just have to position the cups properly to get those gold coins, and that’s pretty much it. So if you have prepared yourself and have the knowledge then you’ll be able to catch those gold coins from the sky.

Kyle:  Alright, and is that also available on podcasting app?

Kevin: It’s on Apple Podcasts, also on Spotify, and then Internet Traffic Kings on YouTube will have the video version of it as well. 

Kyle:  Alright, perfect. So you know where to go if you want to hear more from Kevin. Kevin, thanks a lot for coming on the show. 

Kevin: Thank you so much, Kyle. 

Kyle: This has been the Google Ads Strategy Show. Again, my name is Kyle Sulerud. And I will talk to you later.