You don’t have to spend a lot to have success with AdWords. For this case study, the client only spent $260 / month for 2 months.

Sure they will likely spend more now that they see how well it works, but I just wanted to show that AdWords isn’t “expensive” if you launch your ad campaigns with some basic knowledge: a little keyword research, understanding of location targeting, and writing ad copy that resonates with your audience and gets them to take the action you want.

Who’s the client? Here are the basics:

  • Mental health counselor in Littleton, CO (also known as a therapist)
  • Brand new business (no brand recognition)
  • Priced toward the low end of the market
  • I also built the website and guided the client on copy recommendations and CTA (call to action) usage so I knew it would convert traffic into leads at an acceptable level

Keyword Selection

I kept the keyword selection simple for the initial launch so we could see if there was enough volume in the area for these counseling related terms.

They keywords we started with were:

  • +counselor
  • +littleton +counselor
  • +counseling +services
  • +counseling +near
  • +personal +counselor
  • +local +counselor

As you can see, they are all Modified Broad Match keywords, which means that word has to be in the phrase when someone searches, but it could be in a different order.

For example, for the keyword +littleton +counselor someone could search for “counselor in littleton” and it would still trigger our ads.

Of those 6 keywords, only 2 got any significant volume:

Ad Copy

We started pretty basic here as well:

There are a few things that I want to point out that make this work — even though I’m sure we could do better:

The headline matches the keywords

We’re only targeted locally, so seeing your city in the ad is a positive.

We also used the city in the display URL.

There is a call to action

“Get in touch to schedule a visit” is a clear call to action and tells people what to do next. This is critical. You need to make it as obvious as possible what you want people to do.

The language “get in touch” was specifically used because it matches the CTA on the landing page — and every page — on the website.

Location Targeting

As I mentioned earlier, this is a local business so we only targeted the the zip codes surrounding the office. Drive time would be under 10 minutes from any of these targeted areas.

I like to use more specific zip code or city targeting instead of radius targeting because it tends to be more precise. More importantly, if a certain zip code isn’t performing as well, you can easily exclude or lower the bid for that area.

With radius targeting, getting to that data is a little more difficult and not shown front and center.

For the advanced location setting, I left it at the default of targeting “People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location”.

This allows people searching from outside of those zip codes, usually from work, to find our ads.

Landing Page

Because we started with more general counseling terms that tend to be higher up the funnel, the landing page is the ‘counseling services’ page that allows someone to self-select the type of counseling they are interested in.

From there they can learn more and get in touch.

When we decide to target more specific types of counseling for anxiety or animal therapy, for example, we would have those ads lead to those specific pages.

Also, you can see the button and call to action match the call to action used in the ad copy.


Let’s look at some numbers.

During the initial 2 month period we:

  • Spent $520
  • Acquired 6 clients

This means the average cost per acquisition (CPA) was $87.

The average revenue per session at this time was $85.

So does that mean we lost money? Why are you writing this case study?!

Don’t forget about lifetime value (LTV)

The average lifetime value of these customers is $85 x 12 sessions (once a week for 3 months).

That means each customer is worth, on average, $1020.

Adding everything up, for $520 spent on AdWords, this client received $6120 in revenue.

There are other factors that typically increase LTV as well:

  • A percentage of customers will refer their friends and family (5–10%)
  • Maybe we can introduce a long-term package for some clients
  • Offer additional services or upsells

The options are endless for increasing LTV, but just think about how you can offer additional value to your customers. A certain percentage of people will want “the best” and the most and a certain percentage will want the basic package or service.

In this case, an easy-to-implement increase in lifetime value would be to raise prices, and they have.

When your prices are higher, people tend to value your work more and are less likely to question your prices or ask for a discount.

How Could I Increase AdWords Performance?

From the AdWords side, we can test different ads. When your click-through rate goes up, your cost per click goes down, making your cost per lead go down. Plus as click-through rates go up, conversion rate goes up as well.

You should always continue to add negative keywords as you see irrelevant terms in your search query reports. I’ve noticed quite a bit of specific business name searches that I have started to add as negative keywords.

I could also target more specific issues or types of counseling like I mentioned before. As we get further down the funnel, customers are less likely to be in the research or “shopping around” phase and more likely to make a purchase decision.

This types of keywords typically cost more (but not always), but they usually convert into a lead or customer at a higher rate.


If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments.

Have your own success story? I’d love to hear it!



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here