Although the similarities may not be immediately obvious, there’s a great deal of overlap between running an AdWords account and training a stubborn or badly behaved dog. This was a lesson that Ray and Bridget Murphy, proprietors of Koru K9 Dog Training and Rehabilitation in San Francisco, California, discovered shortly after getting started with PPC to promote their business.
Bridget and Ray Murphy, of Koru K9 Dog Training & Rehabilitation of San Francisco, CA
Teaching Young Dogs New Tricks
Ray, Bridget, and their staff understand what makes dogs tick better than most – and their history with training dogs began very close to home.
“Our passion for rehabilitating dogs started with our own dog, Luna,” says Bridget. “Luna was dumped at a rescue organization with her littermates as a puppy. All of them had parvo, were extremely malnourished, and in a bad way. Due to the parvovirus, the rescue organization quarantined the puppies until they had a clean bill of health. That quarantine happened during a critical period of learning for puppies. Luna had basically lived in a bubble during a time when she should have been out exploring and learning about all the things that we see on a day-to-day basis. Because of this, she was a fearful mess when we rescued her.”
Luna’s necessary but prolonged separation from the world due to the parvovirus quarantine caused several behavioral difficulties that Ray and Bridget would later specialize in treating.
“Luna was a tough case!” Bridget says. “Quite honestly, there are a lot of dogs that are euthanized for the behaviors that she was displaying. In addition to that fear-based behavior, she also has incredibly strong herding drives, so we were in a situation where we had to channel those drives properly, as well as correct behaviors and teach her some confidence. It was a long road, and a learning process for us for sure. We saw the limitations of a training style that so many people cling to (referred to as ‘purely positive’ or ‘positive only’). She made us better trainers, helped to expand our toolbox, without her we wouldn’t be where we are now. Luna is now six years old and the best dog in the world. We use her to help rehabilitate other dogs, particularly those with dog-dog aggression or leash reactivity.”
It was clear to Ray and Bridget that dealing with difficult dogs and cases that other trainers would turn away was not only possible, but a unique selling point for their business. Soon after launching their training center, Bridget turned to AdWords to help them find their first clients.
Like Luna’s gradual rehabilitation, it was far from an easy journey.
Early Struggles: Increasing Budget Didn't Increase Leads
“When we launched Koru K9, I turned to AdWords to help us get the word out,” says Bridget. “We had success initially, but when I wanted to increase leads, I took the typical ‘increase budget’ approach. We were spending upwards of $2,000 per month with no marked improvement in leads (definitely not quality of leads). I was desperate to find a way to maintain or increase the number of leads generated through our ad campaign, find a way to optimize the ads, and reduce the budget.”
Ray and Bridget found themselves in a situation that will be familiar to many newcomers to paid search. Although increasing budget allocation can be a viable strategy in many instances, it wasn’t working for the Murphys. Bridget knew what she wanted to accomplish, but was finding it difficult to make it happen.
“I'm typically the ‘do it yourself’ type person, particularly since my background is in marketing, but I didn't really have a clear direction or strategy,” Bridget explains. “Or, perhaps I should say I had a poor strategy. We wanted to aggressively grow our leads (who doesn't?), so I ended up just adding in additional dollars without really putting in a good effort into ad optimization or negative keywords.”
Bridget knew something had to change, and so she began searching for ways she could optimize her AdWords performance in a way that aligned with both her business goals and her budget.
That’s when Bridget discovered WordStream.
A Strategic Partnership
“I found WordStream through a Google search when researching how to effectively optimize AdWords spend,” Bridget says.
However, as a small-business owner working with a limited budget, Bridget had reservations about investing even more money in managing her PPC campaigns.
“I have to be honest, I am usually very hesitant to sign up for services such as this, particularly when I am trying to save money,” says Bridget. “The sales process was incredibly thorough and gave me a very clear idea on what we would see as far as savings on our AdWords budget and what could be done to help reach my goals. I couldn't be happier that I pulled the trigger!”
After discussing her account and objectives with her Customer Success representative, Bridget was able to implement immediate changes to her campaigns that resulted in significant reductions in wasted spend.
“Since our business is primarily location-driven, we have our ads organized by regions, then by service offerings,” Bridget explains. “Quite often we are a last resort for our clients, from dealing with owners who are ready to surrender their dogs, aggressive dogs, or with owners who have worked with other trainers without success. The dog training business in the Bay Area is extremely competitive and, to be honest, there are a lot of trainers out there who have limitations on breeds, or behaviors that they will not deal with. WordStream has helped me identify an incredible amount of wasted spend as well as an easy way to organize objectives on a weekly basis.”
In addition to streamlining Bridget’s PPC workflow, WordStream has enabled her to improve the performance of her campaigns and secure more leads.
“Our biggest success has been the elimination of wasted spend, ability to better track conversions, an increased CTR, and our closing ratio has gone from 45-50% to 55-60%,” Bridget says. “I cannot imagine having to go into AdWords to make all the adjustments that I make to my account on a weekly basis. The ability to easily review and monitor traffic/search phrases through the QueryStream is something I constantly use.”
Another aspect of WordStream that Bridget has found invaluable to her continued success in AdWords has been her relationship with her Customer Success representative. Just as it’s crucial for Ray and Bridget to understand both the dogs in their care and their owners, WordStream’s software is just one half of the solution.
“While I cannot say enough about how wonderful WordStream is as a product, my CS rep and WordStream is an unstoppable combination,” Bridget says. “She has taken the time to get to know me, and my company, how we operate, what we do, and all of that has played a huge part in the success of the strategy of our ad campaign. We made what were, at least in my mind, pretty significant keyword changes recently – to say I was nervous was an understatement. Prior to signing up with WordStream, I didn't have anybody there to consult with when making changes like that, so just having her there to respond to my ‘freak out’ email was such a comfort. Her depth of knowledge and amazing customer service is absolutely invaluable.”
Like a Dog with a Bone
Working with WordStream, Bridget has been able to virtually eliminate wasted spend, increase her CTRs, and significantly increase her conversion rates. Sometimes, though, the real success of Bridget’s campaigns is not only evident in her reporting dashboard, but also in the lives of the dogs and owners whom Ray and Bridget have helped – and conversions shouldn’t always be thought of as numbers in a spreadsheet.
“One of my favorite success stories is a German Shepherd named Grimm,” Bridget explains. “Grimm was a dominant, aggressive German Shepherd. This was not fear-based aggression – Grimm didn’t back down. He had a bite history and would bite my husband, Ray, when he came into their home if he had the chance. The owners had worked with other trainers who gave them flat-out ridiculous advice, like changing his name because she believed the dog was buying into the ‘grim’ persona. (For the record, Grimm was named after the fairy tale.)”
Grimm seemed beyond help. With nowhere left to turn, Grimm’s owners found Koru – a discovery that may well have saved the troubled German Shepherd’s life.
“Grimm was on his last leg,” Bridget says. “Most owners probably would have put the dog down, but his owners didn’t want to give up. They found us thanks to our Google ad, and Grimm is now a happy and incredibly well-behaved dog. It took a total of four sessions with us. They had such amazing success that a few months later, they got another German Shepherd puppy. She is now about eight months old and we’re training her as well. The best part of what we do is seeing the hard work and commitment that the owners put in. We’re just the guide through the process, it’s the owners who do the heavy lifting, put in the hard work, dedication, and commitment. So when we get those owners that just ‘get it’… those are the real conversions.”