The most successful AdWords campaign I ever ran was for a blueberry farm.

It was actually my farm. Believe it or not, at one point I was a farmer and I used to have thousands and thousands of blueberry plants.

One year somebody got the bright idea that we should run an AdWords campaign (it was probably me). That campaign was by far the most successful, easiest campaign I ever ran.

The Competitve Environment

It probably had something to do with the fact that farmers are not very web-savvy and there’s not that much competition. In fact, I think it’s safe to say we had zero competition for at least a hundred miles in any direction.

On top of that, people had the need. They understood what blueberry picking is. They wanted a place for their families to go on a Saturday afternoon for some time in the sun. And, of course, everybody loves blueberries.

Little Budget, Big Impact

At the farm we had been regularly producing great, sharable content. We had content about the people working there, the farm animals, ducklings, kittens, and even a little bit about me. In fact, we had a video of me screaming like a little girl running across a field while I was working with the bee hives for the first time when the bees started stinging me.

They weren’t bad bees by the way. They were nice bees. They just didn’t like me messing around with them.

When we ran our first Adwords campaign with the tiniest of budgets, maybe two hundred dollars. With that meager budget, we must have brought in thousands of people. It was fantastic! Perhaps the most amazing success story Adwords may have ever had.

Unfortunately, this directly led me to my least successful AdWords campaign.

You Learn From Your Mistakes, Not From Your Successes

Unfortunately for me, this is the part about learning from your mistakes not from your successes.

I had grown a huge ego from my first campaign and thought to myself, “I’m clearly an AdWords genius! I just made tons of money from running this campaign with two hundred dollars and making who knows how much money off of that. Adwords is the ticket to fame and fortune! What could possibly go wrong now??”

It Turns Out That A Lot Can Go Wrong

As it turns out, in the SaaS world there is:

  • A lot more competition
  • A lot less awareness
  • A global scale, not a very small, local, or regional scale


  • We didn’t have any great, or even good, content
  • I didn’t actually know what I was doing… at all.

What I didn’t realize

I had no idea what kind of great content we had on the farm website or how it made our Adwords campaign super cheap because we had a very high click-through rate (CTR) from AdWords.

Content Catastrophe

But on the Brainleaf site, at the time, we really didn’t have that. We had a really crappy content. It was all self-promotional, and there wasn’t much going on there that was sharable. So people would come in from our ads and they would leave because there was nothing interesting to read or share, and the content solve any of their problems.

Then number two, it was way more expensive. Because we didn’t have the quality content. Our cost-per-click (PCP) went up and up and up and up because Google knew that our content was terrible.

Killer Competition

Then there was tons of competition! We had to compete with the likes of Google Docs, Smartsheets, Proposify, and tons of other great applications why actually knew what they were doing. Even though we do something really different from all of these companies, they were still competing for our traffic!

Awareness Ladder Failure

Finally, nobody knew what we did. There was a huge awareness problem. At the time, I didn’t even know what an awareness ladder was or why I should be concerned about it. So I got my butt handed to me in that campaign. I really, really lost a lot of money due to inexperience and arrogance.

It’s okay. I learn from my mistakes.

After a serious retrospective, perhaps a night of crying, and more than one drink with some friends, I slowly realized all of the mistakes I explained above.

So Here’s The Lesson

One, you learn from your mistakes not from your successes. And two, there’s a lot to know about AdWords. I’m actually writing a whole bunch of it up in my book on SaaS development “How to Kicking SaaS”. Quality content, click through rate, and all sorts of other stuff contribute to growth and success in PPC. I will go into that more in another article though. This was about learning from your failures so you can become successful, and maybe even get the chance to teach other people how to do it the right way.