I Started a small bootstrapped startup in the aftermath of corona after being stuck in home office for, well, years. As a developer one of my main hurdle wasn’t building features but marketing. I used the regular channels social media, Product Hunt and SEO and they worked, but growth just isn’t rising fast enough that I can make a living out of it. So when Google Ads offered a deal where you spend $400 to get $400 on decided to try it.

The campaign ran over a few months from March to May 2023 in North America and Western Europe. It ended up costing $699.95. The keywords I choose were centered around AI and SQL generation and later on a competitor name. Here is an overview of top 20 keywords I ended up matching and paying for:

Search term Clicks Cost
generate sql with ai 126 €35.01
query 100 €23.17
sql ai 47 €18.13
ai sql 21 €9.44
sql 21 €7.36
ai for sql 19 €6.71
aihelperbot 51 €5.21
sql generator 12 €3.81
sql query ai 10 €3.74
sql query generator 11 €3.68
ai bot 10 €3.30
ia sql 12 €3.22
ia para sql 10 €2.83
ai sql generator 8 €2.82
ai sql query 5 €2.82
text to sql ai 9 €2.82
sql code generator 8 €2.70
sql statement generator 6 €2.69
ai2sql 6 €2.6
sql ai helper 7 €2.56

For the sum of $699.95 my site got 244K impressions, 3.68K clicks and 14 conversions. The conversions were users who started a week long free trial (I now run free tier). This led to high churn rates with users actively cancelling the free trial after a few days or payments simply failing. I don’t have the specific data, but my gut feeling is the churn rate was at least 50%. It wasn’t counted as churn by my payment provider though, since they weren’t customers in the first place.

The cost per conversion was $49.99 excluding the promotion ($29.50 with the promotion). I ended up spending $414.22 in total and got $285.73 for free as part of the promotion deal. So Google Ads wasn’t worth it. To run a successful Google Ads campaign you need to match on keywords where users are highly convertible and intend on purchasing.

For companies selling psychical products like Amazon or local services like plumbing, house cleaning or legal services using Google Ads can pay off. Users who are searching for house cleaning in Nashville want to buy house cleaning and ranking in the top on “house cleaning Nashville” would properly pay off.