Last month I met a marketer who works for a New Zealand company that spent $10 million on Google AdWords in 2012. What made this even more fascinating for me was that I had never heard of the company name and I would pretty much guarantee for 99% of you the same would apply.

She told me all of the industries that they operated within and all were legitimate business categories that were quite boring. No exotic borderline operation here. Just a worldwide network of normal businesses that run on the strength of their ability to optimise their spend with Google.

At first I was just shell-shocked by the amount they were spending. I mean just thinking through the actual mechanics of managing something like this was hard to comprehend. For instance, just getting the money to Google each month would be on a whole different level from charging a Visa card. I half jokingly suggested that the Google people must be waiting outside their office ready to collect the next suitcase of cash. Apparently the truth is very boring – automatic bank transfers on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, they must be on a Google Advertising short dial with this spend? Yes they have dedicated account management but only see people who come across from Sydney once or twice a year. (Don’t expect a sales call for your $50k per annum spend.)

Fortunately we were able to chat for a while before the next session of the conference we were both attending began its next session. So what did I learn that I can share with those with a fraction of this spend? Well from what I learnt, here are a few principles that I can share as working well for those keen to squeeze more value from their Google clicks.

Firstly – It all starts with a sound understanding of your “AdWords Numbers”

Now when you are spending over $800,000 on clicks each month you would assume there was some wastage factored in when it came to analysing the effect that the clicks caused. Not in this case. Each and every click was accounted for in precise detail.

So while this company operated a number of websites – think more than 100 – each and everyone used a well tuned Google Analytics account to reveal exactly how much each sale cost in clicks. This was compared to the acceptable marketing spend for the margin they spent. If the sums made sense then they just kept on buying those clicks.

It’s a simple math problem really that was asked every minute of every day. Were they “buying” the sale from Google for the right amount to enable them and Google to remain in business?

Secondly – Once the math is solved then the world is your playground.

This company is based in Auckland but has offices in Australia, the UK and North America. But it all started from solving a very simple problem in Auckland. Could they make the math work selling one service to one set of buyers? Then, once the this was completed they looked for the same buyers in Australia, from there North America and finally the UK.

We have a Google Adwords optimisation client who has done something very similar, all be it on a much smaller scale. Like our $10 million friends they started in Auckland, then moved to Wellington and wrapped up their New Zealand journey with Christchurch before crossing the ditch into Australia via Adelaide to Melbourne and finally Sydney. The core principles we applied together to make Auckland work and have so far successfully been translated as we move around the globe together.

And finally – to wrap up our learning’s from this conversation, don’t think that just because you spent $100,000 with Google last year that you deserve any special treatment. I asked them what they received for Christmas from the search giant (expecting something nice for such a relationship). It was nothing special.

In fact, if you were a customer who came along to our office warming party last year then you left with a gift that cost more. And rest assured we don’t have any online marketing clients spending $10 million per annum with Permission.

Not yet anyway 🙂