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Case Study: Increasing Bookings for A Restaurant Chain using Google Ads

Decrease in Cost per BookingIncrease in Bookings

Here’s a look at how I decreased the cost per booking by 29% whilst increasing bookings by 33% for a London restaurant chain, using Google Ads.

Before I stepped in

A London restaurant chain got in touch with me in August 2022 with the goal of making their Google Ads profitable. They had been using an agency to manage their account but weren’t making profit during the four months, even before their management fees were taken into account. What’s more, my new client was surprised when I told them they had been relying heavily on their own brand name for conversions.

Their goals were to cut their cost per booking from £26.56 to below £20, whilst increasing the number of first-time customers, and to do it without appearing for their own brand name.

What I found

The account was setup in March 2022 with a variety of keywords placed into the same ad group; which is not best practice. This resulted in ads appearing without mentioning many of the keywords, therefore getting a low click-through rate, no conversions and a low Quality Score.

Whilst the majority of the keywords were Phrase and Exact Match, little effort had been put into Negative Keywords. It’s the role of the consultant/agency to keep on top of this list.  I have found too many agencies neglect this part of the job, thus allowing their ads to show for irrelevant keywords. It’s not a set and forget job.  You need to keep on top of your negative keyword list.

The account state between March-June 2022 before I started:

After my introduction

My first task was to check that the conversion tracking was correctly setup and then I moved onto analysing the previous campaigns, which had been paused by the client in July.

I wanted to find out what had been working and what had not. Unfortunately, the account had been heavily reliant on brand keywords, which the client had told me in our initial meeting that they did not want to be bidding on.

There were other keywords and search terms that had provided a number of bookings whilst having low Search Impression Shares. I planned to put these into campaigns and ad groups of their own to increase the traffic levels which would hopefully increase the number of conversions in the process.

Keywords that hadn’t converted from 50+ clicks had to be paused because the cost per booking was already nearly 40% over the target. Clients can’t afford to waste budget. From the start, I simply wanted to target keywords that had proven to convert. This did include keywords that had converted higher than the Target CPA, but I was confident that with their own dedicated ads, and hundreds of negative keywords being added, that these could perform better.

Results of my Google Ads optimisation

The restaurant’s goal was to increase the number of bookings, lower the CPA and move away from brand bidding.

I built a whole new account structure based on the data I had collected, as well as some keyword research. I spent many hours going through four months’ worth of search term reports to add negative keywords.

The average CPA of the previous agency’s work had been £26.56, whilst the final month was £26.24. Although I had improved this in month one, it was still at a disappointing £24.29 in September.

To my surprise, when I had my monthly meeting with the client at the start of October, they were happy. The number of bookings had shot up than what Google Ads was generating for them previously. By not bidding on their brand name was the quick way to improve the first-time customers.

There was a still lot of work for me to do in October. Could I bring the CPA down further? I hadn’t spent the full £2,500 monthly budget. Ads were still appearing for a number of irrelevant searches.

Through adding more negative keywords, tweaking the bids on many keywords, adjusting the ads for relevance, CTR and Quality Score purposes, and talking to the client to understand what the popular meals were that people like to order allowed me to create new campaigns and ad groups around these.

The CPA was now down to a record low £18.70, the CTR was increasing and the conversion rate was going up. And come the first week of November, the client was ecstatic.

I continued optimising the account for the final two months of 2022; recording a record low CPA of £16.03 in November. We had been on course to break this record in December but for a poor end to the month.

The CPC is higher and the CTR lower since I took over because the brand keywords that were previously running made a huge difference!

Is Google Ads worth it for restaurants?

Google Ads remains one of the best online advertising tools for businesses of any niche or size. It gives you the opportunity to put your ads in front of your target users at the exact moment they are looking to make an enquiry.

However, this case study is a fine example that it’s not just a case of setting them up and hoping they work. Lots of analysis and manual optimisation was required in order to make this work. And I will continue to optimise performance for as long as the client wants me to manage their account. The above is a very brief snapshot of all the hours and days I put into this client’s account.

If you have an existing Google Ads account that you feel your agency isn’t getting the most out of, get in touch and I’d be happy to find opportunities for improvement and actively manage it for you.