November 16

Mountain Climber Strategy


How We Scaled An Account Up 199.77% While Decreasing Cost Per Lead by 51.88% (In 4 Months During A Declining Market)

This post will be based on a paid media strategy we used to scale a client 199.77% while decreasing their Cost Per Lead by 51.88% at the same time their customers where “fleeing” their market, all in 4 months.

  • Intro: Mountain Climber Strategy Big Result
  • Mountain Climber Strategy Overview
  • Mountain Climber Strategy 3 Steps
  • Step 1: Basecamp: Set Measurement Strategy For Future Growth
    • Decide on what to measure
    • Assign Values to different lead types
    • Utilize either “Data Driven” or Any “Non-Last Click” For Attribution Strategy
    • Utilize AI driven bidding strategy.  Let the bots do the heavy lifting.  
      • If a set budget try Max Conversion Value
      • If a set cost / lead try tCPA
  • Step 2: Treeline: Set Ads Strategy For Pinpoint Relevancy
    • Let system optimize which ads to show
    • Utilize AI driven Ads, Aka Responsive Search Ads
      • Goal is to have them at least to “average” ad strength. Usually start out as “poor”.
  • Set 3: Get To The Peak: Scale Strategy To Grow You Leads
    • Create DSA Campaign
    • Add select Broad Match Keywords

My client was in a rather unique situation.  They are in the real estate business and wanted to scale their account to make up for lost business they had experienced in 2021.  The problem was, they were in a very unique location, and their market population actually shrank by 6.9% in 2021.

Faced with this situation, we were able to scale their ads account by 199.77% and actually reduce their Cost Per Lead by 51.88% in four months time.

And this wasn’t a one-time fluke, we have continued to grow their account year over year by 70.3% while still reducing their Cost per Lead by 53.83%.

If you want a media strategy to scale your lead generation by 100+%, and cost per lead by 50% then THIS is the strategy to do it with/..

Grab my Mountain Climber checklist to apply this strategy yourself.

Then read on to scale your leads and cut cost per lead.

The Mountain Climber Strategy:  Scaling Lead Generation On Google Ads (And Cutting Your Cost Per Lead)

Keyword research,  account structure, …..they are all important factors to focus on when setting up your Google Ads account.  But that is just the basics.  Nothing beats a system for scaling your lead generation while cutting your cost per lead at the same time.  Month after month, year after year.

Here is what that looks like in real life:

Ask anyone who has ever run paid media, particularly in Google Ads on what is important to run an account and they will tell you this:

  1. Extensively do “keyword research” and find the “right” keywords to advertise your product or service.
  2. Set up split tests for your ads and painstakingly wait for results.
  3. If you want to grow & scale your account, wash, rinse and repeat for new keywords and better ads, hoping that it will work.

Quite frankly that’s an old strategy that worked well before 2018 (yeah I know, way back then), but doesn’t utilize the entire arsenal and spectrum of features that Google Ads has to offer now.

There have been so many advances with Google, you can follow those steps and never, ever see results because you are relying on brute force and manual labor.    If you want to scale your lead generation, you need to lean into the tech advances of a $250+ Billion company.

What does that mean and how do you do that exactly?  

Here is the formula right below:

Humans + Machines > Machines

– Frederick Vallaeys “Unlevel The Playing Field” pg 15

Humans provide the strategy and direction.  Machines (or in this case, Google’s Artificial Intelligence) provide the automations to manage minute details and analyze data at scale.

So how does one supply the strategy for growth?  That’s where the Mountain Climber Strategy comes into play.

The 3-Steps to Using “The Mountain Climber Strategy” To Scale Your Lead Generation & Cut Cost Per Lead

Step 1: Basecamp: Set Measurement Strategy For Future Growth

Step 2: Treeline: Set Ads Strategy For Pinpoint Relevancy

Step 3: Get To The Peak: Scale Strategy To Grow You Leads

Below is a breakdown of how every part of this strategy works.  But first let me tell you what this has to do with climbing a mountain.

Have you ever gone hiking or done any mountain climbing (We are based in Colorado, USA & mountain climbing is what we do here)?  

You’ll relate to the process of getting all of the proper gear together before you head out, hiking through the first and longest part until you get to the “treeline” or when the trees stop growing. 

Finally, to the quick and rewarding ascent to the peak of the mountain where you get the spectacular views.  This is where you want to be at, but it takes all the work ahead of time in order to successfully make the ascent.

You don’t just jump out and start hiking without a map plus all of the required gear, right?  You need to plan for all weather conditions, pack water, proper gear, etc or you aren’t ever going to reach the summit.  You’ve got to do all the prep work or you’ll never get there.

In the context of a paid media strategy with Google Ads, you are the human setting the strategy and framework for how to guide the machine AI towards success.  Otherwise even though it’s smart, it will fall flat on it’s face.  AI needs strategy and guidance, telling it what you want to have happen.

With hiking in high elevations, you could run into rain, snow, lightning, and paths that have gotten washed away.  You need to be prepared for all contingencies ahead of time.

Once you’ve fed the machine data and prepared it for success(Step 1 & 2) you can give the machine some leash and use it to scale your account (Step 3).

Step 1: Basecamp: Set Measurement Strategy For Future Growth

Your measurement strategy is precisely  “what”, “what’s it worth” and “how” you are going to measure leads for your website.  

There are four levels of measurement in Google Ads:

    1. What you are going to measure.  I.E. What you are going to “count” as a conversion inside your account.  For lead generation, there are generally two types of measurements, form fills (and then in turn sales) and phone calls. If you are a “local” business, you’ll most likely rely on phone calls mostly, or a combination of the two.  If you are strictly an internet based business, it will be mostly form fills or sales.
    2. What’s it worth? Are you going to give different values to your conversions and will you bid on them differently?  All leads aren’t necessarily created equal.  For example, different form fills may be more valuable than others, or phone calls may be more valuable to you.  It really depends on you and your business.  However, with Google, you have the option to assign different figurative (or literal, more on that later) values for different conversion values.  

Let me use an example from the client mentioned above, people literally “Booking A Tour” of their facility was the most valuable type of lead as can be seen by the $1500 value you can see.

Talking to the client, they roughly convert 50% of those people to clients once they are physically on-site after having the tour booked.  Knowing that they value a new client at roughly $3000 and some basic math gets you the $1500 value.

Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what each type of lead is worth, what matters most is giving a relative value for each type of lead.  Is a 4 step form fill 4x more valuable than a simple name and email form fill?  You get the idea.

Why does this matter?  

If you go through and assign values to each of the lead types you are counting, you can use bid strategies (step 4 of this process) to get more of the most valuable leads.

What matters here is that you are literally feeding what I’ll call the “bidding machine” info on which actions (conversions) are more valuable and what isn’t.

  1. Utilize either “Data Driven” or Any “Non-Last Click” For Attribution Strategy. 

This is a bit more of an advanced technique, but is essential, nonetheless.

At it’s most basic level, attribution tells you whether you are going to count all of the clicks that lead to a conversion, only the first one, only the last one.  

In this particular case for this client, you can see that it takes an average of 1.9 interactions (clicks) for someone to convert to a lead (See below).

Despite what most people commonly think, it usually take more than 1 interaction with your website in order for a lead to convert.  If you think about it on a personal level, if you are perusing online, do you ever really click on one thing and give out your details for more information?  No, you are going to do some due diligence, read more, get distracted, remember later, etc.  

This is known as your “attribution” strategy and means that you are going to “count” each click and give it a value.

This is a bit deeper of a topic than we have time to go into in this article, but here are some important points. 

Previous to the Spring of ‘22, Google set the default attribution value to “Last Click” and this is the worst possible thing to do.  There is no perfect answer here, other than you do not want to leave it as-is.  We recommend setting the attribution model to “data-driven” .  

You set your attribution model at the individual conversion action level, as seen below.

      1. Utilize AI driven bidding strategy.  Let the bots do the heavy lifting. 


The final part of Step 1 is to tell the Google Artificial Intelligence bidding algorythm how it’s going to bid on different ads shown to your market against your competitors.

 In the context of lead generation there are really two strategies to choose from, The difference between the two is Maximize Conversion Value will bid to create the most “value” (based on your assigned individual conversion values) for any given campaign budget.  tROAS tell the bidding machine that you want a certain amount of revenue to come from your spend.  Whether that is 4x or 10x that is up to you.  The second option is mostly applicable for ecommerce businesses or websites that directly track sales.

For this client, we directionally went with Maximize Conversion Value and decided to generate the maximum number of leads for the budget that they had.  This is implemented with the strategy as seen below:

Now it’s time to talk about how to show your prospects the best ad possible and ascend to the treeline on your hike up the mountain.

Step 2: Treeline: Set Ads Strategy

The ascent to the treeline stage is about setting your ads and creative up for maximum growth potential and the final stage before you begin to scale up your account.

We must position your ads to maximize use of Google’s own ad intelligence and helping the system to put the right ad in front of the right customer.  Here’s how to do it

      1. Create Responsive Search Ads in each ad group, setting up for the Google ad intelligenct to help you adapt the ads to show more relevant message to your prospects.
      2. Edit your Responsive Search Ads to attain at least a “Good” ad strength.
      3. Wash, rinse and repeat until you have 1 Responsive Search Ad in each adgroup and all of them have at least a “Good” ad strength.

Exactly “how” to get a good ad strength is different from account to account and even ad group to ad group, but here is a general framework to start off writing Responsive Search Ads.

Headlines: Start off with at least 6 headlines (of a possible 15) and the “type” of headline of those should be as such:

      • 2 “Keyword Focused” headlines
      • 2 “Call To Action” Headlines
      • 2 Unique “Feature / Benefit” Headlines


Descriptions: Start off with at least 4 of a possible 4 description lines, focusing on the unique benefits and/or features of the keywords in each ad group.

So since this section is also about “how” to increase your ad strength, let’s get into that.  Google Ads has a hidden feature inside of the account where they will literally tell you what specific items need to be improved, and give you examples of how to improve them.

Google will give you pretty spot on recommendations on what to change or include in your ad.  As you can see in this example, Google recommended to Add more headlines to increase your chances for better performance”. If you click on the “View Ideas” highlighted text next to Add more headlines, a menu of recommendations will appear.

That’s pretty much it.  Wash rinse and repeat for each ad group in your account.

Step 3: Get To The Peak: Scale Strategy

Get To The Peak is where you start to scale your advertising and grow the number of leads you are generating from it. It’s the final step, but yet the key to scaling your leads.  However, it’s uber important to complete the first two steps in this strategy first before going to this step.  Those lay the foundation for successful scaling.  Here is how to do it:

      1. First, you are going to utilize Google’s AI targeting technology to help you determine what Google believes is relevant on your website. This is done by utilizing a specific technology from Google, known as Dynamic Search Ads.
      2. Leverage what success you’ve had up to this point and proverbially flip a switch to maximize both the bidding signals you are leveraging and the maximum amount of possible searches that are targeted, but still are eligible for. This is done by adding an additional keyword match type, Broad Match.
      3. Increase your budget and or target CPA incrementally to scale up the number of leads you are generating.

These steps are to be completed in that specific order.

First, let’s leverage Google’s pre-built AI & targeting technology by utilizing something known as dynamic search ads.  You do this in two steps:

      1. Tell Google what pages on your site you’d like them to utilize.
      2. Create what is known as a Dynamic Ad Target, letting the system know how you’d like to target your website.

For the first step, you are going to create a new campaign, but adjust some settings at the campaign level of your account.  Input your website you want Google to target, without the https:// portion of your domain.


Next you are going to tell Google which pages on your website you want to use as their target for this kind of advertising.  You have three options here, which, for starters I recommend using “Google’s index of my website”.  A more advanced version of this is to add what is known as a page feed to tell the system specifically what pages you’d like to use as your targeting source.

For the second step, you are going to create what is known as a “Dynamic Ad Target”,  which is a more refined version of the campaign level settings.


For starters, use the “All Webpages” setting.  Other options include what are known as categories for your website or just narrowing it down to specific webpages on your website.


Additionally, you are going to only start with creating one ad.  To determine exactly what the ad should say, we are going to revisit the results of step 2 of the mountain climber strategy and have Google tell us which ad was the most successful and use that.


To do this, head back to the ads section of your account and under a Responsive Search Ad, you will see a link that says, “View Asset Details”.  


On the following page, you will click on “Combinations” at the top.  This will show you the “best” combination of descriptions for your ad.  


The ads are sorted top left to bottom right by the % of time that particular combination of ads was served.  The highest % is what Google has determined is your best ad.


Now, copy and paste two lines of description from your best, highest served ad from your Responsive Search Ads into what you will use for your ad for Dynamic Search Ads.

Why does this step work so well?

      1. You are utilizing the AI of a $250 billion company to tell you exactly what it thinks your site content is relevant for.
      2. The targeting AI will go beyond your keyword list that you thought might work and automatically get your message in front of what searchers it determines are relevant.
      3. When you combine this with the previous steps (Basecamp & Treeline), you 
      4. If you have a large website with lots of blog posts or well developed inventory of products, it will fill in the gaps of your standard keyword campaign.
      5. Headlines and landing pages are generated dynamically, saving time doing manual ad writing and keyword research.  All that you do is create the description, which you’ll have created in step 2 of the mountain climber strategy.
      6. If you already are generating traffic from organic search, it’s similar to putting ads behind your best organic searches, generating more leads from it.


Now, onto the second portion of the growth strategy, flipping a switch on to utilize Google’s full arsenal of Signals and AI and maximize your reach with Broad Match keywords.  First, why Broad Match keywords?  Read the following excerpt straight from Google Ads itself.


There are two ways to do this.

      1. Determine what your top keywords that are already in your account (top 5 or 10)
      2. Leverage Google’s own suggestions on what keywords should be added as Broad Match.


Using Google’s own suggestions for expanding with Broad match is relatively straightforward.  Head to the recommendations section after you’ve been running your account at least 30 days and have started generating conversions already.  That gives your account enough data for the automation to determine which keywords have the most potential for growth.  


Click on “View Recommendations’ and make sure the keywords are consistent with your account and then, click “Apply All”

For picking your own broad match keywords, start with 


      • Determine what your average cost / conversion is (in this case it was $8.88) over at least a 30 day time period.


Create filter for your keywords.  Filter for all keywords that cost less than your average cost / conversions.

Filter out all keywords that are related to your brand.


Sort by those that have generated the most conversions.


Viola, there is a sorted list of keywords to use to add as broad match keywords (see image below)


Finally, raise your campaign budgets by 10% per week.  That gives your account enough time to “learn

Do this every 30 days until you’ve reached your desired volume of leads or your cost per lead start to approach your maximum.


Here are some common questions I get when I show companies I work with how to execute this growth strategy


      1. Why can’t I just start with the scale part, step 3?
      2. What if I have very little content on my site to leverage the targeting AI?
      3. How long does it take to see the results of this strategy?


Now It’s Your Turn To Try It


If you are looking to scale your lead generation, 


To get started, get the checklist we developed on how to following this strategy:


Then model it to grow your leads!


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