£125k/month handles & knobs company has a Google Ads problem

Last updated: July 10, 2024

Aaron Rudman-Hawkins

Aaron Rudman-Hawkins is a dynamic digital marketing expert and a driving force behind The Evergreen Agency's success. With a passion for technology and a deep understanding of the ever-evolving digital landscape, Aaron has become a trusted name in the industry.

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In this episode of the Grow with Evergreen podcast, we dive deep into Google Ads performance with Mark, the owner of The Handle Studio, a successful e-commerce business specialising in cabinet handles and knobs.

Trading since 2007, from its base in Wrexham, North Wales, The Handle Studio now turns over more than £1.5 million, making handles and knobs for kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and office furniture.

But as the business plans to diversify its ranges, it is facing a challenge that is common for many online retailers, namely maximising their Google Ads performance and leveraging their paid and organic social media strategy to improve overall ROI and ROAS.

Fortunately for Mark and The Handle Studio, we were able to recommend a number of strategies that can help the brand make the most of their digital marketing activities.

If you are a home and garden brand that is struggling with a paid media strategy Download our: Home & Garden Sector: Paid Media & Marketing Report, which is packed with trends, predictions and insights into how to make the most of paid search and paid social advertising in this sector.

Diversify your marketing channels

Once we were able to take a look under the bonnet of The Handle Studio business, one of the most striking revelations from our conversation with Mark was The Handle Studio’s heavy reliance on Google Ads, which currently accounts for 98% of their website traffic.

While Google Ads can be incredibly effective, putting all your eggs in one basket can be risky.

We always advise clients of the importance of diversifying marketing channels to create a more robust and sustainable growth strategy.

The backbone of digital marketing

To help Mark create a framework for this strategy, we introduced him to our “Backbone of Digital Marketing” approach, which suggests aiming for a balanced distribution of website traffic and sales revenue.

In an ideal world, this would be:

25% from paid channels
25% from owned channels (direct and brand searches)
25% from nurtured channels (email marketing and social media)
25% from earned channels (SEO)

This approach helps reduce over-reliance on any one single channel and creates a more resilient marketing strategy.

Optimise your Google ads campaigns

While The Handle Studio is primarily using Performance Max campaigns, we discussed the importance of maintaining a diverse paid ads strategy.

Performance Max is Google’s own goal-based advertising system, which allows brands to advertise across Google’s range of channels. This includes search, display, discover, maps, Gmail, and YouTube.

By providing brand assets, appropriate to each channel, like logos, images and video, Google’s machine learning approach then tests which combinations work best for each campaign to optimise budget and performance across each platform.

The downside is that there is often a lack of transparency over which asset, approach or platform is performing best and for this reason we suggest Performance Max campaigns should be the cherry on the cake, and not the whole cake!

We suggest clients consider implementing standalone search campaigns for brand terms, experimenting with standard shopping campaigns alongside Performance Max campaigns and implementing separate retargeting campaigns to keep products top of mind for potential customers once they leave the website.

Create a content hub

To support the top of funnel paid ads strategy, we also suggest that brands create more consumer focused content for their website and digital platforms to help convert ‘mid-funnel’ customers.

We discussed creating a “Handle Hub” on The Handle Studio’s website to address common customer questions and provide valuable information.

This content-rich section can serve multiple purposes, such as:

  • Improving SEO by targeting informational queries
  • Enhancing user experience and building trust in the brand and products
  • Providing authentic and informative material for social media and email marketing
  • Supporting paid advertising efforts with informational ad extension

Leverage social media retargeting

Another common challenge for ecommerce brands is how to leverage their social media activities to support their paid ads activities.

Recent research suggests that the explosion in social media advertising, fuelled by social platforms’ ability to be search and sales tools, will see spending in this area matching that on Google ads in the next 12 months.

We identified a significant opportunity for The Handle Studio to implement retargeting campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

This cost-effective strategy can help keep the brand top-of-mind for potential customers who have visited the website but haven’t made a purchase.

Focus on customer service and quality

Mark emphasised the importance of customer service and product quality for The Handle Studio. This commitment to excellence has helped the business maintain a strong reputation and supported steady growth over the last 17 years.

Consider retaining a specialist marketing agency

There is a growing trend for marketing agencies to specialise in specific industries, like Evergreen’s focus on home, garden, and lifestyle brands. This sector-specialisation can lead to deeper industry knowledge and more effective strategies for clients.

In addition, agencies are becoming more streamlined in their offer – doubling down on their particular channel experience to offer clients best in market advice and support.

How to maximise your Google ad spend

By implementing these strategies, The Handle Studio and similar e-commerce businesses can create a more balanced and effective digital marketing approach. Reducing reliance on a single channel, creating valuable content, and leveraging retargeting, via social media advertising can lead to sustainable growth and improved ROI.

Remember, digital marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Consistency, continuous optimisation, and a willingness to adapt to changing market conditions are key to long-term success.


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