Plenty of us do well with AdWords. However, keep in mind that marketing is a contest to win customers, and in each contest, there is only one winner, and the winner takes all.
Search Advertising in AdWords is perhaps the most competitive ad platform on the planet because more customers are won on AdWords than any other digital advertising platform.
It takes time to learn strategies and tactics that can defeat your toughest competitors. You will probably need to invest a lot more than $400 to get a highly optimized campaign. It’s a start, presuming you have gathered data on search terms, various value propositions that were split tested in your campaigns, and at least a couple of targeting strategies.
With that small of an ad spend you may not have enough data to have reached statistical significance on your A/B, or multi-variant split tests. Limited data means a few insights to be gained from your data, which means your campaigns are far from being highly optimized.
There are a number of strategies to consider some are likely to work in your niche better than others, it might be useful to test a couple of different strategies to see if there is a difference in the performance.
1. “My website is professionally designed” I don’t doubt that it was designed by a professional web designer, however, professional web designers often know little or nothing about marketing, and it is quite common that a “Graphic designer” will design a beautiful looking website that is not all that user friendly. Most graphic designers that design websites are not UX designers. Thus, a beautiful and professionally designed website can easily be a poor performing website.
2. “My campaign has been ‘optimized’ by an expert” As I pointed out above, that is highly unlikely because there simply hasn’t been enough time passed, and not enough conversion data has been gathered, to do any significant optimizations.
At least one of those two assumptions has to be wrong, else you would have seen better results by now.
In addition to website design, that focuses on aesthetics, you need a design that also focuses on UX (User Experience), and perhaps, more importantly, you need to have great sales copy that delivers a compelling value proposition message. Your marketing message does 90% of the converting, the look of the design or UX of the design are just the background canvas for your sales copy. It has got to be the right message delivered to the right audience, at the right time, to be effective.
Marketing, when done well, is a continuous process, it isn’t something that you do just once and your done. You might need to go through several iterations of website design, perhaps hundreds of modifications to sales copy, and many many ad variants tested before you are even halfway there. It takes highly experienced teams to get even close on the first iteration.
Keep at it and make sure that you learn everything you can from every bit of data that you gather, you will get there if you do.