Are you an ecommerce business or local service provider and looking to start running Google advertising (PPC)? Or perhaps you are an established business that is looking to change because you are not seeing the results or success from your advertising?
How long until we will see results is a question we get asked nearly every time we talk to a client about Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) and the answer unfortunately is not as simple as you might think. PPC is an excellent channel for obtaining “ready to buy” leads and sales to your product or service. Leads from ads are more likely to convert as visitors (if targeted correctly) are more actively looking, so can deliver sales more quickly to your business than other marketing tactics.
A realistic expectation is that a successful Google ad campaign will take at least 3 months to mature, followed by another 4-12 months to develop and deliver strong returns.
I know that may seem like a while and it generally leads to this next follow up question…
Why does it take that long for AdWords to work?
Time plus data unfortunately is the short answer. Google requires processing time to collect a large amount of data to effectively serve your ad to the right audience at the right time. On average according to Google, businesses make $2 for every $1 invested in Google Ads, which is also known as Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Most businesses will achieve this within the first couple of months. But what business just wants to have average results?
As you can see below, one of our Google Ads managed clients had an average return on ad spend (ROAS) before coming onboard.
With our campaign management strategies, we then scaled the ad account to 11.5 times return on ad spend, so for every dollar spent was generating $11 after 6 months. The results are certainly worth the wait.
What can I expect from Google Ads in the beginning?
Let us break down the timeline with starting a new account in the first few months. When you first activate a new Google Ads account, it will generally take 24-48 hours for Google support to review and approve the account. After approval, Google takes another 7 days to then gather vital data about your business, services, and your potential target audience.
Google can also slow the process down. Before an ad is published, Google will look at the advertisement and will be marked as pending: Under Review. What they look for are:
- That the keywords targeted makes sense against the ad copy
- That the landing page matches the ad
- The ad headline is not misleading and does not contain any known copyright infringements, is not spammy and is not offensive.
- The ad description does not contain offensive content that goes against Google’s advertising policies.
Depending on how complex your business and service offering is, this process may take a lot longer to finish. If you have already got an existing ad account with poorly managed data, this may take just as long as we will have to start from scratch.
If you are running an ecommerce store and are setting up Google shopping advertisements, allow an additional 2 weeks to get up and running. This is due to merchant center account approvals, data feed set ups and various other checks that take place.
Another thing to keep in mind is budget spend ramp up time. You will only get a fraction of impressions and clicks against your daily budget. Why does this happen? Because it must learn a bidding strategy, plus there is no click through rate data for it to use in the ad auction process so Google will not use your full daily budget right away.
An early tell-tale sign of success is a minimum of 15 clicks per day per ad group and at least 200-300 clicks per month on your keyword, depending on your average CPC for your market. If you are not reaching this critical mass of volume, then you will need to reconsider your budget.
In these initial few weeks, it is important to have realistic expectations and to not expect a wall of leads to come in. Google Ads is unfortunately not a magical wand to create demand out of thin air, it unfortunately is not that easy! After 2-4 weeks of advertising activity, the Google Ads campaign will start to pick up some momentum.
A key metric to then measure in this 2–4-week period is click through rate (CTR). Your click through rate determines how relevant your ad campaign is towards your target audience. Without this click through rate data, Google can only look at secondary factors to utilize for the ad auction process. These secondary factors are website load times, landing page relevance, keyword relevancy to ad copy and the overall historical ad account performance.
Google gives preference to advertisers with good track records which is measured by quality score. In the beginning, this data is not available so your account must prove itself in the ad auction process by these secondary factors. The quality score algorithm is designed by Google to help even the playing field out instead of being dominated entirely by budget, while also allowing for new advertisers to enter the market.
Once enough data is then collected against conversions between months 1-3, you can then change your bidding algorithms to bid on search queries that are more likely to result in a behavioral outcome. This could be a phone call made, a contact form filled out or a purchase on your website. Once Google has enough of this data, the good news is this is where things can really take off. Unfortunately, though, it takes about 3 months on average to reach this stage to create a solid foundation.
What to do to improve your Google Ads results
So, as you now know it takes time to improve your Google Ad results, what measures can I take to ensure that this channel of marketing is a success?
1. Build a solid foundation for success!
Rome was not built in a day. Neither is a successful business, and neither is PPC marketing. The most successful PPC campaigns are built on a solid foundation of understanding clear objectives plus a realistic business understanding of what results can be achieved.
AdWords campaigns do take time to get traction. It is not a case of picking random words, bidding on them as keywords and then waiting for leads and sales to come flooding through the doors. If it were that easy, everyone would do it! When partnering with an agency, it is important that expectations are set right from the very beginning. It is important to understand your business deeply enough to develop a sophisticated campaign. When signing on with us we will ask:
- Who are your ideal customers?
- What are your business goals?
- What is your break even return against current profit margins? (This is to ensure campaign profitability)
- Who are your competitors?
- Where are you starting from and what is your ideal budget?
After this initial consultation we will conduct an audit of your existing ad account if you have one, in-depth keyword research plus a market and competitor landscape audit. From there we will develop a tailored strategy for your business based on the opportunities we can see. Once the proposal is signed off on, we get to work building and putting the elements into place such as ad copy, data feeds, negative keywords, structured snippets, extensions etc. This set up process can take a few days. The important thing is to be patient and trust the process.
2. Continual optimization of ad campaigns
Every ad campaign is a work in progress, and you continually need to optimize to improve results against market conditions. As a basic outline, we recommend the following focus over the first few months of managing a Google Ad campaign.
Month 1 – Data collection
Data is your friend and the more you have, the quicker the process will become. A wider reaching strategy is generally best to start out with. By gathering data from a large number of people you will be able to see demographic insights, device insights, locations, and potential audience groups. This is best for brand new accounts that do not have data to leverage. If you have an existing account, the good news is there might be some data here to leverage which will help speed the process up.
Month 2 – Account Adjustments
After a month of collecting data and making small changes during the first month of the campaign, the next phase is to focus on quality. This is to see what keywords and targeting is working and what is falling flat. Eliminating poor quality keywords from campaigns will allow you to appear for more relevant searches more often. Testing headlines and ad copies is also important here to see if you can improve click through rates further to improve quality score, whilst lowering CPC costs.
If the click through rate is high but no conversions are being recorded, check the search queries to check the search intent. Otherwise it could be a conversion issue, double check that the landing pages the ads are also pointing to have clear conversion actions that the end user can take, e.g., filling out a contact form.
Month 3 – Growth
At this stage is where you should be seeing results and looking to scale the account. If a campaign is showing promising signs, shift additional budget behind it so that it continues to perform well and is not limited by budget. Consider breaking it into a further larger scale campaign so that you have the potential to reach more potential customers by adding additional keywords or dynamic ad groups.
3. Common focus areas for Google Ads optimization
With an experienced PPC team of ad specialists, copywriters and data analysts can make a world of difference. Here are some of our trade secrets for Google Ad account optimization that we use to get results for our clients.
Stay away from Google Smart campaigns (excluding Shopping). They are completely automated and put the power completely into the hands of Google. They are in short, a waste of money. Also make sure that the bid strategy matches the desired outcome for a campaign. For example, do not target for impressions on a search campaign while trying to optimize for conversions.
Know how Google’s keyword match types work within search queries and how they should be structured in a campaign. Without knowing how keyword match types work in Google Ads can result in double up of targeting across campaigns, resulting in lower click through rates, poor quality scores and higher cost per clicks. Match types are broken down into phrases, exact and broad.
- Phrase keywords trigger for queries that include the phrase keyword.
- Exact match will trigger only for those keywords, or a slightly close match variant.
- Broad match keywords are exactly what broad means, they act like triggering a thesaurus in search. Because they can be quite broad, they can unfortunately trigger a lot of irrelevant searches which makes it very important to use the following…
Use them! So many accounts we have gone into to audit with no negative keywords set up. Negative keywords are used to refine down search intent. They eliminate keywords and phrases that your ads can trigger against. This allows you to refine down the search queries that your ads are displaying for, getting you in front of the right people and not wasting your ad budget on irrelevant clicks.
9 times out of 10 the existing ad accounts that we have audited have the wrong conversion tracking set up. If you have the wrong conversions set up, then Google cannot learn properly and will continue to serve ads to the wrong audience.
Ad Copy Optimization
Makes a world of difference and will help with click through rates. Copywriting is a skill to master and plays an important role. Most PPC managers struggle on the copywriting side but understand technical algorithms and data. It is important to find an agency that understands the value of both.
Check for click fraud!
Something that is often overlooked, but is rife in some industries, especially ecommerce! Click fraud is malicious bots and competitors clicking on your advertisements to use up your advertising spend. Google does have these checks out of the box in place for irrelevant clicks and credits them to the account a few days later. Unfortunately, though by that stage it is too late as it affects real time performance. Ad fraud is set to cost the industry $32 billion worldwide by 2022. Using an automated software solution that blocks IP addresses is a good way to fix this, think of it as an anti-virus/firewall for your digital advertising!
So, in conclusion, does Google Advertising work? It certainly does, just do not expect miracles in the first 3 months. Google Ads is an investment platform, not a get rich quick tool.
You need time for an agency to understand your business and set up your campaigns. Google needs to then review and approve your advertisements. Then a stack load of time and effort is then required to track and optimize your results.
Running Google Ads is harder than it looks – especially if you do not know what to expect. If you are not getting results from PPC after 3 months, then ask for professional help. Working with an experienced agency with a good track record ensures that the campaign process is streamlined from the beginning and does not take longer than it should. Working with an agency also takes the guesswork of using Google Ads as a platform, whether it is Google Shopping, Search, or the Display Network.
Wondering if Google ads is the right fit for your business? Got further questions about Google Ads?
Claim you free audit and plan today!