November 3, 2023
November 3, 2023
PPC advertising has been described as a “quick-win” marketing strategy when it’s compared to other strategies such as SEO. However, how quick actually are these results, and how do we know if it’s working?
PPC can theoretically bring in results as soon as you hit publish and the ads begin to serve in the auctions, however, there are multiple factors to consider that can limit performance such as your budget, chosen keywords and competitors within the industry.
Read on to find out more about how long it takes PPC campaigns to work, if there’s any way to speed up these results and how you can test to see if these advertising campaigns are working.
We are in the age where paid advertising platforms utilise powerful algorithms and machine learning to increase performance. If you’ve set up a PPC campaign before, you might have noticed that performance starts off slow and usually ‘ramp up’ over a few months.
This is because, although conversions can come in as soon as the campaign is pushed live, data is needed to allow the campaign to work to its full potential. More data within the account means more fuel for the machine-learning and algorithm based bidding to further improve performance. This could take at least 3 months to work optimally.
This data can come in different forms, such as clicks from relevant users that don’t bounce (leave the webpage) as soon as they reach the landing page, or high value purchases or leads. Once you start getting this data, Google knows that a ‘certain type’ of user is more likely to convert and your ads will begin showing more often to this demographic. These demographics (also known as Affinity and In-Market audiences) can range from women within a certain age group, new parents or even those looking to buy their first car.
As explained above, the more data you have in the account, the better. However, there are factors which will limit the amount of data your account can collect.
Every keyword that you bid on in Google Ads has a volume, which is how many searches there are for this term per month. Keyword volumes can be found in Google Ads’ Keyword Planner or in other tools such as Semrush.
The higher the volume of a keyword, the more likely you are to receive an impression or a click. Bidding on just a few low-volume keywords (such as 10-30 impressions per month) will limit performance because your ads won’t be appearing in that many auctions. Best practice would be to do your research and find a good mix of high and low volume keywords to allow for the additional data to come in.
This will also depend on the industry you’re in – if you are in an extremely niche market with low volume searches, then multiple low-volume keywords will be the way to go, but you’ll need to allow more time for the campaigns to optimise.
Similar to the above, you could have high-volume keywords, but if your budget is £5 a day then again you will be limiting the number of times your ad can participate in the auction.
The ad groups within your campaign should ideally be getting 100+ clicks per month, so if your industry has a high CPC, you might want to rethink how much money you’re dedicating to Google Ads or keyword strategy.
£5 a day is great if that works for you and aligns with your business goals, but optimisations may take a little bit longer.
Now you know how long PPC can take to work, how do you know if it’s actually working? We’ve made a handy checklist for you for you to double-check:
Before you set up your Google Ads campaigns, you should have an idea of your KPIs and what you want to achieve with this platform. These metrics will help you to know if your campaigns are working or not. If you’re not sure what your KPIs are, then try thinking about a SMART KPI – these are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound Key Performance Indicators.
Some examples of SMART KPIs from our existing clients include:
If you begin to see conversions come in for your campaigns, double check the quality of them and how relevant they are. This will indicate:
All keywords have a quality score (a rating out of 10 based on landing page experience, ad relevance and expected CTR). Quality scores influence what position your ads appear in the auction, as someone with a higher budget but lower quality score will appear lower than a competitor with a lower budget and higher quality score. Having keywords with higher quality scores will indicate that your keywords are relevant, reaching the right audience and performing well.
As you progress your campaign, you might notice that your performance drops when you make changes to the campaigns. This is because the campaigns will re-enter a learning phase where it needs to learn how to get conversions and clicks with the new settings.
Although it might be daunting to see a drop when you’ve applied a recommendation or A/B testing, be patient! Reacting too quickly to low performance can hinder performance further and you should always wait about 2-3 weeks before making further changes to your campaigns or drawing conclusions from data.
Now you know how to spot the signs of whether or not your campaign is working, learn how to speed up your PPC performance.
You could have the perfectly crafted ad campaign, but if you’re sending traffic to a low quality landing page then users will click off and find a competitor to buy from, or use the service of. Limiting the amount of clicks the user has to go through in order to convert will increase conversion rates.
Using free tools like HotJar can highlight areas of confusion or frustration which can be optimised to help a user convert quicker.
Every ad campaign will need negative keywords (especially if you are using broad or phrase match targeting). These will ensure your ads aren’t appearing for irrelevant queries, or searches that are more informational than commercial/transactional.
For example, you might be running an ads campaign for a local hairdresser. Bidding on “local hairdresser” with 0 negative keywords could trigger the ad for “local hairdresser jobs” or “hairdresser apprenticeships” which obviously aren’t your target audience.
Removing limiting factors such as low budget or low volume keywords will speed up how much data is coming into your account.
By this point, you’ve learned how long PPC typically takes to start working, what can impact it, and how you can speed things up. Now you have to decide if it’s worth that time and effort.
As PPC campaigns have to be routinely checked, audited and optimised, you will find yourself investing a lot of time into them. The size of the campaign will also dictate how much time you should be spending on your account. If you have 1 campaign with 1 ad group and 10 keywords, this can be checked less often than an account with 5 campaigns, 8 ad groups within each and hundreds of keywords.
Whether this time is spent looking into the best practices for Google Ads, competitors within your industry or new keywords to include, it is definitely time that is not wasted.
One mistake that we see quite often is marketers setting up a PPC campaign without an idea of what cost per conversions or return on ad spend (ROAS) they need to hit in order for their campaign to be profitable, which is ultimately what keeps your business going. Setting up a Google Ads campaign might seem like the next step for your marketing, but if you need a £3 CPA to break-even, then you might want to consider other ventures first, such as SEO.
Investing money into digital advertising has the potential to take your business to new heights. PPC is an avenue we will always recommend to advertisers that have room for manoeuvrability with their budgets.
Whether you’re a small business looking to find new avenues for growth, or you’re a well established company looking to increase revenue, Wildcat Digital can help you get the results you need with tailored PPC services.
We offer straightforward advice and transparent reporting – speak to one of our experts for a free consultation and audit of your existing PPC accounts, or even a campaign plan if you haven’t tried online advertising before.