Clients often ask me “How long till we see results from Google Ads campaigns?”. Google Ads traffic is almost instantaneous. Your ads will usually appear within a few hours after your campaigns are published. But the real question is how long until you start generating leads and sales from PPC campaigns. From experience, great results can often be achieved within the first month and even the first week but there are exceptions. How long before Google Ads start making you money depends on several factors.
In this article, I’ll analyse different scenarios and how long you should expect to wait for your winning results with Google Ads.
Though it may seem obvious, how you or your marketing agency look at results might differ. For the purpose of this article we’d like to define what we consider key performance indicators (KPIs) in your Google Ads results. You’d want to discuss and agree on set goals with your digital marketer. The following are the goals we will usually measure and report on.
It’s also important to agree on expected volumes and cost per result. The cost per result or CPA has to make financial sense for your business.
The following are not the main results we’d usually go after but they are often reported as metrics for success. In some cases, it does make sense for businesses to look at them as their KPIs.
Though all the above are of course positive effects of PPC campaigns, we do not usually see them as a goal. With PPC, you are effectively paying for traffic. Getting increased traffic is to be expected with any campaign.
Except in cases where awareness and reach are the main goals for a business, we don’t regard traffic, clicks and users as goals or achievements. 99% of the time we will go for higher value goals such as leads and sales.
* Note: Results are measured as conversions in Google Ads and Analytics. We will later be mentioning conversion numbers, conversion rates and cost per conversion. A conversion is a general name for a desired user action.
In most cases, if you’ve hired a professional PPC consultant then you should expect some decent results within the first 2-4 weeks. This is especially true if you can share past performance and access to historical data on Google Analytics with your PPC manager.
But there are legitimate reasons why you could see a delay in results. Here are some of them.
There are several scenarios where it can take 2-3 months to start reaping the rewards of running Google Ads.
If your website is new, if you don’t have Google Analytics and if you haven’t run Google Ads or don’t have access to the account, then optimising your campaigns to deliver profitable results could take longer.
With no first-party data to analyse, there will be more assumptions and hypotheses. Your PPC will have to estimate but it will take time and money to prove these assumptions.
In this scenario, months 1-2 will usually be used to collect data and experiment. After enough experimentation, your PPC manager will have some information on what’s working and what isn’t. A good PPC manager will let you know what to expect before the work begins. This way you can agree on a pilot period to try out several approaches before you start seeing a good return.
* Note - In many cases, success can still come quickly even if there is no data. By using competitor analysis and keyword research tools. However, it is not always possible to fully predict performance. The general rule is that the more data you have, the shorter your wait time should be.
You might think that Google Ads will deliver results if you leave it on its recommended settings, but the reality is far from that, unfortunately. The setup process and even Google’s own courses are full of reassuring messages about smart settings. The campaigns even come with many recommendations of what to do. In 99% of the cases, leaving a new Google Ads account to do what it wants will result in poor performance.
If you don’t know the system inside out, it might take a lot longer or even forever before you start generating profit from your Google Ads account.
* Note - Google’s automated bidding strategies have come a long way in recent years. There are many positive aspects and the system’s recommendations should be looked at. But you have to know when to follow a recommendation and when to choose your own way. In my experience, campaigns that follow Google’s recommendations blindly fail to deliver good results.
Some websites are not good at converting visitors to leads. You can check your conversion rates and compare them to industry standards. If users are finding your website difficult to use or unconvincing, it will affect performance. A good PPC manager will alert you to issues with your website and suggest ways to improve it.
Another scenario is when a product, service or offer is simply not attractive. It might seem obvious, but if people are not interested in what you have to offer, they won’t buy or enquire regardless of how smart your PPC targeting is. When companies launch new products without proof of demand, advertising won’t solve the problem.
If you’re in a hyper-specific niche that not many people search for, you can expect longer wait times for results. The reasons are that optimisations and improvements usually happen based on performance data. You gather the data when you run the campaigns or if you analyse past performance. Higher traffic and conversion volumes mean more data and shorter wait times. Slow-moving campaigns with low volume are normal in certain niches, they just take longer to improve and see results from.
The secret to quick success with Google Ads is to do your research and prepare. A good Google Ads consultant will spend a lot of time researching and planning before they start spending your money on ads.
With enough data, good Google Ads management can achieve great results from day one. There’s usually no reason to start running campaigns unless you have a clear understanding of how you’re going to achieve results. The purpose of the research stage is to define clear strategies and save money when the ads start running. Don’t underestimate the importance of prep work and research.
There are situations where it makes sense to spend money without necessarily seeing results. We call these pilots. While we all want results and we want them fast, experimentation is an important part of business development.
Though you might not see a direct monetary return from pilot campaigns, they can deliver great value to your business. Just remember to be clear about expectations.
With properly managed Google Ad campaigns, enough data and good communication Google Ads can start delivering good results fast. But there are situations where a longer period is needed. Google Ads is a fast acting channel. If you apply it correctly you should not have to wait long to know that you’re on the right path.
I’m a London based PPC consultant. and founder of EffectiveMarketing.UK, a PPC agency for lead generation. I’ve worked with a host of companies, goals and budgets. I’m also a certified Google partner, advanced Google Analytics user and digital marketing strategist. If you have any questions about Google Ads, don’t hesitate to contact me.