How Long Does Google Ads Take To Work?

6 April, 2020

When investing in any marketing exercise, the idea is to make a return on investment.

And, ideally, the sooner the better.

But how long does it take to get that return on investment and what does it depend on?

The short answer is this: Google Ads can either work immediately, take some time, or not at all.

Whilst that’s not really the clear cut answer most are hoping for, let’s break down the scenarios where the same platform could deliver three very different outcomes.

Google Ads Can Work Immediately

Google Ads can work immediately providing that:

  • Your business is supplying a product/service that is relevant and competitive to your target market
  • You’re working with an adequate marketing budget to give the market enough exposure to your business
  • Know what you can pay for a lead, calculating the lifetime value your average customer
  • Your Google Ads account is being managed efficiently and attentively

We’ll go over these points in more detail below after we’ve run through the scenarios where Google Ads doesn’t work immediately.

Google Ads Can Take Time

However, the first month of Google Ads is always going to be the most inefficient.

So, if you’re seeing some results in your first month but not entirely happy – understand that a part of the process of optimising a Google Ads account is to collect data, refine the campaign and test those refinements.

You must also take into account the commitment requirements and purchase cycle of your product/service.

It is likely that someone searching for a local plumber may call you immediately after searching for a local plumber in Google and clicking on your website. However, it is highly unlikely that someone looking to purchase a renovate their home is going to commit to you the first time they land on your website, even if they’ve specifically searched for home renovations on Google.

Google Ads May Not Work For You

Depending on your business and the market that you serve, Google Ads may not be the right solution for your business.

This is most common in B2B (business to business) industries (such as accounting) where networking, relationship building, and referrals are vital to earning the kind of trust that isn’t typically earned just from landing on a website.

There is also the scenario where, due to such aggressive competition, the price of clicks on keywords relating to your business is simply too high to realistically compete.

Another challenge is when you’re competing with big companies.

For example, if you’re up against a big company that offers electrical, plumbing and HVAC, when they’re bidding on keywords, they’re typically able to bid a lot higher and subsequently pay more per lead due to the fact that they’re able to sell multiple services to that one lead – essentially cutting the cost per lead into thirds.

That makes it a lot harder for companies that offer just plumbing, just electrical or just HVAC services where they need to make profit off just one service per lead.

Or, Google Ads may not be the best way to access your target market.

Despite the rhetoric that old media such as radio and newspaper are dying, I simply couldn’t touch the results that those channels when I’ve run Google Ads for dentists or cruise companies, where the target audience is generally older.

Giving Yourself The Best Chance

In the first scenario, we listed four conditions that were conducive to a successful and explosive outcome Google Ads.

So, let’s dive a bit deeper into those four points and why they are so impactful on the performance of a Google Ads account.

1. Your Business

Two phrases come to mind here.

One of them is that “good products sell themselves”

And the other is “you can’t polish a t*rd”.

Or if we want to be a bit more sophisticated in our marketing speak – there are 4 P’s to a successful business:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Placement
  • Promotion

Notice how only one of those 4 P’s are to do with advertising (Promotion).

That means that what you sell, where you sell it and how much you sell it for contributes to 75% of a successful pitch to market with only 25% of it being down to marketing.

This may sound like us Google Ads professionals voiding ourselves of responsibility but after personally running over 300 Google Ads accounts so far in my career – the correlation is clear.

Good products sell themselves.

And you can’t polish a t*rd.

Be honest with yourself and how appealing your product/service is to the market compared to what your competitors are offering.

2. Adequate Budget

Whilst you can start running Google Ads on a fairly modest budget, some business owners underestimate what a reasonable starting budget is.

When Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) first launched in October 2000, and for a few years after that; the cost per click was so cheap (we’re talking cents) that you could run a wildly successful campaign on just a few dollars per day.

But because the clicks in Google Ads works on a bidding system (whatever people are prepared to pay for a click), and more than just a few businesses have caught on since then – you need to have a serious budget when it comes to getting enough exposure on the platform.

If you’re a roofing contractor and your clicks cost around $4 per click and you only have a budget of $10 per day, you’re only going to 2-3 clicks per day.

Having only 2 visitors to your website per day and expecting the phone to ring off the hook is not realistic even with a well-optimised Ads account.

So, lifting that budget up to $20 per day (allowing 5 visitors per day) or $30 per day (allowing 7-8 visitors per day) is going greatly increase the odds of getting some enquiries through the website each day.

3. Realistic Goals

Knowing what you’re willing to pay for a lead is vital to establishing realistic goals in Google Ads.

When setting these realistic goals, you have to take into account the purchase cycle of a product/service and the lifetime value of that customer.

When Mindful Homes (a boutique home builder in Perth) started Google Ads with me, the only thing we could see in the Conversions column of the account for the first couple of months was tumbleweeds.  However, each month after that, the amount of leads that we were generating was growing aggressively. We just needed to be patient and understand that it can take a while to go from consideration to action with such a high-involvement purchase decision.

You may not be in an industry where there is such a high-involvement in your customers’ purchase decision, yet the cost to acquire that client more or less destroys the profit you make in that initial job – that isn’t necessarily a bad result if you’re able to retain repeat business from that customer.

So, if you end up getting four jobs from that initial enquiry, the cost of that lead essentially goes down to 25% of the original cost when spread across the lifetime value of that customer.

4. Efficient Account Management

Of course, running Google Ads successfully requires efficient management of the account.

You can easily waste a lot of budget by having keywords matching with highly irrelevant keywords, poor messaging, inefficient bidding strategies and/or a landing page that doesn’t sell what you do to your visitors.

If you’re in need of Google Ads management from a freelancer with a proven track record, with no lock-in contracts and who won’t work with your competitors – get in touch.