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Why is my AdWords Campaign Failing?

Posted on August 12, 2020 in Marketing

google ads and adwords

“Yea, we tried AdWords…”

“It doesn’t work for our business.”

“The leads were weak.”

“It was too expensive.”

“We just turned it off because we didn’t think it was working.”

“PPC is stupid.”

When talking about digital marketing with clients, I hear this stuff all the time. Another sob story about a failed AdWords campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for them. Nobody likes wasting hard-earned profits on a campaign that doesn’t get results.

But in reality, it’s almost never AdWords fault.

There are many reasons your campaign could have failed or is currently failing. In this article, we are going to go over the main reasons your AdWords efforts are resulting in a negative ROI so that you can course-correct your campaign and start getting the leads you are looking for.

Lack of Strategy

Not having a sound strategy is the biggest reason AdWords campaigns do not work. For some reason, many people have the misconception that AdWords is something you can just “flip a switch” and boom, it’s running.

Before launching your campaign, you want to determine the following:

  • Budget – how much money can we dedicate to AdWords on a monthly basis?
  • Goals – for example, what’s your target cost per conversion?
  • Who is running the campaign – can we do this in house, or do we need an expert?
  • What does the sales funnel look like – what happens when someone clicks on the ad? Where are they taken? If they fill out a form, who follows up with them, and when? Is any part of this process automated?
  • Remarketing – If a lead doesn’t convert right away, how can we remarket to them in the future?
  • What’s our message – how are we going to differentiate ourselves in this space to give us an edge over the competition?
  • Where are we targeting – is this a local, regional, or national campaign? Where are some hot spots that can be targeted?
  • Who is our customer – how can we make sure that our ideal customer is receiving the correct information about our company when they find us through AdWords?


When you first start your AdWords campaign, you need to collect as much data as possible. The logic here is that you need to understand which keywords are working early on in the campaign so that you can stop paying for keywords that aren’t converting into leads and sales.

Therefore, if you are underbidding early on in your campaign with plans of increasing your budget later, it is going to take longer for you to understand which keywords are effective since you will be getting fewer clicks and traffic. You actually end up spending more money while trying to spend less money!

The bottom line is that you need to spend enough resources on your keywords to get some traffic. Once you know which keywords are working and which ones aren’t, you can reduce your budget to focus on the ones that are converting.

Poor Landing Page

Your landing page is your virtual storefront. Someone sees your Google Ad (your special), clicks on the link (opens the door to your store) and lands on your page (they are now in the building). If someone lands on your page and it doesn’t speak to the ad they have clicked on, they’re going to be confused and will probably leave.

This is why it is important to:

  1. a) send your AdWords traffic to designated landing pages that are relevant to the ad copy (not your homepage)
  2. b) make sure that any special incentives/offers/CTA’s are prominent and above the fold and
  3. c) the page is designed professionally and branded so that your visitors engage with and can trust the page.

Also, you have to remember that Google’s analysis of your landing page does affect your overall Ad score. If you are utilizing a page that isn’t relevant to your ad, this will affect your overall Ad score and have a negative impact on how your ads are served.

No Call Tracking

Call tracking is particularly important if you want to gauge the actual ROI of your AdWords campaign. When someone tells me their AdWords campaign didn’t work, one of my next questions is “well, did you have an effective way to track phone calls?”

Call tracking is crucial because oftentimes, a user won’t fill out the form from an ad, but they will call after reading it. This is especially common in B2B.

At our agency, we use a software called CallRail. This platform allows you to track your phone calls, where they are coming from, call time, the phone # that called you, the name of the business that reached out, and more.

You can then use this data to match it up against newly acquired customers and determine the actual ROI that you are receiving from your AdWords campaign.

Too Many Keywords

Have you heard the 80/20 rule? The idea is that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. More often than not, if you audit an active AdWords campaign you will find that there are many keywords within the campaign that are getting clicks but not converting.

I know this goes against the underbidding point that we referenced above, but it’s important to a) collect enough data to understand the data and b) act on that data when it is available.

You may find the 20% of your keywords are driving 80% of your lead gen. In that case, you’re wasting money on 80% of your keywords!

It is important to focus on the keywords that are driving you the most ROI and get rid of the ones that are a waste of money. Pretty logical, right?

Bad Ad Copy

If your ad copy is boring and does not include a strong CTA that drives users to click, you are going to miss out on potential opportunities.

Remember, your ad isn’t being served by itself. There are likely competitors bidding on these same keywords, and their ads are going to pop up alongside yours. Make sure you are giving users a reason to click on the link. You can use a special offer, limited time offer, or some sort of other unique value to catch a user’s interest.

Lack of Budget

Before launching an AdWords campaign, it’s important to research your competitors and set a budget along with realistic expectations on what kinds of results you can expect to receive. Certain industries can be extremely competitive due to brands allocating huge monthly budgets to own their market. In these sectors, there comes a point where if you’re not paying X amount of money, it’s better to not spend anything on AdWords and put that money elsewhere in your marketing/advertising budget.

You can use tools like semrush.com or spyfu.com to do additional competitive research to understand what your competitors are spending. Also, Google’s Keyword Planner will give you suggested bid amounts for keywords when you can plug into your overall budget to see if it aligns properly.

At the end of the day, AdWords is only one piece of the digital marketing funnel. It’s important to not throw all of your eggs in one basket and pray everything works out. Like any marketing, AdWords can take time to figure out on a per business basis, regardless if you have experience with this form of advertising or not. The most important thing is to pay attention to the data you are receiving, make educated changes based on this data, and pay attention to what changes are having a positive impact on the overall campaign.

Have questions? Need help with your AdWords campaign? Drop us a line, we’re a team of real marketers that are dedicated to helping brands reach their goals every single day. Feel free to give us a call at (248) 579-9972. Our passion is helping businesses bring their story to the masses and we’d love to help you!



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