Ten Reasons Why Your Adwords Campaign Might Not Be Converting

Failure to monitor which of your marketing campaigns brings you results is a sure way to waste money, because no matter where you spend or what you do, knowing what works gives you the power to not only reinvest in the successes, but also to have a think about the failures, seeing if they can either be improved or have to be dropped.

Adwords is no different to anything else, if you are not monitoring conversions and do not keep an eye on how successful the campaigns are, then you are probably not getting the most from your spend.

If you are measuring success but it is just not happening for you, I take a look at my top ten reasons why your campaign might not be converting and what you can do about it to make it work.

1 – Overall Budget

Let’s start with the obvious one, as one of the main reasons that I see when checking existing campaigns is that the customer has set an overall budget that is just being eaten away quickly and therefore they are simply not spending enough. Adwords is a supply and demand pricing model, the bigger the demand for something, the more advertisers are going to pay, because there is likely to be more people supplying the same product or service. You have to be realistic about your budget, because in some areas like finance, cars and property for example, the keyword bids are normally very high, as not only are they massively competitive but they are also high value items which is worth the advertisers spending the money on.

I am not saying you should have an open ended budget where you are care free and reckless with spending, but I am saying you need to be realistic with your budget and make sure that you are willing to spend what it takes to get some decent traffic. If you really do have to stick to a small budget, then you can try to make your adverts last longer by either turning them off at certain times of the day (based on your conversion history), use bid adjustments carefully or get the Adwords system to optimally manage them to last longer.

2 – Keyword Bids

Following on from the above, the next biggest reason is often that your keyword bid is too low, which in turn decreases the chances of getting impressions and clicks. If your advert is not appearing on the front page then the chances of getting any clicks are going to be very low as the majority of Google searchers never go past the front page, which means you have to be there, whether you like it or not. If money is tight, try different keyword bids and see which perform for you, because if set one of keywords converts more than set two, then it makes sense to put your budget into set one and increase the keyword bids to get more traffic through these.

With Adwords, traffic can be a costly exercise without conversions, so at all times you need to be on top of what works (and what does not) and react accordingly. If after a week one keyword had low clicks but high conversions, it makes perfect sense to spend more money on this keyword or expand the keyword to include more related phrases. Remember – conversions matter, the amount of traffic really doesn’t.

3 – Wrong Keywords

When setting up a campaign it can be quite easy to rush the process and just go with what Google recommends in terms of keywords, and this is a massive No No! No matter how much you like Google Adwords, their main aim is to get you to spend money, they are a business and it is what most businesses do, so therefore you need to choose the keywords that are going to work for you, not them. I am a little on the fence when someone tells me I need to spend 6 hours researching keywords, I get that it is important but if you are an electrician in Glasgow, then you are going to know the kind of keywords you wish to hit straight away, so you need to make sure the keywords you enter are the ones you want the business for.

Going back to keyword research, yes, this is important, but is something you can work on over time, but it is worth having a look at the kind of traffic certain keywords get and also find others you might not have thought about, but generally, I would concentrate on getting my overall campaign perfect with a few really targeted keywords, then look at expanding my selection when I start getting some good traffic. In my opinion, some niches need extensive planning and keyword research before the campaign should go live, but for most businesses you know what person you want as a customer and you will know the most basic of terms you would want to rank for naturally, so it’s a good place to start and then expand with the use of keyword research over time.

4 – Low Quality Score

I could probably write another article on what quality score is and how it is calculated, but in simple terms, Quality Score in Adwords is a measurement Google places on how relevant and quality your advertising is, and if they like it, you can often get the click throughs cheaper than someone else with a lower quality score than you. As Google tends to bang on about, they are all about the user and they want the best results, so therefore they use quality score as a way of making sure that the adverts they serve to customers are going to be the most relevant. This means that the harder you work on your quality score, the cheaper your clicks should become and the more your budget will last, so it is something that you should take notice of.

You can read more about how they determine and calculate quality score here, but generally they look at the advert, landing page, performance of campaign and many other factors, but it is something that if you keep tweaking and aim for 7 upwards, you have a really good chance of getting a little more for the money you spend.

5 – Poor Landing Page

Imagine running a big local marketing campaign saying you have amazing products, cheap prices and the best store in the world. So, everyone rushes to your shop in great excitement. But when they get there, the shop is run down, dirty, out of stock and pretty much not what you claimed it to be. The customer looks, looks again, has a little sigh and walks out within 10 seconds. Imagine your landing page now to be your shop and you will see why it is vital that your landing page (where the visitor clicks through to) is going to be the best it possibly can be to convert, else your adverts will send traffic but your conversions will be really poor.

You should always make sure that the landing page is relevant – so if you are sending people to your site for blue cars, make sure your landing page is selling blue cars, as this will lead to better conversions. If you are selling a specific type of watch, make sure the landing page is that exact watch. The more you make people look around your site for what they want, the greater the chance of losing that visitor, so at all times you must think relevance and quality when it comes to the landing page, because this will also help with the quality score factors we just talked about.

6 – Incorrect Location Targeting

If you are a plumber in Manchester, then I am going to use my sixth sense to guess that you are going to want to get people needing a plumber in or around Manchester, and probably not people with water flushing down their stairs in London. Adwords lets you target specific locations and this is a must if you are a local business looking for specifically local customers. You can either add a location on your keyword, so “plumbers Manchester” or you can set up a radius campaign which captures everyone looking for “plumbers” within XX miles of your location.

Radius campaigns can be excellent, because you can get them running quickly and tweak them over time, but more so, it means that you have one set of keywords rather than hundreds covering all types of locations in your area. Although not perfect, radius campaigns can prove fruitful, and you can always have one normal campaign and one radius campaign running and monitor conversions, amending the budget as you see fit between to two. Once again, it comes back to testing and more testing, but once you get a campaign that really works, you will be well on the way to success.

7 – Not Restricting Devices

One of the biggest overlooked aspect to Adwords is often the fact that you can restrict devices from serving your adverts, which means that if your site or a section of your site does not work on a mobile phone, then you should be excluding mobile devices from your campaigns which will then divert your budget into the areas that do work. Always make sure that your campaign is hitting the right devices, because if it fails to load properly or converting is just impossible, make sure you don’t get these visitors as not only will it end up costing you, it really is just frustrating for the visitor and they will not think to try your site on a desktop, they will just move on to another site that does work on their device.

8 – Failing To Implement Exclusions

As the years have gone by and technology has become more sophisticated, Adwords has developed into a system that not only can you include lots of nice things, you can exclude the things that do not work. For example, devices, countries, keywords etc can all be used to remove your adverts from people that you don’t want to hit and therefore get in front of more people you do want to hit, thus, using the right campaign exclusions can be really worthwhile for your conversion rate. I recently took over a campaign that wanted International enquiries but failed to check which countries were performing, so by looking at the data we managed to exclude about 50 countries that were costing a ton of money and their conversions increased. My point here is simple, try to get your audience as targeted as possible, by reaching the ones that are going to convert the most.

9 –  Misleading Adverts

Thought and effort needs to go into your adverts, as a bit like your landing page, if they are misleading or do not reflect what the user is going to see when they click through, you are going to waste money. Generally, Adwords allows you to target a specific advert, using a specific keyword to get a specific visitor, so your advert, keyword and landing page should be exactly that – specific. Endless research studies have proven that the closer you land the visitor to what they want, the higher chances of a sale, so this is something you need to reflect in your campaigns.

You have to remember that Adwords is not about increasing traffic, it is about increasing sales, so therefore you need to make sure that your visitor gets what they want as soon as they come through, meaning that your advert should reflect what they want and what they are searching for.

10 – Not Enough TLC!

Everyone and everything needs a little bit of tender loving care and your Adwords campaign is no different. The biggest mistake you can make is to set up a campaign, log out and just expect it to work. It is not going to happen. Like any marketing platform you will only get out what you put in, so the more time you spend trying things out, following some of the tips above, looking at testing different adverts and landing pages then the more this will work for you. Put simply, if you are lazy with the campaign, I wouldn’t even both setting one up, either work hard or hire someone (waves) to help you with it.



  1. Great article! I can add one more reason to this list:

    – Bad seller on the phone – I’ve had this issue with few of our clients. We did an amazing job on the basic AdWords KPIs for few local business owners (CTR above 7%, Click-to-Call above 20%, QS averaging 8). Unfortunately the client was the guy on the phone and it was aweful – many leads, zero conversions because of a bad language and bad attitude from the seller.

  2. Ian

    Thank you!

    Yeah, that is a good one, how the client handles the enquiry. Really good point, no matter how good the traffic is, if the end result is an inbound call the sales people have to do their work well.

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