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PPC Campaigns Not Working?

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What to expect from your PPC


We have clients attributing doubling revenues to our work, amazing ROI campaigns all over the place, lead gen ads running at <£1.00 per email optin (true story!) and since 2005 have been managing £1m+ per month campaigns with ruthless efficiency.

Does every new campaign work amazingly well, immediately, with no further effort required? No.
Is PPC the only link in the entire digital chain? No.

Pay Per Click is about getting the right people to the shop.

If the shop is cold, dark, confusing, selling over-priced products with no value proposition, with an apathetic salesperson texting their friend in the corner, it probably won’t sell stuff.

That becomes a conversion rate issue.

Whilst you should expect your PPC Agency to warn you that you have conversion problems, and present good examples of working ‘shops’ to you, ideas of what can work – conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is a separate skill, which takes time, skill and effort. Unless you are paying your PPC Agency to design and create your conversion funnel, it is unreasonable to expect them to solve all your online issues.

Your PPC Team’s obligations end at getting the right people to the shop door – your Web Content Team need to step up if you have a conversion problem

What PPC Should Do

  • Send highly qualified traffic to your website
  • Be based on stages of the funnel you have briefed – do you want ready-to-buy (bottom funnel) only, or are you on an awareness drive (top-funnel) with interesting content?
  • Optimise traffic – proactively cull out irrelevant searches and poorly engaging mediums
  • Measure results fully – track everything, enabling diagnosis (good or bad – WHY?)
  • Re-target intelligently – subject only to the restrictions of your content.

Some agencies are better than others. We review a lot of Adwords accounts and know immediately if you have a lazy agency who aren’t optimising enough.

We also see accounts where optimisation is attempted, but by unskilled people – it is easy to make a right mess of things.

Ultimately that leads to inefficient spend – your acquisition cost doubles.

We have audited BIG AGENCY (think top 3 biggest names in the advertising world) accounts and found 30-50% efficiencies – how?

  • Awkward structures
  • Lack of common sense or experience – if you’re not spending £1m+ a month, you get given a graduate-in-training
  • Blanket rules & scripts – automatically adjusting your campaign based on generic rules applied to ALL ad account – destroying all human work!
  • Quality scores – often missed, leads to paying double CPC and destroying ROI – a moving beast, hard (but possible) to keep on top of

This said, no PPC account will be perfect – they are moving beasts, and as Pareto knew best – 80% there is important, the 20% could be nit-picked anywhere.
And unless you are paying an agency enough to warrant daily meddling (which comes with its own issues!), you cannot reasonably expect perfection every day.

The Clicks Are Relevant, But No Conversions

Prerequisite check: is it really that bad, or has it just been a bad week? In our experience, emotions can shout louder than facts.

Step back, think back over a 3 month period – what have conversions been like? What is their potential long term value? If facts prevail, read on…

#1 – are you really tracking everything?


For example, this dialogue has happened 100 times:

“we never get any calls from our website”
“is it being tracked?”
“no, but we never get calls from our website”

We install basic tracking (£10/m) – turns out they get 20 calls a month from the website, including new business.

Do you get calls? Do you accept offline orders? Do un-tracked forms go to your reception?
Tracking is about measuring everything possible – if you are not tracking everything, you are not certain you have a conversion problem.

We won’t start a campaign with no tracking at all, but clients often decide to forego the finer details. That’s fair enough, but you won’t be able to fully diagnose without it.

It’s not expensive, you can get fully tracked for around £300, and only call tracking has a monthly cost (simple = cheap, full = £50-75/m).

Also consider: lifetime revenue

Most industries will consider lifetime revenue in their cost-benefit analysis. If you get an immediate profit from ad spend then great, just bet your bottom dollar that your competitors will know lifetime revenue per lead / sale and their bids & cost-per-acquisition will reflect that.

Jeff Bezos didn’t aggressively grow Amazon based on first orders; ARPU, churn and lifetime value are important metrics that should be factored into the equation.

Also consider: email capture, especially in longer sales cycles

Are you capturing email addresses? These are conversions-in-waiting if you handle them right.

The most common problem we see is over-eagerness at the point of capture, and excitedly rushing to try and sell this email optin something. Unsurprisingly, they run away from you.

If they aren’t in a highly, highly relevant email sequence – relevant to what they signed up to in the first place, you will get nowhere.

If you are capturing even 10 per month, that’s 120 good prospects per year – and yes, even if they are Gmail or Outlook addresses (perfectly normal before they are willing to trust you), there is absolute gold in your email capture. Put them off early on and you’ve probably lost their faith though. STAY RELEVANT to what they signed up to, and spend time on a very compelling email sequence.

#2 – Still bad? Okay, you have a conversion problem

“Ultimately, success with AdWords comes down to your landing page/website.” Crazy Egg

Relevant traffic is coming in, you are tracking/measuring properly. Okay, you have a conversion problem.

If you have an ROI problem, and it’s close – look at CPC efficiencies AND CRO.

If you simply aren’t getting conversions, you have a CRO problem. There are three steps to a solution, all outside the remit of pure PPC so expect to pay, for:

a) Full Marketing-Conversion Funnel Plan

Some consultants charge £10k for this alone.

A full online funnel design maps out your entire marketing strategy from top funnel (awareness) to bottom funnel (purchase) – so that any good technical marketer can tag & push users down that funnel over time.

This is designed for each segment of product/service you offer e.g. the product vs product training.

At each stage:

  • what content – a video guide?
  • What is the (useful) hook – GDPR compliance kit?
  • How does it all link to what you are selling (amazing how often this is forgotten!)?
    We have seen computer repair stores offer “how AI will change our lives by 2030” – which is interesting, but how does that lead into repairing my computer (which isn’t broken, why do you want me hooked in)?
  • It must all piece together logically

An expert funnel design is an important bit of planning. Some clients have the skills to do this in-house, often an agency is better placed as they see every day what works & what doesn’t.

BUILD OUT THE FUNNEL: by creating Lead Pages, which can succeed alone in spite of your own website performance OR simultaneously:

b) AB Testing and Website Page Improvement plan

Bad sites: loads of copy, no value proposition, no clear, obvious call-to-action above-the-fold >>> I’ll buy off a competitor
Good sites: simple, GREAT value proposition, one clear call to action >>> sale

Google’s Landing Page Optimisation Playbook is a must-read at this stage – it’s 149 pages, but skim the first 15 pages right now and it’ll open your eyes a bit if you have never learned anything about CRO before.

An example of the nuggets in here, where your boss would say “yuk, that yellow button ewwww get it off” but you’ll know better:

660e4dcd cta button color wheel

With AB testing software installed, you can:

  • Test hypothetical improvements in a measured way
  • Know for a fact what works best – not just go by the-highest-ranking-person’s-gut-feel
  • Make micro improvements (e.g. home > service page, blog > service page)
  • Make macro improvements – true goal conversion

AB testing is only as good as what goes in.

Common: try one test, it doesn’t ‘beat’ the control, give up. If you’re going to AB test, you need to commit to it as a culture – or accept that your own website conversions will not improve.


If your product or sales proposition is no good, you might get some success but you will more likely struggle.


I sell Apple Macs on my little-known branded site “super-apple-macs.com” (I don’t, by the way).
I sell them at £100 more than Apple themselves because I want to make more money.
I offer no substantiation behind that extra £100, it’s just how it is if you buy off me.

Will I get a single order? Perhaps, from lazy customers who don’t shop around (even on Apple!). I’ll struggle though.

This amplifies the more expensive your product/service is. GIVE ME A VALUE PROPOSITION.
Your competitors will. Most people will compare. Make yours better.

c) Premium CRO Agency – the best in the world?

At this point, if you have followed all of the above advice, you will almost certainly be yielding results at some or all parts of your funnel.

If you want to take that a step further, and really take a premium approach to CRO, we partner very closely with a global team who we feel are the best at CRO in the world.

All they do is CRO. Nothing else, they live and breath it. They solve conversion problems.


Their costs start at $5,000USD for a deep review, and if they can’t make a winner out of your pages then nobody can.


Other Common Questions

#1 – My Email Leads are all Outlook and Gmail

Depending on your familiarity with a brand, do you leave your work email address with a company?
It happens a lot.
ACTION: make those opt-ins count, with your email auto-responses and chains (which should be similar to your online funnel).
Also, B2B guys, a personal email often reveals a name, other software might give you a company – dig a bit deeper.

#2 – My Email Leads aren’t buying

You won’t go from top-funnel content direct to sale immediately, at least not very often (it does happen).
Just because I downloaded a PDF on GDPR does not mean I want to buy a £10k solution right now. Sorry, there’s more work to do.
ACTION: nurture! Email chains that build trust, more useful info, occasional offers etc…
We also work closely with a “Social Telemarketing” partner, who make conversations happen at middle-funnel stage (but not top). It works.

#3 – My Email Leads are capturing competitors

This will happen to varying degrees – competitors will check you out, of course they will!
If it is extensive, and over 20% of optins are competitors – is there anything about your hook that lends itself to your competitors more than customers?
ACTION: delete them off your list.

#4 – My Business Lookups aren’t relevant

“Relevant” can be a subjective word here… if your PPC agency is targeting relevant searchers, and display audiences “in-market” for your product/service, the visitors will be who they will be.
It cannot be controlled that e.g. Hospitals want your software or Colleges are interested in your specific training course – and they aren’t your core market.
ACTION: if your target is really, really niche – do not do general audience marketing – buy lists, and run re-targeting campaigns only – only this can keep it as tight as you need it to be.

#5 – I’ve got *too many* Business Lookups

Not all business lookups are created equal. A ‘price’ search is 100x more desirable than a display ad click on a mobile, which bounced.

Also useful; any repeat visit, email optins, high engagers and lots more.

You need to organise your business lookup data.

ACTION: you need Business Lookup tracking in place so you can easily identify display vs search, and can easily TIER your lookups. Expect to pay for it, but 2hrs of a skilled person can achieve it.
Don’t panic, just structure your Business Lookup data for purpose.

#6 – My Lead Gen / Lead Page ads aren’t generating leads

We don’t pre-advise on whether a hook will work or not – we have seen whacky ‘out-there’ things work, and expected winners fail.
The stats don’t lie though. If your hook gets no leads, it isn’t appealing to your audience – so ditch it and move on.
ACTION: get more hooks out there! Test 10 and some will work (unless you are really bad at marketing, then get your CRO agency to help).

#7 – My Business Lookups Aren’t Converting

We work very closely with a B2B calling partner, who is integrated with our methods, tracking & tagging – and goes in to every conversation fully armed with knowledge. They do even more research on the company, structure and personnel to improve gatekeeper conversion. The cold calling approach is tough – if you are calling the business reception asking for “the HR guy”, you will struggle.
Also, what stage of the funnel are these lookups at? The answer to that changes the conversation completely.
If you’re not even getting solid conversations out of people who searched “pricing” and “cost” – the most bottom-funnel-ready-to-buy you’ll get – your sales calling methods need a closer look.
ACTION: talk to our partner. Nice guys, free advice – and training available on this specific topic if you want to keep it in-house.

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