How long does AdWords take to work?

You’ve chosen good keywords, written decent ad copy, set up a landing page that should convert. You’re getting impressions and the CTR looks ok but you’ve still not had any conversions.

You know AdWords can be a reliable source of new business but it’s been a couple of days (or weeks) and nothing’s happened.

Is this normal or should you worry?

If it’s normal being patient will solve the problem, the leads will arrive in due course. But if there is an underlying problem being patient is the worst thing to do. The campaign won’t get better on it’s own. In fact it’ll get worse, all the while wasting time and money.

Doing AdWords on your own is hard. It’s even harder when it’s your first campaign and you don't know what to expect.

This should help give you a feel for how long an AdWords campaign should take to work.

The table below shows the age of the campaign at first conversion. In these campaigns the conversion is someone filling in the contact form - a sales enquiry. Where the age is 1 day it means that the first sales lead arrived on the same day that the adverts started showing.

I’ve included the number of impressions, clicks and conversions over the first 30 days to give you a feel for the size of the campaign so you can see how it compares with yours.

Edit: I’ve had questions about the click through rate (CTR) and conversion rates for these campaigns. Please ignore them. The stats in the table above are for the first month. At that stage we'd not yet made any attempt at optimising the campaign.

First month performance
Description Age at first lead (days) Impressions Clicks Conversions (leads)
Aluminium doors and windows. B2C. 1 12733 589 42
Automatic door repair. Mostly B2B. 3 860 56 7
Breathalysers. Mostly B2B. 1 5886 356 37
Wholesale linen. B2B. 1 2003 286 45
Cambelt repairs. B2C. 4 3512 164 18
Replacement laptop batteries B2C. 1 16664 1090 169
Motorycycle hire. B2C. 1 4380 946 99
Software training. Mostly B2B. 2 1621 158 29
Reconditioned engines. B2C. 1 1985 231 27
Property management software. B2B. 5 379 21 1
Car services. B2C. 1 4402 235 36
Turbocharger repairs. B2C. 6 3017 121 11
Valves. B2B. 2 7557 468 27
Reconditioned engines. B2C. 3 8807 912 110
Cable marking equipment. B2B. 10 823 91 2
Workshop management software. B2B. 28 268 21 1
Conservatories. Mostly B2C. 6 368 67 6
Noise monitoring equipment. B2B. 6 1778 140 11
Computer repair. Mostly B2C. 1 9683 723 134
Mobile phone contracts. B2C. 1 7088 726 40
Motorcycle tours. B2C. 31 181 30 0
Data logging equipment. B2B. 1 14331 553 30
Specialist lighting. B2B. 2 771 65 9
Large LED screens. B2B. 2 3581 281 54
Hot air ballloon tours. B2C. 5 8416 521 43

About these campaigns.

These campaigns ran on the search network only. The bidding strategy was maximise clicks during the period under consideration. (More info on the launch strategy here.)

None of these campaigns was optimised to produce the first lead as soon as possible, so in some cases we did things like launch a B2B campaign on a Friday when it was ready, rather than wait to Monday morning when it was more likely that it would produce a lead right away.

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