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TPE #96: Why Google Ads campaigns fail (and what to do instead)

Jun 03, 2024

Read time: 4 minutes

GM, Miles here with The PPC Edge.

Two weeks ago, I asked my LinkedIn followers if they think it has become harder or easier to drive results with Google Ads.

Out of 1.332 people, 77% voted “harder”:

 

 

This saddens me, because I wish good performance for everyone.

Therefore, I created a framework to make it as easy as possible for you to drive results.

It goes back to the fundamentals of Google Ads: what is REALLY important, and what isn’t?

I call it “The Google Ads Success Formula: the 8-step framework to prevent your campaigns from failing.”

If your campaigns fail, it’s usually because 1 of the 8 steps is missing or suboptimal.

I hope this makes it a bit easier for you to confidently drive results.

Let’s dive right in!

 

The Google Ads Success Formula: the 8-step framework to prevent your campaigns from failing.

Scaling Google Ads campaigns is hard. There’s a lot you CAN do… But how do you prioritize tasks that have the highest impact on your results?

I analyzed my own accounts over a long period and realized success comes down to the following 8 pillars (this helps me prevent overcomplication and keeps me focused on the most important things that drive results):

  1. Irresistible offer

  2. Clear conversion tracking

  3. Defined goals and KPIs

  4. Effective campaign structure

  5. Precise targeting

  6. Compelling creatives

  7. Proper bid & budget management

  8. High-converting landing pages

 

 

Nail them all, and you'll scale.

Miss one, and you'll fail:

  • No irresistible offer = "Useless" (nobody wants your products)
  • No clear tracking = "Blind" (no useful data for the machine)
  • No goals & KPIs = "Aimless" (no targets to aim for)
  • Bad structure = "Fragmented" (can’t let the algo work for you)
  • Bad targeting = "Inaccurate" (getting the wrong people)
  • Poor creatives = "Unremarkable" (your ads don’t match)
  • No bid/budget strategy = "Inefficient" (not properly spending your budget)
  • Poor landing page = "Leak" (throwing money down the drain)

 

When Google Ads campaigns fail, it’s usually because one of these pillars is missing or suboptimal (I often see multiple missing pillars which makes it even worse).

Here’s a huge mistake most Google Ads Specialists are making: they only chase shiny objects (aka advanced tactics).

But it’s the “boring” fundamentals that drive 80% of your results.

 

Listen, I love advanced tactics. But only for advanced accounts. You’re always better off sticking to the fundamentals first before you even think about advanced tactics!

 

How to turn around failing campaigns.

You can use the framework above to diagnose your campaigns: audit where you’re lacking and start implementing the fixes.

Let’s look at the 8 biggest reasons your Google Ads campaigns fail (and what to do instead).

 

Reason 1 why Google Ads campaigns fail: you don’t have an irresistible offer.

Without an irresistible offer, your Google Ads campaigns are useless and will fail. You must ensure you have product-market fit before you even think about advertising.

 

 

Reason 2 why Google Ads campaigns fail: you’re not properly tracking conversions.

Conversion tracking and data input are the absolute foundation for success with Google Ads.

Google’s Algorithm needs a lot of conversion data to function properly. If you don’t maximize the data input, you will get inconsistent results.

You need to go beyond the basics to properly track conversions in this day and age:

  • Lay the foundation with Google Ads Conversion Tracking (preferably with Server-Side Tagging).
  • Use Offline Conversion Tracking (essential for Lead Gen!).
  • Enhance your dataset so you have more data to work with (Enhanced Conversions, Consent Mode etc.)
  • Measure real business results (qualified leads, sales, profit).
  • Use first-party data to steer the algorithm in the right direction (not only with tracking but also with other data sources like your product feed and audiences).

 

βœ… Good data = good results.

❌ Bad data = bad results.

Without crystal-clear conversion tracking, you are blind and your campaigns will fail.

Whoever has the most high-quality, relevant data, wins.

Check out issue #79 of The PPC Edge if you want a step-by-step guide to ensure you track as many high-quality conversions as possible.

 

 

Reason 3 why Google Ads campaigns fail: you haven’t defined clear goals & KPIs.

When I just started working together with Bob, he told me he NEVER launches a campaign if he is not aligned with his client on the goals and KPIs.

He taught me setting goals upfront is crucial for success with Google Ads:

βœ… It helps you measure success.

βœ… You are aligned with your client.

βœ… You have total focus.

 

A clear set of goals and targets provides focus and helps determine your overall strategy and tactics. You can easily identify leaks, making your optimizations effective and impactful.

On the contrary, if you don’t set clear goals and KPIs, you can’t properly measure your campaigns’ effectiveness, you will not be aligned with your client, and you’re operating without focus.

So ALWAYS make sure you have discussed your client’s goals and KPIs before you launch your campaigns!

Without clear goals & KPIs you are aimless and your campaigns will fail.

 

Reason 4 why Google Ads campaigns fail: your campaign structure is fragmented.

Your campaign structure is one of the biggest drivers of performance (and control).

It has a huge impact on:

  • How you influence the algorithm.
  • Your bid strategies.
  • Your targeting.
  • Your spend.

 

You must understand the ins and outs of each campaign type so you can make informed decisions on what to use and when.

  • BoFu: When do you choose Search? Shopping? Performance Max? Or a mix?
  • MoFu/ToFu: When do you choose YouTube? Display? Demand Gen?
  • Consolidation vs. segmentation: what to choose when?

 

If you don’t understand the mechanics of each campaign type, you will make a lot of costly mistakes (resulting in overlapping targeting, poor performance, and cannibalization).

Without a proper campaign structure, your campaigns are fragmented and will fail.

Here’s a complete guide that shows you why consolidation is the key to success with Google Ads.

 

Reason 5 why Google Ads campaigns fail: you’re not targeting the right people.

You must deeply understand how targeting works with Google Ads. If you don’t, you will make a LOT of costly mistakes.

In order to target the right people, you must understand:

  • How do keyword match types work (especially Broad & Exact)?

  • What’s the difference between keywords and search terms?

  • Why does a search term get conversions via a Broad Match keyword,

    but it completely bombs when you add it as an Exact Match keyword?

  • How does targeting work in multi-channel, black-box campaign types like Performance Max and Demand Gen (and how does this impact and cannibalize on your other campaigns)?

  • How does Optimized Targeting work (a seemingly simple toggle that can truly ruin your. campaigns when used improperly)?

  • How does audience targeting work (what’s the difference between audience TARGETING and audience SIGNALS)?

  • What’s the role of Customer Match Lists on targeting/bidding?

  • How do Dynamic Search Ads work, and are they best used in ad groups or individual campaigns?

  • How does pMax target new vs. returning users?

  • What’s the difference in targeting between Video Action and Reach campaign?

Without the right audience your targeting is inaccurate and will fail.

 

Reason 6 why Google Ads campaigns fail: your ads don’t resonate with your audience.

This one speak for itself: if your ads don’t resonate with your audience, nobody’s gonna be interested in your products and services (which you can recognize by low CTRs).

Make sure there’s a message-to-market match (which you establish by speaking to your ideal customer’s pain points and desires).

Without resonating creatives Google Ads campaigns are unremarkable and will fail.

 

Reason 7 why Google Ads campaigns fail: your bid & budget management is inefficient.

Bid management is all about deeply understanding how Google’s Smart Bidding algorithm works.

What it comes down to is this: Smart Bidding uses hundreds, if not thousands of contextual user signals we can’t see to determine bids on the auction level.

Here are just a few examples of those signals:

 

Image Source: Google

 

Your only goal is to figure out how to make Google’s algorithm work FOR YOU, instead of AGAINST you.

βœ… If you understand how Smart Bidding works, everything falls into place.

❌ If you don’t understand how Smart Bidding works, you will make costly mistakes.

 

Most people are just guessing with their bid strategies, targets, and budgets… So deeply understanding how Smart Bidding works gives you a HUGE edge.

Smart Bidding is the connective tissue in your Google Ads strategy.

 

 

Your conversion tracking and data input, campaign structure, targeting, creatives, bid strategies, and budget management are all tied together by Smart Bidding.

It’s absolutely foundational to success with Google Ads, so take the time to DEEPLY understand how the algorithm works.

It will give you most of the answers you need to successfully launch and scale Google Ads campaigns.

Without the right bid & budget strategy, your campaigns are inefficient and will fail.

 

Reason 8 why Google Ads campaigns fail: your landing pages suck and CVR is low.

One of the most important pillars of success with Google Ads is your landing page.

By taking control of your clients’ landing pages, you take control of the entire customer journey.

You don’t have to be a CRO expert, and you don’t necessarily have to create your own landing pages…

But you MUST be able to challenge your clients if they don’t have an optimal landing page (which you can recognize by low CVRs).

Bob manages all the landing pages for his clients. Here’s an example of a B2C Lead Gen client with a 20% conversion rate (macro conversions = quotation requests).

 

 

That’s absolutely nuts.

I don’t know what the average conversion rate is for Lead Gen, but it’s nowhere near 20%.

Just imagine how much more you could help your clients if you increased conversion rates by 10-30%… Let alone 100-300%…

You can have:

  • Perfect offers.
  • Perfect conversion tracking.
  • Perfect goals & KPIs.
  • Perfect campaign structures.
  • Perfect targeting.
  • Perfect creatives.
  • Perfect bid strategies.

 

But it all doesn’t matter if your landing page sucks.

What happens AFTER the click often has a bigger impact on performance than what happens BEFORE.

So start taking control of your clients’ landing pages. You’ll do yourself a huge favor.

Without a conversion-optimized landing page, your campaigns leak and will fail.

 

How to make it simple for yourself to make sure your Google Ads campaigns don’t fail.

Let’s make it even more simple.

When it comes to success with Google Ads, you ultimately just want to know:

  • How can you make your offers irresistible?
  • What are your goals and KPIs?

  • Who is your target audience?

  • What does your ideal campaign structure look like to reach them?

  • How can you target your audience?

  • How can you write your ads to generate clicks?

  • How can you persuade users to convert on your landing page?

  • How are you going to set up your tracking so you measure as much as possible?

  • How are you going to let the Smart Bidding algorithm work FOR YOU,

    instead of AGAINST you (what bid strategies do you need to leverage)?

If you have the answers to these questions, it’s gonna be hard to make your campaigns fail!

 

Your call to action: use the framework to prevent your campaigns from failing.

You now know the 8 biggest reasons why your Google Ads campaigns fail. Success comes from doing all of the 8 pillars below well.

Remember: the “boring” fundamentals drive 80% of your results.

 

 

Put the framework into action today:

  1. Use the framework to diagnose your campaigns.
  2. See where you are lacking, and implement the fixes.
  3. Nail all 8 steps, and your campaigns will go from failing to succeeding!

 

 

A final note. 

Want our help mastering Google Ads, so your campaigns never fail again?

Then check out The PPC Hub, our membership for experienced Google Ads Specialists who want to be and stay on the cutting edge of PPC.

TLDR — you’ll get access to everything you need to confidently drive results with Google Ads:

  • Exclusive courses.
  • Exclusive resources.
  • Our community forum.

 

 

If you want to upgrade your skills and become the best Google Ads Specialist you can possibly be, then The PPC Hub is made for you.

Feel free to check it out and join us here.

 

And that’s all for today — I hope that was helpful.

Thanks for reading and catch you next week!

Cheers,

Miles (& Bob)

​



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