Paid Ads: How Long Should Your PPC Campaign Be Running to See Results?

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Most businesses choose to run PPC campaigns for their digital marketing strategies. In 2013, 72 percent of business owners preferred to invest in PPC campaigns instead of other strategies such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), while 34 percent of marketers believe it is one of the most effective tactics. These are not without reason: PPC visitors are 50 percent more likely to make a purchase from a business.

PPC is much faster than SEO, but it is also more expensive. It does not provide lasting results, unlike SEO which slowly builds your website’s ranking to the top, and once you stop paying, your website disappears from the top of search engine rankings. However, if optimized properly, its returns can offset the costs. The question now is how long should your business’ PPC campaign run for you to receive the best results?

A Minimum of Three Months

Pay per ClickThe length of your PPC campaign depends on various factors and your goals such as how much you want to achieve or what it is your ad is promoting. If you are starting your first PPC campaign or want to see basic returns you will need at least three months.

Despite being faster than SEO, you will still need a few months to optimize your PPC campaign. The clicks come almost instantly once your PPC ad runs, but building clicks and a click-through rate and developing your Quality Score (Google’s rating of your website based on your keyword and PPC ad to determine ad rank and your cost per click) will take time. To track your progress accurately and find out how to optimize your ad, you will need to collect data, which can take months; the more data you collect, the better you can optimize your campaign.

In the span of three months, your PPC ads will be subjected to data gathering, keyword analysis, reviews, and optimization. On top of the technical parts of running a PPC campaign, you will need to review your ad budget. Attaching more keywords to your ad or increasing the time your ads are up will require more money. Once your PPC campaign is optimized, you will want to consider increasing the budget to attract more clicks.

Extending Your Time

PPC campaignIt may take at least three months to build a profitable PPC campaign,  but if you want to get the most out of it, you may need to extend beyond that. The more time you allocate for data gathering, the more accurate your optimization can be, which in turn can provide better results and increased profit. However, this could mean that, on the first few months, you could be spending more on your campaign than what you are earning from it.

Opting for a nine-month campaign instead of three, for example, provides you with more time to gather data for optimization. You can spend the first few months observing relevant traffic and increasing visibility. After that, you can use the data to fine tune your keywords and test your results until you find the best option that provides the highest returns. Once your campaign is optimized, you can start improving your site to further increase conversion rates.

In some of these months, you may not be earning a profit. Months of data-gathering and budget increases may cause you to see months where there are negative or low profits. But if you are willing to wait it out, optimizing your ad will offset these loses and provide a higher profit.

PPC vs. Organic SEO

Despite these benefits, is PPC a much better option against organic SEO? This may depend on what you want your website to achieve.

PPC is ideal for businesses willing to constantly invest in paid ads over growing their SEO naturally. It is also the faster alternative for ads that need fast results. If your business has a seasonal promotion or an event that needs advertising, it is much more practical to use PPC than to build it up on SEO.

Organic SEOSEO, on the other hand, requires time and skill to get your business to rank high on search engines, but the results will last longer. It can be free, assuming you build the SEO yourself instead of hiring the services of a digital marketing agency, whereas PPC will definitely require money. However, the rankings are not permanent; should Google’s algorithm update and finds your website guilty of spam, black hat tactics, or other SEO strategies it does not like, your website may become invisible despite months of building. PPC, on the other hand, can protect your website against updates.

Optimized PPC campaignscan promise fast results and higher profits compared to other digital marketingstrategies. Businesses will benefit from choosing a PPC ad, but the time allocated to build these campaigns will affect its success. For the best results, you will need to allocate enough time for data collecting, keyword analysis, and optimization, which could take months and cost you potential profit. However, once improved, the ROI may offset the costs incurred.


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