At our agency, we’ve heard the horror stories – companies pouring thousands into Google Ads only to see lackluster results. Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself, running campaigns in-house or hiring an agency but failing to get the return you expected.

Or maybe the mixed reviews have you wondering if pay-per-click (PPC) is even worth trying for your business. The truth is, Google Ads can be a powerful driver of leads and sales when executed properly. But they definitely aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

So, are Google Ads worth it? This article covers key questions to help you determine if PPC matches your specific goals and situation.

How Google ads campaigns work

Let’s start with a high-level overview of how Google Ad campaigns function from a process standpoint. This isn’t about what makes an effective campaign – just the basic mechanics of how things work:

  • Campaign setup: You set up a campaign by type like search, display, or video.

  • Targeting: Choose your target audience. You can use factors like demographics, location, interests, and search behaviors.

  • Ad creation: Create your ads. Google Ads lets you advertise on Google, YouTube, and other sites using the Google Display Network. If you are doing a search campaign, your ads typically include a headline, a URL, and a description.

  • Bidding: Google Adwords has a bidding system, so you’ll set a maximum bid amount you are willing to pay for a user to interact with your ads.

  • Ad distribution: Your ads get into an auction with similar ads. When a Google user types in a search topic or interacts with content related to your chosen keywords, the auction decides which ads to display based on relevance and bid amount.

When Google ads are worth it

Now that you know the gist of how Google Ads works, here are some questions to ask to see if this digital marketing channel is worth it for your business.

1. Do you know your marketing objectives for Google Ads?

A Google Ads campaign is worth it if you have specific, measurable goals that match what paid ads can achieve. This type of advertising works well if you need to increase website traffic, generate leads, or boost sales.

If you don’t have a clear strategy yet, running Google Ads might not be worth it—you could end up just burning through your budget.

2. Do you understand your cost per lead today?

If you are using other forms of paid advertising, knowing your cost per lead helps identify if the ad spend on Google is beneficial.

For instance, say you spend $1000 on postcards mailed to potential customers and receive 10 leads as a result. Your cost per lead is $100. Use this figure to compare the efficiency of your Google Ads campaign to see if your cost per lead is higher or lower with online advertising.

When you team up with an agency like REI Words, you get to see all the financial details upfront—like projected keywords, bid ranges, and different scenarios. This way, you can figure out if the cost per lead makes sense before your campaign even starts.

3. Do you have the right budget for Google Ads?

If you have a budget that can support testing and optimization without straining your finances, Google Ads can be worthwhile. It often takes some experimentation to find the right keywords, ad copy, and targeting options that work for your business.

During these initial logistics, you might get leads that are the wrong customer type in the beginning. If you don’t have the funds to cover testing costs, question Google Ads’ worth for your business.

4. Are you in a competitive market?

In highly competitive industries, Google Ads can be a way to get noticed, especially when established brands dominate organic search results. Ads can help level the playing field by helping more customers see your brand.

5. Do your customers have a high lifetime value?

Investing in Google Ads can result in strong investment returns if your products or services have a high customer value or significant margins. The initial cost of getting a customer through ads may be high, but the long-term benefits can outweigh these costs.

Consider advertising alternative investments, which typically appeal to high-net-worth individuals seeking portfolio diversification. For example, if you allocate $10,000 to a Google Ads campaign, and each new client invests an average of $300,000 at a 2% annual management fee, you would earn $6,000 per year from each client.

Assuming this campaign attracts just three new clients, you would generate $18,000 in annual management fees.

6. Do you need quick results?

We love search engine optimization (SEO), but it can take months to show results. If you need clients fast, Google search Ads can provide immediate visibility and quick feedback on your marketing efforts. Built-in tools like Google Analytics can help track real-time performance.

Google Ads campaigns can be great when you need quick results for specific promotions or new product launches.

7. Can you test and optimize?

Google Ads works best for businesses that are willing to test and optimize their campaigns on an ongoing basis. It supports A/B testing, which means running two versions of an ad at the same time to see which performs better.

This makes it easy to change the ad campaign to get the best results possible.

8. Do you know your target audience?

Google Ads’ advanced targeting capabilities make it worth the investment if you need to reach a specific audience. You can target by demographics, interests, geography, and even based on user behavior. This makes sure your ads show up for the most relevant potential customers.

9. Do you have a clear call-to-action (CTA)?

Are Google Ads worth it if you send people to your main website? You shouldn’t spend any money on ads if you don’t have a clear and compelling CTA. People have short attention spans, and if you don’t make this easy for them, they’ll bounce right off your site.

A good CTA guides potential customers to what to do next, like signing up for a newsletter, filling out a form, or calling you. Without this, you are throwing money down the drain with your ppc advertising campaign.

10. Do you have a good strategy to convert leads?

After someone clicks on your CTA, what’s next? Make sure you have solid strategies in place to keep the momentum going. This could be anything from following up right away or targeted remarketing to reel them back in if they leave your site.

The goal is to turn those initial clicks into actual customers as efficiently and quickly as possible.

11. Do you have expertise or can you hire professional help?

Google Ads are worth it if you have the expertise to manage campaigns yourself or choose to work with a qualified agency. If you want to teach yourself how to set up a Google Ads account and run a campaign, there’s a number of courses on Udemy that can be a good starting point.

Most businesses we work with simply don’t have the time — they’d rather be working on converting leads or business operations.

That’s exactly what we do at REI Words. We take care of everything from picking the perfect keywords and setting up your campaigns to creating landing pages that we fine-tune with A/B testing. We’ve got call tracking, analytics, and reporting all covered, too.

The best part is we don’t work in a bubble—everything we do is in sync with your business goals and other marketing efforts, like your social media and organic traffic strategies.

When Google Ads aren’t a good idea

If you answered our list of questions and feel like Google Ads might be worth it, consider also the drawbacks of this marketing strategy:

High cost

In competitive industries, the cost-per-click (CPC) can be high, making it difficult for smaller businesses to compete with larger companies that have larger marketing budgets. If you are in this situation, consider other paid ads that might work better for your business like shopping ads or social media advertising.

Complexity

Effective Google Ads campaigns can be complex to handle. Setting up, managing, and optimizing campaigns requires a good understanding of the platform, which can be a steep learning curve for many.

Time-consuming

Managing Google Ads effectively requires regular monitoring and optimization. This can be time-consuming because it involves constant adjustments to bids, ads, and keywords.

Budget burn out

If you’re not careful, your Google Ad budget can vanish fast, eaten up by high costs per click or ads that miss the mark. And if those ads aren’t hitting the right people, you’re just wasting money without seeing any real results.

Constant funding

You need to keep spending to keep the leads coming in with Google Ads. This is different than search engine optimization, which can keep producing leads long after you’ve stopped investing. Google Ads cuts off the flow of leads as soon as you stop putting money in.

Limited by Google’s policies

Google Ads must follow strict policies set by Google, which can limit certain types of content, especially ads related to healthcare, legal industries, and other sensitive areas.

Choosing an agency to help with your ad campaigns

If you decide to use Google Ads and you want to outsource to an agency, here are our best tips on things to look for:

  • Proven track record: Look for case studies and examples of successful PPC campaigns the agency has run for other clients and their ability to drive real results.

  • Transparent pricing: The agency should have a clear and upfront pricing structure, openly communicating costs, fees, and what services they include in their PPC management.

  • Data-driven approach: A strong agency uses analytics, reporting, and data insights to optimize and constantly improve your PPC campaigns’ performance.

  • Comprehensive strategy: Rather than just setting up random campaigns, a good agency will develop a comprehensive paid search strategy that aligns with and supports your overall marketing goals.

  • Project management: Choose an agency that has strong project management capabilities to keep your PPC campaigns organized, on schedule, and within budget. How do you vet this? Check out the quality of the proposal, the statement of work (SOW), and the mechanisms for keeping you updated.

  • Partnership approach: The best agencies take the time to understand your business, products/services, and target audience to create more effective campaigns.

  • Commitment to testing: Look for an agency dedicated to ongoing testing and innovation of ad copy, landing pages, audience targeting, and other elements to maximize results.

  • Integrated approach: The agency should be able to integrate your PPC efforts with other digital marketing channels, such as SEO and social media, for a cohesive overall strategy.

  • Responsiveness: You need an agency that communicates regularly and responds quickly to keep you updated on progress, performance, and any issues.

Are Google Ads effective?

The value of Google Ads comes down to your unique business needs and capacity. For some companies, a well-run PPC campaign represents an excellent channel for finding new customers.

For others, the costs and investment required make it not the best approach. Take a look at your marketing objectives, budget, audience, and ability to manage or pay for the management of campaigns.

If you see alignment with the questions we provided, Google’s advertising platform offers immense potential. But don’t move forward if it doesn’t seem like the right solution right now.

Constantly revisiting your marketing strategy makes sure you’re allocating resources to channels delivering the greatest impact.

Are Google Ads worth it? FAQs

Is Google a good way to advertise?

Yes, Google Ads can be highly effective, especially for targeting specific audiences and achieving quick visibility in competitive markets.

What is the success rate of Google Ads?

The success rate of Google Ads varies widely depending on factors like industry, budget, and campaign management. When optimized correctly, many businesses see significant returns on their investment.

Are Google Ads really effective?

Yes, Google Ads can be very effective, especially when you have clear goals, a well-defined target audience, and a strategy for optimizing your campaigns.