B2B Marketing
Lead Generation

4 Common Reasons PPC Campaigns Fail and How to Avoid Them

Published by in B2B Marketing

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing can be a fantastic way to generate leads and grow your business. However, without the proper perspective or preventative measures in place, PPC campaigns can fail rather easily.

To those B2B software companies currently in the throes of a murky PPC campaign (or series of campaigns), I feel your pain. The good news is that by correcting a few simple mistakes, or modifying a few internal processes, you can set your campaign back on track.

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Below, I’ll explore four of the most common reasons PPC campaigns fail and how your team can avoid them, so that you can continue to spend your precious marketing budget with confidence.

1. Driving traffic to a URL that isn’t optimized for lead conversion

The first indicator of an unhealthy PPC campaign is a poor conversion rate. This means you’re getting a low percentage of billed clicks to submit their contact information.

If the campaign is generating substantial click activity, but none of those clicks are requesting a follow-up, then you’re wasting your PPC spend.

Conversion rate on a channel such as Google AdWords or Capterra depends heavily on a page’s ability to convert clicks into form submissions. Whether that page is a general website or a dedicated landing page, it needs to demonstrate the value of the product in a clear, concise manner and present next steps for product exploration in an equally clear manner.

Consider the mind of a potential buyer who is researching many different solutions. That potential buyer wants to:

  1. Confirm that a particular product can solve his/her problems, and
  2. Understand the next steps for interacting with the product.

And all within a short period of time, as 55% of clicks will spend less than 15 seconds on a particular page! Don’t expect that potential buyer to hunt around for this information – make it as easy as possible for them to find exactly what they’re looking for.

If your company has seen consistently low conversion rates from PPC (under 2%), ask yourself whether your pages have compelling, benefits-focused copy that correlates to your keywords, as well as if your pages have an easily identifiable “conversion path.” If you are looking to increase conversion rate to Capterra’s site-wide average (6-8%), check out this blog post on the benefits of stand-alone landing pages.

2. Not spending enough up front

Companies engaging in their first PPC campaign are normally concerned about up-front spend. Why start spending substantial funds on a PPC channel that hasn’t proven itself yet?

The answer is traffic volume. The faster your team can get some performance data, the faster you can make tweaks to optimize bids, page design, and ad copy.

Too often, companies will abandon a PPC campaign for lack of leads generated when the corresponding click volume is too low to assess performance accurately.

For example, let’s say your PPC campaign has been running for two months, and has generated 15 clicks and zero leads at a $3 cost-per-click. If the next click converts, that campaign would then boast a ~6% conversion rate and $48 cost-per-lead. The campaign might then run for another few months, producing no conversions, and then produce three in short order.

Point being, with such low click volume, the campaign will generate conversions sporadically, rendering any kind of monthly performance assessment impractical due to insufficient data. At this rate, the company would need to wait at least 6-8 months before having enough data to judge conversion rate, cost-per-lead, and lead quality.

We’ve all heard the saying “spend money to make money.” Of course, don’t spend your entire marketing budget in a month, but allot enough funds to make data-driven decisions within the first 2-3 months.

If you’re wondering how much to bid, considering company-specific metrics like close rate and lifetime value of a new customer, try using our free PPC bid calculator tool.

3. Not tracking by lead source specifically

Imagine you’re a Sales Director looking at a pool of leads generated last month. Your marketing team is currently running two PPC campaigns that are driving traffic to the same page. Your CRM report shows a number of leads generated from that URL, but there’s no way to see which campaign produced which leads.

In such a scenario, linking a specific channel to concrete ROI is impossible. One or both of those PPC campaigns could be producing high quality leads; one or both of those PPC campaigns could also be producing poor quality leads. Without any way to differentiate between channels, you’re allocating marketing budget blindly.

Capterra’s Client Success team would agree that the inability to tie revenue back to referring source is probably the most common reason PPC campaigns fail. A campaign’s click-to-lead conversion rate could be 10% or higher, but if none of the leads become sales, it’s still a failing campaign.

Fortunately, tracking leads through the sales funnel is relatively easy, and that process starts with having unique URLs for each of your PPC channels. Implementing a dedicated landing page, customized to each specific campaign, is another great strategy.

If you’re looking to use the same page (or website) across all channels, adding a custom tag to the end of the URL will differentiate the lead from other versions of that link.

From there, you should integrate each custom URL with your CRM. So when someone submits the lead capture form, the CRM will segment the lead by referring URL. As promising leads progress to revenue opportunities and closed business (hopefully), the sources of those leads will be clear.

4. Inadequate lead follow-up

I recently spoke to a business that encourages their sales reps to call prospects within ten seconds of receiving a sales lead (during normal business hours).

As a result, these reps have a 400% better chance of creating that contact when compared to reps who wait 10 minutes before calling, according to an infographic from the Harvard Business Review. The same infographic suggests that sales leads typically do not receive enough follow-up (fewer than six touches) or no follow-up altogether.

For leads generated via PPC, calling quickly and following up persistently will increase the number of opportunities you create. Ultimately, close rate will determine the success of your PPC campaign. If your team hasn’t been closing enough leads from any channel, examine your sales process in light of Harvard’s research. For sales and marketing teams that are short-staffed and cannot follow-up on leads aggressively, marketing automation can help you generate that immediate first touch by using individual nurture tracks.

The same principles are applicable to SaaS companies that market a free trial on PPC channels. SaaS companies that proactively communicate with their free trial users will increase the likelihood of those users succeeding with (and purchasing) the product. Check out this guide to SaaS sales follow-up, which suggests that free trial users should receive an introduction, an overview of payment, and some sense of purchase urgency prior to the conclusion of their trial.

Your turn!

Feel free to share any other common, avoidable issues that you’ve seen with PPC campaigns in the comments section below. Capterra’s Client Success team is always happy to chat.

Looking for Campaign Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Campaign Management software solutions.

About the Author

Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones

Andrew is a Marketing Adviser for Capterra and works with hundreds of B2B software companies to optimize their PPC marketing campaigns across both Capterra and its partner site, GetApp. Outside of Capterra, Andrew likes to play sports, travel, and spend time with his family and friends.


Comment by Ruth Gibbs on

Well , I’d like to thank the author for helping me understand about the careful points in PPC to avoid the campaign failure.

Comment by Emma Williams on

Thanks for sharing these useful tips on PPC campaigns. It is very helpful for me in running my ppc campaign successfully


Comment by Chintan Jain on

I see most companies start with their PPC budget and end up in losses and they fail to implement some basic criteria’s for LeadGen.

Thanks for sharing.

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