5 Reasons Why Your PPC Leads Are Not Converting

It’s all fun and games when your PPC account is running smoothly.

Campaigns are crushing their lead goal, at an efficient cost per lead nonetheless!

Then out of nowhere, you hear the clients’ dreaded words: “Our PPC leads aren’t converting. Why?”

In the client’s eyes, it’s easy to blame the PPC channel when something goes awry.

But as PPC managers (especially at an agency), we don’t always have the insight as to what happens after a user becomes a lead.

Below are a few key reasons as to why PPC leads aren’t converting.

(Spoiler alert – they’re more common than one might think!)

1. Disconnect Between Marketing & Sales Teams

A common observation in many companies: marketing and sales don’t talk to each other.

That is until there’s a problem and everyone’s pointing fingers.

The common sales cycle is expected to look like this:

Marketing Drives Leads –> Sales Team Expected to Convert

What isn’t shown or understood is everything that happens in between this process! (More on that in section 2).

This issue is like trying to peel back a huge onion – the ones that make you cry.

It may be an overwhelming concept to think about.

Below are a few questions that each team should think about to start the conversation and peel back that onion.

  • How long is the sales cycle actually?
  • When does the responsibility of leads transfer from marketing to sales?
  • Are there any key trends coming up in unqualified leads?
  • How long does it take for sales to contact an initial lead?

This is a more strategic concept that really doesn’t have anything to do with PPC, but the business as a whole.

2. Sales Cycle Timeline Is Longer Than Expected

Do you know your client’s average sales cycle timeline?

More importantly: have you ever asked your client how they have gotten to that conclusion?

I’ve seen this disconnect far too often in clients:

Sales cycle timelines are more based on assumptions than actual data!

Crazy, right?

The problem with not knowing a company’s average sales cycle can be a detriment to any PPC program.

Let’s break down an example here.

  • PPC program is expected to bring in 50 leads per month. Current results are hitting these goals.
    • The assumed sales cycle is 30 days.
  • One month later, the client says leads aren’t converting and threatens to take away marketing budget (or worse, find another agency).
    • Basically, the leads aren’t quality in their eyes.
  • After multiple meetings, panicked phone calls, and lots of late-night digging, the client comes to find this:
    • The actual sales cycle is closer to 60-90 days.

The outcome of this discovery: this doesn’t have anything to do with PPC (again).

Now that there’s a data-driven model, where do you go from here?

The key is to reset expectations in the PPC program. For example:

  • If a PPC program brings in 50 leads one month, the actual conclusion of quality leads won’t be known until 60-90 days after
  • If a client is asked to increase budget by 50% overnight, the volume of leads will likely increase. That doesn’t mean the sales cycle timeline speeds up as well.

This section is in direct correlation with point #1.

There will always be a responsibility transfer from Marketing to Sales.

The key is to set realistic expectations with each team. More importantly, communicate results, and often.

3. Sometimes, Budget Is the Main Issue

When was the last time your client audited their unqualified leads?

I recently went through this exercise with a client. We looked specifically at PPC leads because the team was told they were unqualified.

Are you sensing a theme here yet?

The results found were staggering:

  • 85% were unqualified due to “budget”.
  • 10% were unqualified due to no contact/follow-up from the sales team. (What?)
  • 5% were unqualified because the company wasn’t a good fit.

The year is 2020 and times are weird.

While many companies may truly be interested in a product or service, they simply may just not have the budget right now.

Is that a reason to unqualify those particular leads?

A strategic shift could be to categorize these leads in a “budget issue” category.

When business returns to normalcy, these companies previously deemed as “unqualified” may become your best customers.

The key is to follow up if budget truly the only issue.

Another strategic shift could be to look at your pricing model.

If a majority of leads are unqualified due to budget, it could be an indicator of market perceived value.

Again, this is a time to look at all available avenues.

4. High-Volume Keywords Are Driving Ineffective Leads

Quantity doesn’t always mean quality.

It’s easy to tell clients when campaigns are going well and hitting lead volume goals.

But when they drop the bomb that leads aren’t converting, it’s time to take a deeper look at campaigns.

When digging into PPC campaigns, it’s easier to find an outlier if there are a few keywords driving the majority of your leads. Start there.

If a campaign is bidding on generic, high-traffic keywords, the problem could be the keyword itself.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the keyword too broad in nature?
  • What is the intent of the search?
  • Who’s my target audience?

Sometimes making simple shifts to the target audience in Search campaigns can yield effective results.

For example, say your campaign is bidding on the term “industrial double-sided tape”.

While your audience is likely a B2B manufacturer, a query like that is bound to get many consumer impressions and clicks.


Because Google will show that ad to anyone who searches the query, regardless of intent.

It is up to your targeting parameters to narrow who sees the ad for this query.

While the quantity of leads may decrease, the quality is likely to increase.

Find additional ways to improve demographic targeting.

5. Sometimes, a Company Just Isn’t a Good Fit

There will always be leads that just aren’t a good fit for the client.

No PPC program should be expected to drive 100% qualified leads.

It’s just not possible with today’s automation in PPC campaigns.

In relation to point #4, it’s always a good idea to re-evaluate the keywords a campaign is bidding on to improve the efficiency of an account.

Go back to the basics and review original keywords.

Has the industry changed in recent months or years and keyword relevancy changed?

Are there other ways users are searching for your product or service that you’re not bidding on?

By shifting keyword strategy to lower-volume, high-intent searches, this could lead to more high-quality leads.

Pulling It All Together

When a channel is responsible for driving quality leads but failing to do so, it’s easy to panic or place blame.

What isn’t always easy is taking a step back to evaluate all options.

Better questions lead to better answers.

By asking better questions with your clients, it can lead to untapped opportunities.

It’s a chance to understand the business better.

Ultimately, these types of questions make you an invaluable asset to your client.

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Image Credits

In-Post Image: Forrester Research, Inc.