How Google Ads Time Of Day Performance Impacts ROI

How Time Of Day on Google Ads Affects ROI
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The Google Ads platform is an incredibly powerful tool. When used properly, you will be able to generate leads for your business at a manageable cost.

Of course, that is easier said than done. There are plenty of ways for you to err when trying to drive demand with Pay Per Click Advertising. If you spend too much for each lead, the whole venture will be a waste in the end.

To dial in your Google Ads performance nicely, you need to control as many variables as possible. Some of these variables are well known, such as cost-per-click, targeted keywords, and campaign structure.

But what about the time of day? Many marketers overlook this surprisingly important piece of the puzzle.

When Do You Get Your PPC Clicks?

Even if you are tracking a variety of metrics related to ad performance, you might not currently be monitoring the time of day when your clicks roll in.

According to research we recently performed at Service Direct, this could be a mistake. Our data suggested that time of day has a powerful correlation to conversion rate. As we all know, your most important goal is to turn those hard-earned clicks into customers.

The After-Hours Effect

After reviewing data that covered well over $1.5M in ad spend, we determined that clicks received after-hours were far less likely to convert than those that came through during the business day.

We set the cut-off time for ‘after-hours’ as 6:00 PM. This marks the end of our business day.

On the other end, we consider the business day to start again at 6:00 AM each weekday morning.

We found that clicks received during the 12-hours between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM were the least likely to convert.

  • We achieved a conversion rate of nearly 12% during the business day, and below 4% in the after-hours window.
  • The after-hours CPCs did decrease, but only modestly. In the end, our cost per conversion nearly doubled on traffic acquired overnight.
  • More than a quarter of all clicks came in after-hours, meaning a significant amount of spend took place in this window.

Take a Closer Look

Given the size of our sample for this research, we are confident that this information provides cause for any business to take a closer look at the performance of their after-hours ads.

The next step is to do just that – analyze how your ads are performing overnight.

We hypothesize that customers like to convert when they have the option of calling, which they cannot do overnight for businesses that do not run 24×7. Even when a business states that it is open 24-hours, some people still feel uncomfortable calling late at night.

So, they may click on your ad at midnight, for example, but may not feel right picking up the phone. Does this mean you should stop running your ads at night completely? Not necessarily.

Addressing the Problem

Before you give up on running late-night ads, try to make a couple of changes to see if your overall cost-per-conversion will improve to an acceptable level. For starters, simply lower your bids during these times of the day.

You might be able to get a similar number of clicks while driving down your cost-per-click – and your cost per acquisition as well.

Another approach is to change the ads that you show to your target audience once the business day is over.

For instance, your daytime ads may implore customers to call you directly – and your phone number will be displayed prominently on the landing page.

But that strategy isn’t so effective late at night when people are less likely to call.

Instead, you could request that they fill out a form for assistance.

This won’t require them to contact anyone live, so they’ll likely be more comfortable taking that action.

If this subtle change develops more leads from the same number of clicks, your conversion rate will jump up nicely.

Test, Test, Test

This may be a lesson you learned long ago, but it bears repeating here: You should be endlessly testing the performance of your marketing efforts.

One of the great things about marketing in the digital age is that there are so many different ways to experiment with ad performance.

Your marketing plan is never a finished product. There are always ways to spend less and earn more.

With regard to after-hours ads, you can get even more specific than dividing up the day into two, 12-hour windows.

Maybe the ads you run for your business perform nicely until around 10 PM before the conversion rate drops off. Or maybe they trail off even earlier in the day than the 6 PM cut-off we used in our research.

Whatever the case, there is no need to guess – dig deeply into the data and let it lead you to the right decisions.


All images provided by the author under his or her own license.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.

This guest post brought to you courtesy of Return On Now, Professional Austin SEO and PPC Services Company.

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Matt Buchanan

Co-Founder & Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct
Matt Buchanan is the Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, a technology company that offers local lead generation solutions for service businesses. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and is also the founder of RestorationEze.com. He has 15+ years of expertise in local lead generation, sales, search engine marketing, and building and executing growth strategies.

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