I do not want to tell you how many times I have had this conversation, so after it happened three times this week I thought this topic would make a good article. In the US Army they call this a SIW which is a “Self Inflicted Wound” and the cure requires time and faith.
Adwords does not typically restart in line with your expectations. This comes as a surprise to some, but it is very predictable. When you take a well performing account and shut it down it seems to stop almost instantly but when you restart it takes a fair amount of time to get back up to speed. The reason for this is the pipeline effect in your traffic caused by what we call “Be-Back Traffic.” Be-back traffic is a visitor that visits your site from your ad and they will be-back to respond later. The better the web experience you provide the higher your be-back traffic can be.
Web site traffic is not a singular event. Traffic is made up of multiple layers and this is what causes the pipeline effect. Each day your Adwords run you get some immediate reaction but you also get some from prior days and these layers build up over a period of time. Traffic follows a predictable bell curve and the pipeline effect is caused by overlaying tails from the bell curve. The length and volume of the tail varies by business and the web experience. The chart below shows what one day might look like. It has a very high first day response and it falls quickly but it does have a residual tail.
When you layer the data for multiple cycles, the traffic builds then flattens out and this plateau is where most Adwords Accounts are when the daily spend is consistent over a period of time.
When you remove a block of days from the data, here is what the data look like but let’s talk about what this feels like from a business perspective. The day it stops everyone is expecting it to drop instantly so the little bit that continues is just a little good news in the mix with lots of bad news. When the account comes back online it does not instantly jump back because it has to rebuild the base. This rebuild takes time and during this time conversion costs spike because the expense starts immediately but the revenue lags.
Some web sites are designed as a one visit experience and they either get the order immediately or they do not. In those cases the pipeline effect is very small and might not even be noticed, but the vast majority of businesses are not like that. The sites that are like this, generally speaking, will have very high levels of paid traffic and will respond in both directions much faster. For those sites where return traffic is very high the rebuild time can be very long.