When we work with childcare center owners who want to run paid ads for the first time, they tend to be very excited about the process. Which we love! The only problem comes if that excitement leads to unrealistic expectations.

Maybe an owner has seen a friend run ads successfully, resulting in tons of new clients, so they set the same expectations for their own campaign. But they haven’t seen everything it takes to get started, or what the “messy middle” of an ad campaign looks like.

To learn what you can realistically expect when you start paid ads, read on.

Paid Ads: The Baseline Experience

A ton of work is required to ensure success even before running paid ads. You need the right landing page, the right ad copy, and the right keywords to target. If you decide to run Google Ads specifically, you’ll need to choose which ad type(s) to run, since there are several, and ad type affects the cost per click.

Once the ad campaign is up and running, there’s even more work to do. At the beginning of a campaign, Google won’t know anything about you or your target audience. You’ll have to teach it through daily optimizations.

Optimizing your ad in various ways every day trains Google’s algorithm to target your ideal customer. It’s a process that can take some time, but the results are worth it.

Some accounts experience a “honeymoon period” with their ads. At first, you see a great flood of leads. Then, usually after the second week, when optimizations kick in and the algorithm starts working correctly, lead generation levels out and you see a more consistent performance.

That’s the baseline experience with paid ads. As you can see, a lot of things need to transpire in order for your childcare center to see improvement.

If you really want to brace yourself for a realistic experience with paid ads, read on. We’ve included some specifics below.

Infographic: Let’s Get Real — How to Set Realistic Expectations for Your Childcare Center’s Paid Ads

The Reality of Paid Ads


For the most part, owners expect they’ll have a low cost-per-click — and when they see a cost-per-click upwards of $12, they’re shocked.

The average monthly budget of our childcare clients is about $800, meaning the daily budget is roughly $27 a day. The standard range for childcare owners’ cost-per-click is $8–12, leaving them a budget for two to three clicks per day. That’s when disappointment sets in.

Fortunately, because of our extensive experience with paid ad campaigns, we know how to maximize those budgets and minimize the cost-per-click.

Most people think there’s only one way to run Google Ads, when in reality there are eight different ad types, each with their own average cost-per-click range. What we’ve found is running a couple of different ad types together helps lower the average cost-per-click and stretch your budget.

That said, we won’t sugarcoat the truth: If you want to generate a lot more leads (more clicks), you need a bigger budget.


Owners often think impressions automatically lead to conversions. In reality, that’s not the case. We don’t actually want a ton of impressions. We want relevant impressions.

Many of our clients don’t realize that initially. They become concerned when they see their total number of impressions decreasing, but that’s what happens when you target relevant impressions. You don’t want 1,000 random people to knock on your door; you want 10 people who are interested in enrolling to knock on your door.

Since childcare is a local industry, casting a wide net doesn’t make sense and wastes an already limited budget. Targeting high-value leads is a much better use of your marketing dollars.


Link clicks and ad clicks are similar to impressions in that more doesn’t equal better. A high number of clicks isn’t indicative of a successful campaign.

You want to target clicks that have the most potential to convert and enroll — people who will make a phone call or fill out a form. That’s where the difference between cost-per-click and volume of clicks gets a little confusing.

What you really want is valuable clicks at a reasonable cost. But that takes great balance and a lot of strategy. Fortunately, we have the right expertise. We work with childcare centers with limited budgets, so we know how to be strategic and how not to waste money on irrelevant clicks.

Phone Calls or Contact Forms

If we’re targeting 1,000 people, we’ll see 1,000 conversions, right?

Not exactly. Most people we target are doing research, and if we target them properly, we’ll see reasonable conversions when our optimizations are completed.

A more realistic expectation would be 10 new leads per week, with about seven calls and three completed interest forms in one week. But again, this depends on your location, the number of competitors you have, and how difficult it is to target based on your needs.

For example, a childcare center that has 10 other competing schools within a seven-mile radius really has to compete for the attention of parents in the area searching for child care.

That’s why details like the right ad copy and the right landing page really matter. In order for you to compete and win those leads, those details need to be more compelling than your competitor’s.

Number of Enrollments

Once the new lead is qualified as a perfect fit, the responsibility for closing the deal shifts from us as marketers to you and your team.

We aren’t shirking responsibility here. The fact is, we can only take leads so far before passing the torch to your sales team. Then it’s up to them (and your sales process) to make that final conversion.

If you look at your metrics and see that you’re getting 15 qualified leads a week but only see a 5% conversion rate for enrollment, it might be time to look at your sales process. For example, are your phones being answered correctly? Are you losing money on unanswered phone leads?

That’s why we strongly suggest examining and streamlining your sales process before investing in advertising. It’ll save you from this unfortunate and unnecessary scenario.

Return on Ad Spend

Return on ad spend (ROAS) is a moving target, so it’s very difficult to set a consistent goal for it. It’s nice to see it going up month over month, but ROAS depends on the ad spend itself.

If the ad spend fluctuates, which it always does, ROAS will also fluctuate. Keep that in mind.

Our Monthly Reporting

When looking at monthly reporting for our clients, we can see averages for specific KPIs (key performance indicators) and metrics:

  • Cost-Per-Click: The average cost-per-click for Rose Marketing Solutions’ childcare clients is $2.50.
  • Leads Per Week: On average, each of our clients receives one qualified form submission and four qualified phone calls per week.
  • ROAS: We optimize for return on ad spend, of course, since the bottom line of advertising is to increase business and earn more money. The industry average is 350%, but for us, that’s on the low end.

Our clients usually see a ROAS of 600–1,200%. We’re proud of what we accomplish for our clients and how we apply our experience to optimize ad campaigns for them.

If you’re considering paid ads and would like to know exactly how we can maximize your return, contact us today. We’ll be glad to help!


Quote Card: Let’s Get Real — How to Set Realistic Expectations for Your Childcare Center’s Paid Ads


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