Make sure to set up proper tracking
Credit: J.M. Dooley
It’s easier than ever to launch digital ads on sites like Facebook, Google, and Bing. Their self-serve platforms were created with small advertisers in mind. But whether you plan on spending $500 a month on digital ads or $50,000, there are some essential steps you should take before you flip the “on” switch to make sure you get the most out of your budget, no matter its size.
Establish Your Google Analytics Checklist Goals
Before you launch a single paid ad, you should have a clear goal — or list of goals — that are directly tied to your campaigns. These goals should naturally compliment your overall business objectives (e.g., increase revenue, improve customer engagement, grow your business, etc.)
Goals from paid media should be tied to concrete performance metrics rather than general statements of the desired achievement. Also — and this is a big one — your media goals should align with whatever actions you want users to take on or from your website.
If you want to get more qualified leads into your sales pipeline, then you should have more ways for prospects to do this via your site (hint: a simple contact form isn’t going to cut it for prospects higher up on the sales funnel).
Here are a few examples of incentives that can be tracked as goals in the Google Analytics checklist or whatever tracking platform you use:
- Free info kit/case study/white paper
- Webinar registration (great for B2B prospects or complex, longer sales cycle B2C goods and services)
- Contact form with a hook (e.g., Request a personalized demo/evaluation/consult)
- Free consultation (a great twist on the standard “contact” form)
- Free trial (for subscription-based services — try to avoid forcing people to enter their credit card info, if possible)
Google Analytics (GA) makes setting goals easy. Just click on “Admin” when you log into your GA account (located at the bottom left side of the screen), and then select “Goals” from the third column.
Image Source: Google Analytics
Set Realistic Google Analytics Setup Checklist Expectations
Understanding what you can realistically expect from paid media is as important as establishing goals. For example, less than 8% of B2B product sales are closed online compared with 15% of B2C products. So if you’re a B2B company that expects to close a majority of sales directly from your ads, then your digital media campaign will definitely disappoint you. There are a few ways to help set your expectations when it comes to paid media.
First and foremost — know your market and your customer. How many leads can you realistically expect to get from your advertising efforts? What kind of incentive does your customer respond to? What percentage of your market can you reach online with your given budget? All of these things factor into the hard numbers — total sales, total revenue, total leads (per week/month/quarter), etc.
Google and Facebook both provide tools to help you understand reach and cost prior to launching a campaign. Don’t be shy about using them, but always keep in mind that these are estimates — you’ll get a much better sense of what your expectations should be once you have actual data from a live campaign to review, so plan a two-to-three week learning period into your campaign timeline if at all possible.
One other way to help set expectations is to know what the key metrics are in your industry. Wordstream publishes benchmark reports that feature industry-specific benchmarks for four key metrics: clickthrough rate (CTR), the average cost per click (CPC), average conversion rate (CVR), and the average cost per action (CPA) on Google and Facebook.
These reports will help answer simple but important questions like, “What is a good CTR on Facebook?” (Spoiler: the average CTR on Facebook across all industries is .90%)
Since metrics can vary a lot depending on the industry, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your industry’s key metrics so you can set your expectations accordingly.
Set Up Google Analytics Audit Checklist Goal Tracking
Once you’ve established your goals, it’s important to have your tracking in place by the time you launch your media. This is relatively simple if you’re just running ads on Google since you can link your Google Analytics checklist and Google Ads accounts. Here are the high-level steps you need to take to do this.
Tracking Google Ads performance
- Make sure your Google Analytics admin login email and Google Ads admin email are the same.
- Navigate to the ADMIN section of Google Analytics and select “Google Ads Linking” from the center column beneath the “product linking” header.
- Select “New Link Group.”
- If your login emails are the same, you should see your Google Ads account in this section — select it to link the accounts.
- Log into Google Ads and turn on auto-tagging (under settings/account settings).
- Import your goals from Google Analytics into Google Ads. Here’s a four-minute video on how to do that.
Tracking Facebook Ads and other media
If you’re running Facebook ads, email campaigns, native advertising, or just about any other kind of digital media that contains a link back to your website or landing page, then you can tag your destination links with UTM code that will be tracked in Google Analytics. This enables you to monitor goal performance from just about any digital media campaign.
Tracking phone calls
There are many different types of businesses that get more phone leads than web-based form leads. Healthcare websites, sensitive topical sites like divorce lawyers and mediators, and B2B companies with complex products and services that have long sales cycles are just a few.
While you can track calls from ads easily in Google Ads, it’s advisable to use a company like Call Tracking Metrics. This company enables you to not only track each different media vendor separately but to also listen in on the calls so you can monitor lead quality and identify any issues with your ad campaigns that may show up on the calls (e.g., you’re offering a promotion that the customer service representative doesn’t know about).
Many call tracking tools include the ability to track phone calls as goals in the Google Analytics checklist (including Call Tracking Metrics). This is a great way to measure the effectiveness of your ad campaigns definitively by attributing calls directly to a given vendor.
Now You’re Ready for Launch
Now that you’ve gotten all the pre-launch preparation out of the way, you’re ready to launch your ads. You’ll be glad you set up goals and track when you’re sitting down to review your initial campaign performance armed with the data you need to optimize your campaigns and get the most out of your media budget.