Google Adwords provides a paid advertising vehicle that works in concert with Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a powerful and complex tool and it can be a goldmine of information and also a labyrinth of confusion. Those familiar with Google Analytics know the potential wealth of information that can be derived from it. They also know it can an overwhelming nest of configuration and interpretation options.
Most of us just look at the Analytics overview and make a judgement of good or bad. Adwords can be even more intimidating for the uninitiated. Not all of us are Adwords and Analytics experts and this should help.
One of our clients embarked on their first venture with Google Adwords and invested in a two month campaign with a combination of Adwords products. They used search result listings, display network ads and instream video ads. The dollar value is confidential.
The bottom line is did the investment in Google Adwords work? Did it deliver results, leads and increase business?
The answer is yes and…hard to say.
A quick glance at the results may produce a deceiving indicator of success. Most novice analytics users look at the quick summary numbers and will interpret more as better. More virtual foot traffic in terms of sessions and new users is good, right? Maybe not.
|Sessions||Users||Pageviews||Session Duration||Bounce rate|
|2 months prior||9,391||5,968||26,202||1:54||41.67%|
|2 month campaign||25,822||17,960||47,579||0:59||73.85%|
|2 months after||7,126||4,359||17,948||1:54||57.16%|
The sessions and users most certainly increased during the campaign and that is good isn’t it? One might think so however the numbers are derived from the global, unfiltered data which would include unwanted traffic from bots and spam referrals and from visitors potentially outside the target market or region. Let’s narrow the results to new users within the targeted geographic region which is important for a business or organization that requires a localized market.
|New users||Session Duration||Bounce rate|
|2 months prior||2,969||2:03||34.23%|
|2 month campaign||12,602||0:56||74.79%|
|2 months after||5,079||1:54||57.82%|
The campaign did increase traffic but 3/4 bounced off the landing page meaning that only 3,150 continue to look at other pages within the site. In other words the visitor poked their head in the door then promptly left. The lower session duration and higher bounce rate may indicate weak campaign results. Longer session durations mean visitors spend more time on the site and lower bounce rates mean visitors look at other site pages rather than immediately exiting from the landing page. A positive result was an increase in new users in the targeted region after the campaign ended.
Age and gender also determine the success of a campaign.
|2 months prior||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|2 month campaign||14%||27%||16%||14%||60.5% – 39.5%|
|2 months after||7%||30%||22%||15%||53.7% – 46.5%|
The client was not targeting the 18 to 24 year old segment but the campaign produced an increase which skewed the numbers for the 25 to 34 year old segment and the 45 to 54 year old segment. The 18 to 24 year old segment dropped by half after the campaigned ended but there was a residual increase in the 25 to 34 year old segment and the 45 to 54 year old segment. A tweak to campaign messaging and keywords would help fine tune the target market reach.
But was investing in Google Adwords a success?
The campaign was a success in so much that it did increase visitor however quality of traffic is more important than quantity of traffic; one buyer is more desirable than a hundred visitors who just look.
This is true for virtual and brick and mortar businesses be it product or service driven. Product sales or services used can be tracked before, during and after the campaign to measure success. If the campaign drives internet traffic to a website which in turn drives people to utilize a service then the location should track new and return visitors before, during and after the campaign.
Lesson One: Create additional views of the Google Analytics data with bot and spam referral filters in place so the results will not tainted.
Lesson Two: Learn how to connect the adwords campaign to analytics. If not then a Google representative (if you qualify by a minimum investment level) will create a separate account and the results will be displayed there instead of within the context of your main website analytics.
Lesson Four: Plan the campaign and what to track well before launch. If multiple locations are involved then each should be tracking product or visitor data well before the campaign launch. The goal is to have good a good picture of the business prior to advertising, what a campaign influenced during and if the campaign has residual influence afterwards.
Lesson Five: Plan and deploy a unique landing page which is not part of the visible website menu structure. This will result in data from campaign visitor traffic only and thus a measure of the potential success of the investment. A landing page should have an actionable item such as a link to a coupon or hyperlink sources to information within the site. The goals is to motivate visitors to do something.
Lesson Six: Create a campaign that attracts a quality of customer rather than a quantity of customer. This is subjective. A business may want to attract a high quantity of customers in hopes that the percentage that purchases is greater due to sheer number however that can, sometimes, be counterproductive. Advertising free beer for a baby clothing store may attract a lot of visitors but, most likely, little to no buying customers. This is a fundamental when choosing adword keywords. Generic words may be cheaper and attract a sizeable quantity of visitors but, perhaps, not many buyers. That is why specific keywords are more popular and have greater value.
Lesson Seven: Look at all of the numbers in context with each other and with what the goal was. A lot of visitors may be impressive but a high bounce rate can really mean a failed campaign.
Lesson Eight: Realize that it’s complicated. Sure. Shoot for the moon but be content if you hit the tall building the first time out.
Google Adwords combined with basic Google Analytics interpretation skills can be very useful and produce desirable results. As with anything web a pause to plan instead of click first and ask questions later is the best approach.