Advertising is a tricky field. Just when you think that you know which ads customers and prospects will respond to, they turn on a dime. If you assume that people will act in any specific manner, it is best to test your theory with real data. And then constantly revisit your initial assumptions. Before you commit your hard-earned funds to a full-scale large-budget Adwords campaign, invest your time instead by testing your advertising message, channels and demographics on a smaller scale.

Fickle Whim of Adwords

Assumptions can cost you a lot of time and money, and with a Google Adwords campaigns this is extremely easy to make mistakes when you are operating from ill conceived assumptions. While we may theorize that specific terms, messages or demographics are the right choices, only real data from testing these theories can prove them true or false. In order to find the best message, channel or demographic for your ads, you can set up tests to compare and contrast actionable data and clickthroughs, opt-in rates, sales data or conversions for lead generation. Who knows you may hit it right the first time and that you’ll discover that your theories are correct; however, if they are wrong you can learn to correct the mistakes and bad assumptions before you start your large-scale campaign.

How to Test

Before you test, you need to be clear on your goals for the ad campaign. Each campaign should have specific, measurable goals such as generating leads, conversions or clicks. These goals can be tracked and measured for accurate results. Once your goals are clear, it is time to test. Testing will give you the confidence to know how your ad campaign will produce results. First, take a look at your competitors. Examine the tactics of the biggest competitors who have big budgets to spend on Adwords. Compare your ads to theirs. It is important to ensure that your product stands out as a unique item. Once you are ready to test, follow these steps:

  • Start with large concepts
  • Move on from concepts to details
  • Give yourself adequate testing time to collect enough data
  • Limit your test to one or two items per ad
  • Measure your data (clickthrough rate, conversion rate, your chosen goal)
  • Add any offline data into Adwords with the Adwords Conversion Import Tool
  • Analyze

You may discover that your favorite campaign concept has fizzled out while another concept is really taking off.

What to Test

For lead generation campaigns the goals are typically form fills and phone calls. On the form fills, ensure that you have Google Analytics Goals setup and that you also have an AdWords tracking pixel on the thank you page  For phone calls, use trackable phone numbers that are only seen when a user comes from an AdWords referral and tie these phone calls to Google Analytics Goals.

For e-commerce AdWords campaigns, not only should you track checkouts with pixel tracking but you need to feed the actual sale value and the product purchased back into Google Analytics and AdWords so you can track the Return on Advertising Spend. You should also be tracking sub-goals like opt-in rates for newsletters and phone calls generated via AdWords.