No matter where your business is at, goal setting is a fundamental component of any growth oriented strategy. When it comes to digital marketing in particular, performance based account management includes regularly recalibrating campaign targets based on new opportunities and variations in the market. It sounds simple, but it can be intimidating to get started or routinely check-in, and therefore it can be easily overlooked.
Many Google Ads users struggle to set goals that accomplish their larger business objectives. One of the reasons is simply that the platform can be tricky to understand. Without a firm grasp on how it works, it can be tough to know what sort of results to expect from campaigns, what to aim for, and how to evaluate performance. The bigger challenge of setting goals in Google Ads, though, is that it can be difficult to translate business objectives—like increasing the number of quality leads or decreasing the cost-per-lead—into choices about account structure, settings, and strategy. That’s why the key to setting successful goals is drilling down into the specifics of what you want people to do on your website after they’ve clicked your ads.
“How do I want users to engage with my site?” This question is so simple that it’s easy to overlook, but answering it is the first step to developing effective goals for your account. Because even though the function of Google Ads is to target active searchers and draw them to your website, your ultimate goal as a business is to turn those site visitors into paying customers. Depending on your business, this might mean you need site visitors to complete more online purchases, or to submit more contact forms or requests for quotes. It might also mean you need them to sign up to receive weekly emails with special offers. There really is no be-all end-all answer for what on-site actions you should care about, so take a step back, and consider what actions best align with your business. To help you get started, take a look at how these hypothetical businesses defined their goals with Google Ads.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
- What do I want users to do when they visit my website?
- What are my most popular products/services?
- What are my profit margins and how many sales do I need to turn a profit?
- How many of those calls or form submissions turn into sales?
Campaign Goals & Budgets
Once you’ve got a clear idea of the overall business objectives you want to accomplish, you can start setting more specific goals and budget within the platform. Although it can be intimidating to make these decisions, remember they’re just your starting point. Your goals and budget will need to be adjusted as your campaigns evolve over time.
If you already have an account, your own historical data is your best resource to create a baseline of what metrics to expect and how to improve upon them. And if you’re creating a new account, there are a number of tools you can use to set a new baseline for measuring performance. In either case, there are several key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll want to track.
Key Performance Indicators
Conversions: The most meaningful actions performed by a user on your website, often considered to be form or quote submissions, phone calls, or sales. Conversions are the key data points demonstrating campaign performance. Refine and control your conversion data further by tracking micro conversions and adjusting your conversion counting options to get an accurate story of how a click leads to a sale.
Conversion Rates: The average percentage of conversions per ad click. Conversion rates vary and change, depending on industry, so don’t get caught up in what you may be reading about “ideal” conversion rates. What’s important is identifying areas in your account that might be pulling rates down, making adjustments to those areas, and monitoring results.
Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA): The amount you pay for a conversion. In general, the more relevant your ads are, the more likely a user is to convert, and the lower your CPA will be. However, don’t be alarmed to see your CPA higher than your CPC—keep in mind that everyone who clicks your ad doesn’t go on to complete a conversion.
Conversion Value/Cost (ROAS): A measure of your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). This metric takes your conversion value and divides it by the total cost of your ad spend. Use this metric to calculate the effectiveness of your advertising dollars in generating new business. Don’t get ROAS confused with ROI (Return On Investment), though. While ROAS measures the direct return of your ad campaigns, ROI takes all overhead costs (like your time) into account.
The goals you set for these KPIs will depend heavily on factors related to your individual business and industry. If you’re creating a new account, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner to identify how much search volume you could expect from a given keyword as well as the average Cost-Per-Click. For example, let’s say a plumber wants to target the keyword “24 hour plumber.” Using the Keyword Planner, they find out that bids range from around $7- $45. They can make a mid-range estimate of $20/click and, given that a minimum budget should allot you at least 4 clicks/day, set a starting budget of $80/day to target that one keyword. If the user is new to Google Ads, the next step is letting your campaigns run for a short test period. Once the dust settles after a few weeks, it’s important to evaluate performance and decide whether to shoot for a higher goal with increased budget.
Follow the Money
If you already have a Google Ads account but aren’t sure whether your budget and KPIs are where they should be, focus first on the areas where you are spending the most money. These areas should be your most popular products or services, as well as products or services with the highest margins or best chance of showing a return. Make it a goal to improve efficiency of those costly campaigns by identifying your weakest KPIs and taking steps to improve them. To get started with this, compare the KPIs of your campaign against common benchmarks for your industry.
Now if you’ve only been tracking ad clicks—not on-site conversions—you won’t have the proof of sales needed to make major improvements to your campaigns. You’ll need to set up conversion tracking, but in the meantime, you can take advantage of the Search Terms Report, which shows exactly what keywords users search before clicking your ads. The Search Terms Report can be extremely helpful in determining where your budget can best be spent to achieve your goals.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
- Do I have accurate data in my account?
- What is the total campaign budget?
- What are my estimated CPCs?
- How many clicks does it take to generate one conversion?
- How much revenue do I need to make in order to break-even?
The results of your Google Ads campaigns always start with your goals. Given the dizzying number of variables you can customize and control within the platform, it’s essential that you have a clear vision of where you’re going. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up spinning your wheels and going nowhere. Remember, though, that the goals and budget you set now are just a starting point. Once your campaigns get rolling, you’ll need to continually reevaluate both.
Determine what on-site actions are most valuable to your business.
Ensure that you’re recording those actions through proper conversion tracking.
Establish KPI goals and budget levels based on your business, industry, and account’s historical performance.
Setting and reevaluating goals can seem like a tedious task, particularly when business is good, but the routine process is ultimately the cornerstone of continued campaign success. By establishing growth targets and areas of new opportunity, you’ll establish accountability and be set up to better adapt to market fluctuations and pivot when necessary.