Paid digital advertising has changed dramatically over the first half of this decade. Recently, Google’s decision to eliminate the right-hand sidebar of paid ads has put pressure on competition for fewer places and click prices.

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Other mitigating factors include:

1. The evolving education of your digital audience

Online consumers are now more savvy. They use technology to ascertain social proof  prior to making a buying decision. They look for reviews of your business’s performance.

2. Price comparison

Comparing prices is increasingly easy online; more so than in brick-and-mortar institutions. Surveys indicate that a large percentage of in store customers actively search for affirmation on hand-held devices at the time buying decisions are made.

3. Confidentiality

If your website’s primary goal is to collect leads (not E-commerce transactions), then the visitor may have concerns about confidentiality. Will your privacy policy satisfy? Does your form carry mandatory fields demanding unnecessary, intrusive personal details? Does the visitor fear being harassed by sales calls?

Considerations for the online advertiser:

  1. The blanket usage of hand-held devices makes mapping the entire customer journey difficult. A consumer may complete a transaction directly or through organic, but your brand may have been discovered via a paid ad. Multi-channel funnels in Google Analytics may shed some light.
  2. Advertisers are now experimenting with paid ads on a multitude of social platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.) diverting market share away from Google AdWords.

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Here are a few best practices:

  1. Link your AdWords account to your Google Analytics (GA)
  1. Create multiple goal types in GA; some macro and some micro. Macro goals include completion of a purchase, and submission of a quote request form. Micro goals include events such as watching a video, and downloading a catalogue.
  2. Once set, import your GA goals into your AdWords
  1. Have your web developer integrate ‘dynamic values’ in your AdWords conversion tracking tag for your E-commerce shopping cart or booking engine
  1. If yours is not an E-commerce website, your goals are likely to focus on lead generation. If this is the case, assign a static dollar value to each goal/conversion type in GA
  1. Google Tag Manager (GTM) makes the whole process of tagging your website pages much easier. Open a GTM account, create the tags for GA and AdWords, then replace the GA script on your website with your new GTM script. (A website should ideally have one script or the other, but not both)
  1. One visit may not be enough, so it’s a good idea to create a ‘remarketing’ campaign with a small budget. Present a new, unique call-to-action and landing page for remarketing.
  1. Tracking phone calls may be a sleeping giant, particularly for advertisers whose main objective is lead generation. A typical ratio is 2:1, i.e. 2 phone calls: 1 online form enquiry. Some advertisers mistakenly force an online transaction onto an audience which is adamant to make a phone call first. Options include engaging third party call tracking. This may feature dynamically-created phone numbers associated with keywords and can be integrated with your AdWords account. If this is not feasible, manual records need to be kept by each sales person, and this is tedious.

Some closing observations:

1. Set realistic expectations

An Ecommerce shopping cart typically converts at 1-3%. A lead generation website typically converts at 3-5%. That means you first need to buy 100 clicks to achieve 1-3 sales or 3-5 leads.

2. Consider conversion rates

Considering the conversion rates in point 1. Is your average dollar sale value high enough to sustain the competitive click costs in your particular industry vertical?

3. Be flexible

Considering point 8 (above), be willing to change your website objectives from Ecommerce to lead generation; if that is what your audience demands.

4. Brand trust

If it doesn’t yield good ROI initially, your E-commerce shopping cart website might not be in vain. A new client with trust in your brand from the first transaction, may be happy to make subsequent purchases independently, online. Some advertisers offer returning customers discount incentives (via coupon codes) to facilitate this outcome.

The central message is that ROI now needs to be measured against a multitude of metrics, rather than a single direct action.