“It is wiser to find out than to suppose.” – Mark Twain.
As with most endeavours, paid search advertising presents opportunities to assume many things, from data quality to data measurement. These assumptions are easy to make, but can be disastrous to both your company’s and your own bottom lines.
Top 5 Worst Paid Search Assumptions:
Legacy data is bulletproof
Almost every new paid search effort follows upon the heels of someone else’s effort, which applies to both consultants as well as full-time-employees who are new to the position. An easy assumption to make in these cases is that legacy data is accurate, complete, and can be used as a baseline to measure future improvements against. In reality, there is usually a good reason why the newly responsible party is taking over the effort from someone else, perhaps due to underperformance of the paid search effort. In my experience, underperformance is more often due to inaccurate data quality or measurement rather than a lack of skill or efficiency of the predecessor.
Changes you’ve requested from IT are performed correctly
All pages are properly tagged for Google Analytics
In the old days (i.e. 6 years ago), you had to tag each website page individually with your Google Analytics tracking code. Then, you would have to tag individual conversion pages with separate GA conversion code. If your marketing efforts were more advanced, you would then need to create more code to fire events and virtual page views.As you can imagine, this is a lot to keep track of, and on growing websites, can lead to gaps in tracking or inconsistent tracking if new pages are not properly tagged. Google Tag manager ensures that all pages are tagged properly and can be used to create new event triggers or virtual pageviews without having to touch a single line of website code (read: no need to involve IT). Most CMS system themes ensure that the Google Tag Manager is placed on all current and new pages. The Google Tag Manager code itself can usually be added in a single place in the theme settings.
Paid Search traffic is tagged properly
Companies like Google and Microsoft make a lot of revenue and profit from paid search and it is in their best interest that the traffic generated from paying advertisers is properly tracked. However, even companies generating billions of dollars of advertising revenue have employees who are as fallible as anyone else who generates code [if debugging is the art of removing bugs from software, then programming must be the art of creating bugs]. A recent client’s Adwords account was improperly tagging about 20% of Adwords traffic as “Organic.” This particular issue was quickly resolved by the Adwords Support team, which involved a fix within the Adwords system itself.
What worked yesterday works today
The only constant in life is change. Whether it be the landing pages, the paid search keyword set, the ads, or the placements, never assume that what worked yesterday works today. Be sure to monitor your paid search campaigns on a daily basis to ensure that the ads are serving properly (i.e. the credit card associated with the account was able to be charged properly yesterday) and that the success metrics (Return of Ad Spend, Cost per Lead, etc.) are stable or continuing to improve. Also keep an eye on any content / ad / placement experiments that you have running to make sure that they’re still running as expected.