Launching a digital media campaign? Here's an essential pre-launch checklist
It's easier than ever to launch digital ads on sites like Facebook, Google and Bing. Their self-serve platforms were created with small advertisers in mind. But whether you plan on spending $500 a month on digital ads or $50,000 - there are some essential steps you should take before you flip the "on" switch to make sure you get the most out of your budget, no matter its size.
Establish your goals
Before you launch a single paid ad, you should have a clear goal - or list of goals - that are directly tied to your campaigns. These goals should naturally compliment your overall business objectives (e.g., increase revenue, improve customer engagement, grow your business, etc.) But goals from paid media should be tied to concrete performance metrics rather than general statements of desired achievement. Also - and this is a big one - your media goals should align with whatever actions you want users to take on or from your website. If you want to get more qualified leads into your sales pipeline, then you should have or more ways for prospects to do this via your site (hint: a simple Contact Form isn't going to cut it for prospects higher up on the sales funnel).
Here are a few example of incentives that can be tracked and as goals in Google Analytics or whatever tracking platform you use.
Webinar registration (great for B2B prospects or complex, longer sales cycle B2C goods and services
Free info kit/case study/whitepaper
Contact form with a hook (e.g., Request a personalized demo/evaluation/consult)
Free consultation (a great twist on the standard "Contact" form)
Free trial (for subscription-based services - try to avoid forcing people to enter their credit card info, if possible)
Google Analytics (GA) makes setting goals easy. Just click on "Admin" when you log into your GA account (located at the bottom left side of the screen), then select "Goals" from the third column.
Set realistic expectations
Perhaps as important as goal-setting is understanding what you can realistically expect from paid media. Less than 8% of B2B product sales are closed online compared with 15% of B2C products, so if you're a B2B company that expects to close a majority of sales directly from your ads, then your digital media campaign will definitely disappoint you. There are a few ways to help set your expectations when it comes to paid media.
First and foremost - know your market and your customer. How many registrations can you realistically expect to get from your advertising efforts? What kind of incentive does your customer respond to? What percentage of your market can you reach online with your given budget? All of these things factor into the hard numbers - total sales, total revenue, total leads (per week/month/quarter), etc. Google and Facebook both provide tools to can help you understand reach and cost prior to launching a campaign. Don't be shy about using them, but always keep in mind that these are estimates - you'll get a much better sense of what your expectations should be once you have actual data from a live campaign to review.
One other way to help set expectations is to know what the key metrics are in your industry. Wordstream publishes benchmark reports which feature industry-specific benchmarks for four key metrics: clickthrough rate (CTR), average cost per click (CPC), average conversion rate (CVR) and average cost per action (CPA) on Google and Facebook.
These reports will help answer simple, but important questions like, "What is a good CTR on Facebook"? (spoiler: the average CTR on Facebook across all industries is .90%). Since metrics can vary a lot depending on industry, it's important to familiarize yourself with your industry's key metrics so you can set your expectations accordingly.
Set up goal tracking
Once you have your goals in place, it's important to set up tracking by the time of launch. This is relatively simple if you're just running ads on Google since you can link your Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts. Here are the high level steps you need to take to do this.
Tracking your Google Ads account
Make sure your Google Analytics admin login email and Google ads admin email are the same
Navigate to the ADMIN section of Google Analytics and select "Google Ads Linking" from the center column beneath the "product linking" header
Select "New Link Group"
If your login emails are the same, you should see your Google Ads account in this section - select it to link the accounts
Log into Google Ads and turn on auto-tagging (under settings/account settings)
Import your goals from Google Analytics into Google Ads. Here's four minute video on how to do that.
Tracking Facebook Ads and other media
If you're running Facebook ads, email campaigns, native advertising or just about any other kind of digital media that contains a link back to your website or landing page, then you can tag your destination links with utm code which will be tracked in Google Analytics. This enables you to monitor goal performance from just about any digital media campaign easily. Bing even has an auto-tagging option which you just need to switch on and you're done! Google's UTM Builder is free and easy to use and makes setting up utm codes a snap.
Tracking phone calls
There are many different types of businesses that get more phone leads than form leads. Healthcare websites, sensitive topical sites like divorce lawyers and mediators, and B2B companies with complex products and services that have long sales cycles are just a few.
While you can track calls from ads easily in Google Ads, it's advisable to use a company like Call Tracking Metrics which enables you to not only track each different media vendor separately, but also listen in on the calls so you can monitor lead quality and identify any issues with your ad campaigns that may show up on the calls (e.g., you're offering a promotion that the customer service representative doesn't know about).
Many call tracking tools include the ability to monitor calls as goals in Google Analytics (including Call Tracking Metrics). This is a great way to measure the effectiveness of your ad campaigns definitively by attributing calls directly to a given vendor.
Now you're ready for launch
Now that you've gotten all the pre-launch preparation out of the way, you're ready to flip the switch on your ads. You'll be glad you set up goals and tracking when you're sitting down to review your initial campaign performance armed with the data you need to optimize your campaigns and get the most out of your media budget.