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Google AdWords: How to Set a Baseline

Posted on 14th Apr 2016 by David Ogletree

If there’s anything AdWords users don’t put to good enough work for themselves, it’s tracking. Whether we’re talking about goal tracking in analytics, using conversion tracking on thank-you pages or call tracking, it’s always surprising how many AdWords analysts and businesses don’t make use of this technology.


If you’re not tracking conversions, you truly have no way of knowing how well your ads are doing. Guessing simply isn’t good enough. Filtering traffic isn’t good enough. Success ROI is important to understand. The best way to script out your ROI is to know which of your marketing efforts is bringing in the return.


Benchmarking is important because it gives you a solid idea of what your expectations are. If they’re not being met month after month, despite frequent and well-thought decisions to your AdWords account, your expectations could be the problem. However, the vast majority of businesses and consultant we work with don’t have benchmarking in place at all. They don’t know how to have a conversation about ideal metrics because they don’t know how to start gathering them, much less have any idea what they should be from month to month.


Aim for a 2% conversion rate – okay, but in what industry? How do you know what the right conversion rates are?


Other websites have fortunately done this work for us. Take a look at Marketing Sherpa’s conversion rate table by industry.  https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/chart/average-website-conversion-rates-industry



Rather than guessing, know what numbers to aim for and set a baseline. If you already have conversion and goal tracking in place, you should be able to determine that baseline right now without a lot of heavy lifting. Set up 30 days to test your current conversion rate baseline without making many changes to your AdWords account, then start your experiments to increase that baseline after the initial 30 days.


If you need help with determining what conversion rates are best for your particular vertical or business, definitely talk to us. Don’t just take Sherpa’s word for it – there are special situations including being part of a start-up or new idea that could affect your conversion rates out of the gate. Every situation is different, so in all cases it’s best to talk to a qualified professional about how your unique situation sets itself up against popular industry verticals.

Additionally, make sure you're not taking those start-up metrics too seriously. Adwords takes a little time to settle steadily on quality scores. You also don't want to make too many changes too quickly. Between ads, ad groups and keywords, making one change right after another could exhaust your account quickly. AdWords takes time to push things through its algorithm, so make changes slowly and deliberately, getting feedback from the first round of changes before you perform another.


And most of all, if you aren’t tracking conversion metrics, get that started now! This is another thing we can teach or help you with if you don’t know how to go about it. Strategy is everything!

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