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How to get your Google AdWords campaigns ready for 2015

Do you feel like there’s a lot you should be doing to improve your Google AdWords account in 2015, but not sure where to start? Have you been wincing at the number of Google AdWords announcements, new features and best practices that have been steadily piling up throughout last year? Are you finding it hard to prioritise which new features you should be implementing, and which changes you may have missed?

To help the busiest of our readers get their Google AdWords campaigns ready for 2015, we’ve compiled a quick and handy list of:

  • loose ends you should be tying up from last year; and
  • important features to look into in 2015 to drive the most value from your account.

Here are our top tips on getting your Google AdWords account on track and ready for 2015!

1. Resolve to make 2015 the year you go beyond last-click attribution

Google Analytics Multi-Channel Funnel and Attribution Modelling reports have been around for a long time (see a guide to multi-channel funnels that we published in 2011), however many of us are still looking at the default conversion numbers in Google AdWords and Google Analytics. Unless the vast majority of our customers are converting in the same session as they click on our Google AdWords ad, last-click attribution will provide a misleading picture of your campaigns’ ROI. In addition to our blog series, Avinash Kaushik has a great introduction to attribution models that’s a good starting point. The bottom line is that these reports are just a few clicks away in Google Analytics.

2. Review your 2014 performance and adjust budgets if necessary

If you haven’t done so already, run an analysis of all your campaigns for the 2014 calendar year. The report that’s going to give the most information (with our resolution in mind) is the Model Comparison Tool broken down by Google AdWords campaign name. This can be used to determine the full impact of each campaign on your marketing mix and will help make budget decisions for the new year:

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Remember to take advantage of shared budgets (ie. budgets that can apply to multiple campaigns) for ease of management:

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3. Make 2015 the year you track micro conversions

If your Google AdWords campaigns are opted to receive mobile traffic, chances are that this traffic will behave differently on your website. If your mobile audiences are more likely to be using your site to research your product and services, but returning to convert on another device, you will see misleadingly low conversion data for mobile devices, even in Attribution Modelling reports. The solution to this is to make sure you’re tracking all the relevant user actions for all devices. For mobile this may include secondary actions like performing a product search or emailing a coupon to themselves. If you are using Google Tag Manager (if not, we have a blog series to get you started), these can often be quite easy to implement and may not require any coding changes on your websites. They will also ensure that your conversion reports have full data which you can use to optimise for mobile traffic (which depending on your industry may reach non-mobile traffic in 2015).

4. Review the relevance of your ad copy

It’s easy to get into the pre-Christmas frenzy of marketing items that must be completed before the end of year, only to have inappropriate messaging once the year rolls over. Make sure that you don’t have any outdated promotions, references to 2014 or incorrect seasonal text in your copy. One easy way do this is using a search in AdWords Editor:

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5. See if you need to make your description line 2 independent

In September 2014, Google announced that in order to make mobile ads more relevant, it may sometimes show your ad extensions instead of your description line 2 (since space on mobile is limited). This means if you were taking advantage of the full 70 characters by having a single sentence run across both description lines, that sentence may now be cut off on mobile devices. The easiest solution is to rewrite your ads so that both descriptions lines form a complete sentence and that your ad still retains meaning if line 2 is not shown.

Once again, the easiest way to do this is AdWords Editor, where you can quickly return all active ads that don’t contain a full stop in description line 1:

Loves Data Adw basics

6. Review your landing pages

Go through the active landing pages in your account and make sure they’re a) still active and b) are still the most relevant landing page for that ad group. It’s important not to forget your sitelinks, since these sit in a separate area and may easily be overlooked when promotional and seasonal pages get deactivated.

If you’re recently back from holidays, this is a great opportunity to look at your landing pages with a fresh eye. Would they still be considered acceptable in terms of content, design and usability in 2015, when user expectations will continue to rise? If not, you may want to identify some opportunities for conversion testing.

7. Make sure you’re using callouts

Callouts are a new type of ad extension that literally gives your ad additional free space for your marketing messages. We’ve got a blog post about the details and even more reasons why you should implement them (if additional free space is not enough). This is an ideal time to make sure you have this essential feature running. Because you can set up callouts at the account level (ie. applying a single set to all your campaigns), this means you can set some basic callouts within just a few minutes, listing more of your product’s features and benefits within the ad.

8. Make sure you’re tracking phone calls generated by Google AdWords

If you want a data-driven 2015, you need to be tracking as many of the relevant conversions that your campaigns may be responsible for. For some businesses, phone calls are the crucial call to action you want to optimise for. Even for online-based businesses like an ecommerce store, they may indicate that someone is likely to convert (or a particularly large order) and so are worth tracking. We’ve got a comprehensive guide to the main ways you can track phone calls (including the Google AdWords features that enable this) to get you started.

9. If you have a lot of products/services, put ad customisers and dynamic remarketing high on your 2015 agenda

These two features were made available to all Google AdWords accounts in the second half of 2014. However, many advertisers are still not aware of just how much time they can save in creating more customised text/image ads.

Dynamic remarketing is where Google dynamically populates data from the product/services pages that a user has visited, into an image remarketing ad. These can be almost anything from physical products to job listings to travel deals – and will make your ads considerably more targeted. For more information, see our blog post about dynamic remarketing.

Ad customisers are the more recent feature and allow you to more easily change text ads at scale. Basically, they allow your text ads to extract information from a spreadsheet that you upload. Like keyword insertion, they allow for more customised ads without you having to create completely new ad text. For example, your ad might say: ‘Widgets From {=WidgetInfo.Price}’. Google will then go to a data set you uploaded called WidgetInfo and put the Price field into the ad. There are other targeting methods and options that will allow you to directly upload product data and have the ads reflect the latest state of your products/services. Google Support has more information on getting started.

10. Commit to learning more about Google AdWords in 2015

If you think that Google AdWords will slow down in 2015, think again. There are already a host of new tools and improvements in Google’s pipeline, with more to come soon. It is imperative to continue upskilling you and your team to take advantage of these new features, consolidate your use of best practices and make sure that your approach is evolving with consumer and industry demands.

At Loves Data, we have a lot of content to help you keep learning:

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