3 Common Google AdWords Pitfalls (And How to Avoid Them)

May 2018
 minute read
tablet with google search engine open

Recently Disruptive Advertising audited more than 2000 AdWords accounts. Their goal? Figure out why some campaigns succeed and why some campaigns fail. They were able to pin down a few typical errors that users made when crafting their campaigns.
We’ve outlined those mistakes, along with the best ways to sidestep these goofs. Let’s break it down!


  • Problem #1: Incomplete Conversion Tracking
  • Problem #2: Poor Conversion Rates
  • Problem #3: Inefficient and Wasteful Ad Spend

Problem #1: Incomplete Conversion Tracking

Google AdWords allows you to set up conversion tracking. This can be a handy tool, as it shows how effectively your ad clicks lead to action (conversion) from your customers. You can track how often people sign up for newsletters, buy products on your site, download an app...the list goes on and on. The setup process is different depending on what type of conversion you are tracking.

Sounds perfect, right? Not so, according to Disruptive Advertising. They discovered that a whopping 57.7% of AdWord accounts with conversion tracking were so poorly set up that they might as well not be tracking anything at all.

The problem with most conversion tracking tools is that they only attribute a customer’s conversion to the first or final step of their journey, rather than granting marketers a full view of their customer’s entire process.

The Solution

Attribution models provide a much more comprehensive view to marketers. Using a much richer data set from a Customer Data Platform, attribution models integrate ALL customer data sources. That means it considers both offline and online activity, and encompasses multiple sessions, channels, and devices.

conversion tracking
Use attribution models to track conversion rates

Problem #2: Poor Conversion Rates

Get ready for another scary statistic: Disruptive Advertising found that the median conversion rate for an AdWords account was only 2.18%. This is because marketers don’t have a firm grasp on which keywords are successful and which don’t yield positive results.

If you are hearing dramatic piano music in your head, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

The Solution

Once again, data-driven attribution is your best friend. It will help you figure out which keywords are leading to conversions and which ones deserve the axe. Disruptive Advertising found that the top 10% of accurately tracked AdWord accounts have a conversion rate of at least 20%.

There are many other simple ways to improve your conversion rates. For example, keep conversion elements above the fold for optimal results. Using tangible action verbs is another great way to improve your rates.

conversion rate pay
You can improve your conversion rates by using data-driven models

Problem #3: Inefficient and Wasteful Ad Spend

The last thing you want to do as a marketer is to spend a lot of money on search terms that have low conversion rates. According to Disruptive Advertising, 61% of ad spend in the accounts they audited was wasted. This probably goes without saying but...that sucks.

Once again, the culprit is poor keyword performance and a lack of knowledge on the marketer’s side about which keywords perform the best.

The Solution

You guessed it. The best solution to this problem is to employ data-driven models to better understand which keywords bring in revenue and which don’t. It’s incredibly easy to stop wasteful ad spending when you axe keywords that result in zero conversions.

Additionally, there are other steps you can take to improve the efficiency of your ad spend. The key to successful advertising is to understand your audience inside and out. Try evaluating your competition, or even just brands that share the same target audience as you. What kind of voice do they have? What specific phrasing do they use? Once you have answered these questions, you will be able to optimize your ad spend.

wasteful ad spend
Don’t waste money on useless advertising

So what’s the common theme here? You can rely on data-driven, multi-channel attribution models to solve all your problems.
Okay, maybe not all your problems. But data-driven attribution will help increase your conversion rates and eliminate wasteful ad spend. Paired with Google AdWords and you will soon be optimizing your brand like never before.

Share your Google AdWords war stories in the comments and let us know what other problems you have run into with this service!

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