As we enter Q4, the holiday shopping season picks up and you are likely preoccupied with bid adjustments, running promotions, and working to stay ahead of high season trends. Reviewing your marketing efforts and setting goals for 2016 can seem like an afterthought. However, it would be a mistake not to get ahead of the curve by examining your 2015 efforts in the following five areas to make smart decisions about your 2016 budgets.

1) Company & Marketing Goals

You must take into account your company’s marketing goals when determining next year’s budgets for paid channels. Ideally, you should set a specific goal for each channel before you set a budget. For example, if you require a Return On Ad Spend minimum of 5.0 to be profitable from paid search, your budget should be dictated by how much you can spend while your ROAS remains above that 5.0 threshold. Or, if you are looking to grow leads 20% this year, you will need to take into account your current CPA along with the areas below to determine how much budget you’ll need to acquire those extra leads.

2) Competition

As a company, you should have a read on your main competitors, especially those bidding on similar keywords. The Auction Insights report in AdWords shows how CPCs and competitive metrics have changed over time. If competition has increased and CPCs are significantly higher than they were last year, then (all else being equal) CPA will increase or ROAS will drop. You will need to counter this increased competition either by increasing budget to drive more revenue or leads, or by investing heavily in increasing conversion rates to turn more site visitors into leads or customers.

3) Marketing Channel Evaluation

When setting budgets for different marketing channels, you should holistically evaluate channel performance to understand how each channel fits into your buying cycle. Fortunately, Google Analytics Attribution Models provide insight into your digital conversion funnel. As advertisers in 2016, it’s time to move away from last-click attribution to form a comprehensive understanding of what marketing channels drive initial quality traffic to the site, and how effectively our remarketing and nurturing channels bring customers back. With this knowledge, you can allocate budgets based on the effectiveness of each channel at contributing to your primary account goal.

4) Remarketing

Have you recently looked at your Days to Conversion report in AdWords compared to last year?


Remarketing and nurturing efforts are more important the longer the days to conversion, especially if the number of days to conversion has increased over the past year. With Google Analytics remarketing, we now have the ability to target much more advanced audience segments. And with RLSA audiences, we can put a higher value on search keywords for previous visitors. You’re already spending money to bring visitors to your site, so make sure to invest in closing channels to secure those leads and sales.

5) Mobile

With all the buzz around mobile and the increase in mobile impressions compared to desktop in many industries, we would be remiss to leave out mobile investment. This is a huge area of opportunity for most advertisers. Check how your mobile conversion rate compares to desktop as well as any impression share opportunities here. Also, consider that many mobile users are using these devices as a research tool. Some mobile site visitors will come back on their desktop (either directly or through a branded search) and convert there, so consider lowering your direct ROAS goal for mobile.

Goals and budgets are always influenced by unique circumstances, but they should always be based on the best opportunities as determined by recent performance. Examining the above considerations, both internally and with your account manager, will help you most effectively set budgets that will give you the best opportunity to reach your 2016 marketing goals.