Are You Sending Out the Right PPC Reports?

So you’re managing a paid search marketing account for a client and things are going well. Does your client know this? Unless every sale or lead generated can be attributed to paid search, your results are more likely proven in your regular reporting. This is where you can show how many sales your efforts resulted in, how much revenue was generated, how many leads were passed to the sales team, and what the return on advertising spend (ROAS) was. This is what you report on every week or month, right?

Unfortunately for many clients, this is not what they receive from someone managing a paid search marketing account. Too often a table of data, sometimes a report directly from Google AdWords or Bing Ads or a third party bid management tool, is what gets sent out. Keeping reports automated saves a lot of time, but it doesn’t provide data in the proper hierarchy, an analysis of why things happened, actionable insights as to what next steps will be taken to further improve the account, or ultimately how paid search is helping the client’s business.

Too many reports are Excel files with tabs that summarize how many clicks and impressions occurred, how much money was spent, how many conversions occurred (if conversion tracking is set up), and other metrics such as click-through rates, average click costs, average ad position, and so on. But does this really tell a client how his or her business grew as a result of online advertising?

A summary of what happened is always necessary, especially to show how much was spent and what that spend generated (visitors, sales, leads, etc.). But showing this data in the right hierarchy is important. Mixing all the numbers together doesn’t provide the high-level snapshot that the senior management at your client’s company needs to know. Do they really care about CTRs and CPCs? They care about leads or sales and how much revenue that translates into. So separate this data from the rest, show how it’s changed over time based on the work you’ve done, and write a detailed analysis about why these numbers have changed. And if you don’t know why they changed, that may be why you’ve been sending out those automated reports and tap dancing through client calls hoping they don’t ask.

The next piece of your report can now summarize the amount of traffic generated and what that cost. Increasing site visitors and doing so for less are things worthy of bragging about, as is increasing CTRs or expanding the reach of your client’s advertising. But these are very much secondary metrics that don’t directly impact the client’s bottom line. They show that optimizations have occurred and can provide other insights such as which ad messaging is resonating with searchers. Given the amount data available in a paid search account, it’s too tempting to latch onto these second-tier numbers, highlight them to a client and expect praise, but most people who hire someone to manage a paid search account for them don’t understand what these numbers really mean anyway. It can be good to include highlights of these numbers in your analysis, but don’t try to replace the high-level results with this particular information.

Whether you provide these second-tier metrics at the account level, campaign level, ad group level, or some combination of these should really be up to the client. Data overload is intimidating and can look like an attempt to gloss over what really happened. Too little detail, especially with clients that have some paid search understanding, can look like an attempt to hide data from them. There’s no perfect solution to this. It really comes down to working with your client to determine what is needed versus what is available, and shouldn’t even be an issue at all if the high-level results are positive.

So what are the top-level metrics that should be highlighted? What are the other metrics that should be included? Are top keywords and ad copy needed in the report as well? Customizing your reporting for each client and doing so based on your recommendations and not just asking what they each want is one way to truly differentiate yourself from the competition. It requires that you get to know the client’s objectives and goals, how they operate, what they hope to accomplish in the long- and short-term, and can make you an invaluable partner to his or her company.

To determine if your reporting is as good as it should be, ask yourself, if you were running a business, would you be happy letting someone else spend your hard-earned money to generate sales or leads via paid search marketing and then reading the reports you’re currently sending out?

Which of these better show the impact of your work?



Joe Davis

Joe Davis is the Paid Search Marketing Manager at 451 Marketing.

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