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SEO | Apr 19
Jessica Malnik on April 6, 2021 • 14 minute read
A great PPC report tells a story. It is clear, concise, easy-to-read, and allows you to instantly see if the ads are moving the needle for your business’s goals.
Unfortunately, most PPC reports don’t look like this. They are a hot mess of charts, graphs, and unorganized data thrown into a spreadsheet or slide deck.
You need to channel your inner Harriet the Spy to uncover what’s actually going on in your business.
So, more often than not, you wind up ignoring the reports and running your PPC ad campaigns based on intuition and likely wasting a lot of money.
In this post, we’re sharing a better way to approach your PPC reports, including:
A PPC report allows you to see how your paid ad campaigns are performing. This allows you to measure your ad performance based on your key business goals.
Jonathan Aufray of Digital Growth Hackers says, “You want to focus on data that moves the needle. What’s your main KPI? Do you want to generate leads, get sales, get signups, free trials, consult calls or else? Once you know what your main objective is, you should emphasize those main metrics. It’s easy to get lost with the amount of data so when it comes to data analysis, better to focus on quality rather than quantity.”
“The most important thing to include in a PPC report is dependent on what is being tracked,” adds Paul La Vigne of DVS. “If the goal of the PPC campaign is to build awareness, then the click-through rate (CTR) is the most important metric. If the goal of the campaign is the target audience performing an action, then the conversion rate (CVR) is the most important metric.”
Because all companies have different goals for their PPC campaigns, this means that what is tracked, formatting, and frequency for PPC reports can be wildly different.
So, we surveyed dozens of marketers to get a better understanding of what’s working for PPC reporting these days.
In fact, 61% of all respondents deal with monthly PPC budgets that are $10,000 or less.
Interestingly, 50% of those who stated they have a $25,000+ monthly PPC budget work in digital/software/tech industry, while 37.5% of them work in agencies and 12.5% in eCommerce.
Regardless of budget or industry, 90.5% have a consistent PPC reporting format they stick to.
As we alluded to earlier, your PPC reporting format will vary depending on your business’s goals.
For example, Natasha Rei of Explainerd adds, “What should be included in our PPC reports:
1. PPC goals
2. Campaign’s date range
3. The analytics
4. PPC metrics
When you’ve set the goal, you can measure your PPC campaign success seamlessly. Make sure to include this section. Then, place over the date range. This data will explain whether your campaign performs well at a certain time; it’s essential to use in the next campaign. Include the analytics as well as key PPC metric to overview the complete data during the campaign.”
In addition, of the folks who handle more than $25,000 in monthly PPC budgets, they all have a consistent PPC reporting format they stick to. 87.5% of them report about PPC performance weekly, while 12.5% reports monthly.
Whereas as a whole, 60% of those who report about PPC performance monthly are agencies, handling up to 10k investments in PPC per month.
So, the larger your PPC budget is, the more likely you are to track performance weekly.
Now, here are some key metrics that you may want to include in your PPC reports.
This seems obvious, but every PPC report would benefit from highlighting the goal of each ad campaign in your reports.
“A good PPC report gives a complete idea about the campaign to the client,” says Sanket Shah of InVideo. “Few must-have things to include are: – Click – CTR (Click-through rate) – Average cost per click – Conversion – Conversion rate – Cost per conversion – ROI.
All these are important factors to track and note in your PPC report because it gives a complete insight of the campaign performance and accordingly you can make changes in your ads for better results.”
Editor’s Note: If you use HubSpot, this HubSpot and Google Ads Top of Funnel Dashboard gives you a holistic view of your inbound and PPC tactics.
Another key metric to include is cost per acquisition (CPA).
“The most important thing for us is the cost per acquisition (CPA) since that ultimately drives business value,” says Linnea Johansson of Right People Group. “Of course, staring blindly at that number doesn’t help out too much as that number can easily be skewed if, for instance, there are many low-quality conversions. But we keep an eye on this number to open a discussion with sales to see what needs to be changed to maximize each incoming lead’s value.”
Joe Allen of Belu Media adds, “I think the most important thing to include in a PPC report is the cost of sale and the cost of lead acquisition. The reason for this is if the cost per click is £1.00 as an example and it takes 100 clicks to generate a lead = £100.00 then the cost per lead is £100.
However, if it takes 20 leads to generate a sale, then your cost of sale is £2,000. This is important to know as if the product or service you are selling is sold at a price less than £2,000, then you are making a loss. Ideally, you want your sale price to be 3 times higher than your cost per sale price. So in the example above, your product should be sold at £6,000 and not less.”
Carl Johnson of BestWinesOnline agrees, “As the head of PPC at BestWinesOnline,I believe the most important thing to include in a PPC report is the actual cost per acquisition , because it will help you understand how much you can spend per ad and see if it’s profitable. For example, on Keyword A, your CPC was $2.00, but you were only getting conversions at a rate of 20% which means that your CPA is $4.00. Your actual cost per acquisition is $12.00 ($2.00 X 20%). If the campaign is not profitable, stop it or try to optimize your campaign to decrease the CPA.”
One metric that is closely related to CPA is return on ad spend (ROAS).
“Often advertisers get hung up on vanity metrics like engagement, impression share/share of voice, quality scores, even CPC to an extent,” says Jill Flores of ClickSend. “Sure, it often makes sense to optimize for these metrics and it’s good to keep watch on these metrics, but it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.
For example, if I pay slightly more for clicks that are twice as likely to convert and bring in better quality leads, so be it. Or I won’t sweat every single quality score on each keyword because you can artificially improve these scores by raising bids. Ultimately it comes down to the return on spend – I want my reports to show how many conversions we have gained in a given date range, how much these conversions cost, and how much revenue they bring in.”
Adam Smartschan of Altitude Marketing says, “At the end of the day, nothing matters in PPC except acquiring customers or clients in the most cost-effective fashion possible. You’re looking for return on ad spend, or “ROAS,” of at least 3:1. That more than covers any professional services fees you’ll end up paying, soft costs, etc.”
When you view a PPC report, you should be able to answer this question, “Did the campaign lead to your desired result?” This means you should be tracking conversions.
“The most important thing that I must include in a PPC report is conversions,” says Catherine Foo of Zoewebs. “Results matter the most, and conversion is the key metric of PPC. By comparing conversions with the previous months, I know how the performance of my ads have done, such as new ads text, keyword optimizations, inserted negative keywords etc.”
Ramey Miller of Text Request says, “We like to include what kind of conversions the PPC ads led to. For example, we differentiate between someone who clicks and purchases from us versus someone else who may click and sign up for a demo, etc. This lets us know which specific areas of our website are converting. From there, we compare this data to overall revenue.”
Kevin Kohlert of Borealis Digital Marketing adds, “The numbers of conversions and other conversion-based attributes (i.e. cost-per-conversion and conversion rate) are the most important details in a PPC report. These conversions may include phone calls, contact form submissions, sales from Ecommerce, etc. At the end of the day, ROI is everything for almost any marketing campaign.”
One way to take conversion tracking a step further is through attribution modelling.
“Insight into not just the conversions that came from PPC, but any other conversions that PPC attributed to,” says Brooke Logan of Sagefrog Marketing Group. “Attribution is so important to show the value of the channels you optimize, especially paid channels!”
If you are running more than one ad, segmenting your report by ad groups (or targeting) is essential.
“The most important thing to include in a PPC report is how each ad group is performing over time,” says Emily Lutz of Perfect Search Media. “This could be broken down to the campaign level, ad group level, or ad set level. This helps you understand your audiences, which can help strategize for future spend, help you expand to other platforms, and helps you to understand your customer as a business. Insights & performance changes over time and, by understanding these fluctuations, you can learn how and when to get the best results.”
Editor’s Note: Looking for a quick way to monitor individual ad groups in Google Ads? Use this Google Ads Ad Groups and Keywords Performance Dashboard to optimize ads based on keywords.
In addition to paying attention to CPA, ROAS, and conversions, you should also monitor cost-per-clicks (CPC) in your reports. A good CPC is defined by how much you make from each conversion. If the cost per click is high, but you have a good conversion rate then you will still get a good return on investment.
Another related metric you might want to include is ad click-through rates (Ad CTR).
“It would really depend on the objectives of the campaign, but generally speaking the most important thing to include in a PPC report is Ad CTR and ROAS (return on ad spend),” says Will Tanner of Relic + EKR. “Reason being, these shows the efficacy of your PPC campaigns indicating: CTR: “Are your campaigns engaging enough?” A statistically significant CTR is 2% or above. Anything below that, indicates that you need to review and revise. ROAS: “Are you losing or gaining revenue, or breaking even?” This is another decisive KPI that indicates it’s time to plan your NBAs (Next Best Actions).”
You may also want to include some general traffic metrics, such as users, bounce rate, or time on page. Just make sure to segment them by source, medium, and ad campaign. :
“We focus on traffic metrics,” says Matt Craike of First Five Eight. “We want to know the core vitals which are CPL and Conversion Rates of our ads. We then will have a look at the CTR of top ads and losing ads and go over core learnings for the month and how we can learn, measure and improve our performance for next month for our clients.”
When you are spending 40 hours each week running PPC campaigns, it is easy to forget that not everyone knows the same technical jargon and advertising speak that you know.
In fact, if you work in an PPC agency, your clients might know what ROAS or CPA metrics are or how you measure them. It can be helpful to include definitions and your reporting process in your reports.
“Many agencies will (all to often) forget the limited level of understanding that their clients have of PPC,” says Connor Hewson of Assured Marketing LTD. “There is always a lot to take in from a PPC report and ensuring that there is a clear and understandable definition for each section, agencies can ensure that the client is trusting in the work being carried out. However, this needs to be done with care and attention, too much explaining can not only distract the client from the results themselves but also come across as patronizing. Being clear and concise without jargon is by far the most important thing that i am considering when writing PPC reports for clients.”
Building attribution models allows you to get a clearer picture of your customer journey.
“When it comes to reporting on PPC, conversion tracking isn’t enough, especially for B2B marketers,” says Laura Caveney of Ruler Analytics. “When customers are converting via form fills, phone calls, live chat or eCommerce, there are numerous avenues for conversion. And on top of that, customers don’t click an ad and convert right away. So for us, we always track revenue. And we view it from multiple attribution model types. It allows us to get a view on how an ad campaign is working to drive sales, no matter how customers convert. But more so, it allows us to get a more accurate ROAS. Given we can view our PPC ads under different model types, it quickly identifies which ads are working to drive new customer journeys and which are closing them.”
Finally, make sure that it is easy to view your PPC campaign metrics over time – be it week-over-week, month-over-month, etc.
“Providing context around performance trends allows for actionable insight,” says Allie Burkey of Hurrdat Marketing. “It’s one thing to show that CTR dropped, but why? That why will help determine optimizations moving forward.”
Bernadett Kovacs-Dioszegi of Creatopy adds, “Beside the key performance metrics, like the number of conversions, cost/conversions, conversion rate, cost, number of clicks, number of impressions, it’s important to evaluate month-over-month data. This way you can analyze the change in results and you should also investigate why the performance changed compared to the previous month.
It’s essential to know what actions you made that drove the best results. In PPC, it’s crucial to constantly test new types of campaigns, but you should always learn your lessons in order to optimize them right. Many marketers forget to analyze how PPC has contributed to increased awareness, and the overall performance of your site but this detail should also be an important part of your PPC report.
You had a complex display advertising campaign? Check your analytics report if you observe an increase in direct results! You were focusing on a detailed search campaign? Don’t forget that clicks from paid advertising may lead to increased links, mentions, coverage, sharing, that can help boost organic rankings.”
Regardless of the report format you use, the ad metrics you include and reporting frequency, the key is to use this data and corresponding analysis to tell a story.
“PPC is a key part of the daily operations of a business and the report is the document that gets created to track the results,” says Dan Sears of Cirely. “So, what is the most important thing to include in a PPC report? I believe it’s the actual results. Take the time to tell the story.
Our company Cirely has been managing PPC campaigns for the past few years and we’re always looking for ways to improve.
Here’s a few (closing) quick tips for you:
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