PPC Reporting Strategies: 11 Things You Should Include in a PPC Report

Marketing Dec 13, 2023 24 minutes read

Table of contents

    For most businesses, PPC reporting equals unorganized spreadsheets with a bunch of data that’s hard to sort and analyze. Once you manage to make some sense out of the numbers in front of you, it’s usually too late to tweak the campaign and make sure it generates better results.

    An effective PPC report should provide you with important information at a glance, allowing you to react promptly if your campaign is underperforming. The first step to this is to learn what metrics and KPIs should find their place in your PPC dashboard without making it overcrowded and helping it build an accurate picture of your performance.

    google_ads_dashboard_template_databox

    We asked experienced marketers around the world to share what should be included in a PPC report, so let’s dive right in.

    What Is a PPC Report?

    A PPC report, short for Pay-Per-Click report, is a marketing report that analyzes the performance of your pay-per-click advertising campaign, providing you with insights and data on how effective your paid ads are across Google Ads, Bing Ads, social media, and more.

    PPC reports are integral tools for online advertising, as they help you understand if your campaigns are helping you achieve your marketing goals and if your budget is spent optimally.

    In these reports, the key PPC metrics, which we’ll talk about later, are typically presented through charts, tables, graphs, and other visualization elements.

    What Makes a Great PPC Report?

    A great PPC report is concise yet comprehensive and summarizes key metrics, actionable insights, and strategic recommendations in a clear, understandable format. It goes beyond numbers; it tells a story of the campaign’s journey, reveals actionable insights, and equips stakeholders with the information needed to make informed decisions and drive better campaign outcomes.

    In the report, you should focus on essential metrics aligned with campaign objectives, ensuring a clear and concise presentation without going overboard with the number of KPIs.

    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, it’s better to focus on quality rather than quantity.”

    Some other best practices include the following:

    • Visual aids like graphs, charts, and tables simplify complex data, making it easily digestible for stakeholders
    • In-depth analysis of performance across various segments (keywords, demographics, geography), uncovering actionable insights
    • Clear, actionable suggestions based on data analysis, guiding future campaign optimizations
    • Connecting performance metrics to overarching business goals, highlighting the impact on the bottom line
    • Historical data or benchmarks to showcase progress and identify trends over time
    • Tailoring the report to the audience, focusing on metrics and insights most relevant to their roles or interests

    11 Things You Should Include in Your PPC Report

    Databox has surveyed dozens of marketers to get a better understanding of what’s working for PPC reporting these days.

    Over 60% of all respondents deal with monthly PPC budgets that are $10,000 or less.

    Investing in PPC

    But, regardless of budget or industry, 90.5% have a consistent PPC reporting format they stick to. 

    PPC reporting format

    Interestingly, 50% of those who stated they have a $25,000+ monthly PPC budget work in the digital/software/tech industry, while 37.5% of them work in agencies and 12.5% in eCommerce.

    Types of business using PPC

    Whereas as a whole, 60% of those who report about PPC performance monthly are agencies, handling up to 10k investments in PPC per month.

    Reporting on PPC performance

    So, the larger your PPC budget is, the more likely you are to track performance weekly.

    But what do companies track exactly? Different businesses have different PPC campaign goals, so this means that metrics, formatting, and frequency for PPC reports can be vary a lot across industries, company sizes, etc.

    “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.”

    Let’s dive into the metrics.

    1. Campaign Goal
    2. CPA
    3. ROAS
    4. Conversions
    5. Ad Targeting
    6. CPC
    7. Ad CTR
    8. General Traffic Metrics
    9. KPI Definitions
    10. Attribution Models
    11. Month-over-Month Data

    Campaign Goal

    Your PPC report should start by clearly stating the campaign goal because it helps connect back every other campaign element to why you implemented an activity and provides a benchmark against which to measure campaign success.

    This goal guides the selection of metrics for analysis, ensuring focus on KPIs directly linked to achieving the campaign’s purpose. It establishes a direct connection between marketing initiatives and broader business objectives, emphasizing how the campaign contributes to the company’s growth or targets.

    Include the campaign goal in your PPC report to build a great relationship with your clients. Explicitly stating what you’re trying to achieve with the campaign ensures everyone involved understands the primary purpose of the advertising efforts. This is key to keep in mind as clients usually come from industries other than marketing and lack in-depth knowledge, so they can’t—and shouldn’t have to—read between the lines.

    Expert recommendation: Databox lets you set goals for any metric that matters to you. Instead of chasing the numbers around spreadsheets, you can visualize your goals in one screen and in real-time, and get notified if the metric is underperforming so that you can tweak your activities to get back on track.

    CPA

    Another key metric to include is cost per acquisition (CPA). It measures the average cost incurred to acquire a customer or lead through a specific advertising campaign. It’s calculated by dividing the total campaign cost by the number of conversions (acquisitions) generated.

    “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.”

    Head of PPC at BestWinesOnline, Carl Johnson, believes “the most important thing to include in a paid search dashboard 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,” says Johnson and provides an 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.”

    Expert recommendation: Get a holistic view of your most important ad metrics in this free Google Ads PPC Performance dashboard template. You can modify the template to create a custom PPC report and track KPIs that matter to you, including CPA. Thanks to a streamlined, clean layout of the dashboard, you’ll notice right away if any metrics have significantly increased or dropped.

    Google Ads PPC Performance dashboard template

    ROAS

    One metric that is closely related to CPA is return on ad spend (ROAS). This is a crucial metric in marketing that evaluates the revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising. It measures the effectiveness of advertising campaigns by comparing the revenue generated to the amount spent on those campaigns.

    “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,” explains Flores and adds:

    “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 agrees that customer acquisition cost-effectively is what matters most in PPC advertising. “You’re looking for a 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.”

    Expert recommendation: Running multiple Facebook ad groups for your e-commerce business? Get a streamlined overview of your PPC metrics with this free Facebook Ads Campaign for E-commerce dashboard template. Not only does this template show you where you stand with ROAS and other relevant metrics, but it also gives you a clear visualization of which campaign is generating the most revenue.

    Facebook Ads Campaign for E-commerce

    Conversions

    When you look at a PPC report, you should be able to answer this question, “Did this campaign achieve the desired results?” This means you should be tracking conversions.

    In the context of PPC, conversions are specific actions that a user takes on a website after clicking on an ad. These actions align with the goals of the advertising campaign and vary based on the objectives you set. Conversions can include a wide range of actions, such as completing a purchase, filling out a form, and more.

    “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 also tracks conversions and includes them in PPC reports. “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.”

    “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,” Kevin Kohlert of Borealis Digital Marketing adds. “These conversions may include phone calls, contact form submissions, sales from e-commerce, 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 modeling.

    “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!”

    Expert recommendation: If you do ad campaigns for an e-commerce business, here’s a PPC report example in which you can accurately track total customers, net and gross sales, orders, conversions, and more. All you need to do is grab this free, customizable Shopify, Facebook & Google Analytics 4 dashboard template. It’ll answer all your questions related to how successfully your ads are converting audiences into paying customers.

    Shopify, Facebook & Google Analytics 4 dashboard template

    Ad Targeting

    If you are running more than one ad, segmenting your report by ad groups (or targeting) is essential. Ad targeting refers to the specific criteria and parameters used to reach a defined audience for advertising purposes. It’s the process of tailoring ads to reach a particular set of users based on various demographics, behaviors, interests, and other factors.

    Being able to analyze the individual performance of each ad group or targeting criteria (demographics, interests) allows for a detailed analysis of how different segments respond to ads. It helps you identify any underperforming or high-performing ad groups so that you can reiterate your tactics in the future or allocate more budget to that specific ad group.

    “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 you 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.”

    Expert recommendation: Easily track different ad groups and multiple active campaigns through this easy-to-use, customizable Google Ads Campaign Performance dashboard template you can get for free. In this simple table, you can see all the key metrics at a glance, including Impressions, CPC, ROAS, and more.

    Google Ads Campaign Performance dashboard template

    CPC

    In addition to paying attention to CPA, ROAS, and conversions, you should also monitor cost-per-clicks (CPC) in your reports. This is a fundamental metric used in PPC advertising that measures the cost incurred each time a user clicks on an advertisement.

    Tracking CPC allows you to manage and optimize your budget more effectively because it helps in determining the most cost-effective keywords, ads, or campaigns. By monitoring CPC trends over time, you can better understand fluctuations and seasonality, which can help you with future budget planning and bid adjustments.

    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. 

    Combined with conversion rates and revenue generated, CPC also determines the overall profitability of advertising campaigns. Understanding your campaigns’ CPC allows for strategic adjustments to enhance ROI by optimizing ads for lower CPC without compromising on conversion quality.

    Expert recommendation: What you’ll consider a good CPC varies by industry and many other factors. If you want to learn how companies from your sector are performing in terms of cost per click, you can check out our latest PPC benchmarks that can help guide your efforts in 2024.

    If you want even more insights into other benchmarks, join our Benchmark Groups for free and get instant access to a variety of groups most relevant to your business, where you can anonymously monitor how your performance stacks up against your peers.

    Ad CTR

    Another metric important for PPC reporting is ad click-through rates (Ad CTR). Ad CTR is a crucial metric that measures the percentage of users who click on an ad after seeing it. It’s calculated by dividing the number of clicks an ad receives by the number of times it’s shown, also known as impressions, and then multiplying the result by 100 to get a percentage.

    CTR reflects the effectiveness of ad copy, keywords, targeting, and relevance to the audience’s search intent. A well-crafted ad with a higher CTR usually indicates better quality and relevance.

    “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 show 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),” elaborates Tanner.

    Expert recommendation: Compelling copy is one of the key ad elements that can prompt your target audience to click. To improve your ad CTR, consider revamping the copy and testing different versions of it to discover the exact wording that drives the most clicks. Take a look at these 11 examples of great PPC ad copy to get inspired.

    General Traffic Metrics

    You may also want to include some general traffic metrics, such as:

    • Users
    • Bounce rate
    • Session duration
    • Time on page

    Make sure to segment them by source, medium, and ad campaign.

    Incorporating general traffic metrics in a PPC report provides valuable context and a holistic view of overall website performance, enhancing the understanding of how PPC efforts contribute to broader website traffic and user behavior.

    General traffic metrics can also reveal correlations with PPC performance. For example, high PPC traffic with low engagement metrics might indicate targeting issues or irrelevant landing pages.

    “We focus on traffic metrics,” shares 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 presenting your findings to stakeholders, you may find that general traffic metrics are useful because they provide context to PPC performance by demonstrating its impact on the broader user journey and website performance.

    Expert recommendation: Track website traffic metrics such as Bounce Rate, % New Users, Average Session Duration, and more to complete the picture of your website performance in this free Google Analytics 4 Website Traffic dashboard template. You’ll be able to pinpoint exactly which channels perform the best, which can further inform your PPC efforts.

    Google Analytics 4 Website Traffic

    KPI Definitions

    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 a 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, especially in marketing reports.

    Many agencies forget the limited level of understanding that their clients have of PPC, according to 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,” continues to elaborate Hewson and concludes:

    “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.”

    Expert recommendation: By the time you start building your PPC report, your campaigns are usually over, and it’s too late to tweak them to get better results. This is where Databox’s KPI Tracking can help. Set up an alert for any metric and any data source to notify you in real-time when a metric is underperforming or increasing above a specific threshold. This lets you immediately take action and make sure you’re on track to reach your goals.

    Attribution Models

    Building attribution models allows you to get a clearer picture of your customer journey. When you include these models in PPC reports, they can play a significant role in gaining a comprehensive understanding how conversions are attributed to various touchpoints along that journey.

    Attribution models reveal the entire path users take before converting. They showcase the sequence of interactions with different channels (PPC, organic search, social, direct visits) that lead to conversions. This is helpful for optimizing your advertising strategy and identifying high-impact touchpoints so that you can focus on the most effective channels.

    Understanding the relative contribution of each channel aids in allocating budgets more effectively. It ensures resources are allocated to channels that have the most significant impact on conversions. Insights from attribution models guide experimentation and iteration, assisting in testing new strategies and refining tactics to optimize the customer journey.

    “When it comes to reporting on PPC, conversion tracking isn’t enough, especially for B2B marketers,” Laura Caveney of Ruler Analytics comments.

    “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.”

    Expert recommendation: This HubSpot (Leads by Source) dashboard template can help you understand exactly where your leads are coming from and how successful different channels are in converting visitors into leads. You will be able to discover your top lead generation sources and boost collaboration with other websites based on how many (qualified) leads you get from referral traffic.

    HubSpot (Leads by Source) dashboard template

    Month-over-Month Data

    Finally, make sure that it is easy to view your PPC campaign metrics over time–be it week-over-week, month-over-month, etc.

    Incorporating month-over-month data in PPC reports enables marketers to track performance trends, assess growth or decline, identify optimization opportunities, plan budgets effectively, and iterate strategies for continual improvement. It’s an essential component for informed decision-making and demonstrating the evolving nature of PPC campaigns.

    “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 also sees value in including MoM numbers: “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,” explains Kovacs-Dioszegi and adds:

    “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.”

    Expert recommendation: Databox lets you track all kinds of metrics, including month-over-month progress for different KPIs. For example, you can report on how much your revenue is increasing month over month and use the Goal Tracking feature to get notified when your numbers hit a specific ROAS you’d like to achieve.

    How to Present Data in Your PPC Report

    Presenting data in a PPC report is about more than just numbers; it’s about crafting a compelling narrative that communicates the story behind the data.

    Here are actionable tips to effectively present data in your PPC report:

    Focus on key objectives: Begin by highlighting the achieved results aligned with the campaign’s primary goals. Whether it’s sales, leads, or other conversions, emphasize the outcomes first.

    Build a narrative with visuals: Utilize graphs, charts, and images to make data visually appealing and easier to comprehend. Visuals enhance storytelling and help stakeholders quickly grasp trends and insights. Don’t forget to contextualize these with colors. Use them strategically to highlight important data points or trends, making the information more engaging and memorable.

    Be transparent and honest: Present both successes and areas needing improvement transparently. Honest reporting fosters trust and credibility among stakeholders. However, if you need to communicate that you failed to reach goals, pair that message with actionable steps you’re planning to take to improve performance. Also, provide context behind fluctuations or changes in performance metrics, as it helps avoid misinterpretations and builds confidence in the data.

    Take a storytelling approach: Weave a narrative around the data, explaining why certain trends or changes occurred and connecting the dots between data points to tell a cohesive story. Highlight how the reported metrics and insights impact the business’s bottom line and overarching goals.

    Segment the data for depth: Break down data into meaningful segments (by demographics, device, geography) to reveal deeper insights. Segmentation adds granularity and allows for targeted optimizations.

    Balance between metrics: While high-level metrics like ROI and conversion rates are vital, don’t dismiss important operational metrics like CPC and CTR. Showcase both, emphasizing their relation to the final outcomes.

    Provide actionable insights: Mere numbers don’t mean a lot unless you can act upon them. Accompany data with actionable recommendations for optimizations, suggesting specific strategies based on the insights gained. Show that you’re focused on future performance and continuous improvement by emphasizing an iterative approach to campaign enhancement.

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    Article by
    Stefana Zaric

    Stefana Zarić is a freelance writer & content marketer. Other than writing for SaaS and fintech clients, she educates future writers who want to build a career in marketing. When not working, Stefana loves to read books, play with her kid, travel, and dance.

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