Google Analytics Test Lab: Drive Your E-Commerce PPC Account

mad scientistWelcome to the third post in our Google Analytics Test Lab blog series. Today I’ll be walking you through using Google Analytics to get the most of you’re your e-commerce PPC account.

If you’re running a PPC account for e-commerce, you likely already understand the importance of dynamic reporting capabilities, so I’ll try not to make this article sound like a sponsored plug for Google Analytics. But, as an Account Manager here at Hanapin, I can’t fathom running an e-commerce PPC account without the powerhouse that is Google Analytics. For e-commerce accounts, AdWords data and reporting really won’t give you an accurate understanding of your marketing metrics, not only as they pertain to PPC alone, but also as to how your marketing efforts across multiple channels are interacting with each other.

I’d like to share some basic Analytics reports I find invaluable in managing e-commerce PPC accounts, some ways to use these reports to tease out extraneous data you might not have considered in context, as well as some tips for creating your own custom reports. I’ll also talk about how you can use Analytics to understand the impact of PPC on other marketing channels (and vice versa).

PPC Basic Reports in Analytics

First, let’s start with some basic reports you should be using.

To get basic reporting data on your AdWords account, Analytics actually make this fairly simple and easy to find. If you’re in the newest version of the Analytics interface, you’ll see an Advertising section in your left side bar:

google adwords

If you click on “Advertising” your menu will expand to display the AdWords sub navigation items. From this menu you’ll be able view data for you campaigns, keywords, search queries, destination URLs, etc. More specifically, you can see how your AdWords campaigns, etc. are performing by number of site visits, time on site, bounce rate, goal completions (usually these equate to your conversion definition in AdWords), and, most importantly, by revenue. Also pay attention to the bounce rate of your campaigns. Why? This could indicate that you have not chosen the most relevant or useful landing page.

Here are some additional reports in Analytics that you’ll definitely want to start using, if you’re not already:

1) Source/Medium. Compare revenue from all your online channels, including search engines (organic and paid search) and referrals. This is useful not only as a barometer of PPC success, but can also help identify other issues with clients’ sites. If the gap between PPC revenue and Google search revenue starts to widen too much, for example, I’ll know that my client’s SEO rankings may have started to slip. Why is this important? There is plenty of research out there to support the idea that your PPC campaigns will be bolstered by a site that ranks highly in organic searches, so you’ll want to ensure that both SEO and PPC performance remains steady. Based on my personal searching experience, I can understand why these two go hand in hand. I’m much more likely to click on a PPC ad if a site is showing at the top of my search pages out of sheer familiarity; the more times a user can see your name on a search result page, the more prominent and familiar you’ll feel to them.

A few more things about the Source/Medium report; I also use this report to drill down keyword performance across multiple search engines. You can select keywords as your secondary report dimension, and sort your data however is most useful to you (by search engine or keyword). I also use this report to identify advertising opportunities I might be missing on Google’s Display Network. If I’m getting a large number of site visits from a referring traffic source that isn’t part of another marketing initiative, I’ll target it, or similar sites, as managed placements.

2) Product Performance. Knowing how individual products are faring in terms of revenue generation and unique purchases will go a long way in helping you decide what/how to advertise in your PPC campaigns. I run this report at the beginning of each month to see what’s currently selling well, and I also run it for the past year to understand what my consistently selling items are, i.e. what I should always be pushing via PPC.

Here’s something else I like to do with my Product Performance report: add keywords as my secondary dimension. Why? I like to see that people are actually buying in relation to the keywords they came to my site/ad from. If your keywords are highly relevant to the product that was purchased, you’ll know to get more granular in your ads, focusing on specific products. If you’re noticing less relevancy, focus on more generic text and broadly focused or branded campaigns.

3) Traffic. I know this is obvious in terms of Analytics data, but I thought it was worth mentioning in relation to PPC for a few reasons. Remarketing is a very powerful tool in PPC, so if you want to gauge how powerful this could be for you, review your traffic report. How many unique visitors are you getting a month? At what stage in the buying process are users dropping off? This information will help you formulate effective remarketing campaigns.

Custom Reports

You likely know exactly what information will be most valuable to you on a regular basis for each of your e-commerce accounts, and I can almost guarantee that they’re not in the same place within the Analytics interface. You will save yourself a lot of time if you take the time to create custom reports in Analytics. I have custom reports in each of my Analytics accounts for the weekly and monthly reports I pull, in addition to separate reports for other information I reference on a frequent basis, like an ROI report that shows both cost and revenue.

Creating a custom report in Analytics is very user-friendly, and I’ve honestly never had any trouble creating them, and you can filter your reports to only include data from AdWords if you want. I am comfortable recommending a simple Google help search to get you started creating your custom reports because it’s that easy.

Cross Channel Analysis

The last thing I’d like to touch on briefly is using Analytics to view PPC performance in relation to your other marketing channels. Fortunately Analytics provides a rich, visual platform for you to analyze your multi-channel information.  If you’re in Analytics, under the Conversions menu in your left navigation, you’ll see the drop down menu for Multi-Channel Funnels:

google adwords

You’ll be able to view the percentage of your conversions that are coming from your various channels in a nice circle graph, which also shows you the amount over overlapping conversions for all selected channels:

google adwords

While this is a great, quick snapshot of your performance, what I find most illustrative of the impact of my PPC account on my client’s business is actually the Assisted Conversions report (also accessible under the Multi-Channel Funnel dropdown menu). Assisted Conversions, as far as PPC is concerned, are conversions in which PPC was on the conversion path, but was not the last point of interaction from which a user converted/purchased. Translation: someone clicked on my PPC ad, but made a purchase from another access point at a later point (organic search, direct, email, etc.).

Take snapshots of your assisted conversions frequently to understand the larger impact of your PPC campaigns. If your revenue is increasing from PPC assisted conversions increases over time, you’ll be able to show additional value to PPC advertising beyond your normally reported conversions and revenue data. Perhaps increasing assisted conversion revenue becomes a new goal in and of itself.

All in all, Google Analytics will arm you with all the information you need to effectively manage and understand your e-commerce PPC account, not only as a stand only marketing effort, but also as a compliment to your other marketing efforts.

Check back tomorrow for our Google Analytics Test Lab series wrap-up!