January 24, 2013
All right, you don’t have to stop right this minute, but sometime in the next 24 hours. I promise this is going to be to you and your account’s benefit! Whether you’ve been in PPC account management for a few years or a few months, anyone can overlook specific analysis of metrics other than ROI/ROAS/revenue/conversions given the vast array of data that is available. Think of this as a reminder list to check in on these metrics even if they aren’t performing poorly. There’s potential to learn more when there isn’t something wrong because it’s purely analytical thinking, with nothing looming that needs an immediate fix.
Further, some of the metrics covered in this post cannot be tracked historically in the PPC interfaces (i.e. Quality Score), so you’ll want to download reports on your keyword/ad group/campaign/account-level data occasionally. This will give you the ability to see your progress (good or bad) on these metrics and pick out potential issues or wins.
The following 10 metrics may not be directly correlated to your key performance indicators, but all of them contribute in some degree and will be responsible for account improvements if given the attention and TLC they need. In no particular order:
- Cost per Click (CPC)
- Unless you’ve set up strict and specific automated rules in the interface or through a bid management system, there’s a high likelihood of CPCs creeping up on you and you not realizing it until it’s coming out on the CPA side. Make sure you have CPC thresholds in place and regularly check in on average CPCs for keywords, ad groups and campaigns to find performance changes that are slowly changing and possibly flying under the radar.
- Average Position
- This metric lines up with CPCs, as typically you see a creep in average position (either up or down) matching the change in CPCs. That said, you could also see the exact opposite reaction in average position when compared to CPC (position getting better while bid is going down). Analyze this relationship closely! Is competition in the space changing?
- Click-through Rate (CTR)
- Click-through rate is another metric where a positive performance change that you didn’t directly initiate can be incredibly educational. If you’re seeing an increase in CTR without recent ad copy changes or negative keyword addition, narrow down where the increase is coming from and find out what’s going on. Is one keyword in particular getting more click love than before? Are there variations of that term you can add to the account to extend your reach? Are those additional clicks turning in to conversions later?
- Quality Score
- Not all accounts benefit at the same rate from Quality Score improvements, but that doesn’t mean the metric can’t be optimized to contribute to other metrics (CPC, average position, etc.). As mentioned above, historical Quality Score data is not stored in the account interface. As the scores change, no matter how far back you pull your date range, the current score is what will show. Keeping that in mind, pull multiple level reports for Quality Score and track alongside other account optimizations to narrow down whether Quality Score changes are assisting other metrics or not causing much change in performance at all.
- Conversion Rate
- There is no way this isn’t a metric you’re tracking closely in your account, but it does tend to be a data point that is only explored with decreases or drastic increases happen. When there is a minor increase, use a similar tactic as mentioned above with CTR and determine if that small improvement can be expounded upon for greater increases.
- Time on Page/Bounce Rate
- Generally these metrics are high priority for SEO-based marketing efforts, but I value them just as highly when it comes to analyzing PPC performance, as well. At last year’s Hero Conf workshop, I met with a team who was having trouble with increased CTRs and budget without seeing a matching increase in sales. We took a look together at their Analytics data and saw that the bounce rate from their landing page was pretty terrible. They were so focused on the account structure and data that they hadn’t even thought to look past the click for the problem. If your clicks are getting to the landing page and leaving quickly, come up with some on-site optimizations to assist and track these data points alongside conversion rates.
- Conversion Funnel
- So let’s say you’re hitting goal on conversions, do you plan to just ride that out? I would hope not and I would urge you to go take a look at your conversion funnel through Analytics and find out if there are areas of the funnel that are losing customers. If you optimize those areas, you should be blowing goals out of the water, right? I think the benefit there is pretty clear.
- Impression Share
- While this metric can be segmented by targeted network, where impression share is being lost, etc., I truly encourage you to track this data even if just on the overall impression share level. I find this data interesting when I’ve made account improvements and impression share goes down. Generally this is a competition-related change and can make you aware of a competitor you didn’t know about.
- Keywords per Ad Group
- This is mostly for those of you who have been optimizing a given account for some time, because as keyword addition takes place over time, you end up overloading ad groups with more than the best practice 10-20. Occasionally go back and audit your ad groups and make sure no additional ad group refining needs to happen for relevancy purposes.
- Ads per Ad Group
- Again, as you get used to optimizing a particular PPC account, you can inadvertently pause ads within a given ad group until you’ve only got 1 ad copy version running. End of the world? Probably not. In the interest of ad testing however, make sure you’ve left at least 2 ads running and rotating against one another.
I have all the faith in the world in our PPC Hero readers, so I’m sure every one of you just rolled your eyes and said, “Duh, Kayla…of course I check X. Thanks for the help. GEEZ!” However I would also venture to guess that at least one of those ten caught your eye and made you think, “Wait, when was the last time I checked that?”
I would also highly encourage you all to set goals, if even just for yourself, for all these metrics. I’ve had conversations with clients before who don’t particularly care about performance changes in CTR, for example, unless it’s a drop at the same time conversions fall off. I find the increases in CTR to be incredibly valuable, specifically when that rise doesn’t correspond with a greater volume of conversions! Nonetheless, setting supporting metric goals almost forces you to pay attention to the previously mentioned data points, even if it’s not something you regularly report to your team or client. Improving performance on any of those numbers is going to be good for your account, so give them a portion of your optimization focus whether they need attention at the moment or not.
Tell us what you think! Did any of the metrics on the list jump out at you as a potentially ignored area of account performance you need to look in to? Any other metrics you’ve found yourself ignoring recently to add to the list? Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments section below!
Feel like you need some PPC Hero help with looking in to similar metrics, reviewing your account and analyzing performance? Let us help you prioritize a list of optimizations at Hero Conf in Austin this April! We’ve got a 1-on-1 workshop planned for day 3 and we’d love to see you there! Check out the Hero Conf site for more details on the workshop, the entire conference and registration info!