As search professionals, we’re always assessing the overall state of our PPC programs. If performance isn’t constantly monitored, we’re sure to find out one day that the campaigns we thought were doing well are not hitting goals or worst case scenario, losing money. For this very reason, most account managers create intricate methods for tracking overall performance so they can keep their accounts on track. Due to these intricate methods being in place, most PPC professionals manage successful accounts that perform at or better than expectations.

Although performance is good, do you know the true health of your PPC program? Are things happening underneath the surface that can truly threaten overall performance? Just because an account is hitting goals doesn’t mean it’s completely healthy.

In this article, I’m going to outline a few methods for monitoring your account on a deeper level that will help determine its overall health. Understanding a paid search account’s true health guides deeper level optimizations that keep account performance on track and helps addresses issues long before they become a problem and a threat to performance.

Let’s get to it!

Performance Segmentation

Analyzing segmented performance is the most effective way to assess overall account health. The reason segmentation analysis is so effective is because you learn the key drivers of account performance. When areas of an account are overperforming and others are underperforming, the result could be that the account is hitting its overall performance goals. Segmentation analysis unmasks what’s not working in your campaigns, which ultimately leads to uncovering optimization opportunities that keep your account healthy and helps take your PPC program to a whole new level.

I just ran into an issue like this in one of my accounts. Overall, the account is doing very well. We’re constantly hitting lead volume and CPA goals. Lead volume has experienced many consecutive months of year over year growth and the client is always willing to provide more budget.

However, in a recent analysis, I discovered an issue that could have negatively impacted overall account performance. This account’s primary product offering experienced a 42% year over year CPA increase.

This product line represents 26% of all traffic, spend, and lead volume in the account I manage. If I didn’t run a segmented analysis of all product lines, I wouldn’t have known of the potential trouble brewing underneath the surface. The lesson is to continually monitor performance segments and not just top level data to fully understand performance, and most importantly to know where you need to act.

So how do we segment performance? What views into our accounts will give us a deeper understanding of underlying account performance?

Official Conversion Performance Data

By ‘official’ I mean conversion data from yours or your client’s back office systems. Interface conversions are meant to be directional. If back end data is structured correctly, it should be easy to link order information to either a specific campaign or group of campaigns. Use back office data for all official reporting and analysis. Dig into this data to find out the products and services that are performing well and the ones that need more optimization.

Time Analysis

They say timing’s everything, right? The days and times your PPC ads are running can have a drastic impact on performance. For instance, one account I manage typically experiences a sharp rise in CPA over the weekends. To mitigate the impact of the weekend CPA spike, an automated 20% bid reduction rule runs from 12:01am Saturday morning through 11:59 pm Sunday night. Implementing this rule keeps weekend cost per acquisition in check, which ultimately keeps overall performance on track.

Because this account consistently performs well, it would have been easy to overlook this dynamic. However, from first-hand experience, I learned that addressing this issue proactively when performance was good protected against when weekday performance began to fluctuate and overall CPA began to rise. Because the weekend bid modifiers were already in place, overall CPA didn’t spike nearly has high as it could have and kept underperformance to a minimum.

Below is an analysis from an automated system I use to help with analysis and optimizations. As you can see, this heatmap charts performance by hour of day and by the critical metrics that need to be tracked. Based on the color coding system, (green meaning performing well, red meaning under performance) I can quickly determine what times of day perform well and what times of day need to be optimized or removed from ad serving.

Review your time of day performance

Device Performance

Customers typically employ multiple devices throughout their conversion journey. Many customers begin researching a product or service on one device then convert on another. Due to this complex dynamic, it’s important to analyze performance by device. The illustration below represents a demonstration for how to quickly assess device performance to get a deeper sense of what specifically is driving overall performance. Understanding desktop vs. mobile vs. tablet performance provides a guide for what areas of your account should be optimized.

Review your device performance

Final Thoughts

Although aggregated data might point to good performance, don’t trust that data 100%. Good overall performance doesn’t mean there isn’t trouble brewing behind the scenes and just out of sight. Regular deep level analysis ensures potential issues are being quickly addressed which leads to a healthy account that produces solid long term results.