The most fundamental question I always ask myself when managing an account is what metrics should I be looking at and analyzing. The answer I always arrive at is ‘everything’. Even the slightest, most mundane piece of information might hold the key to the next level of account performance. There are so many data points to look at in a paid search account and each one offers a unique glimpse into the direction your ppc program is headed.

Knowing I can’t meet that lofty standard day in and day out, I need to look at metrics that meet two criteria. 1) Is the metric I’m looking at telling me what direction my account is headed in and 2) Can the metric I’m analyzing be acted upon both strategically and tactically.

Today I’m going to share with you the metrics I look at on a daily basis, why I look at them, and how it helps guide my daily account work.

Cost per Acquisition

Cost per Acquisition is the first metric I look at because it provides a first indicator of whether or not my accounts are on track. Even when I’m pushing for volume, if I find CPA costs are not in line with stated goals, I have immediate optimization work to do. After all, what good is volume if its not profitable!

If my costs are at or better than goal, I immediately know my day will be focused on finding ways to drive volume. If not, I immediately start looking for the source of my CPA/CPL problems. I start at the campaign level and identify what’s performing at goal and what’s not. Once I singled out the offending campaigns, I move onto the ad groups and repeat the same process. Eventually I work my way down to the ads and keywords and take the necessary actions, whether it’s adjusting bids, breaking out keywords into new ad groups or pausing keywords and ads entirely.  Once I’ve completed those tasks, I take a step back and begin monitoring the adjustments I’ve made. If the changes are successful, I can move out of cost control mode and into volume driving mode. If the changes were not having the intended effect, I repeat this process until costs come back into line.

Conversion Rate

I look at conversion rate because it ties in directly with cost per acquisition. In my accounts I have at least a general sense of what the baseline conversion rate is. If I see a sizable performance variance, I know my CPA/CPL will move accordingly. If my conversion rate is down, I immediately check the landing pages to make sure there are no technical issues. I always try to eliminate technical issues before diving into performance issues.

On the contrary, if conversion rate is stronger than usual, I want to understand why so that success can be replicated. Was it an optimization made to landing pages? Was ad copy changed that’s performing better, or just a natural bump in performance because of seasonality? Strong conversion rate usually translates into meeting the cost and volume goals of my accounts so I tend to keep a close eye on conversion rate, and how it relates to overall account performance.

CTR & Impression Share

These two metrics tell me if the messaging of my ads is resonating with prospects and how fully the ads are penetrating the marketplace. Whether cost improvement, growth, or a combination of the two is the main goal, improving CTR and impression share is a necessary tool in the ppc professional’s arsenal. Like conversion rate, I know the baseline CTR and Impression Share percentages in my accounts. I specifically look for deviations in performance and why.

CTR is simply the amount of clicks on an ad per 100 impressions. Improving CTR will definitely help reach your goals. Increasing click through rates affects growth by increasing the amount of traffic to your landing pages. If conversion rate at least remains steady, the end result will be more volume. CTR also is a main component of quality score. A higher CTR usually results in paying less for clicks, which can help your cost metrics. I always strive to have ad tests going on at all times in my accounts.

Impression share is the percentage of impressions received in relation to the total amount of auctions available. Impression share is also broken out to know if your missing out due to budget or ranking issues. This metric is providing you the ability to take direct action by increasing budgets (if it makes economic sense) or whether CTR needs to be worked on.

Segmentation Metrics

Segments are underutilized, but they tell an incredible story. For example, I’ve made strategic decisions on where an ad’s average position should be based on evaluating top of page performance vs. along the side. Analyzing performance by device type and acting on that data has also led to an increase in mobile growth in my accounts.

These are but just a few of the metrics I look at, but they provide me excellent guidance in my daily account management work. Let me know what metrics you look at to measure account success.