My job is paid search and because of that, it is often easy to believe that paid search works separate from other marketing initiatives. In my perfect paid search centric world, paid search is not affected by other channels good or bad. If something goes amazing, that’s me. If something goes bad in an account, that blame is unfortunately on me too. This keeps things simple: I get to assume that I can track any performance change directly to something that I did within the last 30 days.

Obviously, a world where paid search can exist separate is just a fantasy. Paid search is one part of the many marketing initiatives. Though we are all working towards the same end goal, sometimes other’s efforts could hurt or even boost paid search performance.

When Other Channels Make You Look Great!

It’s 7 AM, you login to your account and performance is better than ever! There is a spike in traffic, but also a spike in conversions! Before you claim that you are a PPC prodigy, it might be a good idea to check how your other channels are doing. Here is my own personal anecdote: I login one morning at the beginning of December and revenue is higher than it has been in weeks. Yes, I have been working within the account, but THIS, this is beyond what I could have hoped. Where did it come from? Was it really something that I did?

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As it turns out, it was not me. There was a push in social media advertising at the same time. While that social media saw a boost in revenue, the increase in sessions from this other channel directly correlate with the boost in revenue for paid search shown above.

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The social media advertising boosted performance across all mediums. By understanding where the increase in revenue came from, we have a better understanding how to reach those performance levels again and also understand what is happening when those record highs return to normal.

When Your Performance Tanks, But Other Channels Look Great!

Ever had this type of moment: “Performance is suddenly terrible. What did I do?” This should be your gut reaction and it might be pretty accurate. There is a good chance that something that you did affected performance more drastically than you had originally guessed. Whether it was new ads, bids or a new campaign, there is a probability that something I did affected performance. However, sometimes no one can find anything that explains why things went south. This is where you start turning to outside metrics: impression share, new competitors, landing pages or other marketing efforts.

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This is the story of how another platform stole my paid search leads. When you look at the leads from all channels, volume is exactly the same. This isn’t an issue for overall marketing goals, but when your view is solely paid search performance and it nosedives out of nowhere, this can be concerning. Understanding what is happening is now really important. The graph above shows conversions from the last 7 days, as you can see there were several days that zero leads came, but then started appearing towards the end of the time range. Here is a graph of the same time period, but with referral leads compared with AdWords leads:

referrals vs adwords

The relationship between the two is pretty obvious. Overall lead volume didn’t fall, it just switched channels. When the referrals leads pulled back, paid search leads returned to where they were previously.

How do I know?

 If you have access to CRM system, this is a great place to start to compare lead volume of different mediums and overall performance. If not, Google Analytics has lots of tools to analyze overall performance compared with paid search. Multi-Channel Grouping is an easy way to compare channels side by side and sort by conversions, visits or revenue.

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By looking at past performance compared with the present, you will be able to see if any specific channel has made significant climbs up or down this list. It is great place to start analysis. Once which channel is identified, it is much easier to determine when and how it is affecting paid search.

What to do?

I’m not advising to always push blame or never take credit. That would be taking a rather extreme conclusion to this post. The point is paid search is a part of lots efforts working towards the same goal. Sometimes they boost each other up and others times they work against each other. While we are affected in the world of paid search, what we do equally affects other areas both positively and negatively.