Reporting in B2B PPC – What Do Your Clients Really Want To See?

March 31, 2008: My clients’ understanding of the value of PPC might hinge on my ability to lucidly present data. So by flooding them with data I do us both a disservice. I don’t accurately portray the success of the paid search campaign and the client does not necessarily understand what he or she is getting for their paid search investment.

I am going to show how some universally reported paid search metrics can be presented so that someone with little or no experience in paid search would be able to see the value.

Metric 1: Clicks

This measures how many visitors paid search drove to the client’s landing page.

A typical report might find it orphaned on a slide with some other metrics, or simply listed as clicks with a number. It might be part of a graph or chart that shows clicks over time. Or it might be presented by keyword, spend, or any with any of a dozen possible dependent variables.

What is the Best Way to Present it?
It is important to remember that most (if not all) of our activities are meant to maximize the return to our clients. Saying that we generated 7,000 clicks by itself is neither engaging nor particularly helpful.

Instead I would choose the top 10 or 20 most important keywords and show how many clicks they each received. I would also connect this with the CPC (cost per click) and average position for these highlighted terms. If any of these keywords raised or declined significantly I would earmark it with a note.

Next I might pick out any tail keywords or phrases that created more clicks than expected, and any additional keywords that resulted in a conversion. I would report specifically on these, and possibly add them to the growing list of “important” keywords above.

This creates somewhat of a living history of your click data. It will allow you to track progress easily moving forward, and you will never have to tell a client something as bland as how many clicks you created through paid search.

Metric 2: Conversions

More often than not the net number of conversions created is overstated in importance. This, in part, is because it is something that is easy to present, especially to a client that is less sophisticated with paid search.

In Month A we created 50 conversions for your firm, where in Month B we increased conversions to 60. It makes for an excellent trend in a graph, and the client can feel good about the “progress” of the paid search campaign.

What is the Best Way to Present it?
Conversions are very difficult to nail down values for unless you have the requisite analytics software available. If you do you no longer have to talk in terms of net conversions, rather you can talk in the terms of net value created.

You can begin talking about total revenue, revenue per conversion, return on ad spend, and this can be broken down as far as the keyword level. The hypothetical jump to 60 from 50 conversions above is nice, but it pales in comparison to being able to tell the client how much return on investment grew from one month to the next, or how much revenue was generated by a new campaign concept.

Metric 3: Click Through Rate

To summarize a post I wrote earlier in the year, by itself CTR % does not give you any meaningful information.

Telling your client CTR percentages in search might make it seem like something is “wrong” when CTR in content campaigns is significantly worse.

What ts the Best Way to Present it?
Instead I would show CTR compared by theme. If searchers were more likely to enter from a certain Ad Group, I would highlight it.

I would also show, on an ongoing basis, which ad copy edits and revisions were more successful than others in attracting clicks and creating conversions.

Final Questions to Ask Yourself

Remember that just because a paid search manager can juggle 3 dozen acronyms and make logical inferences on the fly does not mean that your client can. Whenever you are putting together data for a client remember to ask yourself these three questions.

  • What does this really mean?
  • What were the actual business results of this?
  • How can we use this data to make decisions that will lead to better business results?

Put yourself in the shoes of the business owner, and try to figure out how to present data that would best help your decision making process.
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