Your typical pay-per-click marketer is a Jack- (or Jill-) of-all-trades, experts in efficiently managing budgets and serving hyper-relevant ads, but also adept at client management, data analytics and, of course, reporting. Without the ability to produce concise, meaningful ppc reports, all of our work is for naught.
So when it comes to PPC reporting, what makes a good report? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but there are guiding principles that can help make sure you’re producing effective reports, no matter what industry your client is in and no matter what their goals are.
Laying a foundation with KPIs
The meat and potatoes of a good report is always going to be the core KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you’ve outlined with your client. This is why it’s important to discuss what KPIs the client wants to focus on before you’ve spent any money. No matter what industry, no matter what client, our focus should always be ROAS (Return On Ad Spend), but individual client goals will vary, so your reports will as well.
Sometimes this will mean focusing on certain conversion types over others (calls vs. purchases vs. sign-ups), and other times it could mean devoting more time to impression share and click-through-rate.
A somewhat shifting focus
Just because you don’t think a particular metric should be the focus doesn’t mean you should exclude it from your reporting — it just means it’s up to you to convey the importance of the metric in comparison to where the client’s focus should be. So if the client is overly concerned with CPC, be sure to report on and monitor CPC trends over time, but also take time to shift the client’s focus towards meaningful KPIs that provide real value.
Every report should focus on the core KPIs you’ve outlined with your client, as well as the goals you’re shooting for. That could include customer acquisition, sales or leads at a certain cost, or higher funnel metrics (like CTR, impression share, CPCs etc).
When those core KPIs take a dip, however, it’s important to look at correlative KPIs to understand why the metrics you’re trying to focus on have taken a dip and what you’re doing to move the needle in the opposite direction. Just because some of the core KPIs have taken a dip, doesn’t mean your campaigns are a complete failure and the client is going to drop you, it just means your reporting needs to accurately reflect the market, and why certain account shifts have taken place.
Clear and concise PPC reports (with visuals)
So you’ve outlined your goals with your client, and you know what conversions and which metrics you’re going to focus on. Now, how should you present that to the client? Ideally, you’ll whip up a beautiful report with all the fancy fixings, but in reality, something simple, and easy to interpret will get the job done just as well.
Whether you’re building out data visualization in Excel, taking screenshots in AdWords, building reports in AdWords (see the screenshot below), or using a free tool like Google Data Studio, the key is to have data visualization. We’ve eliminated a lot of extraneous data that may confuse a client by clearly outlining our goals ahead of time, but if the data you have to show off is lost amongst spreadsheets, columns and comparison charts, then you lose a lot of value in the face of the client:
I’ve included a sample AdWords report from GDS below. I’d recommend removing some of the info like device breakdown, based on what your client is interested in and replacing it with a text field or two with analysis and future actions that’ll be taken over the next month.
Every report should be concise and clear, and with plans for moving forward — both on how to tackle future issues, and how to improve current performance. Hopefully, with goals aligned, KPIs outlined and visuals in place, your next report will be less of a hassle and more of an opportunity to outline your work and impress your clients.
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