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. Going from PPC campaign creation to bid, to clicks (and sales!) can be exhilarating. In a perfect world, crafting PPC reports for your clients isn’t just another item on your to-do list — it’s a gratifying capstone to all of the good work you’ve done.

But 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.

Including KPIs in PPC reports for clients

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.

Jeanne Lobman at Search Influence in New Orleans mentioned this in a recent chat about PPC reporting. In a nutshell: It’s not about finding the biggest numbers to tout and trumpet, it’s about always keeping an eye toward the client’s goals.

“It may seem obvious, but the most important thing is to understand what matters to the client and how they define success,” Jeanne says. “PPC pros tend to compile reports with tons of data and metrics because these are the numbers we get excited about. But, if you can report on only the metrics that matter to the client, it will be easier to communicate how your campaigns are contributing to their success.”

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 (CTR). 

Joe Khoei, CEO at Bay Area-based SalesX also knocked down vanity metrics: Don’t hunt for inflated numbers, because they’re probably not telling a true story. Instead, the best reporting not only shows the client how well your campaigns are performing but allows you to double down on your high-performing efforts.

“Think about taking the value of your work full circle by enabling your clients to report back the results of the leads you generate,” Joe advises. “Then track back those results to the originating search terms and let those guide your campaign management decisions.”

Read more: “With Bing, Google Ads, and call tracking, ‘PPC sharpshooters’ SalesX deliver superior results”

Monitor CPC and CTR, sure, but down-funnel KPIs are king

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 cost per click (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.

This tendency to focus on non-essential metrics goes both ways, of course. When KlientBoost CEO Johnathan Dane discussed PPC reporting with CallRail, he didn’t mince words: paid media folks — especially newer ones — may feel tempted to surface vanity metrics, like CTR and CPC.

Don’t do that.

“So many PPCers focus on the wrong things and try to avoid being accountable for helping their clients reach a stronger ROI,” Johnathan says. “Stop reporting on improved CTRs when you should be reporting on money being made instead.”

And when it comes to finding the right clients, Johnathan recommends doing some good vetting. Maybe start with Adam’s advice above — identify the right industries to prioritize. Then, go deeper.

“Ask questions that can sting, like about their profitability before taking them on as clients. Set much stronger and clearer expectations from day one, and keep digging for honesty from the client throughout the entire relationship. This will lead to fewer unpleasant surprises, allowing you to constantly be in tune and aligned with their goals.”

Clear and concise PPC reports (with visuals): Example of a PPC report

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 Google Ads (formerly AdWords), building reports in Ads (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 Ads 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.

ppc report

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.

Good PPC reporting and management comes down to good communication

Don’t just send an occasional report. Go above and beyond with good communication skills with your clients, like our friends at ParaCore in Tempe, Arizona.

Frequent check-ins combined with professional and clear communication will go a long way towards making your PPC efforts successful.

“I think good PPC pros probably do a great job on campaigns a lot of the time, but if that’s not communicated well, it might go unnoticed by the client,” Adam points out. “We have a strict communication protocol at ParaCore that has really helped us with client satisfaction and updates.”

We recently spoke with ParaCore about how they’ve achieved such stellar client retention: Read the full interview here. 

One thing ParaCore does to go above and beyond: they use CallRail to provide a few bullet point highlights or tips in the email they send with the PPC report, helping their clients to holistically thrive, even sometimes with scheduling advice: “Dear Ms. Client, we noticed that your missed call rate between 12-2 p.m. on weekdays is really going up and we thought you should be aware.” Don’t be afraid to get anecdotal!

Are you a PPC pro with questions or tips about how to improve your work? Head to the CallRail Community to discuss strategy, share best practices, and connect with other marketing professionals

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