PPC and SEM reporting tools

If you’re running pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns to drive traffic and conversions for your business, PPC reporting tools are vital to your strategy. These tools provide the data insights your organization needs to understand the relative success of your campaigns and demonstrate ROI for your efforts.

PPC reporting also gives you a blueprint to help you adjust and refine your SEM strategy over time, optimizing your performance to push your ROI even higher. As you run various PPC campaigns across different ad products and platforms, reporting can also offer guidance as to how to balance your marketing mix to prioritize your top-performing channels.

If you’re new to PPC reporting, it’s important to understand how to read these reports, and how to use them to drive changes to your marketing strategy. And with so many PPC reporting tools out on the market, it’s easy to get lost among your options.

Key elements of a PPC report

When you set up a PPC reporting tool, you, as the user, will have control over the data and elements of that report. To that end, you need to understand what types of data are most useful to your business, both in terms of understanding your PPC performance and for demonstrating ROI to your higher-ups.

In a general sense, the elements of a PPC report are dictated by the goals you’ve set for your PPC campaigns. If you’re using PPC campaigns to retarget past visitors to your website, for example, the relevant metrics will be much different from the metrics used to evaluate the performance of a campaign targeted at driving first-time visitors to your website.

Some common metrics used in PPC reporting include the following:

  • Ad impressions
  • Total clicks
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Cost per click
  • Conversions
  • Cost per conversion
  • Quality score
  • Average position

Metrics can be more customized and specific than these data points, though, depending on the goals of your reporting. For example, if you’re running multiple PPC campaigns at once, you likely want PPC reports that can compare overall campaign performance. Reports can segment performance and value by categories such as device, keyword, time frame, and month-to-month comparisons, among a wide range of customizations that can help you generate meaningful insights from your campaigns.

You also need a reporting tool that can draw traffic data from your website and landing page. This landing page data will offer valuable insights regarding your ad’s effectiveness at driving clicks.

Most PPC reporting tools offer their own templates that you can customize as needed based on your interests. In fact, the ease and flexibility of using these templates are among the top considerations when choosing a PPC reporting tool.

The best PPC reporting tools for SMBs

Looking for cost-effective PPC reporting tools that can help your business drive better results in short order? Here are some of our recommended tools to consider:

Google Ads Performance Grader

As a free solution, Google Ads Performance Grader is hard to beat: It offers easy-to-use grading for campaigns based on keyword optimization, CTR, impressions, and a number of other key metrics. This solution is also great for benchmarking, which benefits your reporting and analysis as you implement optimizations over time.

Reports and grades can also be delivered directly to your inbox, so even if this reporting tool doesn’t check every box on your list, it can still offer some good value relative to the amount of time you have to invest into it — especially if you already plan on using Google Ads to build PPC campaigns.

Octoboard

If you’re looking for solid reporting templates, Octoboard is a great option. This PPC reporting tool integrates with a number of major ad platforms, including Google, Bing, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and it makes it easy to quickly create easy-to-read reports for different audiences. Reports targeted to your marketing team can be created separately from reports geared toward decision-makers who want to see proof of ROI.

These quality report generation tools come at a price: Plans range from $5 to $210 monthly, depending on your desired level of service and whether or not you’re willing to make a long-term commitment. And Octoboard offers simple API integration with CallRail’s analytics dashboard.

Reporting Ninja

For small-business owners and marketing managers overseeing a number of different PPC campaigns, Reporting Ninja makes it easy to quickly deliver custom white-label reports for each business in a time-efficient manner. Reports can be scheduled and delivered on a regular cadence, pulling in data from various PPC campaigns along with other paid marketing channels.

The downside of Reporting Ninja is that if you’re just looking for a solution that serves your own department’s PPC strategy, its functionality might not offer the same kind of value it provides to bigger companies and agencies. And with its $20-per-month price tag, your company might prefer to put its marketing dollars elsewhere.

Databox

Databox is a great tool for combining PPC performance data from multiple channels into the same report. It also offers real-time data insights, allowing you to monitor campaigns as they take place and giving you the option to call audibles on your strategy even while campaigns are still underway.

Many Databox users cite the custom reporting capabilities as one of their top reasons for using this reporting solution. Databox integrates with CallRail to combine call tracking data into these custom reports. And the visual report templates allow users to create eye-catching PPC reports with minimal effort.

CallRail’s Keyword Spotting and Call Highlights

CallRail offers [two excellent features](https://www.callrail.com/blog/keyword-tracking-callrail-ppc/that support PPC) reporting efforts. Keyword Spotting helps you monitor inbound phone calls for a preset list of words and phrases that could help you better understand the kinds of keywords that are driving search users to your business.

Meanwhile, Call Highlights analyzes the context of these phone calls to help you discover new keywords that could offer value to your PPC and SEO strategies. When using them together, you have plenty of information to build PPC campaigns based on excellent keyword research. CallRail is able to include your call data from Google Ads in the same PPC reports as your other ad KPIs, so you can always see the full picture when evaluating performance. And these keyword data sets can be easily exported and delivered to a separate PPC reporting tool to streamline your data analysis.

These PPC reporting tools are our top recommendations for gathering information about your campaign performance, but the true power of your reporting lies in your ability to implement changes and optimizations based on your findings.

The benefits of using a PPC management agency

Although it’s possible to handle PPC campaigns and reporting on your own, there are some benefits to working with a PPC management agency. If you haven’t decided whether to partner with an agency or handle PPC alone, here are some of the top factors to consider:

  • Time commitment: PPC campaigns take time to set up, and they also require constant monitoring and management if you want to maximize their value. If you can’t commit the time and resources to oversight of your PPC strategy, then your cost savings from a DIY approach will also lead to reduced campaign performance and ROI. With a PPC management partner, you can outsource these efforts, guarantee better results, and dedicate internal resources to other projects.
  • A faster track to optimized campaigns: When you’re just starting out with PPC, you’re going to suffer through a lot of trial and error as you gain experience. These growing pains can be avoided if you work with a PPC management agency, through which you can lean on the expertise of PPC specialists to drive better results right from the start — and to speed up optimization, maximize results, and minimize waste.
  • Gains in performance that can offset your cost: One of the biggest reasons why companies resist PPC management agencies is the added cost they represent. Although budgetary limitations are a crucial constraint, it’s helpful to take the long view and balance this added cost against the increased gains in performance. Ideally, the value and revenue generated by a PPC management agency will surpass the cost of the services, providing an overall return on this expense as business growth accelerates. By reducing waste on PPC ad spending, a management partner can help you get the best bang for your buck, even while working within your PPC budget.

If you’re open to using a PPC management agency, do your research and conduct interviews with several top options to get a sense of how they would build a custom PPC strategy for your business. From there, you can decide whether you’re ready to outsource this marketing strategy to a team of dedicated specialists. For help finding a trusted partner to work with, check out CallRail’s agency partner directory. Conclusion For marketers who are already handling search engine optimization for their business, PPC strategies may seem like familiar territory. But the paid component of these campaigns creates a much different performance dynamic than that of an algorithm-focused SEO strategy, so no matter how well-versed you are with SEO, PPC will bring a steep learning curve.

Whether you opt for a PPC management agency or take on SEM strategies on your own, make sure you’re using the right reporting tools to evaluate performance and optimize your approach. You can succeed with PPC only when you’re using past performance to drive better results in the future.

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