Pay-per-click advertising can be a grind — PPC pros are often wholly responsible for managing clients’ paid search and media budgets, which can feel like a huge obligation to shoulder. 

But PPC work can also be extremely rewarding. There are few roles in any business (not to mention the wider world of marketing) that can have such a direct, quantifiable impact on revenue.

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.

Of course, the difficult and demanding nature of particular verticals (and particular clients) can make that easier said than done. To help you navigate the complexities of PPC reporting, we surveyed a group of pay-per-click pros from around the country, asking them what they wished they knew before they started in the industry, and what they’ve learned about PPC reporting for their clients.  

ParaCore (Tempe, AZ)

Some of that advice was pretty straightforward, like for Adam Arkfeld of ParaCore in Tempe, Arizona: The main thing I wish I knew about PPC before getting into the industry would be knowing which businesses perform best with PPC and pursuing those businesses first.”

And while accurate reporting is no doubt paramount to good PPC marketing, good communication practices are an equally essential, yet underappreciated, part of the equation for Adam and the ParaCore team. 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 also recently spoke with ParaCore about how they’ve achieved such stellar client retention: Read the full interview here. )

FreeGren (Seattle, WA)

For Dan Sundgren, the co-founder of Seattle-based FreeGren and a longtime PPC veteran, the benefits of hindsight often include an appreciation for the sheer breadth and scope of the opportunities available to PPC marketers.

“I started SEM in 2001 selling some of the first keyword buys on AOL/Time Warner,” Dan recalled.  “At the time, I saw some of the vision of a user ‘raising their hand’ and telling a platform what they want, but I wish I had seen how huge and far-reaching the opportunity was! I figured display was the main core of internet marketing and search was just kinda cool. As far as a direct-response campaign goes, it is hard to beat PPC if done correctly. My analogy is PPC is the bullseye on a dartboard and every ring outside of it is higher up the funnel.”

New to PPC? Read our PPC budget tips (complete with a calculator!)

Search Influence (New Orleans, LA)

Jeanne Lobman, a Digital Advertising Manager at Search Influence in New Orleans, is pretty clear: Life in PPC is a lot less miserable when you’re proficient in Excel — like, actually proficient, not just proficient because your résumé differentiates you as being “proficient in Microsoft Office.”

According to Jeanne, “Having a deep understanding of Excel formulas, functions, and pivot tables will make your life so much easier.” (We told you this wouldn’t be easy.)

“A lot of time is spent pulling reports and metrics and Excel allows you to manipulate that data quickly and easily. I recommend taking a crash course before getting started with PPC.”

KlientBoost (Irvine, CA)

When it comes to reporting, KlientBoost CEO Johnathan Dane didn’t mince words: PPC pros — especially newer ones — may feel tempted to surface vanity metrics, like click-through rates (CTRs).

Please 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.”

More from Johnathan: “4 undeniable benefits marketers gain from using call intelligence tools.”

Search Influence (New Orleans, LA)

Jeanne at Search Influence echoed many of the same sentiments when it came to 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.”

SalesX (Foster City, CA)

Joe Khoei, CEO at Bay Area-based SalesX had similarly strong words for us when it came to 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, AdWords, and call tracking, ‘PPC sharpshooters’ SalesX deliver superior results”

Looking to chat with other PPC experts about best practices for reporting and client retention? Check out our Community forum to connect with other marketing professionals.

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