I think most search marketers would agree that paid search is not a "set it and forget" advertising medium. But you might be surprised at how many advertisers effectively do just that, casually checking campaign stats without any real game plan to improve their PPC performance. Or, they simply trust the search engine to optimize their performance for them. And while most who fall into this camp tend to be smaller businesses who are presumably not as digitally savvy, I've run across more than one major paid search advertiser that effectively hadn't changed its campaigns in years.
Wondering whether you're paying close enough attention to your PPC campaign data? A simple measure of your campaign knowledge is whether or not you can answer questions such as:
- What's a reasonable click-through rate to expect for my ads?
- Am I spending too much or too little this month?
- How much revenue could I earn each month from my campaign?
- Should I continue sponsoring this keyword or is it actually hurting my campaign?
If you can't answer fundamental questions such as these, read on. The following will provide you with guidance.
The goal of campaign measurement is to make informed decisions about your campaign. That means having a strong knowledge of your current and past performance, and the insight to uncover and address problems and opportunities that were previously unknown to you.
The following are the key statistics to watch:
Daily and Monthly Spend
The two most important statistics you need to track are your daily and monthly campaign spend, so you understand what you're spending per day, how your campaign spend changed over the past month, and what a normal month looks like.
Start by looking at your absolute dollar spend every day and maintain a trending chart to help you distinguish between normal and abnormal daily fluctuations. With it, you can see when costs are highest and when they trend down. A chart can also tell you what's perfectly normal for daily cost fluctuations. Anything outside of the normal range can alert you to problems.
Coverage and Impression Share
The next two statistics to track are coverage and impression share. Impression share is the percentage of the available search impressions in which your ads appear across all your keywords. Coverage is similar, except that it doesn't take traffic into account and can be used on individual keywords. These metrics can tell you how much traffic you're leaving on the table.
In terms of importance, coverage takes precedence over impression share because it tells you exactly where the problems lie by revealing places where your quality score lags behind your close competitors. That being said, impression share helps monitor your campaign's overall health. If it drops below 70 percent, you know it's time to start figuring out what's going wrong.
It's important to track both the daily and monthly clicks you're receiving from your campaigns. As with campaign costs, you need to be able to distinguish between normal daily fluctuations and trends either up or down.
Having charts of your costs and clicks is helpful, but it doesn't give you the whole picture. It's very easy to miss important changes in your campaign if you try to eyeball the charts against one another. For this reason, you should also track the average daily click-through rate. By knowing what is normal and what is not, you'll be able to see when something may be wrong with your campaign and dig deeper to find the cause.
The final key statistic to track on your campaign is average website conversion rate: the percentage of visitors to your site who buy from you. If you see great disparities between your sales and average conversion rate, that could indicate problems, especially if you see a spike in sales and a concurrent drop in average conversion rate.
Track Competitors Too
Beyond your own campaigns, tracking competitors' spend (and other data) can provide valuable insights. For instance, if a long-time competitor increases their bids, it's often a sign something is working. Check their landing pages for new products, feature improvements, or even new layouts and copy.
If a competitor's bids and/or budget drop, it's often a sign something isn't working. Aside from the strategic advantage this data gives you, it's also useful for benchmarking your own campaign spend and traffic against your competitors', which helps ensure you can at least achieve parity with your rivals.By Richard Stokes