6 tips to track and analyze PPC results

Whether you have just built your first search campaign or have already set up thousands, once you hit the “launch” button, you’re probably already thinking about how to effectively track and share the results of your efforts.

There are dozens of metrics you can use to review PPC performance depending on your business objectives. 

While the wealth of data points may seem overwhelming, here are six tips to consider as you navigate PPC performance tracking and glean valuable insights.

  • What are your main campaign goals?
  • What metrics are important?
  • How are you pacing to your budget?
  • Is your bid strategy achieving its target?
  • Who is your primary audience for performance reports?
  • What automated reports can you set up to do some heavy lifting for you?

1. Goals

It’s important to start any reporting rooted in your primary and secondary goals or key performance indicators (KPIs) important to your company or client. 

Suppose you’re tasked with improving attributable revenue every quarter. In that case, it won’t be very helpful to send over a report covering how much your landing page traffic has increased year-to-date. 

Tracking results rooted in the same one or two KPIs over time will have the most meaning to your stakeholders and help you make the most impactful optimizations over time. 

For the purpose of this article, let’s say conversion volume is your primary KPI, and conversion rate is your secondary KPI.

Dig deeper: 5 outdated marketing KPIs to toss and what to reference instead

2. Metrics

Once you’ve confirmed your KPIs, consider the most important metrics to include in your weekly or monthly performance checks

If you’re primarily interested in conversion volume, conversions will be your main metric to include in your analysis, and insights should be rooted in conversion data. Conversion rate will be a secondary indicator of performance. 

Suppose conversions have decreased, but conversion rates have increased. In that case, it’s a good time to dig into your audience lists or regional targeting to see what archetypes of customers are driving higher conversion rates or more qualified conversions.

3. Pacing

Budget flighting is a bullet point to include in every performance recap or report. 

Suppose you’re pacing well to your primary goal (conversion volume), but you’re over-pacing your daily or monthly budgets. In that case, it may be time to request more budget for paid search efforts, especially if your cost per conversion (a tertiary goal here) is efficient compared to previous periods or not considered important to your stakeholders. 

If you are under-pacing and conversion volume is strong, it’s time to look for growth opportunities in keyword expansion and other channel types or potentially decrease your paid search budgets and shift to higher scaling channels.

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4. Bidding

Your bid strategy is a great data point to include in your performance analysis and, ideally, should correspond with your primary goal. 

If you’re using Maximize conversion bidding to reach your conversion volume goal, amazing! 

If you’re using something like a Target cost per acquisition (tCPA) or Target return on ad spend (tROAS), consider how changing the bid targets will help you reach your goal. 

There are always reasons your bid strategy may not directly reach your primary goal, but you should prioritize alignment as much as possible.

5. Audiences

When tracking and analyzing your campaign performance, it’s helpful to consider who will be digesting performance data. 

If it’s just you and your team, you’re probably pulling a different level of reporting than you would for a C-suite meeting or your client’s boss’s boss.

The biggest thing any audience will be looking for is an action item and insight they can translate to other channels. 

If one ad drives the highest volume of conversions this month, can that copy be reused for an email campaign or Meta ad?

Since you’re the expert in the room (or on the email thread), it’s up to you to break down PPC performance into digestible and actionable tasks for the wider team you’re sharing data with.

Avoid using too many acronyms that your audience may not be familiar with or sharing insight that reads or sounds like the following:

  • “CPCs are decreasing MoM, CVR is flat, CTR is increasing, and CPA is within 5% of QoQ goals, so we should increase the tROAS by 14%.” 

After seeing this, someone’s head may start spinning and never stop.

Instead, try: 

  • “Our ad copy that contains more educational content about what our company does is performing better – 40% more conversions – than the ad that’s highlighting this month’s sale.”
  • “Let’s add more assets – sitelinks, callouts, images – to further qualify users before they get to our site.”
  • “This may also be a helpful insight for our web team to include some of this language on the landing page we’re sending potential customers to and for our social media channels to incorporate educational content in short video form.”

Dig deeper: 3 steps for effective PPC reporting and analysis

6. Automated reports

Alright, you’ve established your KPIs, pulled in your relevant metrics as columns in the engine of your choice,  assessed your budget pacing, checked your bid strategies, and delivered an amazing PPC report to your wider team. Great work! 

In an age of automation, how much can be set up to be sent directly to your inbox every week or month? 

In Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, or SA360, you can set up a report with your preferred date range, columns, calculated fields, and any other data layers you may need. 

Go into Reports > Custom reports > Schedule report. Then, input the necessary cadence and email information that will be helpful for you to start your analysis next time.

I’d always recommend using your ads platform as a starting point and finishing your deep dive either in your data source (Looker, Datorama, etc.) or omnichannel platform (SA 360, Skai, etc.) for cross-channel learnings after unearthing your paid search findings.

Dig deeper: 3 ways to stay on top of PPC performance

Glean meaningful insights to inform your PPC campaigns 

Tracking and analyzing PPC performance is no small feat. There’s a wealth of data, seasonality trends, and variables that can impact how campaigns behave. 

As paid search experts, we must translate numbers into stories, next steps, and testing proposals to scale an account and generate learnings for a wider team. There is much to unpack, but it’s also the most foundational part of our role. 

Starting with these six considerations will help you find your footing and deliver the best insights possible. 

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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About the author

Grace Mante

Grace Mante is a paid search expert who has worked with over 100 clients across nearly every vertical (yes, even concrete drainage solutions). She’s managed budgets anywhere from $1k-$100M per quarter, and loves to find ways to make search best practices work for niche businesses. When she’s not diving into rabbit holes about the future of AI, she is chasing annual reading goals and trying to get outside for as many long walks as possible.

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