The holidays are here, and nearly every company is ramping up their marketing efforts to try and gain new customers – or encourage current customers to purchase again. With so much competition and higher CPCs and CPAs, marketers must use every available instrument to ensure success. Reporting and analytics must be a part of that toolkit.
How to Monitor Your Campaigns Throughout the Holiday
Real-time metrics provide you with a snapshot of how your campaign is performing at a certain moment in time. For example, you can monitor the days leading up to Christmas to determine how well sales are doing. Google Analytics now offers real-time metrics to help you determine the success of your campaign, including being able to compare cost versus total revenue garnered.Other real-time metric tools include Clicky, KISSmetrics, GoSquared, Piwik and many others. Always compare platforms and determine your actual needs before using them. Prices will vary with platforms, ranging from free to a minimum monthly fee to potentially thousands of dollars.
What Metrics Should You Be Monitoring?
Depending on the type of business that you have, you will need to monitor different metrics. For a physical store, you will probably be more interested in coupon downloads and phone calls over number of impressions. If you have an online store, you will want to measure clicks, click-through rate and sales. Any retailer will also be interested in conversion rate and CPA, and how that contributes to overall ROI. Always determine what metrics you are most interested in before launching a campaign.The channels that you use will also vary. Most B2B companies will focus on LinkedIn, Search and Display. Many B2C companies, on the other hand, may focus more budget on Twitter and Facebook with a mix of Search and Display. This means that the metrics that you have measuring will be slightly different based on platform. For example, in AdWords a lead is a conversion, but with Facebook lead form ads, it’s a form fill out. While these mean virtually the same, the terminology is slightly different.
You’ll have to be constantly tweaking your campaigns throughout the holiday season. Metrics that you should always pay attention to include the following:
If you find that you’re running out of budget quickly or not really getting clicks, then your budget probably isn’t high enough. Increase budget as needed, but constantly compare it to ROI. If you are blowing your budget, yet are only receiving a minimal number of conversions, then the campaign might not be worth running – or it needs serious adjustment.
Everyone wants to do something during the holidays, but many businesses find that it’s not worth the expense. For example, many B2B companies don’t have a ton of success during the holidays since their targets are typically winding down for the year or are out of budget. Always consider your goals before launching a holiday campaign. Know what your target conversion rate and CPA are. If a holiday campaign isn’t contributing to that, hold your budget for another time of year.
You’ll notice that you may be getting a lot “bid not high enough” type of warnings. Keyword costs tend to quickly escalate especially on important keywords like “black Friday” or “specials”. Adjust bids higher, and even consider doing bid adjustments, especially on days when you expect your audience will be online.
Also, review low-performing ads. Consider lowering budget on these, or even shutting them off.
Typically, you want to increase your bids by at least 10% to 20%. For example, in a recent campaign for a client, we noticed that most conversions were happening Tuesday night through Thursday morning. We increased the bids by 20% during these key timeframes and saw conversions increase by 5% after doing this.To set bid adjustments in AdWords, go to Ad Schedule, and then Select Bid Adjustment. Then, increase or decrease your bid adjustment.
Impressions and impression share often decrease as competition increases. If you notice a significant reduction in impressions, review your impression share in comparison to previous months. Impression share is the number of impressions divided by total eligible impressions. If it is significantly lower because of seasonal competition, increase budget, and then monitor results.If impression share drops below 50%, review your keyword bids. If they’re too low, try increasing them by about 20%, and then monitor over the next few days to a week to see if impression share improves. You might have to also increase your overall budget. When you run out of budget, your ads will stop displaying, reducing the number of impressions. You should also experiment with changing geo-targeting settings to narrow your target area as well as improve the quality of your ads.
CTR, CVR and CPA Per Ad
Overall CTR, CVR and CPA will tell you how your total campaign is doing. Yet, diving down into the individual metrics of each ad will help you ascertain whether certain ads are performing better than others. An ad might be driving a lot of clicks, but not converting at all. Another ad, however, might be converting, but at a significantly higher cost than the others. Understanding these metrics in relation to the ads helps you determine best-performing messaging and imagery. Then, you can turn off budget-wasting ads, and create new ads similar to your higher performers.A decent CTR is 2%, and a good CVR is between 2% and 5%. If your ads aren’t performing well, consider changing messaging. If the larger problem is a lack of brand awareness, you will need to add additional tactics to the mix to assist with this, i.e. a social media or PR campaign to help visitors recognize the brand. CPA is going to be dependent on your product or service. For example, a B2B company may be willing to pay over $200 CPA for a lead if that means thousands of dollars in business. Yet, a small retailer will only be willing to pay $20 a lead since the average sale is $45. Your CPA shouldn’t be more than half of your average sale since this amount doesn’t even include other advertising costs, i.e. paying a DMP or vendor to do the work. If CPA is too high, lower target CPA bids. This might reduce your overall conversions, but you don’t want to spend more than you make. Review keywords and ads, and turn off any poor-performing, high CPA ones.
While organic search practitioners cling to bounce rate, oftentimes paid search managers forget about it. A high bounce rate indicates that there is a disconnect somewhere, i.e. keyword and ad, or ad and landing page. Always pay attention to this, and adjust any ad or keyword contributing to bounce rate. Not only does it negatively affect quality score, it’s a waste of budget.If bounce rate is above 75% for paid search, review your ads and landing pages, and ensure that their language is similar. Don’t offer free shipping, and never mention it on the landing page. Once you adjust messaging, test and monitor over the next week or so to see if bounce rate drops.
Create a Post-Campaign Report
Once everything is said and done, create a post-campaign report showing the above metrics over time and how well the overall campaign performed. Point out learnings, what worked, what didn’t and opportunities for future campaigns. Incorporate year-over-year results to help with future planning and forecasting.
Holiday campaigns are usually expensive, but that doesn’t mean that they’re ineffective. In fact, many retailers make a large percentage of their sales during this time of year. You must, however, constantly monitor important metrics and adjust as needed. Make your end-of-year campaigns successful by planning ahead and seeing what worked in the past. Then, leverage those past insights in conjunction with current analytics to help pivot throughout the season.