Your PPC reports display the effectiveness of your campaigns to internal and external clients, and stakeholders. Yet, most marketers still don’t know what they should include in their reports, fearing providing either too much or too little information. So, what elements make up a good PPC report?
Always Starting With Campaign Objectives
Your PPC report starts and ends with your clients’ goals and needs. For example, if a university is looking to increase admissions, then they will want to have enrollment leads included in the numbers. Yet, a company that is looking to increase their brand awareness may only be interested in impressions and reach numbers.
Understanding your stakeholders’ key objectives is the starting point to building your report. Yet, you also need more than raw impressions or conversions numbers. You also must put context around what they’re seeing. Many PPC reports incorporate seemingly endless spreadsheet tabs. While these may be of interest to you, the client may not fully understand them.
Adding Context to Your Data
Your stakeholders and clients typically have their own stakeholders to which they need to justify their PPC spendings. Random numbers aren’t going to do the job. They need a story that breaks down information like the following:
- Current stats and how those stats compare to previous months or years
- Where key metrics currently stand (i.e. better or worse than previous periods)
- Causes of the increase or decrease
- What does this mean for the business (i.e. will it have an effect on year-end goals)
- What are you doing to improve the next reporting period’s numbers and what can the client expect
- How does this affect long-term goals
To fully create your story, you need to understand the data from which you’re retrieving your stats. Oftentimes, marketers will run reports and hand them over without ever fully comprehending what the data means. The summary is extremely important, but to create it, you must have actually completed a deep dive into your data.
Before ever building your report, make sure that you understand what your numbers are saying and how it relates to key goals and objectives.
Selecting A Suitable Time Frame
Most marketers must submit reports on usually a weekly, biweekly, monthly or quarterly time frame. You should figure out what reporting periods make the most sense to your stakeholders and overall campaigns.
Oftentimes, weekly or biweekly reports are only high-level since they provide a snapshot of how campaigns are performing on a week-to-week basis. In this case, you might only need high-level numbers like clicks, CTR, CPC, conversions, impressions, etc. These provide a “gut-check” to your stakeholders and clients. You should, however, still have a summary of how campaigns are performing this week versus previous week(s).
Reports that incorporate larger time frames (monthly, quarterly or yearly) must have more in-depth data since you’re reporting success over time. Usually, these reports include:
- Month-over-month success data (decrease/increase in conversions, CPA, CPC, etc.)
- What was done in the month/quarter/year to improve campaign success
- What worked/didn’t work
- Monthly trends that affected overall success
- As well as everything else that goes into building a successful report (see next section)
You may also be required to report on campaign start-to-end statistics. Known as a wrap-up report, these are required at the completion of a campaign. A wrap-up report typically includes:
- Overall campaign successes/failures
- Overall metrics
- Best-performing ads/keywords
- Learnings that can be used for future campaigns
Building The Main Structure
Whether your clients say it explicitly or not, they are interested in knowing how many sign-ups, sales, downloads and other conversions you are garnering for them – and how much it’s costing them. A comprehensive PPC report includes the following:
- Cost per acquisition (CPA) or cost per conversion (Are you reaching your target cost per conversion or CPA, or are you spending too much? What can you do to reduce it?)
- Overall clicks/impressions
- Ad/keyword performance
- Device performance (especially if your company is running campaigns on multiple devices)
- Individual campaign/network performance (Bing vs Google, Display vs. Search, etc.)
- Campaign improvements/declines
- Campaigns causing concern and what you’re doing to improve them OR what needs to be done to improve them
These items are a starting point. Some clients may require specialty data based on their preferences or demands of their higher ups. For example, sometimes the following are requested:
- Display placement reports and key/successful placements
- Search queries
- Negative keyword report
- Time of day reports
- Change history reports
Work with your stakeholders to ensure that you are capturing all necessary information. You don’t want to be caught off-guard during the first meeting.
Adding A Touch of Creativity
Typically, no one wants to look at straight numbers, and oftentimes, stakeholders need graphs and charts to add to their own reports. Create line graphs that demonstrate – for example – growth in sales or users.
Or, break down month-over-month conversion and CPA performance.
Whatever graphs you use, ensure that they add something to the report and aren’t simply “pretty pictures”. Most reports are way too long as it is. Only incorporate relevant data into graphs. Also, don’t eliminate raw data and substitute that with graphs. Many stakeholders will still want to dig into the raw data.
Automating Reporting Process
Automating reports saves time and headaches. For agencies, it also reduces how many hours per month that you devote to reporting, allowing you to allocate budget to more high-priority needs. While you can create automated reports in AdWords and similar free tools, they may not fulfill all the requirements that we mentioned previously. You can use them as a starting point to pull certain data, i.e. keywords or placements.
However, if you are looking for something that can be used immediately, Supermetrics provides dozens of beautiful reporting templates for AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads and other social media channels. Best of all, they are all free and built upon Google Sheets, which offers far more flexibility and power than any dashboard tools, with pivot table, functions, charting, easy sharing and revision history.
Before ever adding data to a report – or creating a template – remember that you must understand your client’s or stakeholder’s overall goals and objectives. If not, your data won’t meet their demands. You also need to correlate ROI and overall success metrics in your reports.
Once you understand that, build – or buy – a reporting template that meets your requirements and allows you to automate the process in the future. Always review your data (including pivot and function data results) before presenting it, and investigate any data points that don’t make sense. You need to fully understand what’s in the report if you’re going to truly articulate campaign success and guarantee stakeholder/client comprehension.
About Misty Faucheux
Misty Faucheux is an Integrated Online Marketing Specialist at Faucheux Enterprises and a guest writer for Supermetrics. She is a digital marketer, specializing in SEO, SEM, content marketing/writing and social ads. Misty helps companies develop a cohesive online marketing strategy that directly addresses their overall business goals and objectives. You can find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Flickr.