PPC reporting can get complicated and cumbersome in a hurry. The gap between what a client wants to know and what a PPC analyst wants to provide is often wide and hard to span.
The weekly, monthly, and quarterly report cycles can become routine, automated processes that get stale over time.
We often know or feel that we need to improve our reporting systems, templates, and methods, it can be hard to take that step.
Successful client relationships are built on trust, and trust is often built on how success is defined, measured and communicated.
A lot goes into a strong client relationship. Much of the communication happens through reporting.
Being a good (and truthful) storyteller goes a long way toward effectively communicating and ensuring that you and the client are on the same page.
With search marketing being a mature industry, it is hard to get away with using confusing metrics and acronyms as we can typically tie PPC activities directly to conversion and business goals.
1. Be Transparent & Consistent
Numbers don’t lie, but they can be used to tell a different story than what is actually happening.
Having an honest and open approach to sharing performance – whether or not it is going well – is the first essential for the perfect report.
When you share the same stats and details each reporting period, you build trust and can have an honest conversation about what is working, what isn’t, and how the strategy is evolving.
When you have a consistent reporting format, it becomes familiar and easy to follow for your client.
Plus, when you report on performance on a consistent basis whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly, expectations are set as to what to expect and when to expect it.
This makes the report more powerful as you can use it as a tool rather than having to scramble to pull details together when the client asks or have to send over smaller updates that lack context and remove your control of the process.
2. Organize the Report from General to Specific
Keep high-level content up front and ease into the fine details. Putting summary info and high-level stats ahead of ad groups, ads, and keywords will keep your client engaged.
You likely have some clients who don’t go beyond the first page or two of your report while others want to consume every detail.
By starting with general and high-level content and working down into details stats and components of the campaigns, you’ll ensure you keep all types of clients engaged.
3. Start with Goals
While we often want to start with our core PPC metrics (e.g., impressions, clicks, conversions, click-through rate), our clients often prioritize ROI and ROAS.
Know what your client cares about the most and how they are reporting to their stakeholders. Make that the first thing you report on.
PPC stats matter, but not as much as our client’s definition in the bigger business context as to whether our efforts are working.
4. Have a Dashboard or Executive Summary
Always assume that your report is going to be forwarded or passed along to people who don’t normally meet with you.
If you have never met with the C-suite, run your report by a filter of whether someone you have never met and who doesn’t know PPC metrics can understand what you are doing and if it is working. That is best done in an executive summary or dashboard at the beginning of the report.
If you have the report tailored to start with client goal reporting (versus PPC metrics) and start with high-level content, then this naturally will fit into the first page or two.
Use all information at your disposal to answer the question of whether we’re hitting client goals, what the strategy is, any highlights from the previous reporting period, and what you’re doing during the next reporting period.
If you write this in a way that someone who has no idea what PPC is and has never met you can understand it in basic terms, then you have succeeded.
5. Provide Definitions
Remember that your client may not necessarily have every acronym memorized or remember how each stat is calculated.
Include a key under each table or figure or include a standard definitions section that is helpful for the client to reference, but not insulting or in the way if they are well-versed.
By consistently including definitions you can make the stats and subject matter more approachable for your client and over time you can get deeper into specifics.
6. Segment Performance Data by Intent
Not all keywords are intended to directly drive a conversion. Don’t forget about attribution modeling and the customer journey in your report.
If you focus on conversions, but not all campaigns, ad groups, or keywords are focused on last-click attributed conversions, then be sure to segment your report accordingly.
You can inadvertently make your performance look bad if you’re highlighting conversions throughout the report as a goal, but not all campaign activities are actually expected to drive a conversion directly.
Consider including reporting based on steps in the customer journey, separation of brand versus generic terms, including assisted conversions and revenue data, geographic targeting, and other features that allow for fair judgment of performance per segment based on intent or expectation.
7. Aggregate Everything Possible
Google AdWords does a great job of rolling up stats for you.
However, if you’re running ads in Bing and/or additional advertising platforms, it can be helpful to aggregate stats to show what PPC is doing across all networks. This can be done using reporting software or your own manual methods.
One area that is often lost that Google and Bing don’t see is any third-party call tracking data that you have. You don’t want to miss phone conversions and have them left out of your PPC reporting.
By aggregating data in your report, you can paint the bigger picture at a high-level as well as remove the need for your client to have to do the math and their own stats based on the report you provide.
8. Get Detailed (With Permission)
Often we use our reports in a meeting or conversation about our strategy and efforts.
My team uses the report as the agenda for monthly calls and it is a great time to go over details and get feedback. Some clients love to see every keyword while others just want the executive summary.
Even for those that only want the executive summary, we often need their feedback on items that are more granular like ad copy or keyword targeting. When that’s the case, it is necessary to include what might be dozens of pages of additional granular detail to reference.
When you want to or need to include granular detail, do it at the end in an appendix or in a separate supporting document.
Don’t put pages of keywords into the middle of a report as that damaged the general to specific flow and hurts the impact of the overall story you’re trying to tell of strategy and performance in your report.
9. Integrate Data Beyond the PPC Conversion
In many client relationships, the PPC conversion is a lead, engagement, or something short of a completed sale producing trackable revenue.
When that’s the case, if you can work with the sales team, get CRM access, or find a way to get feedback on the leads PPC is driving or the activity it is generating, you can do more to show the true impact of your efforts.
At the very least, you can get valuable feedback that will influence your decisions while managing the campaign in real time versus waiting for anecdotal feedback from the client after the fact.
Getting this data as quickly as possible helps avoid a situation where you’re driving what looks like good PPC leads, but learn later that none of the leads qualified or closed.
Including the nine essentials in your PPC reports help you to make the reporting process a meaningful one and much more than just a routine activity.