Meaningful PPC Reporting

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Meaningful PPC Reporting.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What depth of analysis is needed on PPC reports? Why?

  • Depends on the client. Have to give enough to gauge performance, but not so much to waste time making and reading reports. Work closely with clients to build custom reports to give the right metrics based on business and tools. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
    • I agree. Time spent on reporting takes away from optimization. Though analysis can provide a better direction 4 acct. – Luke Alley
      • Absolutely. Needs to be a balancing act. Prioritize your reporting for max optimization opps. – Michelle Morgan
  • Varies by client, but all get cost data, keyword data, and lead/sales data. Calls, form leads, orders, etc. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Depends on who it is for, if it is daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Should vary depending on goals/account. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • I analyze deeply, even when numbers offered are relatively high level. The analysis is what makes it “meaningful.” – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • Depends on the audience. Some people simply want cost/rev. Others think Avg Pos is more important than ROI. – Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
  • Depends who you are talking to IMO. If they’re savvy and not pressed for time, presenting more data may be necessary. – Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
  • All important KPIs, charts that summarize all the important changes/wins/looses and a summary. – Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
  • Revenue/conversions, cost, CPA, where the strengths are, where the weaknesses are … most of all “” the WHY it’s all happening. – Nate Knox (@nateknox)
  • Monthly reports where your surmising a lot of data should (ideally) be defined by the client (with a bit of help). – George Brown (@GeorgeWB23)
  • Ultimately, a PPC report should explain why and how you are bringing value to the account (hopefully it’s positive). – Matt Umbro
  • But if they aren’t PPC-savvy, less data is often better, focusing on the metrics that are most meaningful to their business. – Dave Rosborough
    • Agree, we tend to customize based on the client’s needs, knowledge, and questions. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Some clients understand jargon and digital, others don’t. At least show your impact and show what is causing it. – Nate Knox
  • A good analysis can give more clarity into where/why changes are happening in the account. Important to step back sometimes. – Luke Alley
  • Concentrate on the KPIs that have the most value to the client. – Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
    • I agree but also try to introduce KPIs that SHOULD be important to the client. – John Holland (@ppathholla)
  • A key factor is to always present more than just the numbers. Give explanations & strategy. – Timothy Jensen
  • Reports are good conversation starters; don’t want to bog them down with data. Focus one or two and explain how youre fixing it. – Dave Rosborough
  • Depends what the client wants. I have clients where I send a monthly written analysis with figures showing ROI. Others log in and check the figs themselves. Others don’t care as long as the sales are coming in. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Depends on who is asking but ROI is always a safe bet. Pretty black & white for PPC. I personally challenge myself with CVR. – Cher (@NicnCher)

Q2: How much actual written analysis and notes do you include on reports compared to the meetings you have with your clients?

  • With reports I give key bullet points good and bad, then typically the client picks what’s important to them and we discuss. – Rory Witt (@Rory_Witt)
  • The reports are in a spreadsheet, but I write up my analysis in the email to exlain it. As much as needed, w/o going overboard. – Mark Kennedy
  • At least monthly we send a written analysis of the account, follow up to projects, and 30 day game plan. – Luke Alley
  • Ideally, the data presented in reports should pave the way for the story of the account you are telling your clients. – Matt Umbro
  • Try to cover bullet point summaries and then work from those to more detailed discussion verbally. – Timothy Jensen
  • I use the notes on reports to guide the meeting, and make sure the metrics and updates are addressed, and nothing is missed. – Brennan Brooks (@brennanbrooks)
  • Unfortunately I don’t speak to clients so my reports are 85% written analysis. – John Holland
  • Generally, when I email the client I’ll include the key points that I know he/she will immediately ask about. – Matt Umbro
  • I usually have an executive summary with highlights, then a full overview (normally a page or two)… of course, it depends. – Nate Knox
  • A paragraph that explains what happened, what the coming optimizations are & success/losses & the why. about 20 – 30% analysis. – Christina Hall
  • Written reports are monthly. Regular reporting happens on regular bi-weekly or weekly calls depending on client. – Michelle Morgan
  • Just bullet points for F2F but covering more ground. Far easier to talk around terminology. – George Brown
  • The report is the opportunity to inform as well as educate. – Stephanie Cockerl
  • Every client needs reminders of what we are doing and why. We show data points and tell a story of why they line up with goals. – Nate Knox
    • I love this answer; if our PPC strategies don’t line up with clients’ business goals, we’re not delivering value. – Betsey Heidrick (@betseyheidrick)
  • Reports are not just for the client, though. They are a good overview for us. The story sometimes helps create new strategies. – Mark Kennedy
  • Keep in mind that at the end of the day the report for many of us is the one constant deliverable to clients. – Matt Umbro
    • Very true. I’ve seen clients fire an agency because they didn’t get good reporting, and nothing to do with results. – Brennan Brooks
  • Very little notes on reports. Tend to lead to questions that are best answered Face to face. – Cher

Q3: Not including basic metrics such as clicks and impressions, what metrics must be included in all reports? Why?

  • Your goals. You should always compare and pace against your goal metrics. – Rick Galan (@RickGalan)
  • Depending on the client’s KPIs: usually Conv, CPA, Conv%, Cost, Call statistics if applicable. – Christina Hall
  • Leads/sales – Or if there is an important metric like a download or signup. Basically goal-metrics. – Mark Kennedy
  • In ecomm, aside from cost per conversion and ROI (including mgt fees and margins), also average order value. – Matt Umbro
  • Clicks, imps, cost, CTR, CPC, conversions. I also like to add impression share. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • Conversion numbers, CPA, ROI, change over time, market exposure (similar to but not identical to Impression Share) all come to mind. – Theresa Zook
  • Estimated total conversions. – Luke Alley
  • Microconversions (if applicable) and overall conversion rates, ecomm + micro. Just a few. – Andrew Bethel
  • Tie into general web analytics as well, as long as you have access. – Timothy Jensen
  • Beyond conversions, clients care about waste and cost saving. So I show changes in in CPA, CPC, negative KW volume, etc. – Nate Knox
  • I often add impression share – gives the client and idea of potential. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
  • Conversions, cost, any ecomm metrics (rev, margin) or lead gen numbers (lead quality, qualified vs not) etc. – Michelle Morgan
  • Return on ad spend or projected return on ad spend for those with a long sales cycle. – Dave Rigotti (@drigotti)
  • Click margin? – Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
  • Depends on client. Sometimes standard Adwords metrics trending & notes, other times, we include convs., cpl, & cost-per-move-in. – Nicole Stormberg (@NicoleStormberg)
  • Also ROAS and conversion rate are huge. If those numbers change, I need to show reasons why! – Nate Knox
  • Client’s KPI’s, with enough support-metrics to provide context. Also consider projecting performance through end of month. – Dave Rosborough
  • % of actual amount change in the basic metrics as well as an explanation of why the change happened. – Rory Witt
  • Multi-channel, assisted conversions, etc. can be helpful to show the gaps where PPC impacts outside direct leads. – Timothy Jensen
  • For ecomm: rev, cost/CPC & ROAS are the basics. Margins if I have that info avail and assists if the client finds value in it. – Cathy Nguyen (@skipcattt)
  • I’ve also found clients to be particularly interested in how they’re performing in relation to competition. Share of voice, etc. – Dave Rosborough
    • Good point, how do you answer/show this information? – Matt Umbro
      • Auction insights is huge, along with share of voice for Bing. Or just land yourself a Google rep. – Dave Rosborough
      • AdGooroo has amazing competitive intel, if you pay for it. – Rick Galan
      • SpyFu and SEMRush are good too. Again, if you pay. – Jesse Semchuck
    • YES for competition. We do daily/weekly snapshots of “Auction Insights”, interesting to know the %. – Kristi Davis (@KristiBug)
  • I am a big fan of delta metrics. After the conversion efficiency KPI is defined, what has changed? Explain growth or lift plans. – Chris Haleua

Q4: Do you segment your reports by category (ie: PLAs, remarketing, Bing Ads, etc)? Why or why not?

  • Yes. It’s a meaningful way to present how results are being generated. – Theresa Zook
  • I have a summary / total, then get into break outs of each section with its own data and insights. – Nate Knox
  • Yes, segment and a rollup summary. We often have budgets by channel so clients want to know the breakdown. – Melissa Mackey
  • Yes. So we can see the different ROI for each channel/campaign. – Mark Kennedy
  • Yes but I also like to give an overall performance overview of all channels if possible. – Christina Hall
  • Yes, I also segment by branded traffic and present metrics with and without these terms. – Matt Umbro
  • Yes! B/c different categories speak to different goals/buyer behaviors, like remarketing, we have to address them separately. – Betsey Heidrick
  • Yes, to show value of each separately. Performance can vary so much across platforms so helpful to not lump together. – Timothy Jensen
  • Yes. Segment by ad type, but also drill into performance sub-segments by (converting, wasted spend, ignored impressions). – Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
  • Some clients have separate bugets/campaigns by market regions so segment that out as well. – Timothy Jensen
  • One client only wanted ROAS, % change and a traffic light color. We’d get on a call if they had questions. That was pretty nice. – Nate Knox
  • I segment by BIng / Google then Brand, Non-Brand, PLA & Remarketing for specific clients. – Rory Witt
  • Consider segmenting by Brand/Non-Brand as well. They perform differently 9 times out of 10! – Dave Rosborough
  • Yes, I already have my categories set up that way so it makes it easy on a monthly basis. – Kristi Davis
  • I provide overview, then segment by market & channel. Brand if significant. – Theresa Zook
  • Summary report + segmented campaign reports. Useful to see & explain where major metric increases & decreases occurred. – Nicole Stormberg
  • Reports are segmented when making a point about strategy moving forward or month end reporting. Otherwise, usually rolled up. – Michelle Morgan
  • Pay as much attention to visitor segments as ad types. New vs return visitors can be just as actionable as brand vs general. – Chris Haleua

Q5: With all of the segmentations and customizations clients would potentially like to see, how do you ensure you are most effectively using your time between report creation and account optimizations?

  • I report monthly–for the client & because taking a step back for overview regularly is good management technique because of that, I consider reporting as PART of optimization. – Theresa Zook
  • Set it and forget it. Use Marin software to create recurring automated reports based on metrics important to each client. – Rory Witt
    • Agree! Automate data pulling, but need custom analysis/insight! – Melissa Mackey
      • See a lot of “template” talk. If you auto-pull the same data each time, when do you dig in & look for outliers or new info? – Theresa Zook
  • Are you achieving your goals or not? The results speak for themselves! – Dave Rosborough
  • Need to be clear up front what reporting level & cadence will be. Set expectations early on. Then go above & beyond if needed. – Melissa Mackey
  • Get lots of feedback about the report. Go over the data points you compile. If the client doesn’t use them or care, optimize! – Neil Sorenson
  • Keep reporting balanced as a fifth of your time investment along with bidding/budgeting, targeting, coverage, ad alignment. – Chris Haleua
  • Template everything! If possible, get an intern to pull data and generate everything so you can add insights. – Nate Knox
  • Reporting can be a great moment for optimization and reflection too. – Jeroen Maljers (@jeroenmaljers)
  • The report itself is a template, which speeds up the process. But the analysis is where the time is spent and most important. – Mark Kennedy
  • Talk about customizations/segmentations expected at beginning of contract to set it up – easy to duplicate & change/add things. – Christina Hall
  • Then make that fifth of your time move from descriptive to explanatory to prescriptive to predictive. – Chris Haleua
  • Any time I feel that reporting is interfering with optimization I will speak to the client and mutually we’ll determine how we can optimize the process. – Matt Umbro
  • Time helps as well. In the beginning there are millions of questions, but as they learn and trust you, it gets paced better. – Mark Kennedy
  • Give client “the minimum meaningful.” Keeps them focused on what matters. – Theresa Zook
  • It’s important to zoom out and look at the big picture, yet be ready with the details as needed. – Stephanie Cockerl

Q6: Do you automate your PPC reporting? If so, what do you believe the pros and cons to be?

  • Con – Looking at the same data all the time. – Steve Cameron
  • No. Pulling & formatting data makes me slow down and really think about it. I value the opportunity. – Theresa Zook
  • We don’t at this time but probably will this year. Pros: Time saving. Cons: May miss nuances in data not in template. – Melissa Mackey
  • Wkly perf. reports are automated, monthly reports are manual. Good for clients to have constant check ins with minimal work but larger picture stats should have manual oversight with metrics picked purposefully to tell the right story.. – Michelle Morgan
  • Monthly reports are automated based on client conversations, longer reviews are scheduled with more in-depth review. – Benjamin Page (@Benjamin_Page)
  • Automation saves time. Use Marin to set up templates based on clients needs, they auto pull data and you can focus on the analysis. – Jeff McLean (@SEOJeffe)
  • Reporting can be automated but analysis cannot. Update template then let real insights & ideas justify your existence & paycheck. – Chris Haleua
  • No automation beyond pulling data in mass. I haven’t found an automation that I 100% like. – Nate Knox
  • Automate. I send clients automated reports daily, so we on the same page. Yields healthy threads, fosters total transparency. – Joey Muller (@jmthefourth)
  • We do daily cost/rev reports. Pros: Use time saved to dig deeper into data Cons: What Melissa Mackey says- you can miss out on nuances

Q7: Do you believe PPC reports need to be visual in nature? Why or why not?

  • PPC reports don’t NEED to be visual but they help people who have a hard time comprehending numbers, which is most people! – Nathan Schubert (@NateSchubert)
  • Yes – many of my clients don’t read anything I send them. Upward graphs are good. – Steve Cameron
  • When showing performance over time or share of voice, yes. But those are easily done with graphs. Otherwise, not really. – Michelle Morgan
  • Good visualization gives answers to problems you did not know you even had. Bad visualization is just a distraction. – Chris Haleua
  • Typcally we use excel and explain with words, we only use visuals for a few clients and some screenshots for new features. – Mark Kennedy
  • I like visual, because it’s “at a glance” for clients. Doesn’t always tell the story, though. – Theresa Zook
  • Absolutely. Clients dont want to filter through all the data, they want the visuals, makes it easier for them to understand. – Jeff McLean
  • 1,000 times yes. Everyone hates looking at tables & sheets of data. We run PPC and even we hate it. Visual = better. – Nate Knox
  • Don’t need to be, but help with easily digesting data. That’s why we have graphs, charts, etc! – Luke Alley
  • When showing performance over time it helps to be able to use something visual to tell a story. – Brett Stevens (@BrettStevens1)
  • A simple line moving up/down is easier to understand than raw data or % changes. – Nate Knox
  • It depends on what factor(s) I’d like to highlight. – Stephanie Cockerl
  • Sending a report full of raw data is difficult for any non-stats nerd to digest. Graph it out! – Neil Sorenson
  • Me personally I think tables are easier to review than graphs, but that’s just me. – Matt Umbro
    • Agree. Graphs just skim–I have never, ever not wanted to know the details. Clients don’t agree, of course. – Theresa Zook
  • If I were a client, I’d prefer visual. Makes the data much easier to digest and act on. They say a picture is worth 1000 words. – Dave Rosborough
  • Some folks are visual learners, others want tables, and others still need a plain English paragraph. Emails get shared between colleagues, so I cater to all types of learns as much as possible. – Joey Muller
  • Personal opinion–if they don’t understand your words, you’re not saying it right. – Theresa Zook
  • Different clients=different needs. Some want graphics to visualize results. Others want tables to pull into their own data sets. – Nicole Stormberg

PPCChat Sponsored by

Marin SoftwareSwydo: easy reporting and workflow for online marketers. Make monthly reports with our KPI’s and widgets. Send beautiful reports to clients and management. Make your agency and department run like clockwork with out workflow features.


More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
• Benjamin Page (@Benjamin_Page)
• Betsey Heidrick (@betseyheidrick)
• Brennan Brooks (@brennanbrooks)
• Brett Stevens (@BrettStevens1)
• Cathy Nguyen (@skipcattt)
• Cher (@NicnCher)
• Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)
• Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
• Dave Rigotti (@drigotti)
• Dave Rosborough (@daverosborough)
• George Brown (@GeorgeWB23)
• Jeff McLean (@SEOJeffe)
• Jeroen Maljers (@jeroenmaljers)
• Joey Muller (@jmthefourth)
• John Holland (@ppathholla)
• Kristi Davis (@KristiBug)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Nate Knox (@nateknox)
• Nathan Schubert (@NateSchubert)
• Neil Sorenson (@iNeils)
• Nicole Stormberg (@NicoleStormberg)
• Rick Galan (@RickGalan)
• Rory Witt (@Rory_Witt)
• Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Meaningful Streamcap Gatherer

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sponsored By

Recent Tweets

I am speaking at SMX East was rated one of the Best PPC Blogs by Boost CTR