PPC Chat Streamcap – Client Reporting

Hello again!

This week, our host Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with a good set of questions around the pay per click topic “Client Reporting”. The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat.

Q1: How often do you speak with clients to review reports and/or discuss campaigns?

  • Case by case situation. Early on may be weekly or bi-weekly but once they get comfortable tends to go monthly or quarterly. – Andy Groller (@Andy Groller)
    • I agree with Andy. Personally like to talk w/client monthly. – Robert Brady (@Robert_Brady)
  • Weekly check-ins and catch up on changes to the account. Bi-weekly reports are a bit bigger. Monthly meetings to discuss the acct. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • In most cases weekly. Transparency is key! – Crystal Anderson (@CrystalA) +
  • Reports: Absolutely monthly for all clients. Most bi-weekly. New clients, weekly. Calls: Most are bi-weekly. – Joe Kerschbaum (@JoeKerschbaum)
  • Weekly at first, then scaling down, but at least once a month. – Harris Neifield (@HarrisNeifield)
  • I strive for monthly but as Andy Groller says depends on the client. This question actually leads into a more specific one later. – Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
  • Depends on size and client involvement. At least Monthly if possible, though some want less meetings over time as trust is built. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
    • Hit it on the head – depends on trust level. – Robert Brady +
  • In most cases weekly, sometimes bi-weekly, always AT LEAST monthly. – Amy Hoffman (@Hoffman8)
  • On average weekly and monthly reports. I try to talk to them at least once a month. – Ryan Campbell (@_ryancampbell)
  • Monthly reports are sent out via email, but random calls based on current stats happen at any time we see something important. – Aaron Robb (@aaron_robb)
  • Weekly updates / emails & Monthly reporting / meetings. – Andrew Baker (@SEOEdinburgh)
  • Even if campaigns are running smoothly a monthly meeting is always great to keep the relationship strong IMHO. – Matt Umbro +++
    • Agreed. Monthly contact is necessary. Need to keep up on changes to the business overall as well as the account. – Michelle Morgan
  • We set times from the beginning, and then additional times are added, as needed. Never want there to be any surprises. – Amy Hoffman
  • Each client is different and availablity of the client is a factor. Most likely a few times a month, but some are weekly. – Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)
  • Monthly at a minimum. Some clients get weekly or bi-weekly. Depends on needs of client/comfort level with program. – John Lee (@John_A_Lee)
  • Constant client contact (not just reporting) is key to staying abreast of promotions, site updates, etc too. – Andy Groller

Q2: What tactics do you use in reports to highlight successes (ex: written analysis, graphs, etc)?

  • Trendlines. Relative improvement over time shows clients that you’re working hard to get better on their behalf. – Harris Neifield +
  • Written analysis is a must (the data needs context), data provided in nice neat format. Will be moving to @acquisio reports soon. – John Lee
  • I sent their data via excel, but in the email I send all commentary to explain the data. – Mark Kennedy
  • I like to add my analysis & recommendations to monthly stats yes highlight success & areas to improve. – Andrew Baker
  • Graphs and charts, and charts and graphs. : ) I like visual representation. I type of a blurb about it &/or talk through it too. – Michelle Morgan
  • Typically more visual the better: trends, tables, etc. No one wants to read a ton of content. They want the critical points. However you need written analysis to explain critical points otherwise clients can’t get the full picture. – Andy Groller
  • Aside from comparing month to month & year to year I always explain what we’ve done and how it affected the campaign. – Matt Umbro
  • Highlighting WoW or MoM changes and then what we did and how we expected the metric to change. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • Usually a dashboard w/ high-level performance stats & explanation (John Lee beat me to it). – Robert Brady
  • A lot of clients really respond well to graphs though. Seeing the trend of data can be huge. – John Lee
  • Analysis & graphs. Important to not just show the trends but explain what you did to cause them or what you WILL do to fix them! – Crystal Anderson ++
  • I like predefining KPIs with client upfront and hold to reporting those on a schedule. – Manny Rivas (@Manny Rivas) ++++
  • I like to use both graphs and written analysis. Graphs to illustrate trends and written analysis to explain. – Ryan Campbell
  • Start with Segmented Analytics Profiles for each promotion (organic, PPC, …) then report on each conversions & engagements. – James Svoboda
  • Charts, graphs, written summaries and objectives. What we did, how it changed, and what we will do! – Amy Hoffman +
  • Topline highlights (bullet points) with comparison tables. – Lisa Sanner
  • I also like to give specific examples, ie: we added the broad match of keyword A and saw 5 additional conversions. – Matt Umbro ++
  • Reports (Graphs, numbers) + Written summary to provide insight, analysis, recommendations, accomplishments, etc. – Joe Kerschbaum
  • Definitely important to highlight changes if you added a new tactic. New kws, changes in targeting, added sitelinks, etc. – Michelle Morgan
  • Generally it’s kind of like a strategy analysis SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – and be honest. – Amy Hoffman ++
  • Always feature primarily Goals & Conversions (KPis) front & center. Clients look for those first. – James Svoboda +
  • Many clients don’t look @ raw reports, just the summary so it’s gotta be good. – Joe Kerschbaum ++++++
  • @MarinSoftware has a nifty “change in” field (e.g. “Δ Conv%”) which easily highlights trends in sort-able columns. – Mike Shollenberger (@webjock)
  • We categorize also “product a” did this, or branded vs nonbranded campaigns, etc. – Amy Hoffman +
  • Also of key importance-Call yourself out if you aren’t hitting established goals & what you are doing to improve. – Crystal Anderson
  • What happened, why it happened, what specifically we will do in next reporting time period. – Lisa Sanner
  • I also pull in Google Analytics data to provide insight for landing page & goals. – Andrew Baker
  • Monthly reports entail high level data while strategy reviews (quarterly) are the most in depth (with 1 pg sum for execs). – Cassy (@imcassy)

Q3: How detailed are your PPC reports? Do you provide every single detail or just the highlights? Or a combination of both?

  • Depends on client. Typically just highlights unless something new launched – then details included. – Andy Groller
  • Combination of both depending on client’s feedback. We custom tailor each report as the campaign progresses. – James Svoboda +++
  • Provide details in addition to a summary. Even if the client doesn’t read them its transparent and builds trust. – Harris Neifield
  • Depends on what the goals of the meeting are. Sometimes every detail is discussed, other times it serves only as a catch-up. – Michelle Morgan
  • Depends on how knowledgeable the client is. If they are capable of understanding the minute details, give it to them. – John Lavin (@Johnnyjetfan)
  • Start with the core PPC stats, then build out for client-specific needs. If it isn’t answering their needs that’s a problem. – John Lee +
  • Depends on the client. Some want lots of details, some just want to know the results and what is working. – Mark Kennedy
  • More often than not, I try to give an overall feel for whats going on with some specifics & highlights thrown in to explain why. – Michelle Morgan
  • Try to customise the report to the amount of detail a client requires. – Naomi Rennie (@naomirennie)
  • It’s best to just show them the #s that impact their business, they hired us for the to worry about the details. – Chris Kostecki (@chriskos)
    • Good point considering the more reporting we do the less time for account optimization. – Matt Umbro ++
  • Just the parts that the client will understand. No sense in loading the reports with stats that they don’t care about. – Aaron Robb
  • I’ve done a combination of shorter and longer reports, the longer ones contained all details, but more for reference. – Matt Umbro
  • Client dependent – if its a CEO who glances, a great dashboard. Mktg coordinator who will analyze, details! – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea) ++
  • I keep it as high level as possible and highlight any detail to provide context for the report if needed. – Andrew Baker
  • Guess it comes down to “know your audience.” Seems to be a theme in PPC. – John Lee +
  • What ever the client needs & as a minimum Google’s third party reporting requirements. (AW help center link). – James Hume (@zerospin)
  • A combo – the highlights & lowlights (if heaven forbid, there are any :)) as detailed as can be without killing too many trees. – Amy Hoffman +
  • Weekly and monthly metrics change too – some metrics don’t change enough weekly that make sense to analyze! – Crystal Anderson
  • ALWAYS client-dependant though based on expectations & custom reporting that best fits what they need to know. – Cassy
  • I have to be honest though, now that I am on the otherside of the coin, I’m a demanding client and want to drill down. – Chris Kostecki +
  • Important to note that clients don’t always know what to track. Show them that PPC can impact other areas like Social. – James Svoboda +++
    • Show impact on other areas through attribution if possible. – Andy Groller
    • During monthly meetings I also ask clients about other areas of marketing to compare with PPC. – Matt Umbro
  • First reports are work in progress. I call & get feedback, customize, some clients love data, some dont. Also depends on trust. – Lisa Sanner +
  • And don’t forget to ask before or after if there is anything else they would like included. – Amy Hoffman +++++
  • In an agency, its important to be able to paint an honest but favorable perspective, as a client its more about communicating. – Chris Kostecki
  • Reports are never complete, just 1 month out date! – James Svoboda ++
  • Do you find visuals like graphs are better than lists of numbers in reports?? – Aaron Robb
    • They tend to have more of an impact on clients, yes. – John Lee
    • Both. Clients are all different. – James Svoboda
      • I do both as well. Graphs are good for showing trends but hard data is also important. – Amy Hoffman
    • Depends on the client, I prefer written analysis over graphs and tables. – Matt Umbro
    • Trends are more important than stats. – Chris Kostecki +
    • Trends generally show progress better, but clients may like raw data. Tailoring to client preference/needs is ideal! – Crystal Anderson
  • Data is great, but it’s the human feedback that client’s value. This is why this happened, etc. – Mark Kennedy
    • Great point. It isn’t always the ‘what’, but the ‘why’ that is important. – John Lee

Q4: When clients insist on a high frequency of reporting, how do you ensure you spend more time optimizing than reporting?

  • Separate budget dedicated to reporting… plain & simple. – Andy Groller ++
    • Explain what budget means? – John Lavin
    • We do Analysis along with our Reporting. – James Svoboda
  • Try and automate as much as possible. Web query reports & pivots are your friends. Charge for reporting if needed. – Arianne Donoghue (@ArianneDonoghue) ++
  • EXPECTATIONS. Client needs to know what your plan is at the beginning. If requests are too many, build in a fee, etc. – John Lee ++
  • Set reporting times in original contract, add $ if wanted more often. – Aaron Robb
  • Have to automate reports as much as possible…data+template = report. – Chris Kostecki
    • Just don’t automate and forget it. – John Lee
  • Make reports so that if anyone at anytime reflected back upon them (mos. or yrs later) they could still understand. – Amy Hoffman
  • Try to send the automated emailed reports if possible. Discuss the tradeoffs of time spent reporting vs maximizing performance. – Lisa Sanner
  • We also make reports so that our contact & their boss can understand it, whether they know the lingo or not. – Amy Hoffman
  • Has anyone seen/used online reporting software that auto updates and allows for clients to look? Does that exist? – Aaron Robb
    • You mean like an online dashboard kinda thing? I’d be interested to hear of other solutions too! – Arianne Donoghue
      • Yah something you can customize with what you want to show, but is hooked into ppc realtime. – Aaron Robb
  • Automate reporting processes and have every stat in the report relate to optimizations so reports set you up to optimize. – Harris Neifield
  • Reporting is agreed at outset, additional reporting means more time which means additional fee – simples. – Andrew Baker
  • I explain that weekly reporting won’t be as impactful as a weekly discussion. Prefer talk on the phone than compile a report. – Mark Kennedy
  • Would love to see how price affects clients desire for frequent reports. – Robert Brady
  • IDK if you can pass on additional reporting to the client, if they need access to their programs performance, they should get it. – Chris Kostecki
  • Try to automate. allow them to access the acct & pull their own. provide weekly reports. Explain the opportunity cost! – Crystal Anderson
  • Understood that reporting can be a separate line item, however, it is sometimes the same person running the campaign and doing the reporting, so naturally that person is going to have less time for optimization if there is high frequency of reporting. – Matt Umbro
    • In that case, be blunt/honest w/ client. Too much reporting=less time optimizing. Let them figure out which they want more! – John Lee +++
    • Exactly! Clearly explain what they give up by having those reports! – Crystal Anderson
    • And at the end of the day, that’s all the client wants too: the truth. – John Lee
  • Most clients “get it.” They hired you to do something they dont know how. Sometimes its just first month jitters. – Lisa Sanner
  • 1: Automate – make as much of it as you can. 2: Remind the client that PPC fluctuates, does high freq reporting really help? – Aaron Levy
    • I agree completely, explain that fluctuations are common and high frequency reporting won’t help optimize. – Harris Neifield
  • Also, if delivering high freq reports, dont need as much analysis, more data driven. – Chris Kostecki

Q5: When reviewing reports w/ clients discuss how you provide PPC education in order for them to understand what they are reviewing.

  • This seems more like a long-form essay question. – John Lee
  • We offer a PPC glossary with our reports, then begin by going over terms. – Amy Hoffman +
  • Glossary in first few reports help. Also written explanations for in-depth, technical aspects. – Andy Groller
  • Tell them what they need to know! Most clients know CTR/CPA/CPC but its best to tell them why they change. – Aaron Levy ++
  • Most clients get hung up on the difference between match types so glossary and examples are key. – Andy Groller
  • Up to the client, I always tend to get out in the weeds, which they aren’t interested in. talk about their business & impacts. – Chris Kostecki
  • First meeting I will have explained basics of PPC so they know what to expect in report, what it means and why it’s there. – Andrew Baker
  • Frame the goal of PPC – usually sales at a cpa goal. Then explain how each statistic impacts the goal. – Harris Neifield
  • Walk through the first report w/them. Let them ask ?s. Never good to assume they know nothing or to assume they know everything or to assume they want to know the nitty gritty …that’s why we have jobs, right- Crystal Anderson
    • Going Crystal, make sure the client is smart enough to understand the kick a$& job you’re doing. – Aaron Levy ++
  • Generally try to keep the “education” relevant to client needs, issues in the data or changes made. Focus helps. – John Lee
  • Month to month (and email to email if necessary) I continually tell clients what these metrics mean. – Matt Umbro
  • Mostly I explain in the report email. Then I ask if they want to chat on the phone to go over details & QnA. I like verbal comm. – Mark Kennedy
  • We have an FAQ section for questions we answer consistently. – David Beltramini (@dbeltramini)
  • Point clients here: Search Marketing Acronyms – James Svoboda
  • Keep it high level. You’re not training them, you’re reporting. – Robert Brady +++++++++
    • Only caveat is if client is persistent or education will keep them from leaving. – John Lee
      • Depends on client, I find the ones who care enough to understand PPC have better campaigns in the long run because they know what you are doing and can help you make the campaign prosper. – Matt Umbro +
    • I’d say there is a middle ground, you’re educating. – Matt Umbro +
  • It helps to get them on the phone if they need something explained, instead of a long, wordy email. I also find clients are generally more interested in why things happened and how we can control it than what everything means. – Amy Hoffman +
    • Agreed, most still think of the ‘bottom line’ as in conversions. – Aaron Robb
  • Reporting Q&A also helps build trust and saves time down the road. – James Svoboda ++
  • While it is important that we are the 1s educating our clients (and not them picking up pieces on blogs) not the point of reporting. Education is part of strategy & planning, reporting is about performance. – Chris Kostecki
  • I agree, the clients who are more active/involved, give me better feedback to use in optimizing the campaign. – Mark Kennedy
  • Educating clients on basic lingo so they feel comfortable asking questions can be key. if they don’t feel comfortable, they won’t ask. – Cassy

Q6: Shawn Livengood just wrote about 1-per-click & many-per-click conversions, Should I Use One Per Click or Many Per Click Conversions . How do you report these metrics?

  • Mostly 1 per click unless multiple actions then I report per many, but break it down in the report. – Mark Kennedy
  • It depends on the client and KPI’s for the client. – Ryan Campbell
  • Think about it logically, if a person converts 5 times they’re still one lead. Ecomm, different story. – Aaron Levy +++
  • Usually report on 1 per click because CPA has lifetime value built in for many clients Explain the difference to clients though. – Harris Neifield
  • Generally only report on 1-per-click. In the few cases where there ARE multiple conversion actions, include it case-by-case. – John Lee
  • Many per, but use the conv screen if using different conversions, may also call out unique conversions if client is interested. – Chris Kostecki
  • Depends on client understanding. Typically 1 per click but some clients have a lot of MPC convs so def need to cite. – Andy Groller
  • General rule of thumb: Lead based clients – 1per (want unique ones) Ecomm many per. – Crystal Anderson +
  • Depends on the client & conv types. If many-per-click is several sales, we’ll discuss but generally report on 1-per more heavily. – Amy Hoffman
  • Caveat for ecomm though, sometimes people refresh the thank you page = duplicated conversions. Check the orders & scrub! – Aaron Levy
  • I explain both, but generally only report 1 (depending on client). I do wish the conversion tab showed 1 per click conversions. – Matt Umbro +
  • Depends on client’s goals – one user purchases many items, great.. one user completes the same form 10 times, not as great. – Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
  • Many per, although client, 3rd party tool & I all agreed what was what at the beginning, to be on same page. Clear definitions. – Lisa Sanner
    • Checking w/clients& confirming is key! If y multiple lead types, may want track multiple interactions! – Crystal Anderson
  • Ecomm is definitely different, but only if they are considering the value of each individual sale rather than lifetime value. Harris Neifield
  • 1-per-click conv since new acquisitions are highest focus for *most* our clients vs recurring convs. – Cassy
  • I think MPC conversions are only helpful for sits like web stores. Lead forms need 1PC. – Shawn Livengood (@slivengood)
  • Also need to clearly define date of conversion vs date of click reporting. – Lisa Sanner

Q7: Do you have a time limit as to how long an individual report should take? If so, how did you derive at this number?

  • Unique conversions are helpful, but not the story, its more about how much engagement we are driving, agree this is all transparent. – Chris Kostecki
  • I don’t… but we decide up front with clients how many reports per month their contract warrants. – Amy Hoffman
    • Agree expectations are set for reporting, so there is little worry. – John Lee
  • Really variable depending on account size, spend, etc. – Robert Brady
  • No, time spent on reporting can vary depending on the clients needs and what they’re paying. – Harris Neifield
  • Report costs depends purely on dev hours to build a report. – Matt Whitehead (@maffyu)
  • Depends on size and scope. 1 to 4 hours is good range for Monthly Analysis & Reporting. 2ish is most common. – James Svoboda +
  • Client & account size dependant. – Andrew Baker
  • Depends on the size of the client, workload, usually don’t like a report to take longer than 1 extended phish song (~12 mins) – Chris Kostecki +
  • Look at trends, not each individ. report. Some weeks suck; thats no big deal if they’re quick every other week. – Aaron Levy
  • We allot hours monthly for meetings/reporting based on client budgets and what they need to see to be successful. – Cassy
  • Too many variables – acct size, spend, frequency, etc. Case by case situation but expectations needs to be made at onset. – Andy Groller +
  • I don’t set any hard fast rules but use relative measures. IE: if 1 takes 5x longer than a similar 1 may be a Red Flag. – Crystal Anderson
  • I measure most of what I do by the music I listen to…1 report in particular took the length of an entire concert. – Chris Kostecki
  • Preplanning for set # hours monthly gives you flexibility to spend more time on 1 report 1 month & more time on another the next. – Cassy


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About the Author

James Svoboda is a PPC Marketer at WebRankingThis is a guest post by James Svoboda, managing partner at Portland based WebRanking, an infrequent blogger, Sphinn Editor, SEM content hound, Google+ heratic, and Co-Founder of the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association.

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6 Responses to PPC Chat Streamcap – Client Reporting

  1. […] topic of #PPCchat (a weekly Twitter chat about pay-per-click marketing hosted by Matt Umbro) was client reporting. There were some pretty basic questions like “How often do you speak to clients to review […]

  2. […] PPC Chat Streamcap—Client Reporting: Reading a Twitter chat transcript is an exercise in controlling ADD, but this recent one at The PPC Blog has extremely helpful tips for client reporting. One gem: “Make reports so that if anyone at anytime reflected back upon them (mos. or yrs later) they could still understand.”—Amy Hoffman (Raven’s new Google AdWords management and reporting feature makes this super simple, FYI.) […]

  3. […] PPC managers have to be good with numbers, analysis, and planning. They have to be creative and have a strong grasp of marketing fundamentals. And more to the point, PPC managers also have to be good with people and have a knack for handling client communication. […]

  4. […] PPC managers have to be good with numbers, analysis, and planning. They have to be creative and have a strong grasp of marketing fundamentals. And more to the point, PPC managers also have to be good with people and have a knack for handling client communication. […]

  5. […] PPC managers have to be good with numbers, analysis, and planning. They have to be creative and have a strong grasp of marketing fundamentals. And more to the point, PPC managers also have to be good with people and have a knack for handling client communication. […]

  6. […] PPC managers have to be good with numbers, analysis, and planning. They have to be creative and have a strong grasp of marketing fundamentals. And more to the point, PPC managers also have to be good with people and have a knack for handling client communication. […]

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