Writing Impactful PPC Analysis

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

Q1: When writing analysis, what tactics do you try to avoid? Why?

  • I don’t just rehash the data, the client can view the graphs, tables, etc. I want to explain the why. – Matt Umbro
  • A regurgitation of numbers in sentence form. Just restating what someone could see if a chart/table does no good. – Kyle Petzinger (@kylepetz)
  • For a client I try to keep the terminology as simple as possible, unless I know they have a good knowledge of PPC. – Mark Roll (@MarkRoll32)
  • Write the analysis to suit your audience… CEOs don’t care about your ad testing that improved ctr by 4%, they care about $$$. – Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
  • I avoid speaking “full on PPC.” It goes over the heads of most of my client base. I hate to use the term dumbing it down, but. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Not sure if I avoid it, but I do try to filter out all the mini-steps it took me to get to the conclusion. Not imp to client or accounts that CPC was important for a second in overall KPI analysis, but is only distraction otherwise. Info overload. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • When writing analysis, I try to focus on giving actionable assessments of the account. I’m not here to just throw out data. – Evan Cummins (@cummins_evan)
  • Surely this depends what it’s an analysis of, and what the reader wants to know. Or do you guys not think about your audience? – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • Don’t say anything that’s obvious from the data. Tell them WHY the metrics are important to their business. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • I try not to leave any open questions that maybe brought up from the data being represented. – Orlando Valencia (@OValencia_3)
  • I try to avoid rewriting the numbers. Work to talk more in trends. What we saw, why we it’s there, & what the response will be. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
  • Don’t repeat what is already in charts / graphs. Focus on cause and effect backed by data, and how it affects the end goal. – Heidi Smith (@heidinksmith)
  • Also, it’s important to speak towards the PPC knowledge of your audience. Make sure your analysis aligns with their goals. – Evan Cummins
  • Avoid not referring to the future: where is this going, what are you going to do about it. – Peter Thistle (@PeterThistle)
  • totally agree on not restating the obvious. Tell them what it means & why they should care. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)

Q2: What are some buzzwords/cliches that PPC specialists should avoid when writing analysis? Why?

  • I can’t stand it when the analysis only focuses on clicks and impressions – that’s not why were doing PPC! – Matt Umbro
  • When speaking to clients/bosses, esp busy SMB owners, I find it’s needed to define terms every time. CTR, Imp, CPA, CVR, etc. I try to avoid are “undefined” industry terms. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • What should they avoid: all of them. Why: because they rarely add to understanding. – Steve Gibson
  • Focusing so much on CTRs. Most of the time if revenue is going up at a great pace, they don’t care about CTR. Also a 25% CTR doesn’t look that good if it didn’t lead to any revenue. – Joe Martinez
  • You never know who else at the client might need to read a report, so keep language clear so your contact can easily share. – Julie Bacchini
  • “KPI” “Convert” “Click” More or less Any term you read in a typical PPC blog post. Use words your clients do. Tie to real world. – Doug Thomas
  • Focussing on every metric, the report should be focussed on ROI or CPA and how the other metrics can help these improve. – Mark Roll
  • A good rule of thumb is to never get too “inside baseball” in your reporting for clients. – Julie Bacchini
    • 100% true, but the challenge is that often it’s the inside baseball that proves value when not huge, obvious changes. – Doug Thomas
      • You can always provide more documentation later. I’ve found less is most often more in initial report docs. – Julie Bacchini
  • I have a nasty tendency to use “significant” in a way that implies “statistically” when no maths has been done. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • Avoid industry words that they won’t know – put into “lay man” terms & explain what the analysis means for their business. – Heidi Smith
  • “Optimize” > all too guilty of resorting to that word to summarize all sorts of work in reports. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • I’m so fanatical about automation and scripts that I’ve found the error of over mentioning. – Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
  • Also be up front with client – if you don’t understand please stop me. Avoid the acronym abyss. – Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
  • Side question – do any of you regularly ask clients how your reports are working for them, specifically? – Julie Bacchini
    • Yes, constantly. I don’t want to waste their time or mine with reports nobody finds helpful. – Kirk Williams
    • Always – I’m constantly refining reports to make sure I show most relevant info based upon feedback. – Matt Umbro
    • Yes. Lots. Report templates tend to become less useful over time without me realising – important to know when. – Richard Fergie
    • Just went through a round of that. Found out most wanted to see different things. Never hurts to just ask. – Joe Martinez
  • Avoid industry words that they won’t know – put into layman terms & explain what the analysis means for their business. – Heidi Smith
  • I’d definitely say talking too much about traffic as opposed to the results that they’re driving. – Evan Cummins
  • Avoid using only acronyms until your client feels comfortable with what they mean. CPA could mean Certified Public Accountant. – Olin Downs (@olinjdowns)

Q3: What do you believe to be the number one rule of writing PPC analysis for clients?

  • Think like the client and be ready with answers for any questions that may arise – or, already include in your analysis. – Matt Umbro
  • Take time to know your client, and apply that knowledge to customizing reports to their specific concerns. – Timothy Jensen
  • Try when ever possible to keep an eye on the cause effect relationship. We changed X resulting in Y. – Steve Hammer
  • Remain laser-focused on goals. – Kirk Williams
  • Answer the questions they are going to have to answer to “the powers that be” – make their lives easier! – Julie Bacchini
  • Know why you’re doing it. Who is it going to benefit and how? i.e. What actions will be taken as result of report? – Steve Gibson
  • Is the client intrested in this, some clients just want a basic report, some want in depth analysis. – Mark Roll
  • Write to who you’re reporting too. If it’s not the CEO, give your contact everything he/she needs to report back to their boss. – Joe Martinez
  • As an aside, anticipating your client’s Qs/needs isn’t just for reporting – should be done in relationship. – Matt Umbro
  • Keep it simple & focused on specific objectives, then give additional info the need. Some clients go too broad, so be careful. – Josh Kelson
  • Get to the “so what.” We often try to explain what numbers mean, but not why client should care. – Amy Hebdon (@amyppc)
  • Evaluation of current ROI and ROI forecast with recommendations. – Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
  • Give them wins and how you went about it. – Orland Valencia
  • The number one rule I’d say is to make sure it speaks to your audience’s PPC knowledge as well as their goals for the account. – Evan Cummins
  • I think we might overestimate how much tech jargon clients retain over time. Never hurts to offer context for all data. – Theresa Zook
  • Less is more! You only have to show what is functional to take decisions. All the rest is confusion. – Gianpaolo Lorusso (@Gianps)
  • I always try to bring something new in the analysis. A different POV, approach, comparison, etc. Shows commitment and interest. – Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)

Q4: What do you consider to be “in-depth” PPC analysis? Why?

  • Again, anything that answers the why of the data and proactively answers client questions. – Matt Umbro
  • An in-depth analysis should focus on unheralded aspects of the account that can provide a serious boon if given more attention. – Evan Cummins
  • The details it takes to grow to the next plateau or solve a problem. Often takes multiple systems. – Steve Hammer
  • In-depth analysis includes making connections between data points & putting it into big picture context. – Julie Bacchini
  • My weekly reporting (in-house). Because a lot of data, pivot tables, multiple attribution models.. Boss loves excel. – Roxana Hassel
  • Once again, this analysis with recommendations should always align with client goals. i.e. driving calls. – Evan Cummins
  • Where I have to dig into the data to draw conclusions, not just top level figures. – Mark Roll
  • Competitor analysis, post-conversion analysis. Any client requested reports. Hand-holding for accounts you don’t manage. – Doug Thomas
  • Or even anything the client asks for later, explains new platform updates, strategy pivots, etc. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Anything that can’t just be copied/pasted from Analytics or AdWords. Reporting on why things happened & what are the next steps. – Joe Martinez

Q5: Do you believe it can be beneficial to use technical terms/industry jargon in written PPC analysis for clients? Why or why not?

  • It is beneficial to educate your client to the terms they need to be aware of. For these, define constantly. Ignore the rest. – Kirk Williams
  • I think it can be if done correctly, helps your client understand the language and educates them. – Matt Umbro
  • If they truly understand it AND it adds to your analysis, then yes. If you’re doing it to just sound smart, then no. – Julie Bacchini
  • Yes. Industry terms are specific and unambiguous. Richard Fergie
    • Agree 100%. Imagine writing an analysis of clickrate without using “ctr” or “clickrate”. – Steve Gibson
  • It can defiantly be helpful to educate the client yes. – Brandon Bednar (@brandon_bednar)
  • You should always talk in their terms if possible. Don’t use PPC jargon because they need to be able to report upwards. – Evan Cummins
  • In written analysis I will use technical terms, and then explain in a simpler term if I feel the client will benefit from it. – Mark Roll
  • I think it can be, of course depending on the level of knowledge of your client. It can present you as the expert they hired. – Orlando Valencia
    • Strongly disagree. Never use jargon to make yourself look smart – use it for concise, unambiguous communication. – Richard Fergie
  • Yes, but you also have to take time to teach them until they understand. Gauge clients desire to learn. – Josh Kelson
  • I’m not saying not to use any terms, but be sure to understand your audience well enough to know how to do it effectively. – Julie Bacchini

Q6: When interviewing potential candidates, do you ask them to provide analysis on industry trends to gauge their competence? Why?

  • Always, I want to know that they can speak to current day PPC trends/practices…not ones from yesteryear. – Matt Umbro
  • Trends matter less than the fundamentals. ROAS, excel skills and basic automation rules more important that knowing lin-R ratio. – Steve Hammer
    • Fundamentals are huge, but speaking to recent trends show me that you keep up with the industry. – Matt Umbro
  • A small set of jargon terms is inevitable, except when you talk with C-levels (Highest Payed Persons Opinions still weights). – Gianpaolo Lorusso
  • Much more interested in analytical ability than fad-of-the-month analyses. Can tell me all about the latest QS change, and I’ll be sitting there wondering why every change you’ve made dropped ROAS. – Doug Thomas
  • You don’t need to know everything, but a desire to stay current is a critical PPC skill. Example: "What is the most interesting change you’ve seen in the PPC world in the past 6 months?” An open-ended question like this gives insight into how they think, more generally. – Julie Bacchini
  • I might ask more broadly how they keep up with PPC rather than about any specific thing, then drill from there. – Steve Hammer
  • I also ask what blogs/sites they read for PPC news (beyond Twitter/social media). – Melissa Mackey
  • Not specific analysis, but present a QBR or simulate client call-yes. I must know they are capable and knowledgable

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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)
• Amy Hebdon (@amyppc)
• Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
• Brandon Bednar (@brandon_bednar)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Evan Cummins (@cummins_evan)
• Gianpaolo Lorusso (@Gianps)
• Heidi Smith (@heidinksmith)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Kyle Petzinger (@kylepetz)
• Mark Roll (@MarkRoll32)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Olin Downs (@olinjdowns)
• Orlando Valencia (@OValencia_3)
• Peter Thistle (@PeterThistle)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
• Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Steve Hammer (@armondhammer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Writing Impactful Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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