Raise your hand if you been personally victimized by PPC reporting?


As a paid search specialist, I sometimes find it difficult to communicate the ‘need-to-know’ details about Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns to managers and clients who do not have paid search or digital marketing backgrounds. To me, it’s all so exciting that I just want to share everything like a baby boomer on Facebook! When managers or clients get overwhelmed by reporting details, it can reflect badly on the person who prepared the report and make it hard for an audience to see the value your work is bringing to the project.

To give you an example, I once had a boss with a financial background tell me I made him feel dumb after we had a PPC accounts performance conversation. That was by no means my intention, nor am I smarter than him (trust me, he’s a smarty pants!), but I gave him too many ‘in the weeds’ details that I would normally use to analyze an account. Some things I reported to him were search term match variances, explaining ad extensions and enhanced CPC, bidding and budgeting intricacies, and more. It turned out that I was oversharing and not helping him understand how all that work was affecting the bottom line, and according to my boss it made him feel dumb.

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To help you avoid making your boss or clients feel overwhelmed – or to help you ask for the right things if you are the boss – I’ve pulled together a little cheat sheet to help you get more out of PPC reporting and ultimately make your boss happy instead.

Have a Goal, Otherwise This is All a Moo Point!

First, before even starting PPC campaigns, you must have at least one goal, and your report should convey them clearly. Secondly, you must – yes, MUST – have a way of tracking these goals. Setting this up correctly may take some development or data analysis smarts that you don't have yourself, but the PPC team needs to know what’s working for the business in order to optimize.

Goals aren’t just for the PPC specialist’s benefit. Goals are a necessity to be able to relay back to your direct report, they want to know if the money being spent is being spent efficiently. Work with your team to make sure you have defined values for goals like conversions or cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and are properly tracking them throughout the funnel. If you don’t have these two aspects covered, then there’s no point in having PPC campaigns, it’s moo!

A Cow's Opinion is Moo

Transform Your Landing Page into a Conversion Queen

Don’t lose a potential consumer after they clicked on your ad because of the landing page. Make it easy for them to convert with a designated, conversion-optimized landing page. The homepage or other normal pages of websites are probably not designed specifically for conversions, so don’t rely on them for PPC results. Properly designed landing pages can improve all major conversion metrics by creating a better experience for the customer and will ultimately make it easier to optimize PPC accounts and report results.

The next time the boss asks you why the industry average conversion rate is double yours, you can explain to him/her the importance of investing in a quality landing page for your PPC campaigns. Giving your landing page a makeover can transform PPC accounts into conversion queens!

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Here are a few of my favorite blogs on landing page and mobile landing page inspirations.

Adding Negative Keywords for Positive Results

Traffic is good, but quality of traffic trumps the quantity of traffic; your business can gain valuable customers and leads from higher quality traffic. For example, I once ran a six sigma black belt training campaign, and the ads were being clicked on from “adult black batman belt” searches. It’s nice to see an uptick in website sessions, but that’s wasted spend on the wrong target audience. “Batman” was added to the negative list on the campaign – though selling Batman belts does sound fun.

The PPC team should run weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly search query reports to add negative keywords. When negative keywords are added, you’re eliminating wasted spend, and CPA and overall account relevancy will both improve. Negative keywords can be added on three levels: account, campaign and adgroup so you are able to add the right mix of negatives.

When your boss asks what you could do to lower PPC CPA or improve the accounts, you have a simple answer for him/her – adding negative keywords!

Batman meme

Overall Health of Account

Instead of just taking your account’s temperature by looking at conversions, be sure it’s overall health is in good shape. Whether your account is creating results or not, keep an eye on these key metrics to see if any of them need a check-up.

  • CPA: Cost per acquisition, how much it is costing when someone converts after clicking your ad (total cost divided by conversions). This will help you determine the ROI of your campaigns.
  • CTR: Click-through-rate, what is the percentage your ads being clicked on (total clicks divided by total impressions).
  • QS: Quality score, a measurement of relevancy to determine page position and what you’ll pay per click. Quality score is determined by calculations involving your ads, keywords, landing page, and campaigns.
  • CPC & Avg. CPC: Cost per click and average cost per click, how much you are paying when your ad is clicked. CPC is determined by your max bid, quality score and ad rank.
  • Conversion Rate: Percentage of clicks that converted. This can help you determine what keywords and ads are converting and which aren’t.
  • Search Impression Share: Percentage of impressions your ads received divided by the number of impressions you could have received. You can identify opportunities to get more impressions and clicks with this.

Bosses and clients mostly want to see conversions, but these are other important metrics to include in your reports that don’t go too far into the weeds. Even if your conversions are low, but your overall account health is good, you can use these metrics to prove that your campaigns are setup properly and perhaps it’s time to look back at the landing page.

Create Bid Strategies with Locations, Devices, and Schedules

In order to be more competitive in areas you want to generate more business, you need to set bid adjustments to drive more traffic from people searching in those regions. Create a list for your boss to look over or work with them to select the top cities/regions you want to be most competitive in and increase bids on. Take it a next step further and maybe select a few areas you want to have ads running, but may not want to bid too high on so you adjust your bids to decrease.

Mobile isn’t going anywhere so have a mobile friendly landing page and set the appropriate bid adjustments to create convenience for the mobile searcher. If you have a poor mobile landing page, you may want to decrease your bids in the device category and focus on driving computer and tablet users. Have a discussion with your boss about mobile users and whether or not they are within your target audience. If so, are you meeting their needs and reaching them with appropriate landing pages and bid adjustments?

Mean Girls Wednesday Pink

Are there days of the week or times of the day your account performs better and worse? Run a report in each platform, and either look it over with your boss or create an ad schedule with bid adjustments to present them. For example, an account I managed for non-degree business classes converted the most Monday – Friday during business hours. Why? Business professionals are seeking classes to ask their work to send them to or companies are looking for classes to send employees to. So it made sense to decrease bids early in the mornings and later in the evenings during the work week, decrease bids on the weekends, and increase bids Monday – Friday during business hours if our budget had room for it. Creating ad schedules can help you be more flexible with spending and more competitive when it makes the most sense for your business. To be even more exclusive, turn ads off during certain times or days as long as it works for your business’s goals.

All of these pieces can be part of the ongoing reporting process and let your bosses know that you are targeting your audience correctly.

“Life is Just a Party & Parties Weren’t Meant to Last” - Prince

To be honest, the prince quote is happening not just to honor the best musician ever, but because I am always jamming to Prince’s music while working so it was an easy inspiration.

But to bring it into context, even if your PPC campaign has been performing well, it will eventually need maintenance. If your account isn’t performing well, it doesn’t mean that PPC isn’t the right marketing platform for you. It probably means you need to adjust and test different techniques in ads and landing pages. PPC is a place for always improving through continuous optimizing and testing, and reporting performance metrics well should illuminate areas of improvement.

Think about which pieces of the campaign need to improve in order for the overall account to be in good shape? Google and Bing want your overall account to be relevant so they are showing your ads in the right searches because they want their search engines to be a valuable experience to the user.

In addition, remember to keep an eye on SEO efforts that can inform your paid campaigns. Pulling in search queries from Google Search Console and looking at the page titles on successful organic landing pages can help your paid campaigns grow, so think about keeping track of them in your reporting efforts as well.  SEO and PPC are both great marketing solutions separately, but they are strongest when both practices are being used at the same time.

Another Prince reference coming in. Just before Purple Rain the movie released, Warner Brothers wanted them to cut the song When Doves Cry from it. I know…what is this madness? The movie Purple Rain would have still been good with just the hit song Purple Rain, but the movie wouldn’t be what it is without both Purple Rain AND When Doves Cry!

To bring it back to reporting again, if you are only focusing on SEO or PPC, and your efforts aren’t succeeding, consider telling your boss about Purple Rain to convince them that including two smash hit marketing techniques will be more likely to make the whole effort successful.


There’s a lot to consider for successful PPC efforts and always new things to learn, but your boss doesn’t need to know all of it or learn how to do it. If you keep these tips handy you should be able to continuously create rockin’ strategy plans and reports and keep your boss happy.