Back to the Basics: Pay Per Click Tracking
The secret of successful PPC campaigns is to track them closely. Tracking key metrics will inform better decisions, save you money, and drive more conversions. There’s a lot to look at and it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers! That said, having a high-level understanding of tracking and knowing what you should be looking at can help you better understand how your campaigns are performing.
What should you track?
- The most important metric for evaluating the performance of a campaign is the number of completed transactions, also known as conversions. The goal of your campaign may not be to sell a product online (in which case the conversion is obvious), but conversions can also include completing a purchase, signing up, filling out a form, or even just landing on a key page such as pricing. Get creative and you should be able to find at least one conversion for your campaign.
- Conversion tracking allows you to determine which ads and keywords are truly performing the best (resulting in conversions). If you really don’t have a conversion, then you’ll need to concentrate on your cost per click, which really isn’t a good indicator of what’s working as it’s not unusual for more expensive clicks to convert better (that’s why they’re more expensive!).
- Tracking conversions will also allow you to calculate a ROI (return on investment) and cost per conversion, both of which are very valuable in assessing the success of your campaign. In fact, cost per conversion can be used to evaluate not just the campaign but also specific ads and keywords.
Ad and Keyword Performance
- Many people focus on cost per click (CPC) and will try to optimize their campaign around this metric only. However, it shouldn’t be your only focus, it’s important to consider cost per conversion and quality score to ensure that the campaign is performing well.
- Your ad’s quality score is an indicator of how relevant your ad AND landing page are to the search phrase. The quality score is also determined (in part) by the click through rate (CTR). This is very important to track as a higher quality score will result in savings (as low quality scored ads pay more per clicks than high quality scores).
- Evaluating the click through rate (CTR) of both ads and keywords allows you to see what’s performing and what’s not. A high CTR on a particular keyword indicates that both the phrase searched and the ad are highly relevant. When optimizing ads, it’s important to test multiple ads for each ad group. Ads can be set to rotate evenly, allowing you to see which ad is performing best. The ad with the lower CTR can be paused and new ad copy can be written to test against the higher performing ad.
Landing Page and Website Performance
- In PPC campaigns, people tend to focus on the click too much and optimize only to that point, but we should be equally concerned with what happens after they click. Using a website analytic package such as Google Analytics, you can track and analyze every move of your visitors. It allows you to see where they came from, where they went after viewing a page, how long they spent on that page, and more.
- Bounce Rate is the key metric for evaluating the quality of traffic your PPC campaign is generating. This metric will tell you if your campaign is attracting the right audience and if your search, ad copy, and landing page are all properly aligned.
- Pages/visit is another metric which is an indicator of the quality of traffic that your PPC campaign is generating. And like Bounce rate, it also indicates if your website if fulfilling on the promise that your ads are making. Pages/visit also lets you know if you are providing users with an enjoyable experience on your website and can be used to craft campaigns that attract sticky visitors (users that stay on the site for a period of time and view a number of pages).
- A common and easy method of tracking the performance of individual actions on a web page is called event tracking (also known as click out tracking). This allows marketers to test the performance of buttons, calls to action, or other functionality of a website (anything a visitor can click on). You can even use it to track the popularity of content on a webpage by providing only a content teaser with the full content to be revealed when they click “Read More” (tracking the clicks of the “Read More” button). This is another often overlooked metric as you need to specifically identify the actions you want to track and set-up the event tracking by adding a small bit of code to each click that you’d like to track.
Does your organization review your metrics on a regular basis and use this information to make better decisions? Let us know what metrics you’re tracking and how they’ve helped you in the comments!