In Paid Search advertising alongside your regular reports of tables & graphs, you are going to have to explain the trends that have formed over time. We mostly call this the commentary.
Whether you are client side or agency – the guys’ behind the purse string want to know why performance has changed in the way it has with as little use of jargon as possible.
So what is the non jargon translation for CPC shift or clicks going up or down? Well let's go through the top 5 volume metrics which will be affected & efficiency metrics that help paint the story.
The answer to the question – why has search volume of your keywords improved or decreased?
Impression would be due to either something on account management end – there have been budget limit changes to some campaigns, campaign end dates have been reached. Or it would be out of your control – sometimes search volume does drop due to external factors. Investigate the possible external factors – e.g. seasonality, other channel activity (offline especially), weather, etc, and you will get the answer as to why it has increased or decreased.
Clicks to the site:
The answer to the question - what has happened to traffic to the site?
As well as budget changes, end dates and market search volume being an issue (when traffic to the site has changed in the same level of keyword search volume) – the other reason for click to change will be click through rate (commonly CTR).
This is where you now look closely at performance of your ad copies. Because if people have driven more or less traffic to the site – your ad copy is either doing something really right, or really wrong. This would be strongly connected to the first efficiency metric to be looked at - CTR.
CTR changes because of a searchers’ attitude towards your ad copy
Cost of total clicks:
The answer to the question - how much has been spent by the campaign?
Again we want address traffic to the site - if cost is following the trend of clicks & impressions. If not, the focus would be on our second efficiency metric – cost per clicks (commonly referred to as CPC).
If the CPC has increased – cost will most likely have followed suit. Why does cost per clicks change – it is either been a manual change to our maximum cpc – OR, the competition landscape has changed. Higher CPC usually due to more competitors in the space, or competitors bidding higher on the terms you are bidding on. Auction insight report will give you more insight as to which competitors are causing this. Check out this script for the easiest way to see which competitor has affected your CPC the most.
The answer to the question: how many desired actions are the campaigns delivering?
Changes in conversion will follow the normal volume levels of clicks, impressions & cost, OR we’ll be looking at another change in an efficiency metric - conversion rate. This means that upon reaching the website – the visitor hasn’t seen on the web page what they expected. What would need further investigating here is one of two things – again, what is the ad copy saying & does it match the landing page on the web site.
If nothing has been changed in your ad copy – this is where site administrators need to be contacted to ask what has changed on the website. It also may not just be about content – it could be technical issues like site down time or loading page speed. Any changes to the website could cause poor conversion rate.
Recent article from Group Twenty Seven’s Pauline Jackober will give a few more reasons as to why conversion rate can be very poor.
The answer to the question - what is the value of the actions being delivered?
Again if we aren’t seeing a correlation in changes of volume of the previous metrics, the last few efficiency metrics to be looking at is ROI – our return on investment (ad spend/cost), or average order value (AOV) – the average revenue per order delivered. For ROI – this will be affected by poor CPC (high competition could lead to higher spend on conversions that desired). For AOV this would be due to the worth of the products being bid on – if you are bidding towards products that have too low a value – you won’t get a positive return for your money.
Strip away the jargon for your client or marketing manager and tell them what is going on in terms they will understand. After all is it people's actual actions you are describing Even when things could possibly be going wrong, the story can be constructed in a way that highlights the solution of the issue – and who exactly will be responsible for turning that issue around.