Frequently enough I find myself staring at my weekly or monthly reports going cross-eyed, trying to make sense of the data and how it’s been influenced by changes throughout the month. As marketers, we know all of the details of our strategy and are constantly thinking about what effects will come based on the changes we’re making to the campaigns. One of the biggest reasons that client’s leave agencies for is lack of strategy and proactive thinking. If week in and week out all you’re talking about is what happened last week and why, zero value has been provided.
Incorporating the following items into your client calls can foster more consultative discussions, leading you to create a more effective and holistic strategy. I want to be clear that this is not how to talk yourself out of poor campaign performance. Contrary to popular belief, PPC does not exist in a vacuum and it’s our job to connect the dots and tell a story.
We’ve all gotten those client emails asking about a dip in performance that makes us feel like the sky is falling. This queues a spree of digging into campaigns, analyzing changes, and scouring analytics to find a potential cause for the decrease.
While we must be aware of the changes we make, we can’t forget to look at the overall landscape and trends of the industry or campaigns. There are several paid tools available like eMarketer or Statista and free tools like Google Trends or Keyword Planner that can all be used to provide this context if you have a new account with no historical data.
Seasonality is considered change caused by the natural flow of the calendar year. While this does include obvious things, like snow blowers will sell more leading up to and in the winter months, there can be “seasonality” that is unique to your client but not the industry as a whole. I worked with a large B2B SaaS company and we were trying to better predict when we could expect SQLs. After some digging, we found there were certain months in which these SQLs were coming through in bulk, and brought it up as a discussion point with our client. We were able to learn from this conversation that their internal sales team works off their fiscal calendar and focuses on getting those final sales in the final month of the fiscal quarter. It’s information like this that we can use as marketers to build a more effective strategy.
Website Functionality and Post-Click Behavior
One of my least favorite things about working specifically in PPC is the disconnect between pre and post-click behavior and optimizations. Creating a synergy between testing happening on the site and within your PPC program can eliminate the headache of undoing another team’s work, and allows for findings to be shared between all stages of the path to purchase.
An undervalued area of post-click behavior is how users will react to the speed of your site and landing pages. Google has a free tool that can give you an idea of where your site stands and the areas to improve for maximum impact. Often times backing into the possible revenue increase from a minuscule lift in CvR is enough to get that ball rolling.
Attribution & Sources of Truth
There’s nothing more important than you and your clients being on the same page when it comes to the data you’re actually looking at and how it’s being collected. Attribution can be a tricky subject to navigate with its complexity, but having your clients fully on board with how to evaluate different marketing channels will give more confidence to all parties when making data-driven decisions.
Many of my clients use Google Analytics as their source of truth, accessing month over month and year over year comparisons to evaluate performance. GA, like all other sources of truth, will have a lagging period in which the full amount of revenue or leads will not be accounted for until after a certain period of time, which needs to be understood by both you and your client. This report in GA lives within Conversions -> Multi-Channel Funnels -> Time Lag:
If you don’t take time to analyze and understand this period for your clients, you will be discounting revenue or leads that affect your bottom line and essentially going in blind with your optimizations.
Google Search is a channel meant to harvest the available demand of a market. With limited demand, especially in price-sensitive industries, promotions and sales put on by your competitors can have a noticeable ripple effect in your campaigns. I recommend subscribing to your competitor’s newsletters and promotional material to stay up to date on their initiatives.
Auction Insights within Google Ads is another great tool to understand changes in the SERP landscape. Try looking at this report over shorter time spans to see fluctuations with different competitors entering and exiting your auctions. Often times what you see in this report is different than what your client expects as main “competitors”, which can spur discussions of how to be more competitive with digital-specific adversaries.
Being equipped with this information illustrates that you as the manager of the PPC program are aware of not only your campaigns, but how they are interacting in the current environment. This goes back to an earlier point that your clients crave an Account Manager who doesn’t just regurgitate the numbers but tells a story to build a strategy.
Closing the Loop
Communicating to your clients all the facets of digital marketing that are indirectly affecting their campaigns in a way that breeds collaborative discussion can be a losing battle. It’s often about planting a seed with these types of conversations that then take time to blossom. Bringing up these things on a more regular basis can keep them top of mind with clients and lead to possible action down the line.