When I began using Google Ads at my first job out of college, I was scared senseless. I knew that I’d seen those distracting, cumbersome ads litter my search engine results page (SERP, although I didn’t know that was the acronym back then) and foul up the actual content I was trying to read on blogs and websites, but I didn’t know they served any real purpose or that anyone actually bothered to click on them — much less convert.
I didn’t really see the value in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and I couldn’t understand why my employer was so hell-bent on throwing away all that money! Worse yet, I was now tasked with finding a way to actually get people to click on those ads and make some sort of decision that guided them toward a purchase!
I had a lot to learn and an uphill climb in front of me, but as I began slogging through the training suite in what was then called Google AdWords, I slowly realized the potential of this digital marketing channel. Less than one year later, our monthly leads from PPC had nearly tripled, and we were gaining new business left and right.
Moral of the story: Just because something is difficult or you don’t immediately see its value doesn’t mean you should abandon the tactic altogether. Instead, you should dig in deep to learn more about it and how to use it to improve your business and increase your revenue, which is what we’re going to do in this blog.
No other marketing strategy lends itself to data collection, interpretation, and optimization better or more frequently than Google Ads. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at a few essential PPC key performance indicators, how to track them, and how to leverage the past for future success.
Which Google Ads Metrics Marketers Should Be Tracking
It’s important to track and monitor all of your marketing strategies, but since most companies dedicate significant budget toward their PPC campaigns and Google Ads is such a data-rich platform, you should be reviewing your progress on a daily basis to seize opportunities and avoid wasted spend.
When strategizing your campaigns, determining which metrics to track is mission critical. You’ll need to decide which KPIs to assign to each individual campaign from the outset in order to align Google Analytics and Google Ads prior to launch. This way, you can track all the most important information from the get-go without missing out on any previous data, which will allow you to demonstrate the value of your campaigns to key stakeholders at your company.
Here are the four most important metrics you should be tracking in every campaign:
Average ad position is specific to search campaigns and tells you where your ad is showing up on different search engine results pages (SERPs). Ad position is based on Ad Rank, which is determined by multiplying your ad’s max cost per impression (CPM) by your Quality Score — a vital metric that measures the value of your ad for users through an algorithm that accounts for several factors, including:
- CTR (see below)
- Keyword relevance
- Landing page relevance
- Ad copy relevance
- Overall Google Ads performance
It’s unclear how each of these factors are weighed, but CTR seems to be the most important element of the algorithm. Achieving a Quality Score of 7 or higher will decrease your CPC (see below) and improve your Ad Rank and position. Securing a top three position on a SERP is extremely important in search campaigns, as 46% of all clicks go to one of those three spots (1).
An impression registers every time your ad is shown online — whether as a display, search, or email ad. The number of impressions for each ad doesn’t necessarily indicate success, as a user doesn’t have to interact with the ad in any way for it to count as an impression. However, knowing your impression share (which is determined by dividing the number of impressions your campaign receives by the number of eligible impressions) can provide useful information into how much of the digital market you own for a given ad.
When your ads are shown online, users have the option to click on them to learn more about whatever messaging you’re trying to convey. Every time they do, you will be charged an amount that varies based on your bid strategy and the competition surrounding that keyword or placement. Understanding how many clicks your ads are receiving, at what rate, and for what amount is an essential component of any successful Google Ads campaign because doing so allows you to manage your budget, pause ineffective campaigns, and focus on where you’re seeing the most success. Further, your click-through rate (CTR) will impact your Quality Score, as mentioned above.
At the end of the day, conversion-related metrics are the most important PPC KPIs of all. In B2B marketing, form fills are the most common conversions. And it’s these users who you will want to target with carefully considered nurture campaigns based on their responses.
When you set up your campaigns, you’ll want to make sure you’re tracking not only the number of conversions you acquire, but also how much it cost for each acquisition. To determine your cost-per-acquisition (CPA), just multiply the total cost of your conversions by how many conversions you’ve generated. You should also be monitoring your conversion rate, as the volume of conversions you’re receiving might look great on paper but is actually grossly out of whack with how many conversions you should be receiving based on the number of clicks your ads are generating.
Setting Up Conversion Tracking in Google Ads
Many new PPC marketers fail to set up conversion tracking properly from the outset of their campaigns and thus have no way of monitoring their most important KPI. To help you avoid that mistake, here’s a simple primer on how to set up conversion tracking in Google Ads.
There are two main steps to accomplishing this; the first of which is to create the conversion tracking pixel. Here’s how!
- From your main dashboard in Google Ads, click on the “Tools” tab. Under the measurement menu, choose “Conversions.”
- Next, create a new conversion type by first choosing which type of conversions you want to track (sales, app installs, calls, or importing conversions from another system).
- Name the conversion and choose a category (Purchase/Sale, Sign-up, Lead, View of a key page, or Other).
- Then set a value for these conversions — either the same or different values for each and whether to count each conversion per interaction or just one.
- Finally, choose your preferred conversion window so your conversions are attributed properly.
Once you’ve created your conversion tracking pixel, it’s time to actually install it on different pages on your website and other digital properties (such as your dedicated PPC landing pages).
- When it’s time to place the pixel, you’ll first see your global snippet, which you can place on all relevant web pages to be used for remarketing purposes as well as conversion tracking.
- Next, you’ll copy the Event Code, which will track different types of conversions for further detailed data.
- You’ll place this code directly after the global snippet on whichever pages you choose to track.
- The global snippet should remain the same on all pages, but if you want to track different types of conversions, you should create individual event codes for each relevant page on your website and associated digital properties.
Although this might seem complicated, it should only take 10-15 minutes and will automate all of your conversion tracking efforts so you never miss an opportunity to assess your progress and report major successes to key stakeholders.
Easily Integrate Your Google Ads Account with Act-On
Well-built PPC campaigns are one of the most effective digital marketing strategies and are a great way to get all of your amazing content in the right hands, especially when your ad groups are targeted based on personas, demographics, and behavior. But if you’re not keeping a close eye on the metrics above, you won’t be able to optimize your campaigns to their full potential, and you could lose a mint in wasted spend.
Fortunately, Act-On has a seamless integration with Google Ads that allows marketers such as yourself to measure the success of your campaigns and also gain visibility into which search terms potential customers are using to find your products and services. To learn more about Act-On’s Google Ads integration, please click here.