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  • How to Tell if Your PPC Is Working: The 7 Metrics That Actually Matter

Once you get your pay per click, or PPC, campaign up and running, your work is far from over. You need to track your results to see what worked, what didn’t, and what you can tweak to get better results in the future.

What SEM metrics should you measure? We outline the 7 ppc metrics to measure.

As anyone who’s ever peeked at the Google Ads platform knows, there are an awful lot of PPC metrics at your disposal when it comes to measuring your results. Which is both a blessing and a curse.

While it means that you can see the data on just about any metric you can dream of, it also means that it’s easy to get bogged down in numbers that don’t matter. So, what PPC metrics actually matter?

Let’s take a look at the metrics you should be paying attention to in order to tell if your PPC is working.

Before you get started looking at your PPC metrics…

To truly know how well any form of online advertising you’re running is effective, you want to establish a baseline. If you’ve been running PPC ads or other online marketing strategies without taking stock of this information, worry not! You can still take a snapshot now to compare your results to in the coming months.

Here are the 7 PPC metrics to measure to determine whether or not your PPC campaign is a success.

Below, we’ve outlined the most important baseline data to gather:

  • Website traffic: How many people are regularly visiting your website each day, week, and month?
  • Leads: How many new form fills, calls, emails, or other forms of contact are you receiving regularly?
  • Sales: What are your sales? If you’re going to run PPC ads for a specific product or service, make sure you know the sales figures for it beforehand.
  • Email subscribers: How many email list subscribers do you have?
  • Social media: How many followers and page likes do you have across your social sites?

While some of these marketing metrics, like social media followers and email subscribers, may seem secondary depending on the types of PPC ads you’re running, it’s always helpful to know any brand lift you might be experiencing as a result of your search engine marketing (SEM) ads.

Related: Get the latest search advertising benchmarks for all industries.

The most important PPC metrics to measure

Now it’s time to identify the PPC metrics that actually matter when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your SEM campaigns.

1. Click-through rate (CTR)

When running a PPC ad, CTR is one of the most important metrics to pay attention to. In order to arrive at this figure, the total number of impressions (people who saw your ad) is divided by the number who actually clicked on it.

search advertising benchmarks - average click-through rate

We crunched the numbers on average CTR for PPC

It’s hard not to get excited when you see that people are interacting with your ad, so you might see a high CTR and stop right there. But not so fast!

Yes, a solid CTR means you’re showing up in relevant search results and that your ad copy resonates with viewers. But a whole lot of clicks can still amount to zero revenue if you’re not paying attention to the actions that consumers take after that initial click.

Similarly, a low CTR is not a sign that your products, messaging, or offers are terrible. It likely means that your campaign needs to be adjusted for different keywords or that your ad copy is not compelling to relevant consumers.

2. Conversion rate

What really matters for most businesses is whether or not those who clicked on your ad are actually following through and taking your desired action. That’s where conversion rate comes in.

This number is a measure of the percentage of people that followed through and did what you were hoping they would after clicking on your ad. Maybe that’s signing up for your newsletter, or maybe it’s booking an introductory call with your sales team. Whatever the action, the conversion rate is important because it gives you a sense of how well your ad is performing with viable leads.

search advertising benchmarks - average conversion rate

It’s also important to think about what a conversion looks like for you or what action you want people to take on your website. If you’re a restaurant owner, it probably doesn’t matter to you how many people contacted you from your website. You want them to come in and order some food —  so you might look at how many people viewed your menu and then looked for your address on your website.

If you have a high CTR but a low conversion rate, there’s cause for investigation. Is your desired action not properly synced up with the ad text? Are you making too big an ask and scaring off potential leads?

A high conversion rate means that both your search engine marketing campaign and website are doing their jobs.

3. Cost per conversion

Once you know your conversion rate, you can also look at your cost per conversion. If the amount of money you’re spending to acquire a new customer is outpacing the amount of revenue you’re earning from each new customer, you need to revisit your marketing budget and approach.

This chart from wordstream shows the average cost per conversion by industry in Google Ads, an important ppc metric to measure.

This WordStream chart shows the average cost per conversion in Google Ads by industry.

One way to bump up your ROI is to ensure you’re taking advantage of the negative keywords function in Google Ads. When you add a negative keyword to your list, you’re asking Google not to display your ad in results for that word or phrase. Negative keywords allow you to target your advertising spend at only the most relevant terms and help to give your ROI a nudge in the right direction.

You can also work with a search engine marketing partner (like LOCALiQ) that uses Conversion Based Optimization for SEM ads. Conversion Based Optimization allocates your PPC budget to the keywords, placements, and search engines that are generating the most conversions rather than just clicks, which can help with your cost per conversion.

4. Page visits and time on-site

Getting the conversion is great, but it’s not necessarily everything. For those who don’t convert, what is it they’re doing instead? Are they bouncing right off of your site, or are they spending several minutes, visiting a number of pages, and learning more about your company?

Page visits and time onsite are two important ppc metrics that can help you determine whether or not your ppc ads are working.

If it’s the latter, then missing that conversion may not be as big a deal. Consumers who spend quality time on your site are likely interested in what you’re doing and may come back at a later date to investigate further or make a purchase.

Google allows you to track the behaviors of visitors once they get on your site via Google Analytics. The information you gain there can add valuable color to the bigger picture of how your PPC ad is performing.

And, this is a great opportunity to add some retargeting. A visitor leaves your site without converting, sees a display ad for your business, and they just might come back and convert next time. It’s a win for you and a win for them!

5. Quality Score

Though no one really knows the full list of the factors that Google uses to come up with an ad’s Quality Score, it’s incredibly important to the overall success of your Google Ads campaigns. Quality Score is a number between 1-10 that ultimately is used to determine where your ad ranks on the search engine results page (SERP) and how much you pay per click.

This graphic shows some of the factors that make up Google Quality Score, an important PPC metric.

Image Source

The higher your Quality Score, the higher your ad will rank, and the less you’ll end up paying for each click. Conversely, a low Quality Score will penalize you with fewer impressions and a higher cost per click, both of which negatively affect ROI. To boost your score, there are a few tips you can use such as making sure the ad keywords you’re using are relevant to the landing page content, testing out different ad copy, and regularly updating your list of negative keywords that are attracting the wrong kinds of clicks.

6. Cost per click (CPC)

What is CPC? CPC is how much your business is paying for each click on your ad. This is calculated by dividing your competitor’s Ad Rank by your Quality Score and adding one cent. (Ad Rank is where each ad will be positioned on the SERP.)

Here’s an example of how CPC is calculated:

This shows how CPC would be calculated for advertisers measuring their ppc metrics.

Most experts agree that CPC isn’t the most important PPC metric. Instead, it’s important to focus on the outcome of the clicks you’re receiving on your ads. But, by keeping an eye on your CPC, you can determine whether or not there might be other keywords with lower CPCs that will still yield positive results for your business.

Related: Find the best keywords for your business with our guide to keyword research for PPC.

7. Site visitor information

When you run a PPC campaign, you get access to a treasure trove of metrics that can (obviously) be used to help you see if your PPC campaign is working. But, did you know you can also use the metrics from your PPC campaigns to benefit your other marketing strategies?

In Google Analytics, you can get access to information on the users who are visiting your site from your PPC ads. You can see information like what devices they’re visiting your site from, demographic information like age and location, and whether they’re a new vs. a returning user.

This graphic shows an example of the site visitor information you can gather from PPC metrics.

This information can help you in other areas of your marketing, like your SEO strategy, your display advertising, and your social media marketing. It can also help you narrow down your target audience and better appeal to that target audience. If you know that the majority of users visiting your site are males ranging from 25-34, you can tailor content in your ads and on your site to appeal to that group.

PPC metrics explained

When you’re measuring the results of your SEM efforts, it can be easy to get bogged down in the many PPC metrics available to you via the Google Ads management platform. If you’re smart about the metrics you track, you only need to consider a handful to gain a rich understanding of how your campaign is performing.

If you’d like our help developing a great PPC ads strategy and tracking results as a way to continually optimize your approach, contact us today!

And, to recap, here are the 7 PPC metrics that actually matter:

  1. Clickthrough Rate
  2. Quality Score
  3. Conversion Rate
  4. Cost Per Conversion
  5. Page Visits & Time On-Site
  6. Cost Per Click
  7. Site Visitor Information

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