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Insights from Sam: Effective Online Marketing Reports and DIY Disasters

By Erin  |   Online Marketing

Profile Of A Mind

In our “Insights from Sam” blog post series, I ask Sam (one of our online marketing experts here at Followbright) a question or two about, you guessed it, online marketing. These questions are the most common ones about online marketing that we’re asked here at our web strategy agency.  Each time, Sam shares his insights through simple, easy to understand responses.  Enjoy!


Erin: When a business is working with an online marketing partner and they are getting help with search marketing, what types of reports or analytics data should they be expecting to receive every month? What data should be included in reports if they are going to actually be useful?

Sam: Reporting actually goes back to something we’ve talked about at length in the past; it goes back to the relationship between a client and an agency.

Many agencies take a position that every client gets a certain report and that report is maybe not negotiable. They provide the same numbers to each client regardless of their business model.

Ideally an agency would sit down with a client and find out what's really important to them. That would be one of the first conversations they had after agreeing to work together. There are standard numbers across most SEM platforms like Pay Per Click, Remarketing and Display, metrics like: impressions, clicks and click through rate--for display ads there is also something called View Through Rate. Those are all traffic metrics which measure interaction and user action. Then there is interaction statistics like, “what did users do on the website”, “how much time did they spend there”, “how many pages did they interact with”?

After that a report should address desired user actions like, “have they signed up for an event”, “did they got in touch with us”?

If calls are important, think about if calls are being tracked and quantified…all of these metrics are important. The bottom line on reporting is: If the past was unacceptable or the past was not performing as well as a client would like, the standards with which they should be held is "are we making progress to our new business goals of more leads, more sales, more contacts, more customers reading our articles, or watching our videos?".

So those performance metrics should really be at the heart of the report. How often those reports are provided is really up to the client’s needs, preferences, and how they use their data. Client reports can be created daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly, and what data appears in them should be negotiable.

With that said, it’s important to remember that reporting takes time to create, and relies on data collection, so short date ranges can lead to less insight as there is less data to discuss.

Erin: On a totally separate, completely different note: Over the years you and I have seen companies of all sizes try to set up and manage their search engine marketing--particularly their Pay Per Click ad campaigns--internally. What are some of the most common problems we typically see when taking over online marketing campaigns that were previously set up and/or managed by clients themselves?

Sam: There is a perception that the Google AdWords platform is very user friendly…it’s something that you can set up, create some ads and they will bring you leads, traffic and new business.

In some cases that could be true. What is a little misleading about that notion--the notion that AdWords is easy and user friendly is that keyword you select and every ad you run has a down side. The up side might be that the terms seem perfect for your business model. The down side could be that there are very closely related terms that could be 100% wrong for your business.

One of the things that we see when clients have opened and run their own AdWords account is if they don't fundamentally understand some of the risks associated with Pay Per Click advertising and they can end up with runaway spend.

Another example of this would be the difference between keywords and queries. A user might choose to bid on ‘condo for sale’, but if they run ads on Broad Match, AdWords would likely show ads for the query ‘condo for rent’ as well…which the client might not offer.

If an advertiser chooses the wrong Match Type their account can run rampant a bit and some of the terms you may be paying for may not be relevant. That's a really common user-managed AdWords account problem.

Runaway budget, showing ads for keywords that aren't right for your business, running ad creative that is out of date or maybe isn't 100% accurate to what you are offering, bidding too high or too low…these are all mistakes that are easy to make.

Those are all problems that come from not having a full understanding of the product, which is easy to do. AdWords is a large, complicated animal and it can take a lot of time and expertise to become a professional manager of even your own AdWords account. If the advertiser had enough time they could probably become an expert. But that's not the business they are in. They are in the business of selling shoes or vacation packages or whatever their actual business offers and AdWords can take quite a while to learn.

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