Generally speaking, there are two important phases that go into reporting: pre-launch & post-launch.
When dealing with any marketing initiative, especially paid acquisition, getting your campaign analytics set up correctly beforehand is an absolute must.
- Setting up Google Analytics to track traffic from different channels is important. Add UTM parameters to track traffic that comes through email vs social according to this guide. Turn on Auto-Tagging in Google AdWords, and set up Webmaster Tools for SEO
- Wherever possible, adding Google Tag Manager (GTM) to your site makes adding & updating marketing tags much simpler. Simply add one tag to your site, and manage the rest through Google’s intuitive container.
- Adding conversion tracking tags for all the channels that you’re using. The most common channels include Facebook, AdWords, Pinterest, and others. Although the concept behind these tags is similar, the execution can be quite different. For instance, Google’s conversion tracking tag simply needs to be added to the “thank you” page that users are taken to after completing a purchase. If your company tracks revenue from online purchases, the AdWords tag pull that information back into the platform. This is crucial because it allows you to calculate return on investment, allowing the marketing department to evaluate the effectiveness of this channel compared to others. For Facebook, however, a “base” tag needs to be placed on every page of the site, with an additional tag placed to capture conversion & revenue information on the “thank you” page. The tag can be further customized to capture additional information, such as viewing a particular page or product. Facebook put together a great guide to implement and modify their pixel. The customization options are nearly endless!
Once all of the tags to track performance have been added to the site & QA’d, it’s time to launch the campaign.
Once your campaigns have been set up & optimized, and the appropriate tags are in place, it’s time to focus on data analysis, optimization, & reporting. The reason for the pre-launch section is to ensure that you’ll collect the data that’s essential for analysis before the campaign launches, because you can’t re-capture the data retroactively.
Once the data starts to flow in, it’s time to analyze it. What elements of the campaign are gaining traction? Is CTR what you expected? Are people simply clicking, or converting as well? There are lots of variables to take into account in this phase, and they’ll all depend on the campaign setup, so they’re difficult to forecast across campaigns or industries. Look for general outliers, both good & bad.
Once the variance in performance starts to level out, it’s time to make more precise optimizations. Think “scalpel” rather than “hammer”. Are the keywords we’re targeting bringing in any irrelevant or unrelated traffic? For example, bidding on “tea” and bringing in “team sports”? Add non-relevant queries as negative keywords to reduce wasted budget & improve CTR.
What tweaks can we make to improve CTR? Is the ad copy engaging? Can we add any ad extensions or bells & whistles? Does 6am on Friday convert as well as 3pm on Tuesday? Make day parting adjustments to account for differences in campaign performance according to the time of day or day of week. Does Google search perform as well as Google’s Search Partners? Turn them on or off as needed. Does mobile convert at the same rate as tablet and desktop? In may of 2016, Google allowed advertisers to bid separately on all devices, presenting a large opportunity for advertisers to further refine their bids & improve ROI.
Once you’ve got everything dialed in, you can focus on setting up ongoing reporting. Getting a performance report emailed to you every Monday, for instance, is a good cadence for many businesses who don’t have time to look at digital marketing performance every day. Make sure to include the metrics that are important to you, whether they’re branding & reach (impressions, clicks, CTR) direct response (conversions, revenue, ROI), or efficiency (ROI & CPA). These goals will depend on your particular situation & the goals for the campaign, so it’s important to define these based on your needs.