Make a List and Check it Twice

This is an entry in our daily Internet Marketing Advent Calendar series. Each day your favorite marketing elves will focus on a new topic to get your internet marketing in order before the start of the new year.

Every year Santa makes his list, but we all know he checks it at least a couple of times before it’s considered final. He needs to go over the list and track the behavior of each child over the course of a year to define who is naughty and who is nice. As we know, this ultimately determines if we end up with a lump of coal on Christmas day.

It’s not only a great method for Santa to keep track of changes over time, it’s also a great method for monitoring your campaigns. Decide on a daily or weekly routine (depending on your spend) for checking your PPC (Pay-Per-Click/Paid Search) campaign and make a list of what items you are going to check.

Tracking and measurement are also fundamental cornerstones of a strong PPC campaign. As the old saying goes, “You can’t improve what you can’t measure.” Without consistent periodic measurement of your PPC campaign you will never know if the changes you make are having a positive or negative impact. Even if your sales or leads increase you won’t know if it is from your PPC or another marketing effort or simply random chance without careful tracking.

What To Track

Successful tracking in PPC goes beyond knowing who is naughty or nice. There are several key metrics both within the PPC campaign itself and also on your website (through server logs or more GUI based tracking such as Google Analytics) that are important to track and be aware of over the life of the campaign.

Most fundamentally you should pay attention to how many impressions and clicks your PPC ads are getting. These metrics are the basic building blocks of your campaign. Tracking these ensures that your ads are reaching a sufficient number of people (impressions) and that they are driving enough traffic to your landing pages (clicks.)

Beyond those basic elements you need to pay careful attention to how the average cost per click and click through rates evolves over time. These metrics are important for understanding the effectiveness of your keyword bids and ad copy.

Outside of the campaign metrics you need to measure some important stats on your landing pages. These stats include visits, time on page and time on site, bounce rates, and most importantly conversions.

Santa is preparing his list
photo credit:chatchavan

How To Track

The major search engines offer fairly robust tracking built into their pay per click marketing platforms. These interfaces will allow you to get at most of the data discussed above over any time frame you like. Ideally you should pay attention to this information on a daily basis to make sure the campaign is running smoothly. Beyond that you should analyze those key metrics whenever you make major changes to your campaign (add new keywords, release new ad copy, change targeting, etc.) and at regular intervals to ensure consistent success. Analyze the costs of your campaign versus the revenue and leads it is generating on a regular basis, at least weekly or bi-weekly.

Use those same intervals to measure and track your landing page statistics and also any time you make changes to those pages. You can use Google Analytics or any other site statistics software to gather the data you need on those pages.

What’s in Your Stocking?

Tracking is an important part in measuring the performance and success of your campaign.  It does not matter if you check your campaign daily, weekly, or even only twice a year.  Know your target metrics and how to gauge your success.  Again, “You can’t improve what you can’t measure” so track, track, track your campaigns.

You don’t want to end up with a lump of coal do you?

Read the rest of the Internet Marketing Advent Calendar