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Experts frequently encounter scenarios where clients or stakeholders concentrate on the wrong metrics, leading PPC professionals to work hard to align the KPIs properly. In this week’s discussion, host Julie F Bacchini explored the common KPIs tracked by experts. She also examined which KPIs are most commonly misunderstood by PPC professionals and their clients or stakeholders, and explored the reasons behind these misunderstandings.

Q1: What are the KPIs that you are most often asked to track?

Store Visits and Website Conversions. We do a lot of foot traffic and education/engagement campaigns. @JuliaVyse

Most clients are most interested in conversion rates and cost per conversion. Some want click-through rates (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) tracked closely as well. @NeptuneMoon

Often ‘asked’ to track @alimehdimukadam

  • Clicks
  • Impressions & Reach (Meta)
  • CTR
  • CPC
  • CPM (Meta)
  • Sales

I mainly work with lead gen businesses so I’m asked to track online conversions (phone calls, contact forms, purchase of services) and cost per conversion. With B2B there is an extra layer of tracking qualified leads. @SofiaAkritidou

Most clients conceptually want to know spend (gotta keep in the budget) & efficiency (usually reported in some combo of conversion rate, CPA, ROAS that makes the most sense for the advertiser). Most other metrics are fluff if you’re delivering good results on the above. @robert_brady

Our reports go over: @adwordsgirl

  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • CTR
  • Avg CPC
  • Conversions
  • CPA
  • CR
  • ROAS when applicable
  • Spend

Conversions, CPA, ROAS. @revaminkoff

Conversions, CPL/CAC, ROAS, CTR, Impression Share @Austin_Dillman

Q2: What are the KPIs that you are most often asked to optimize toward?

For our clients, it’s usually bringing down CPA. @adwordsgirl

Most clients want to at a minimum keep their cost per acquisition/conversion steady if not improve it. @NeptuneMoon

For lead gen, it’s cost/conversion. For e-commerce, it’s usually ROAS. @robert_brady

CPA is the most universal. @revaminkoff

CPA & ROAS for my clients. @AmandaWitucki 

and there’s the rub. I will occasionally be measured on Goals we are not briefed on. So the usual – cost per acquisition, volume of acquisition. But also, a fun little ‘oh, we noticed this random other thing, can we talk about it?’ The most recent one for me was an awareness campaign I was briefed on, where they measured cost per app download. folks, I would not have bought CTV at those levels if you briefed me on CPI rather than awareness. @JuliaVyse

Universal – ROAS. We can spend unlimited if you give us a ROAS of X.We try to keep CPA, conversion rate and ROI for some businesses) above and beyond ROAS as north stars.And qualified lead for some advertisers. @alimehdimukadam

Depending on seasonality, it is spend and clicks (to hit a certain budget before end of year, for ex), as well as absorbing more real estate from the competition (populating more data in Google Ads, for ex), and also the additional site visitors for remarketing (understandably, not all extra traffic is quality traffic). @AmandaWitucki 

Number of conversions and/or cost/conv @Austin_Dillman

Q3: What KPI(s) do you think are the most important to track and/or optimize toward and why?

My favourite – it depends. I think mostly CPA and Conversion Volume. ROAS where appropriate. But in cases of short, punchy product launches, there’s good reason to make a lot of noise and measure IS, Views, and Overall Volume. @JuliaVyse

Cost per conversion (or acquisition) is the one I focus on. Because if that cost gets out of whack, it doesn’t matter if you have awesome impression share or click though rate or cost per click. How much it costs the client to get one lead really matters, even if they don’t always look at it that way! Like are they really ok paying $500 per lead for a low-cost or single-purchase service or product???? @NeptuneMoon

It bears noting that the reliability and quality of lead data being given to the platform is a big, big deal here. If you only track form fills and don’t have a down-funnel measure of quality, then you can optimize all day to a low CPA and still kill the effort (and PMax is particularly good at this in my experience). @robert_brady

CPA is a big focus. It’s one thing to get the conversion but it’s another to pay $650 for that conversion. We do our best to work with clients to understand their margins so we can generate those conversions at a cost that would be profitable for the. @adwordsgirl

It is always wild to me when a client is more focused on cost per click than cost per acquisition. @NeptuneMoon

Conversion Rate & Cost Per Conversion are the ones I track more often.ROAS, Growth in Sales, etc & ROI (where possible) twice a month or monthly.Have started working on incorporating CM2 Margins as a metric to track for one e-commerce client. Different clients have different objectives. Some want to increase top line basis their funding and plans, others want sustainable growth.@alimehdimukadam

@alimehdimukadam I worked on an account several years ago where they literally did not care about CPA and only about showing strong sales numbers. It was the most bizarre account to work on because they were not interested in doing things to bring costs down – at all. Their sales only happened with massive discounts but they did not care. @NeptuneMoon

It depends on the client, but typically Conversions, CPA, and ROAS are the big three. However, it is equally important to be tracking down funnel — were the conversions any good? @revaminkoff

@NeptuneMoon It is fun at times and sometimes it feels irresponsible. We have to show growth to investors was something that I heard a lot during the ZIRP era. Have also seen people asking to spend simply coz they have unused budget that was allocated without any regard to the metrics. The only metric which mattered was ‘Cost’ @alimehdimukadam

Oh all that VC money made for some wild business decisions @alimehdimukadam. Here I am thinking “this makes no sense” and offering my marketing expertise and being told  essentially “that’s nice but we don’t care as long as we show growth” @NeptuneMoon

@NeptuneMoon So much this! lol. @revaminkoff

Q4: What KPI do you think is the most misunderstood by either PPCers and/or clients/stakeholders? Why do you think it is misunderstood?

I feel like clients can lose their minds over ROAS. Granted, I work in lead gen where clients tend to be more focused on CPA than ROAS. But the stories I hear about clients’ desired ROAS are bonkers.@NeptuneMoon

Clients needing/wanting to see traffic going up and to the right at all times. It’s really easy to send bad quality traffic at scale. It’s much more important, in my opinion, to make sure that traffic is actually qualified and achieving your desired outcomes. @revaminkoff

Hmm. I don’t know if just one is misunderstood more than others, except maybe CPC is pretty self-explanatory. There is a lot of magical thinking on the part of clients that performance media fixes all things. And there’s a risk of myopia on our part that what we see as the most important thing, might be super important, but secondary to what’s going on inside the business. @JuliaVyse

Clients can misinterpret volume metrics like clicks or impressions easily because of the “more is better” mentality regarding site traffic & awareness. @robert_brady

I think vanity metrics can also play a role in outsizing a metric’s perceived importance too. Ever show a client auction insights and have them become obsessed with their position in the auction???? @NeptuneMoon

In my opinion, a lot of them have expectations & reliance based on their past experiences (good & bad). They carry it over. Back then the CPC was…
Back then ROAS was. We got good results when….And from these experiences, they latch on to a metric or two. @alimehdimukadam

Auction Insights is one of the toughest to explain with rows and columns on a weekly basis. And they keep searching for their ad after that Pandora’s box is opened. @alimehdimukadam

Q5: What KPI would you like to see go away forever, never to be spoken of again and why?

Seems a bit harsh, but I would put OptiScore on the chopping block first. Quality Score next. @robert_brady

And Ad Strength third @robert_brady

Yes Please, Opti Score should go away. @alimehdimukadam

I was going to say Ad Strength. Although I am not sure you’d call Ad Strength a KPI @NeptuneMoon

Somedays, all of them! but agreed, Opti-Score, Ad Strength, and if we could please just kill all brand lift studies. They don’t show anything valuable, they can’t show exclusivity between platforms, and they are so expensive! @JuliaVyse

@NeptuneMoon While not a metric in my official reporting, I have(/had) clients often bring up Ad Strength. @AmandaWitucki 

@AmandaWitucki  Oh it is a super annoying topic, for sure @NeptuneMoon

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