Some Tips for Beginners
So you’ve decided to offer your clients Paid Search Management services.
One of the most frequent activities that must be done when managing paid search campaigns for other companies is reporting. Clients will expect frequent communications from the company that manages their ad spend, and you will quickly learn that failing to produce such reports and to communicate results and analysis in an organized and professional way will quickly drive your customers away.
You need to communicate with clients often to manage their expectations and report on how you are performing against these goals. Communicating with customers is also an opportunity to educate and discuss the challenges you are facing and how you plan to meet them. All this needs to be done both verbally, and through written reports. Falling short on reporting back is where many SEM management businesses fail.
The Report is the Product
If you stop and think about your customer’s perspective, they can’t really see all the time you spend researching new keywords, changing bids, testing ads and landing pages, and even if they did, who cares? We live in a performance-centric world and you are measured on results, right? In the end, what your client expects as a deliverable is the report reflecting these results. A well crafted report is your vehicle to communicate these results, analytical insights, associated activities and your plan for the following period.
Provide your clients with poor reports such as Excel keyword dumps and they will probably not understand them, lose interest, stop reading them, and eventually fire you. Your reports need to be easy to understand, consistent, eye opening and even thought provoking. In the end, your reports should keep your clients engaged with the SEM process, not turn them away from it.
Sell the Report First
After discussing with your client, and before writing any form of proposal, you should have in mind their monthly budget, campaign objectives and critical success factors. These metrics are often referred to as Key Performance Indicators (KPI). Preparing a sample report covering basic metrics and highlighting the KPIs is very helpful in ironing out any disconnect between your client’s expectations and your intended deliverables. Prepare the proposal including sample reports after validation with your client.
Knowing exactly what you need to report on will help you make better campaign management decisions. More likely than not, if your client has no interest in metrics such as Click-Through Rate (CTR), you won’t spend all your time trying to optimize CTR. And you may want to focus on optimizing those metrics that do matter such as conversions, cost per conversion, or Return Over Advertising Spend (ROAS).
What should be included in my reports?
The Executive Summary is a one page document relaying activities, results to date, and analytical findings. This is the monthly one pager your client must read, summarizing the rest of the report. A well written executive summary is not only a testament to your skills as an SEM manager and analyst, it is also the most important part of any report. Do it, and do it well.
Recap Previous Months
Start your report with a simple table, rows are time periods (months for example), and columns are your KPIs and other metrics. In Table 1, The 3 KPIs we are following are Cost, Conversions, and Cost per Conversion. There are also other metrics, for reference.
Table 1 – Summary table to keep an eye on KPIs, past and present.
Presenting data in context helps with comprehension. For example, reporting 185 new conversions for a given day in a vacuum means nothing. Understanding that the campaign produced 17,000 new conversions overall brings it some context. Trends are better illustrated with line charts (Graph 1) along with a percentage change ratio (+38% over last month). These trends can also be seen in recap tables (Table 1)
Graph 1: Show conversions on a timeline using line charts
Graphs and Charts
Absolute numbers are essential, but relevant graphs make a difference in understanding the broader picture and data distribution. For example, a pie chart (Graph 2) showing the distribution of clicks by search engine, Or timelines showing conversions and costs on the same graph.
Graph 2: Clicks by Search Engine in a Pie Chart
Chances are you made several changes over the course of a given month, new keywords, recalibrated creatives, optimized landing pages, bid adjustments, paused campaigns. Bullets are usually the right format to highlight key activities. Articulating the cause-to-effect impact of your efforts on the results will contribute to nurturing your client relationship and increase retention.
Comment on Findings
Experimenting yields varying results. Discussing this process and outcomes demonstrates depth of expertise; beside, uncommented data is lame. Spend some time analyzing all the data, and write a few short sentences to summarize thoughts for your client. Your insights represent the value add of having an expert manage campaigns. And make sure to always remind your clients how brilliant your work for them is!
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