Is performance in your accounts heading south? Out of ideas on how to turn it around?
We’ve all been there.
Here are some of our favorite tips for optimizations and analysis when you’re in a pinch.
Segmentation. I feel like if performance needs to be improved, segmenting the data further allows me to find places where things are performing well and I can focus spend there. I find that the more segmented my campaigns, the easier it is for me to analyze performance and make optimizations where necessary to turn things around.
There are rules of thumb in the world for a reason: they tend to work. When things aren’t going well in an account, I combine the 80/20 rule with KISS. I focus on the 80% of the account that drives 20% of the performance and then I look for the simplest explanation to the problem. If conversions flatline without a major strategy shift, the simplest explanation is that conversion tracking fell off the site, so I start there. If that’s not it, I hone in on the area that had the most conversions and look to find other variations in the stats, CTR, CPC, search query changes, etc., to explain why conversion performance changed. Unfortunately, I have no hacks for this as I think the best way to get through performance downturns is to get your magnifying glass, put your deerstalker on, and get to work Sherlock Holmes style.
Account history. First, I try to see if there is a particular time when the performance started to decline. This might require some digging to see if that is account wide, a few particular campaigns, etc. If something can be pinpointed, that I next go to change history to see what changes were implemented around that time. Sometimes we make simple changes that end up having a larger impact than expected. If nothing is revealed there, then I like to look back further into the account history. Maybe there are seasonality trends you can uncover. Or, maybe looking at data over a longer period of time shows other revelations, like a paused ad or keyword that is worth retesting.
Stepping outside of AdWords (or whatever ad platform you’re working in) to look at Google Analytics data can help provide a broader perspective. Assuming it’s been set up properly, Analytics data can help you pinpoint issues beyond the ad click that may be affecting performance. For instance, you may find that a particular landing page has exceptionally low engagement. You can also examine the Multi-Channel Funnels report to get a better view of how PPC may be contributing to conversions at various stages, and where its performance is lacking.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by looking at everything in the account, I always try to start by honing in on the campaigns that have taken the biggest hit, then drill down from there. If there’s nothing obvious that stands out within those campaigns then I look to change history or other documentation about changes that were made around the timeframe that performance declined. Having a place where you and your team are documenting changes you make in an account is crucial, especially for referencing when performance goes south. We use Basecamp in conjunction with a shared Tasks document where we assign out tasks and track all our changes.
In Facebook, I always make sure to add the Frequency column. This is an estimated metric that tells you the average number of times that folks are seeing your ads. Many times as we see frequency go up, we also see CPAs and conversion rates go down. I also like to utilize the Breakdown dropdown to see more in-depth data about delivery, time and action.
When it comes to LinkedIn, I always make sure that conversion tracking is configured properly, that bids and budgets are in line and that there hasn’t been an accidental change like removing an audience exclusion or introducing Audience Expansion when it should not have been included. Since LinkedIn doesn’t currently have a change history button, I usually check these staple campaign settings to make sure there wasn’t an accidental change in targeting. After that, drilling into the Website Demographics information that LinkedIn offers is the next place I go.
What is your favorite hidden gem tip to improve account performance and identify potential problems? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!