We’ve all been there. Your PPC account was performing so well last month, and then conversions dropped off.
What should you do next? Here are five steps you can take to diagnose the issue, look for broader context, and communicate with your client.
Compare Data Sources
Compare data between various platforms to see if the drop in conversions is with a specific platform or is a broader problem. For instance, you may find that Google Ads itself shows a drop in conversions, while those conversions are still being tracked in Google Analytics, meaning Google Ads conversion tracking may not be properly configured. Note that on some level there are normal discrepancies between ad platforms and Google Analytics; however, major differences in numbers likely indicate some sort of tracking problem.
Next, does the drop in conversions correlate to an actual drop in sales or leads tracked on the back end? If CRM data shows a corresponding drop in leads, you know there’s a bigger problem of leads not coming through. However, if leads from ads are still showing up in the CRM but not in Google Ads, there are likely technical issues interfering with tracking.
Check for Technical Issues
If conversions have flatlined completely, or you’ve noticed a mismatch between platforms, tracking may have gone awry. Make sure that tracking pixels are installed and firing properly on your site, including both global tags and conversion-specific tags. Even if they were set up correctly in the past, a website update could have resulted in tags being removed.
Here are three Chrome extensions that can help you check that tracking tags are properly installed on your site:
Depending on your level of tech-savviness, reach out to the site’s developer or use Google Tag Manager to ensure that the proper tags are deployed.
Next, technical issues on the website may be interfering with forms successfully submitting or shopping cart checkout processes. If people aren’t able to actually finalize a purchase, of course, no transactions will be tracked. Run test submissions and/or purchases to ensure that any website issues are addressed.
Look at Longer Time Frames
If conversion volume was fine two days ago, but you received no conversions yesterday, one day’s worth of data generally isn’t enough to flag a problem. Look at longer trends to determine if you’ve been experiencing a drop over the last several weeks or months. Taking drastic measures in an account may do more harm than good if a dip in performance has only happened over the last day or two.
In addition, compare data year over year. Are there normal seasonal trends? B2B clients often see a drop in conversions around holidays, while an e-commerce store selling snowboarding equipment likely won’t see as much activity in the summer.
Look Outside PPC
Even if you’re purely responsible for managing an organization’s PPC account, PPC can’t be detached from the broader efforts of the company. What other marketing has been active? Traditional advertising like TV may result in an uptick in brand searches, along with decreased volume after a campaign is off the air. More effort for brand awareness may be necessary through channels like YouTube and Facebook.
In addition, monitor news articles about the brand you’re promoting. Negative PR can also affect a brand’s overall reputation and customers’ willingness to buy, regardless of how much you’re spending on PPC. Perhaps you can focus ad copy around addressing the PR issue that happened to help rebuild the brand.
Whatever the cause of the drop in conversions, it’s always best that you’re the first one to call out an issue to your client (rather than the other way around). Mention the issue as soon as you spot it, and note that you’re looking into the cause. While reviewing potential technical issues from your end, ask for any info that would help from your client’s end to determine the root of the problem.
In the ever-volatile world of PPC, no campaign will continue perfectly on an upward trend. Have a plan in place for reviewing downward trends when they come, and know how to communicate your intentions accordingly with your clients.
What’s the first step you take when you see conversions are down? Let us know in the comments below!