Mastering Paid Search Analytics

Mastering Paid Search Analytics

I recently took the our short survey about paid search. I was surprised to learn that analytics presented the greatest challenge to both paid search managers and agencies. Why is paid search analytics so challenging? I can’t speak for the survey respondents specifically, but from my own experience, there are several common challenges to understanding your paid search marketing campaign analytics. 

Lack of Context

Do you find yourself providing these types of answers to your manager or CEO?

  • Our ads are creating great click-through rates.
  • We’re getting lots of reach.
  • Our website traffic is up.


If you are, perhaps you need to consider adding a little context to your analysis. 

Paid search metrics are only meaningful if they relate to a specific period, event, or plan. If you are only using the analytics provided by an online search provider, your context may be limited. For instance, understanding monthly search volume, reach, and click-through-rates (CTR) are valuable metrics, but unless there are concrete ways to measure these results, your results may be flawed.

Business leaders, accountants, and financial managers depend on concrete metrics to do their jobs. Increase sales revenue by 10%. Reduce costs by 5%. Marketing leaders need to speak to business leaders in the same language and  paid search results need to demonstrate concrete results as well. For instance, business owners want to know if their advertising investment is working. So they’ll want to know what the marketing return-on-investment (MROI) is.  Your sales leader may want to know why you aren’t providing more qualified leads. The individual sales managers may want to see paid search increase opportunities for them.

Paid search analytics are most helpful when they are meaningful and relevant to your business. For example, our paid search marketing campaigns generated 20% more qualified leads this month as compared to the same month last year. These leads also contributed to a 10% increase in new business check this  you can get opportunities and a 3% growth in new business.

4 Ways to Provide Context for your Paid Search Analytics

  1. Compare results to a goal or plan
  2. Compare to a previous period (month, quarter, year)
  3. Compare to a competitor
  4. Compare to an industry benchmark

Lack of a comprehensive marketing plan or strategy


One of the reasons marketers are not able to provide context for their paid search analytics is the lack of any type of comprehensive marketing plan or strategy. In my experience, some businesses understand the need for marketing budgets and plans. Other businesses feel planning is a waste of time. Managers spent hours preparing budgets  and plans and then ignore them. Other businesses feel that their business is too dynamic. 

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a strategy geek. I require my clients to create a strategic plan before spending a single cent on advertising or marketing. My rationale is simple, you wouldn’t build a house without a floor plan, so why would you create a marketing campaign without a marketing plan? If you’re a CEO you know that banks and investors require you to create a business plan. It includes a sales and marketing plan, budget, marketing calendar, etc.

Marketing plans provide the context for your digital marketing campaigns.

They identify what your business goals are (grow by 10%), what your marketing strategies are (use inbound lead generation, paid search, and live events), and define your marketing metrics (i.e. 1000 website visitors, 100 leads, 25 new accounts), and identify what’s important to your sales process (opportunities, demos, closed sales, etc.). A comprehensive marketing plan will also include a competitive analysis and market analysis.

Lack of Software Integration

I have a Google  Adwords account but I don’t know how many sales the ads are producing. If you can make this statement, you have a software integration problem. It’s a classic my CRM doesn’t speak to my (fill in the blank) marketing software. The only way marketing and sales leaders can be on the same page is by tracking the same metrics. This can only be accomplished when your marketing software and CRM software are integrated. In the past, this was a real challenge. But today, there are thousands of tools and apps to solve these challenges (knowing which ones to uses is a topic for a different blog post). Your job as a marketing manager is to make sure your campaigns align with sales goals and you communicate that to your leadership. Sounds simple right?

10 Paid Search Marketing Metrics that Count

Here are just a few basic marketing metrics you should be tracking to provide context for your paid search campaigns. The first three metrics are available from your online ad provider. The next two are tracked in your marketing automation software, and the last five are available in your CRM.

  1. Monthly Keywords Search Volume
  2. Website Visitors (Unique Sessions)
  3. Click Through Rate (CTR)
  4. Offer Conversions
  5. Qualified Leads (Marketing Qualified Leads or Sales Qualified Leads)
  6. Opportunities
  7. Pipeline Contribution
  8. Pipeline stage
  9. Sales Won/Lost
  10. Renewals

Paid Search Resources:

I strongly believe that you can never spend enough time learning. There are lots of free online resources (thanks to content marketing) these days. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars getting an advance marketing degree (unless you want to), but simply stay current via relevant email subscriptions and blog posts.

Here are a few to get started:

Search Engine Land (SEM Channel)

Inside Adwords

Bing Ads Blog