Metrics not Mystics: Post-Holiday PPC Data Strategies

Data Strategies for Post Holiday PPC Webinar

I don’t know about you, but even though it’s almost the end of January, I feel like I’m barely coming off the craziness of the holiday season. Typically, after the holidays there is all the loose ends that need to be tied up, such as auditing your accounts, putting together holiday reporting for clients/stakeholders, and fighting with your algorithms to get bidding back to normal. So now what? You’ve tied up all loose ends and now you’re looking forward to 2017 and you think to yourself “where do I start?”.


Start By Looking Backwards

As digital marketers, the idea of looking at historical data is not new and groundbreaking. It’s something that we do every day when looking at growth, trends, and overall just looking at data to inform our decisions. However, I feel that sometimes advertisers forget about that after the holidays. Since the holiday season has so much more traffic and drives so much more revenue than we normally see throughout the year, advertisers tend to not use it to inform decisions. Why is that? Maybe it’s not a good idea to use this data to inform budgets levels or bidding, but it’s a great opportunity to learn more about your consumers.

What Can You Learn

There’s two really easy ways to start digging into your data; follow the money out and follow the money in. I know, it sounds kind of cheesy, but hear me out here:

  • You paid for more clicks! Learn about those people who clicked on your ads. What devices did they use? What audiences do they fall into?
  • You made more money! Learn about how those people got to the conversion goal. How did different devices come into play? What campaigns performed well? What path did they take?

Insightful Reports To Use

My first go-to step when looking at data is pulling reports and manipulating the data myself (which we’ll go over shortly) but instead of only relying on Excel to look at data, work smarter and not harder! Look at some reports AdWords has to offer, specifically the Attribution report (found in the Tools section).

There are a couple different reports you can look at here, and while I recommend putting some time aside to look through all of them, specifically I want to call out the Top Paths report and Device Path report.

Top Paths Report

This report shows hows you how your users get to the final conversion goal. Typically users don’t just convert on the first click, especially around popular shopping periods because more consumers are doing price comparison research. Due to this, it’s important to see how your different campaigns play into driving users to a final conversion. Do campaigns that typically have a lower ROI feed consumers into the funnel? Then this might be somewhere you might want to invest more funds. It gives you a really easy to decipher picture of what the conversion path looks like and therefore you can more accurately gauge how different campaigns provide value to your account.

Device Paths Report

This report is very similar to the Top Paths report, but instead here you see how different devices play a part in the conversion process. When you look at your overall data, does Mobile or Tablet have a lower ROI than Desktop? If so, I’m sure your gut instinct says to pull funding from it, but this report helps you look at the bigger picture. Does Mobile drive a high volume of consumers into the conversion path? Are people doing research from their phones? Are people buying from their tablets? This gives you a holistic idea of how different devices play a different part in your conversion path.

DIY Data Manipulation

As I mentioned before, my go-to next step when wanting to look at data is to open up my handy dandy Excel file and start slicing and dicing data. While AdWords has provided us some really insightful reports in the Attribution section, there’s still some more information you can squeeze out of your data.

Learn About Your Audiences

  • How is Remarketing performing vs. Prospecting? How should you adjust bid modifiers?
  • Are there broader Remarketing audiences that can be broken out to be more granular? Is there value in targeting different subsets of audiences?
  • What does your demographic look like? You can pull Income, Age and Gender performance from the publishers and add bid modifiers accordingly.

Evaluate Device Performance

  • What insights did you get out of the Device Paths report that can inform how you adjust bid modifiers?
  • Should your campaigns be broken out by device type? Should there be separate messaging for mobile users?

Analyze Messaging Performance

  • How did your promotions resonate with users? Is there a certain type of promotions that performed better than others?
  • How did Remarketing CTR compare to Prospecting CTR? Is there an opportunity to provide specialized messaging to consumers who have already visited the site?

Future Seasonality

While there’s no arguing that the top shopping season is around November and December, that doesn’t mean that it’s the ONLY shopping season. There are other times of the year that have higher shopping volumes than the normal day-to-day and you can use your findings from the Holiday Season to inform the strategy for these sales.

Potential Busy Seasons (varies based on vertical)

  • President’s Day
  • MLK Jr. Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Labor Day
  • Post Tax Season
  • Back To School
  • Pre-Summer/Vacation Planning Season

Take Action

So we’ve looked at Google provided reports and we’ve manipulated data manually, now what? There’s two different places you can apply these learnings so you can maximize your paid search efforts and work smarter, not harder.

Inform Evergreen Strategy

  • Build your granular audiences
  • Increase bid modifiers on audiences/mobile/age/gender/income
  • Use customized messaging in Remarketing to highlight strongest performing promotions
  • Feed the “top of the funnel” campaign (found in the Top Paths report)

Inform Future Seasonality

  • Only run promotions that drive results
  • Use traffic trends to gauge when to push promotions and landing pages live
  • Set a baseline for bid modifiers
  • Proactively target audiences


What’s Next?

Want help pulling insights from your paid search data? Sign up to qualify for a free 15-minute Results Lab Audit with our PPC team. If you haven’t watched it already make sure to catch my “Metrics not Mystics: Prediction Free Data Strategies for Post-Holiday PPC” webinar as well as my appearance on the  “Fine Point Digital Marketing” Podcast where we chat more about how to drive 2017 PPC results!

Natalie Barreda About the author

Natalie Barreda is a digital marketing veteran who focuses on driving revenue for enterprise-level clients. Thanks to her six years of agency experience, she adept at predicting and responding to critical trends in paid search. Currently a senior client manager at Point It Digital Marketing, she primarily focuses on year-round seasonality and B2C e-commerce digital advertising. Completely self-taught, Natalie considers herself a results maven. In her down time, Natalie enjoys hanging out with her aptly-named dog Xena and exploring the Seattle beer scene.

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