In Q4 of 2014 I wrote about the importance of a benchmark document during the PPC client onboarding process. It’s a necessary step for any typical client, but what about the clients for whom paid search results aren’t reflective of our impact?

I have a client who sells very high-end furniture. There are very few items on his website for less than $1000, so paid search is a more top-of-the-funnel medium than it is for most other E-commerce accounts. The client also has a disproportionate number of sales that come over the phone compared to most clients.

The average consumer doesn’t just perform a search for one of his products and decide to make a large purchase right then; on average they take 11-12 days to make that decision. When they finally do decide to purchase, many purchases come through the phone, or from a different IP address than initially used to find the website.

I initially followed our normal benchmark-creation process, and the results from AdWords looked like this:

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With such low conversion volume, I didn’t want to rely solely on conversion data. Our goal was to decrease CPA, but with the numbers so low, a difference of one or two conversions would dramatically change CPA.  We also estimated that 3-5x as many conversions were coming over the phone.

We decided to evaluate additional data to measure PPC’s impact. In addition the direct conversions through AdWords, I also focused on Google Analytics assisted conversions (conversions where paid search plays a role, but was not the final interaction before a purchase). I put together a spreadsheet that contained all the information I had from AdWords and the assisted data:

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I used this to create a blended total number of conversions and a blended CPA:

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This document was more useful, but I felt like I still wasn’t capturing the entire picture. Phone orders play a role, and what about those conversions that feel outside of the 30-day cookie window? The client agreed to start tracking phone call volume and total number of phone orders placed, and to send me monthly revenue and conversion totals for the entire business. There are plenty of phone tracking providers for PPC, but for a small spender they don’t make financial sense. While the data I obtained represents the business as a whole, not just PPC, it at least paints a picture of trends that were influenced by PPC adjustments.  Since PPC is their only form of marketing, we were comfortable working off of this data.

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My final version contains a lot of numbers, but also demonstrates the impact of paid search on the business’ performance overall. AdWords shows me how many clicks I get each month, but I’m also watching our GA Site Visitor total for a lift in organic and direct traffic. The client never counted phone calls in the past, now I’ll know if call volume increases as we spend more on paid search. As the client has invest more in paid search, we’ve been able to see an increase not just in direct conversions, but in phone volume, new visitors to the site, and overall revenue.

I’m excited to watch my client’s performance – it required a unique benchmark document, but our more holistic view will go even further in proving the benefit and impact of paid search.