Google Analytics is one of my favorite tools because it allows me to better understand a PPC client’s online business and how paid search fits into their overall strategy.  This understanding is vital to build a solid relationship with your client and effectively drive results on a paid search account.  I’ll use an Ecommerce client as an example in this post, but these reports can also be used for B2B clients using GA Goals.  Also, to account for Bing traffic you’ll want to make sure you have set up either utm tagging or auto-tagging via a platform like Kenshoo.  I’ll discuss 4 Google Analytics Reports that will help get you started.

1. What online channels impact your client’s overall online business and how does paid search fit in?

Let’s start with a general overview of online marketing channels. Using this report we can identify several crucial insights:

o   What are the top traffic generating channels?
o   What are the top revenue generating channels?
o   What % of overall traffic and revenue does paid search drive?
o   Have any of these channels experienced big swings in traffic and revenue over time? (use the date comparison feature)
o   Has paid search traffic and revenue volume changed over time? (use the date comparison feature) 

Report = Acquisition →  All Traffic (I prefer viewing source/medium data as this provides for a more granular breakdown, ex: Bing vs Google paid search)


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In this case paid search has a substantial influence on revenue and traffic. Any fluctuations in paid search performance will have a large impact on overall revenue for your client.  Also important to note is whether your client is running strong email, social, referral, retargeting or shopping engine comparison programs. In this example, email contributes significantly to overall revenue.

2.  Does PPC drive additional value beyond direct revenue/leads?

Most of our PPC optimization efforts are geared towards increasing direct revenue and ROI.  However, we can’t ignore the fact that today’s consumer usually interacts with more than just one online channel.

This report shows us how each channel impacts the conversion (sales) path.  Online marketing channels can usually be classified into different stages on the conversion path (1) initial interaction, (2) nurturing the interactions or (3) closing the sale.  This report uses two metrics, assisted conversions and last click / direct conversions, to provide insights into the conversion path.  If a channel appears anywhere on the path to a conversion – except as the last interaction – the channel is credited an assisted conversionAssisted conversions indicates that the channels fall into steps (1) and (2) of the conversion path. Last click / direct conversions is the final sale, step (3).

Report = Conversions →  Multi-Channel Funnels →  Assisted Conversions


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An interesting metric to analyze is the assisted/last click or direct conversions ratio on the far right.  The higher this ratio, the more the channel assisted sales and conversions.

In the report above, we can see that paid search falls right behind direct traffic in overall conversions.  That said, the 1.16 assisted/last click or direct conversions ratio shows that paid search actually assisted more conversions than it drove direct conversions (in contrast to the 0.90 ratio for direct traffic).That means paid search has a large impact in all steps of the conversion path and just looking at direct conversions would severely undermine the overall value paid search brings to the marketing mix.

Additionally, as a paid search manager, it’s often difficult to assess the value of Display advertising.  Unlike most search efforts, Display is primarily used for brand awareness purposes and therefore lies in the beginning of the conversion path and rarely participates in step (3). The report shows that Display assisted $14k in revenue and has a 2.67 ratio, meaning this channel assists more sales than “closes” sales.  Finally, a way to demonstrate the value of Display with data!

3. How much do different online channels overlap?

If you’re a visual learner, you will love this report! Using the report below we can see the conversion overlap between channels. It shows the percentage of conversions paths that included combinations of different channels. Each circle represents a channel and the intersection of the circles represents the overlap.

Report = Conversions →  Multi-Channel Funnels →  Overview

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In this example, the largest overlap is from consumers who converted when they interacted with both direct and paid search (13.6%). This is a great way to identify which channels PPC interacts with the most.  Drawing off our last report, you can also use this to analyze what caused a shift in performance.  If PPC and Display have a high level of overlap and we see a decline in paid search next month that we can’t determine otherwise, this allows us to see if there were changes in other factors, like our investment in Display.

4. What’s my client’s shopping behavior?

It’s not only important to understand your client’s business, but also your client’s consumers. It’s particularly useful to know how long it takes a consumer to make a purchase. Do consumers make impulse purchase or is it a considered purchase?  Your client’s industry and product price point can indicate purchasing behavior, but in Analytics we can actually see that data.

Report = Conversions →  Multi-Channel Funnel →  Time Lag

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In this example a significant amount of consumers (66.89%) purchase on the first day, but almost a third purchase after that.  Many clients are surprised to see exactly how long it takes most customers to pull the trigger.

For paid search optimization efforts, this can also be useful in determining remarketing time decay segments and understanding how much AdWords is underreporting conversions in the last 30 days due to the day-of-last-click conversion attribution.  If you increase or decrease budgets for a given period of time, this report can provide insight on when you should expect to see a subsequent jump in conversions.  More on PPC applications in a future blog post!

There are plenty of other useful reports in Google Analytics, but these 4 should provide a good overview of your client’s online business. As a PPC manager, these reports will not only help you understand your client’s business, but also give you the ability to identify how PPC is affecting or being affected by other channels. Your client will be impressed by your in-depth knowledge of their online business and you’ll be able to better asses the performance and impact of your PPC account; that’s a win-win situation!