Sometimes the most important lessons take the longest to learn. As a marketer, it took me awhile to realize that a drop in marketing performance can actually be a good thing. If your numbers are falling, it doesn’t always mean the sky is falling.
I used to stress out when I saw a drop in rankings, traffic or leads. I’m sure your marketing people do too, especially if you’ve been serving the client for a long time. The last thing you want is for the client to start wondering if you’re still worth their money since they haven’t seen growth in a while. Every agency fears this sentence: “Why am I still paying you? The numbers haven’t gone up in months.”
Here’s a quick client communication example that highlights this issue:
The client’s most recent WhatConverts monthly summary showed a drop in leads from the previous month. The report showed a 27% drop from month-to-month for Google Ads leads, but Google Organic remained stable. Something was going on with Google Ads.
I jumped over to Google Ads to see if I could find a corresponding drop.
As it turns out, the culprit was ‘search impression share’. This metric shows how much your ads are being shown in comparison to competing ads, and can help you determine if your competitors are increasing their bids or if new competitors are targeting your search terms. In the chart below, we can see a drop from a 50-60% search impression share to just over 30%.
Impression share (IS) is the percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could receive.
Impression share = impressions / total eligible impressions
The eligible impressions metric is estimated using many factors, including targeting settings, approval statuses, and quality. Impression share data is available for campaigns, ad groups, product groups (for shopping campaigns), and keywords.
Impression share is a great way to understand whether your ads have the potential to reach more people if you increase your bid or budget.
In this case, one of the client’s competitors was getting more aggressive with their ad spend.
I drafted up an email to the client, as seen below. It’s a quick note explaining what I’m seeing in the Google Ads campaign. I could have included the information about how Google Organic leads are still strong, but sometimes providing one clear piece of information is preferable for client communication.
Also, notice that I provide a quick recommendation at the bottom, so he knows that “I’ve got this!”
Here is the client’s response. It’s short, but it speaks volumes.
Obviously the client isn’t thrilled that his lead capture numbers have dropped in Google Ads, but he knows that “I’ve Got This!” He knows I’m looking out for his interests and addressing issues that pop up when I’m measuring marketing campaigns.
There are 3 important takeaways from this simple example.
- Quick actionable insights. Set up reporting so that your reports highlight swings in performance. This helps you identify problem areas quickly. I knew immediately the problem was Google Ads.
- Narrow your focus with tools and reporting. Start broad and narrow your focus to a source, then campaign, then keyword and landing page. Once you’re hot on the trail look at a few different reports that highlight the issue. Once you’ve found a trouble area — for example, competitors competing on keywords — you may need to use competitor tools from SEMrush to show what keywords your competitors are bidding on and how much they are paying. This will help you decide what keywords you would like to increase you bid on, or maybe strengthen your SEO instead of a bidding war.
- Communicate. In the past I would dig into the research to develop a strategy to solve the problem without letting the client know about the problem. This was a mistake. The correct process is to dig in, research, develop a strategy and then send a quick email explaining the issue and how you are addressing the problem. The research and strategy needs to be real to preserve your client’s trust. You don’t need to “just keep in touch”; you need to let them know, “I Got This!”
Executing this strategy does require that you pay personal attention to your clients accounts, but the reporting I have set up delivers it to my inbox in a way that I can quickly see issues I need to jump on quickly. Some clients don’t need special attention for months, as the strategies we put in place are working great. With scheduled reporting and tools, it’s easy to keep clients happy and jump in when the things change.