10 Key Metrics to Measure PPC Campaign Success

April 19, 2022
Contributor: Mark DiGiammarino

Monitor and nurture these key metrics to get the most out of your PPC campaigns and ensure they meet your B2B marketing goals.

With more B2B interactions happening online, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has become one of the most preferred marketing tools for lead generation. From securing top spots on search engines to displaying relevant ads on social media, software marketers are using PPC ads across platforms to buy visits from target audiences. 

However, simply launching a PPC campaign doesn’t guarantee success. Whether you’re managing PPC marketing in-house or have partnered with an external agency, you must have a strong PPC tracking and management plan to maximize return on investment (ROI).

Why is tracking PPC campaigns critical?

PPC is data-rich paid advertising. It gives marketers insightful data such as clicks and keyword performance, which can be used to better understand buyer behavior, customize ads and improve performance in real time.

Regularly monitoring PPC campaigns ensures they deliver the best performance and help achieve marketing goals as intended.

So, what should you extract from PPC data? And which key performance indicators (KPIs) should you monitor to ensure winning outcomes?

While paid ad campaigns generate a lot of precise data, tracking everything can divert the focus from what’s important. Below, we discuss 10 core metrics that speak the loudest about your PPC campaign performance.

Top 10 KPIs to measure PPC campaign results 

Before you define and track metrics for your campaign, ask yourself: “At what funnel stage do I need the most business impact?” You could be looking to increase brand awareness or influence bottom-funnel results with demo conversions.

Depending on your business goal, different metrics will paint different pictures of your campaign performance. Let’s discuss 10 essential KPIs related to three common objectives for PPC advertising: traffic, conversions and revenue. 

Key metrics to track PPC campaign success

Traffic-focused KPIs

If your main reason for investing in PPC is to become a thought leader and build brand awareness, tracking traffic-focused KPIs can do the job. Here are some frequently used metrics to analyze the quantity and quality of web traffic. 

1. Quality score

Quality score is a rating that shows how relevant users are likely to find your ads compared to those of other advertisers. A good quality score translates into more authentic and qualified leads

Why should you measure quality score?

A low score indicates that you may need to make changes to your ads, keywords, or landing page; else, your campaign could be wasting significant ad spend. 

What do we recommend?

At Gartner Digital Markets, we recommend having a complete and healthy profile customized to the products. To do that, collect relevant and recent user reviews, ensure your ad message and landing page are appealing and clear for your target audience, and use a mix of keywords (high volume-low competition, broad match, long-tail, geotargeted, etc). 

2. Impressions

An impression is counted when someone views your ad, irrespective of whether they click on it. So, if your PPC ad is placed toward the bottom of the search engine results page (SERP), an impression will not be counted unless a searcher scrolls down the page.

Why should you measure impressions?

Impressions can tell if your ad is reaching your audience and increasing brand awareness. High impressions but low clicks show that viewers aren’t finding your ad relevant or resonating enough to click.

What do we recommend?

Increase impressions by including broad match keywords or widening your audience by expanding the regions or industries you target.

3. Click-through rate (CTR)

CTR measures the number of clicks your ad receives every 100 impressions. It shows how often people who see your ad click on it. 

Why should you measure CTR?

A good CTR is a strong indicator that your ad is being well received, its messaging is clear and users find the calls to action (CTAs) relevant. A high CTR also directly contributes to your quality score. 

While CTR is a great traffic metric, it may not necessarily mean the conversion of a lead into a prospect or customer, as it doesn’t track what happens to users after they click on the ad.

What do we recommend?

If your impressions are high but CTR is low, improve your ad by A/B testing the ad copy and design elements. Additionally, you can personalize messaging for target demographics by segmenting by industry, firm size and region. 

4. Average position

Average position is the order of your ad or listing on SERP against others competing for similar keywords. Average position is directly impacted by your bid amount, quality score and searcher’s intent.

Why should you measure average position?

Ranking your ad or listing higher has a direct impact on campaign performance. It catches viewers’ attention more quickly and attracts more clicks.

What do we recommend?

Average position of first or second on SERP is considered optimal. A good way to rank higher on SERP is to bid higher; however, make sure you keep costs within budget.

5. Impression share (%)

Impression share measures how prominent your PPC campaign is compared to your competitors’. An impression occurs every time a user views your advertisement. Impression share is the percentage of impressions your ad or listing received vs. the total impressions it could get.

Why should you measure impression share?

Impression share is a good way to understand whether audiences are seeing your ads. If your goal is to get more exposure for your brand, this is a highly relevant metric. 

What do we recommend?

Improve impression share by adjusting keywords to match the search intent, increasing the bid amount or budget and monitoring the keywords your competitors are using.

Calculate the maximum bid you should pay per click for any ad channel with the PPC Bid Calculator.

Conversion-focused KPIs

Conversion metrics show whether the clicks on your ads are really translating into useful leads. What you consider a conversion depends on your business goal and sales-readiness, such as webinar registrants, form fills, e-book downloads, or subscriptions.

6. Conversion rate (%)

Conversion rate estimates the percentage of visitors who convert after they click on your PPC links. It shows if your PPC ads are leading the audience to take the action you aimed for.

Why should you measure conversion rate?

Conversion rate is the most effective metric that reflects PPC campaign performance across marketing channels. It measures if your PPC ads are compelling enough for viewers to complete the action you want (such as clicking on an ad or installing an app). A good conversion rate means your ads are generating leads from your target audience.

What do we recommend?

A high conversion rate depends on many factors, including the interest level of visitors and attractiveness of your offers. Include clear CTAs in your messaging, improve your landing page and adjust your bids to optimize the conversion rate.

7. Source and conversion tracking

Tracking traffic sources and conversions helps boost returns on PPC investment. Source tracking shows where visitors are coming from, and conversion tracking gives insights into visitor behaviors. Source tracking helps discover prominent traffic sources (e.g., social media, search engines, software reviews sites), while conversion tracking helps understand how visitors engage with your content.

Three common ways to track sources and conversions:

  •  UTM tags. Add these snippets of code at the end of URLs to track information about your visitors, including the source, medium and campaign that brought them to your site.
  • Pixel tags. Add pixel images to webpages to gather data on how users navigate your content and track user activity on ad campaigns.
  • Automated conversion tracking. Enable the automated conversion tracking option offered by most paid advertising channels to automatically adjust your bids, get optimization suggestions and target users better. 

Revenue-focused KPIs

These PPC metrics measure if campaigns are successful to your bottom line by driving revenue and generating a profit. They assess the cost of a PPC ad campaign in relation to the revenue it earns.

8. Cost per click (CPC)

CPC is calculated by dividing the total cost of clicks by the total number of clicks your ad received over a given period. It represents the amount you’re willing to pay for a click on a specific marketing channel and campaign.

Why should you measure CPC?

CPC is a performance metric that demonstrates the overall value of your PPC campaign. It tells if you are paying too much for leads compared to the revenue you are generating in return. A high CPC could indicate wasted ad spend, as not enough visitors who are clicking through are converting into leads.

What do we recommend?

To lower your CPC, improve your quality score, try using a different marketing channel, adjust your bids or pause lower-value ads (i.e., ads that aren’t garnering as much audience interest as you would like).

9. Cost per acquisition (CPA)

Cost per acquisition measures the total number of conversions in relation to your ad spend. You can compare the effectiveness of different digital marketing channels by comparing the CPA or the cost incurred for each lead.

Why should you measure CPA?

CPA is one of the most important metrics for marketers, as it helps measure overall ROI for ad campaigns across digital channels. It creates a direct link between business revenue and advertising efforts.

What do we recommend?

Track month-over-month change in CPA. If CPA changes by 5% or more, you should take action to lower total costs or increase conversions, according to Gartner (full content available to Gartner clients). Start by adjusting your bids or targeting different keywords.

10. Revenue on ad spend (ROAS)

ROAS measures the revenue generated by your campaign against the total ad spend. ROAS allows you to compare the efficiency of different PPC campaigns by pitching their revenue percentages against one another.

Why should you measure ROAS?

ROAS is a measure of PPC campaign performance in monetary terms. The higher the ROAS, the better your PPC campaign is at generating top-line revenue for your business.

What do we recommend?

To improve ROAS, segment your campaigns to deliver relevant messaging in paid campaigns and target higher-value accounts.

Next step: Optimize your PPC campaign

Understand your primary business objectives from PPC advertising, and continuously monitor and optimize your PPC campaigns by taking appropriate actions — from eliminating keywords and updating landing pages to expanding geographic targeting and adjusting bids. Use the above insights across marketing channels, including social media, search engines and software reviews sites, to address the issues that may bog down the success of your PPC campaign.

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Mark DiGiammarino 

Mark DiGiammarino is the Senior Director of Vendor Services for Gartner Digital Markets. His department helps vendors improve performance through review recruitment, profile optimization and landing page creation. When he’s not at work, you can find him exploring Virginia’s breweries with his wife, daughter, and their goldendoodle. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.

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