More often than not, I read an article about PPC and the biggest item on anybody’s mind is return on investment (ROI). Why is ROI such a big focus with PPC? Mostly because it is a major metric to gauge the effectiveness of any campaign that you are running. Even I look at this metric to make day-to-day decisions in accounts.
However, I cannot emphasize enough that it is a single metric, not the only metric in the world to live and die by. Below are a few reasons / items to consider looking beyond spend vs conversions.
1) Focusing solely on ROI will minimize your audience. I have seen accounts that ran on manual bids and when the lever had been pulled to focus on conversions / ROI, a 45% decline in impressions and 50% decline in clicks occurred. This could have been avoided by watching the account closely and not focusing on just spend vs. conversions.
2) Killing zero conversion keywords without proper context is like playing Russian roulette. Not all keywords convert the same, but not all zero converting keywords mean they do not participate in a sale. *Hint look in to the accounts search funnels. If you are focused on Sales data outside of AdWords, you can also reference increases or declines in when adjusting keyword status and bids.
3) Let the LANDING PAGE do the converting. I understand that AdWords needs to play a big role in conversions, but in a lot of accounts you work with are only going to convert as well as the landing pages content, layout and calls to action are optimized. Getting it right in AdWords is only part of the battle. A poorly constructed landing page will almost certainly wreak havoc on your campaigns and make all of the keywords pointed to it look like poor converters.
4) If you have access to sales reps, ask them how the calls have been when making changes to the AdWords Account. If you are working an account that has a number to call, know that there will be untracked sales that are directly linked to your efforts. Once again, you would likely never even know this metric existed if you were focusing on spend vs conversions.
5) Do not strangle your account with profitable negative keywords. Add negatives for one reason only, because it is an irrelevant keyword. Don’t try to be smarmy and add negatives to force ad serving on specific campaigns. The intent sounds good, but why would you take any chance at all on profit?
6) Go with your gut ONLY if you trust it. I am the first person that will admit that I take risks, but those risks are calculated and also based on a gut check I trust which is me + others input. I can only say that if you are not comfortable with your own gut check, do yourself a huge favor, find someone who knows the account, or sales flow and ask them. More often than not, you could build your own gut check by learning from others you trust. Looking at conversion data will never allow you to have a fully developed gut check.
As you can see, ROI is not the only metric in the world to look at, it is one of many metrics that provide you with the data in a sale. There is a lot of data in the AdWords Account that go beyond the standard ROI metric that you really need to consider looking at. There are also non account related metrics that might be harder to attain, but regardless, should be explored if you have access to that data as well.