How To Illustrate Popular B2B PPC Performance Metrics

Google AdWordsWe often are presented with a range of unique challenges when trying to demonstrate the value and impact of our search engine advertising campaigns. Not only will we often uncover several different conversion “actions” on a website, but it is not unusual for several to function more closely towards lead nurturing objectives instead of generating direct sales action.

The extended sales cycle we face in B2B online marketing adds to the confusion. So what is the best way to report on the day to day activities of a paid search campaign, allowing advertisers to get a better picture or understanding of the value behind their paid search statistics? Here are three essential metrics.


Clicks to site measure how many visitors paid search drove to the client’s landing page. While clicks (and other activity metrics) are generally not the best performance indicator they give advertisers an idea of the extent of the reach and awareness being generated through their PPC program. That said, we almost always need a deeper understanding of our audience and keyword space to be able to present real business value.

What is the Best Way to Present This Metric?

Instead of simply showing broad click data in a PPC campaign, consider illustrating the top 10 or 20 most important keyword phrases being managed and the applicable traffic and impression volume received.

Connect this information with CPC (cost per click) and average position for these terms as well. Over time, if any of the traffic metrics associated with identified keyword targets change significantly, you now have a place to investigate and potentially troubleshoot.

For performance reporting purposes, B2B marketers should consider running an Auction Insights report to show how competitive major keywords are or who else is highly active in the advertising space.

For example, are more consumer oriented advertising entering the space? If so refining keyword selection through more selective match types and negative keywords might make sense.

Another valuable traffic performance-related metric to illustrate are keyword phrases that created more traffic than anticipated, and obviously additional keywords that resulted in a conversion (more on that in a bit). For these type of observations, I recommend adding them to the growing list of “important” keywords above.

Long tail keywords and extremely long, dense, or complicated keyword strings are a reality in the B2B advertising space. When our potential customer base is so narrow we really do need to take that extra step to make sure to dig into traffic data and find “diamonds in the rough”.

By taking these extra steps we are creating a type of living history of traffic and impression data, allowing us to track progress and identify keyword priorities more easily moving forward.


More often than not the net number of conversions created is overstated in importance. Even though lead generation and conversion performance will often be the ultimate goal of a paid search campaign, the confusion arises from having various conversion types and the potential business impact that each might have.

For example, top of the funnel leads like white paper requests are probably much easier (and less expensive) to generate than a sales ready quote request from a contact form. Unfortunately, the former are probably much harder to evaluate from a pure ROI perspective as well.

The important takeaway is that not all leads are created equally and we often need to look beyond pure cost or volume numbers to define success.

What is the Best Way to Present This Metric?

Thanks to the conversions report in AdWords we can track the different actions, the different landing pages, and anywhere the tracking code associated with lead generation initiatives is present.

That said, different types of conversion actions require different key performance indicators.  B2B Ecommerce sites as the easiest and most straight forward to track. You can directly track revenue and back into return on ad spend and other major ratios. Depending on the depth of user tracking that happens in a CRM you may also be able to track lifetime value and order size by client or keyword.

For conversions that require additional nurturing or communication its best to do some investigation into the demographic of the users that come in as leads.

  • Do leads generated fit the profile of your target audience?
  • Do they represent the type of organizations that you are trying to interact with?

By working in coordination with the entire B2B marketing team, we seek to use conversion metrics to identify the individuals and organizations that are consuming content and more top of the funnel lead generation assets. This goes a long way to explain and enhance the value of paid search in the entire B2B content marketing program.


To summarize a post I wrote towards the end of last year, there are a myriad of ways one can manipulate CTR’s performance and increasing your click-through percentage you are not always strictly improving campaign performance or business results.

What is the Best Way to Present This Metric?

Reporting CTR doesn’t tell a lot by itself. It is best to break CTR out by the different ad groups, separating branded results, as well as any display based advertising. Consider the following as well:

  • We recommend regularly showing which ad copy edits and revisions were more successful than others in attracting clicks and creating conversions, in coordination with changes in CTR.
  • Illustrate how changes in CTR, through effective bid management, improved advertising efficiency through cost per lead and cost per click performance.
  • As Google continues to improve available site extensions, make certain to illustrate how the activation of an applicable extension impacted your click-through rate; hopefully in a more positive light.

Bottom-line, CTR by itself means very little without the greater connection to management activity and decision making, program efficiency, or (and most likely always) improvements in lead generation efforts.

Final Questions to Ask Yourself

Sometimes it is difficult for us to take a step back and remember B2B marketers have dozens (hundreds?) of responsibilities to handle. Search engine advertising is just one of the many of them and its critical to cut through the clutter to get to actionable metrics and analysis.

To help get to the performance metrics that really matter for understanding and evaluating your PPC program, as it relates to broader business goals, ask yourself these three questions.

  • How does this information really impact our B2B marketing objectives?
  • Are we able to trace direct or indirect business results to these activities?
  • How can we use this information uncovered to make decisions that will lead to better business results?

Ultimately put yourself in the shoes of key business stakeholders and try to figure out how to present data that would best help them support and understand your decision making process in running a search engine advertising program.

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