Are You Checking Your Most Important Metrics?

I first got involved it e-tailing back in 2001, I set up my first Google PPC account (there was no Adwords branding back then) in Dollars (there was no GBP option available either!) in the same year and have been trying to work out the nuances and changing tactics ever since.

And to be honest it’s pretty much like painting the Forth Bridge, the job never ends and just when you think you’ve got it cracked secret along comes a game-changing tactic from Google, the ground moves from beneath you and you have to go again.

As a retailer in the early years of ecommerce there were not many other companies around to compete with and the knowledge base of those who were was just as thin. It meant was far easier to maintain a consistent and profitable level of PPC traffic by sticking to some tried and tested formulas. However as the years have gone by and more and more people have entered the fray the CPCs have inexorably gone up and the battleground for those purple-patches of clicks and conversions has been getting smaller and smaller.

During this time where everybody is looking for extra support and insight into the digital industry, the rise of a digital agency market has been just as unstoppable. Everybody tends to promise the same out of the box tools, reports and jargon often blinding the poor retailers with science and getting you to sign the dotted line before handing you off to the new recruit with less digital experience than my dear old mother. I’ve not tended to use agencies over the years unless needs must and resources get stretched but I’ve probably seen enough to be amazed at how little they can know, not all but a lot!

As I say, over the years an enormous amount has changed in the world of PPC, we now have Google Shopping, Display Marketing, Social Outreach, Retargeting, Attribution and the list goes on, getting ever more granular and expensive. There are now a hundred more metrics that fill up your Adwords control panel, Search Impression Share, Invalid Clicks, Conversion Cost, View-through conversions and on and on, and piecing it altogether to produce an effective marketing plan has never seemed so overwhelming.

However one metric has stood strong for me throughout all the changes that has been my yardstick for judging performance and from where all analysis must start. Quality Score, for me, it this single most important metric in your account and is the one that should be relentlessly improved. Micro-improvements in the overall Quality Score for your account can have huge savings in your annual spend, it is the only way you can improve your CTR and Av Position without having to bid more and focusses your mind on to the weekly-housekeeping activities where your attention is best spent.

Far too many agencies (and some staff for that matter) all too easily slip into lazy attitudes of either bidding more to win more business or choking off campaigns, suppressing bids when responding to poor performance and often (regrettably) blaming the retailer for being out of stock or something. When I’ve challenged back by asking, “well, what work has been done to improve Quality Score this week?” I would often get a very confused and fumbled answer along the lines that it isn’t really that important and, “we’ve been busy restructuring the account”. At which point that tearing noise they could hear over the conference call was their contract.

Quality Score is the best secret in Adwords with so many people I find glossing over it and just mentioning it as a point of interest. If you look in Adwords manuals it may get a couple of paragraphs but trust me that is where the real battle is. Google wants their customers to have the best experience in their search results and it wants to promote the retailers that clearly have the best handle of matching traffic to content and this is essentially what Quality Score is a measure of.