I hate reports.
I hate how much time they take.
I hate how little they convey.
I hate how they juke metrics to make people look better than they are.
I mostly though just really hate bad reports which are most of them. Like many entrepreneurs my time is at a premium. If I don’t have an active deadline on a project it means that I should be doing something else of which there is an endless well of content marketing, sales, client happiness, team member training, the list goes on and on. I love it, truly, being able to prioritize what makes sense and to some degree holding my destiny in my hands. That said with my time at a premium it’s made me deathly allergic to tasks that add little or no value. Reporting seems to fall into that more often than not.
Clarity and transparency for clients, internally, and other stakeholders isn’t just important, it’s fundamental to running a successful and honest media agency. You can fail fast at a lot of things in this business, but not this. So my gripe isn’t with that I have to do it, or that it exists, but rather often what metrics I’m asked to pull, how it’s presented, or who I’m presenting it to.
I have strong feelings about how most of the time people throw the kitchen sink out the window with not just metrics, but non standard metrics that no one asked for or frankly needs. What actionable insight does combining the click through rate (CTR) or both Youtube ads and a Facebook vide views campaign really get you? I mean it, really what are you learning? To be honest when people do this they often either don’t have the best grasp on the media platform, or they’re trying to simply overwhelm a boss or client with metrics to distract rather than inform. A 30 page report “feels” official and good even though it may say almost nothing. In addition, given enough data shoved into a report, you can always find 4-8 metrics that improved even if the overall campaign is actually doing quite poorly.
Alternatively I see folks not include nearly enough information. This usually is someone that doesn’t realize many people don’t have the best grasp on metrics and you need a bit more context. They tend to think that their role is the most important and don’t spend any time thinking through the needs of other shareholders. This is less malicious but still quite damaging.
They could also just be lazy.
So to avoid being overly arrogant I’m not going to tell you what metrics matter the most to you. Instead I’m going to list off my top 10 list that I tend to use in most if not all reports. This is my “standard” playbook that I launch for new clients or agency partners and their clients in a dashboard with my go to tool Databox.
This is fairly self explanatory. How many people are clicking to your ad to go to your website. As a standalone metric though it doesn’t mean a whole lot.
Landing page views is basically how many people clicked your ad and let your website actually load before going back or leaving. It’s helpful because it eliminates the fat thumb problems as well as lets you diagnose if your web site is slower than molasses.
Now we’re getting into the meat of some helpful metrics. Link click through rate is probably the most useful metric from a “advertising” perspective. If it’s at 1% or above you’re probably doing reasonably okay depending on the offer. If it’s between 0.5% and 1% you should probably investigate your audience, your ad creative, your offer, or all 3. If it’s below 0.5% you should probably start over. (Of course this rule isn’t hard and fast especially for Reach or Video Views Campaigns etc.)
Impressions are the number of times your ad is seen.
Reach is the number of unique people that have seen your ad. Compare this with impressions which is simply how many times your ad has been seen not the number of people who have seen it. By comparing reach with impressions you can also have an idea of frequency which is the number of times (on average) that 1 person has seen your ad. I’ll take a bit of a controversial stand and say that frequency in it of itself doesn’t super matter, but it can help diagnose a problem and point to a need for a creative refresh if your performance is falling over time.
The amount it costs, on average, for a person to click your ad. If you’re running a performance campaign it makes sense to keep an eye on this as you can often times, if you know your conversion rate at each funnel stage, work backwards from a desired return on ad spend to figure out an acceptable cost per click. (This isn’t always true for a variety of reasons but it can show why it’s important.)
CPM basically means the cost for 1000 impressions. How we landed on 1000 impressions somehow being a mile or this definition is beyond me, but it’s borderline ubiqutious at this point so there’s no use in fighting it. It’s helpful because if this number is way higher than normal your audience is probably too narrow and you need to expand your targeting to make it larger.
Okay so the real definition of conversions is actually way more broad than how I use it for reporting purposes. The reality is conversion basically just means someone took any action you deemed as important. It could be everything from visiting a page on your website to buying $1,000,000 worth of product. For my purposes I use this to mean either purchase or lead depending on the needs. In addition I often but not always will include so called downstream conversions such as add to cart, initiate checkout etc. Those granular insights can be very helpful in figuring out which funnel stage you’re having issues with.
This is probably the most important metric that exists. It basically means how much did your most important activity cost to accomplish. From this you can usually tell the performance of your campaign and whether or not it makes “business” sense. Does your product cost $20, has a margin of $15, and the cost per conversion (purchase) is $5? Congratulations on your 50% profit margins. Alternatively do you know that on average a new lead will yield you $500 in business and your cost per conversion (lead) is $100? Congratulations on your 5x return on ad spend. Speaking off our last metric is…
Return on ad spend seems to be the holy grail when advertisers talk about their performance metrics. What return on ad spend actually is, is it’s the amount of money you make versus what you spent in advertising dollars. So if you Spent $10 in ads and sold $30 in products your ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) would be 3x. Typically a 3x to 5x ROAS is a healthy return with Facebook ads though of course all businesses are different. While it isn’t a perfect metric it is useful short hand to talk about how an ad campaign is performing as you can relate it back to a business metric of some sort that proves you’re driving a real return with your ad spend. While of course different leads have different values and different products have different margins it can still give you a quick 30,000 foot view of how things are going especially when you can view ROAS at a campaign level, ad set level, ad level, and of course the whole account level.
There you have it. Far from perfect, and I’m sure someone there is shaking their head, but I stand by the fact that with these 10 metrics you can mostly tell what’s going on with an ad account, and with them you can make a report that strikes the balance between being informative but not overly packed with information.