Digital Marketing

PPC Dashboards: Insights, Impact, and Action

Picture this: You just have finished running your PPC campaign. You are happy because it performed well. You can't wait for your boss to see the results. You grab all your data and start creating the dashboard to show your boss.

After a few hours of work, your dashboard is done. Everything is looking good, so you go to your boss's office and show her the results. Once you are done talking about the results of the campaign, your boss looks at you, unimpressed, and says, “OK, what's the impact to our business?”

You mutter a few words, trying to explain the significance of your findings, but to no avail.

You lowered the CPC of your top-performing keywords and increased their CTR. You also tested new ad copies and found new keywords to bid. Why didn't she like the results?

The problem is simple: your boss doesn’t care about the details of your PPC campaign. She cares about the results it brings to the business. Your PPC report wasn't for your boss; it was for you.

In this article, you will see how to build dashboards that will win your boss’s attention (and make you look great).

Add Context with Insights, Impact, and Action

Many marketers assume that dashboards should be reserved strictly for graphing numerical data. For these marketers, text is for reports; data is for dashboards. This misconception leaves aside all sorts of information which can help your boss understand your report all within one dashboard.

Your boss is unimpressed every time you show her a PPC dashboard because she doesn't get the context of your data. If you can make the abstract concrete, your boss will understand what each metric and graphic mean for her.

Analytics guru, Avinash Kaushik, recommends using the following three elements in any dashboard.

1. Insights

Metrics and graphics show what happened during a given period. What your boss wants to know is why that happened. As a marketer, you should be able to explain what could have caused each metric to go up or down. You want your boss to have an "aha" moment that can make her see what's going on with your PPC campaigns.

2. Recommendations for Action

Once you have explained why things happened they way they did, you need to follow up with a recommendation for action. After you answered the "why," you need to give them the "what now?"

3. Business Impact

Once your boss knows why something happened and what they can do about it, the final piece of the puzzle is explaining why your boss should do what you recommended her to do. Your boss wants to know what impact your recommendations will have on the company's performance.

Use Benchmarks and Trends

Insights, impact, and actions are all helpful ways to amplify your metrics with some context. No metric reported works on its own. If you show your revenue, it's likely there are associated metrics that have affected it, like conversion rate and average order value, among others.

Another way to show context is benchmarks. You can show three kinds of benchmarks in your dashboards.

  1. Own data benchmarks. It's much simpler to create your own set of benchmarks using data from your analytics provider. You can find those benchmarks by looking at month over month trends for each year and across years.
  2. Industry analyst data benchmarks. Industry analysts and companies like Gartner or Forrester, Consumer Electronics Association, and eMarketer sell this kind of information, which can be useful but expensive. If you decide to use one of these companies, consider the data collection methodology before purchasing their data.
  3. Competitor data benchmarks. You can use tools such as SEMrush and Spyfu to analyze your competitors’ performance. These tools give you a real view of how much they are paying per click, what keywords they are bidding on, and more.

Another way to add context to your dashboards is by contrasting segmented metrics with goals. You can also show the trends of each metric and goal, so your boss can see the performance throughout a specific period (usually from a month to a year).

Without context, even the most important metric won’t provide any value on the dashboard.

View AdStage's Q3 2017 PPC Benchmark Report

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Choose the Right Kind of Dashboard

Depending on your needs, you can add different elements to your dashboard, broader in scope or more narrow, strategic or operational, real-time or predictive. In the table below, you’ll see example options from Juice Analytics. As you build your dashboard, however, remember to focus on insights, recommendations, and their expected impact on the business.

selecting metrics for your ppc dashboard examples

Source: Juice Analytics

Each of these options will help you distinguish what useful, interesting, and productive information to show or leave out.

Show Business Metrics

As you may recall, your boss wants to see results, not numbers. She may get impatient because her time is scarce. Senior-level executives are responsible for making the business grow, so they care about everything related to that goal, not your department's one.

To make both your boss's and your life easier, you need to understand the difference between external and internal metrics. Internal metrics are those that matter to your department. Since you work as a PPC specialist or manager, your internal metrics include:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • CTR
  • CPC
  • Quality score or Relevance score

All these metrics are important for you. But how can your boss translate those metrics into actual business results? Instead of waiting for him to discover that by himself, you need to show him the "external metrics," the ones that affect the business. These metrics include:

  • Number of acquired customers
  • Acquisition costs
  • Average order value
  • Number of leads
  • Number of trials
  • Revenue generated
  • Sales pipeline contribution
  • Lifetime value
  • Goal conversions
  • Task completion rate

Even if you show your boss your external metrics like the ones mentioned before, you can't show him 20 different ones. That will make it hard for him to understand which ones matter and which ones don't.

As a rule of thumb, your dashboard should contain fewer than ten metrics. Each metric should have a specific goal associated with it. Also, you should segment most, if not all, of them.

Segmentation Is King

You have seen how important it is for your dashboard to explain the performance of a given metric and recommended actions to improve it. Aggregated data can help you find if there's an issue with a given metric, but it won't explain which segments that influence that metric are over or underperforming.

Segmentation is thus a key way to make it easier to understand why a metric performs above or below the desired threshold. Once you find which segments are driving an average metric down (or up), you can then recommend actions to fix (or optimize) that segment.

In the case of a PPC dashboard, you can segment by a wide range of attributes, including:

  • Mobile device
  • Impressions
  • Cost
  • Number of clicks
  • Spend of ad account
  • Ad network

Your boss and other decision-makers don’t have a clear idea of what happens with their website. Showing them segmented metrics, trends, and results is a useful communication tool.

There's nothing more important in any analysis than segmentation because your visitors aren't one-dimensional. They all have different attributes, whether they are demographic, behavioral, or transactional. Unfortunately, most of the PPC reporting and analysis are done in an aggregate way. You must have an effective and persistent segmentation strategy as part of your analytics process.


Creating useful PPC dashboards can help you position yourself as a savvy business member of the marketing team. You have seen what specific elements you need to add to your dashboards to make your boss happy. Not only everything you learned today will help you stand out; it will help your boss drive better results, which in turn can help you progress within your company.

If you're looking for a way to automate your cross-network PPC reports with business goals, check out our free 14-day trial of AdStage.

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AdStage Team