What Every Multichannel Merchant Should Know About Paid Search Performance Audits
As a cataloger/multichannel marketer, you’ve long understood the importance of double-checking all aspects of your marketing programs to make sure everything is in order. No doubt, you visit your printer when you’re on press to monitor print quality. You do bindery checks to inspect book assembly. You likely use mail decoys to confirm delivery. You also probably “mystery shop” your own company to monitor your call center and shipping teams. You surely double-check your printing and postal invoices for accuracy.
The same attention to detail applies to online marketing. As paid search marketing grows in importance and consumes a larger share of catalogers’ acquisition budgets, it’s prudent to scrutinize these programs regularly. You want to make sure your plans are being executed correctly, and that your precious marketing dollars are being used intelligently.
Here are my recommendations for auditing paid search marketing campaigns. I suggest performing these checks at least quarterly. It might take some calls and e-mails to assemble the data you’ll need, but once those data are in hand, this audit should take less than a full workday. For the time period, perform your audit on last month’s complete data.
Scrutinize Sales Data
1. Make sure your sales data are accurate. The goal of this step of the audit is to confirm that the sales reported by your search marketing reports are accurate and that you’re not overcounting, undercounting or double-counting orders. If you aren’t tracking sales from your paid search programs, you must — plain and simple. Buying clicks without watching corresponding conversions is like flying an airplane blindfolded: It’s not a matter of if you will crash, just a matter of when.
If you have several systems tracking sales, determine which of them you’ll consider as authoritative. The various systems will certainly differ — often significantly. For instance, say your authoritative paid search sales report indicates $1 million in paid search revenue for last month. Pull the corresponding order numbers. Make sure those orders actually total $1 million. Then check each order against your back-end accounting system and ask the following questions: