For most agencies evaluating their PPC reporting software options, price, scalability, and ease of use are typically the first criteria that come to mind. And while there are more factors to consider, we think there are two in particular that are worth more attention than they receive:
The best PPC reporting software helps marketers gain data-driven insights to develop, execute, and maintain their clients’ paid marketing strategies. This requires more than just scalability, ease-of-use, and straight reporting. In particular, it requires data enrichment and data transformation — two features that are often missing in PPC reporting tools, and two features we go over at length below.
Having a tool that improves your paid marketing efforts ties directly into sales enablement, allowing users the ability to show value to both internal stakeholders (such as your head of marketing) to help justify your PPC budget and external stakeholders (such as your clients and potential clients) to keep SOWs ongoing while signing on new accounts.
In this post, we’re going to look at three types of services that are leveraged as PPC reporting software: business intelligence tools, extract/transform/load tools, and straight reporting tools. Then, we’ll describe how TapClicks offers detailed and malleable PPC reporting and analytics to give you insight into your pay-per-click marketing campaigns — insight that can be extrapolated, graphed, and presented to your clients.
But first, let’s cover the basics of what any PPC reporting software should offer.
We’ve worked with countless clients over the past decade. When agencies are looking for PPC reporting software, they’re looking for a solution that solves common headaches of PPC reporting — headaches that are labor-intensive and can hinder a marketing agency’s rate of growth.
Below, we cover them in detail.
Most of your agency’s clients are advertising on multiple channels, across different mediums. So, several disparate data sources need to be tied together, and doing it manually is time-consuming, and risky.
The more data sources you’re handling manually, the more likely a human error will be made. Even small mistakes in PPC analytics can lead to huge misreadings of the data. If you’re showing an inflated return on ad spend (ROAS) you can be letting a problem go undetected for weeks, if not longer. Eventually, the real story will rise to the top of the data, and you’ll have lost the trust of your client, and perhaps their business as well.
PPC reporting software solves both of these problems by automatically pulling data from platforms into a dashboard. Unfortunately, that’s where plenty of PPC reporting software solutions stop, however, getting data into a dashboard is only half the battle of handling disparate data sources.
You want a tool that understands the different types of intent behind different advertising platforms.
For example, Facebook is a more socially-motivated platform. People are on Facebook to see updates of their friends, and then they find your ad. So, the data you’re collecting from Facebook is gathered from more discovery-based ads. Compare that to Google, which is more inbound based — people go to Google to search for an answer. The clicks you get on Google Ads (or even Bing Ads) tell a fundamentally different story than the clicks you get on Facebook Ads.
So the hard part for marketers is how to tie these data sources together and tell the overall story of their pay-per-click advertising efforts to their client.
We see this often with agencies that struggle to properly evaluate the effect of multi-touch attribution. Multi-touch attribution is when a customer sees an ad on one platform, such as Facebook, but doesn’t convert. Then they see a version of the ad as a Google ad, and they do convert. It would be a mistake to turn off Facebook ads if Facebook helped boost your Google Ad conversions. This is what we mean by telling the whole story of your PPC efforts, and this is where PPC reporting software can show the value you bring to your clients.
Client-facing marketing reports need to be presentable, professional, and intuitive to read. Plus, good PPC reporting software offers white label functionality, as well.
White labeling allows you to cater your reports towards your branding or your client’s, both of which help create brand recognition by setting your agency apart from the competition.
If you’re building reports manually, it’s another task that can consume hours of your week. Some agencies will spend an entire business day just working on reports. This is because they have to tie all the disparate data sources together, plus they need to add data visualization (graphs, charts, etc), and then they need to customize the report towards the client. A client doesn’t need to see every metric — they simply need to see proof that your paid marketing efforts are working.
Another major factor of building client-facing reports is labeling metrics correctly. Let’s say you’re bringing data from Google and Facebook. Google calls the data “cost” and Facebook calls it “spend.” These metrics are measuring the same thing but because these data sets are under different names, you need a tool to help calculate your total spend across Google and Facebook. Otherwise, your report will be hard to read, and your wins will be more difficult to illustrate.
Like handling different data sources manually, sending out reports without PPC reporting software is time-consuming, mundane, and repetitive.
The best PPC reporting software aggregates data, builds it into a shareable report, and sends it out on a schedule you’ve assigned (such as daily, weekly, or monthly).
The goal of PPC reporting software is, in part, to free up your time (or your team’s time), so you can work on monitoring Facebook ads or developing new pay-per-click strategies for a new product rollout.
This falls under sales enablement, as we will cover below. Sometimes we see marketing agencies who want to bring on new clients — and clients who want to work with these agencies — but the agencies can’t handle the extra workload.
This is an annoying (and growth-stopping) pain point that PPC reporting software can help solve by giving your agency tools to replicate and automate processes.
If you have five clients and they’re eCommerce brands focusing on Facebook ads and Google Search ads, you can create templates specific to those clients. If you found success with running strategic multi-touch attribution campaigns (say, you’re playing your paid search ads and social media ads off one another), then you’d create dashboards for those metrics.
Now, when a new eCommerce client signs on to work with your agency, you don’t need to spend a significant amount of time building a new dashboard or reporting template for them, as you would if you were using an in-house tool (such as Google sheets) or a less sophisticated tool, such as Google Data Studio.
Now that we’ve covered what quality PPC reporting software can do, let’s look at the various options available to you.
There are three main types of PPC reporting software most agencies are considering when evaluating different solutions: Business Intelligence (BI) platforms, Extract/Transform/Load (ETL) tools, and straight reporting platforms.
While BI tools can be leveraged as PPC reporting software, they’re not usually made with marketing agencies in mind. This is because BI tools want to be accommodating for a wide variety of needs. They want to be used for ERP systems, accounting systems, HR systems, and so on. This level of generalization can sometimes be useful but the trade-off is these wide-encompassing BI systems lack depth in key areas. Because of that, they aren’t hyper-focused on what marketers need to enrich their paid marketing campaigns.
Some BI platforms even use their own modeling language to create data relationships in a SQL database. But marketing agencies often don’t have the resources or the need for a tool with such vast capabilities. If you’re running a PPC marketing team, you generally don’t have a lot of bodies. And the team members you do have are ones you want focused on developing paid marketing strategies, not tending to modeling languages or SQL database integrations. You need something powerful, but also easy-to-use. And the need for code to blend or share data can be a hindrance.
For marketing agencies who want to improve their paid marketing strategies and use insight-driven data to appeal to their stakeholders, using such sophisticated BI tools is comparable to someone buying an iPad to use as a calculator.
Finally, while there are plenty of sophisticated BI platforms, there aren’t many catered specifically to marketing agencies. Some are more focused on brands or are trying to be so applicable to every industry that they sacrifice the depth your PPC team needs.
The difference between a brand and an agency is significant. Agencies have a wider and more diverse set of marketing-specific needs. If you’re managing one brand’s digital marketing strategies, you can get away with fewer integration channels but that won’t fly for an agency, especially one looking to grow.
ETL stands for extract, transform, load. An ETL tool — sometimes called a data funneling tool — isn’t technically PPC reporting software. Instead, it’s the tool agencies will use to get their data into reporting software.
So, why use ETL software instead of a BI tool or a straight PPC reporting tool?As we said above, most BI tools are going to be overly complex and not hyper-focused on helping marketing agencies improve results for their clients. ETL software works to give your agency the information it needs — the ability to analyze data and transform it to fit your needs, without the major investment of a complete BI platform.
And agencies might consider using an ETL tool if they have a cloud-based data management system where they want their data sets to go. For example, if an agency wants all of its paid marketing data in Google Data Studio or in a data warehouse, then using an ETL is a way to do that.
But ETLs can be expensive — especially for marketing agencies that are only dealing with marketing and sales related connectors. Some ETL tools — at a minimum — cost $400 a month. That may still be significantly more than a smaller agency wants to spend.
Those smaller agencies who need more a la carte PPC options are likely using Google Data Studio (or have least considered it). To elevate the power of Google Data Studio (a free tool) there’s an inexpensive option: using community connectors, such as Megaytic for Google Data Studio.
That’s why we offer a tool like Megalytic, in addition to our TapClicks all-in-one marketing dashboard. We see value in offering detailed data analysis and PPC reporting for agencies that are not yet ready to invest in more expensive options, such as more sophisticated ETL tools or even straight reporting tools.
Finally, there are straight PPC reporting tools, such as AdStage — which is powered by TapClicks — to help marketing agencies get the data they need.
AdStage is a PPC-focused platform that helps agencies analyze, optimize, automate, and report on their paid marketing.
First, you set up your AdStage account with your ad networks, such Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and Bing Ads. Then you set your account with your analytics and conversion trackers, such Google Analytics and CRM platforms like Salesforce. This process takes a matter of minutes.
Then, you can create white label custom reports for your clients. These reports can be automatically generated, saving your team time and money. One AdStage client — BusinessOnline — saved over 960 hours in estimated reporting time by using AdStage to pull data from its Linkedin Campaign Manager. By freeing up that time, BusinessOnline was able to completely shift one full-time employee away from reporting and instead have them focus on more value-driven, strategic tasks.
But there are still limits when using straight PPC reporting tools, and those limits come down to whether or not they offer data enrichment and data transformation.
At TapClicks, we know the best PPC reporting software doesn’t stop at data aggregation and scheduled reporting. Any of the options we covered above offer data aggregation, white label reporting, and automated reports.
But like we talked about at the beginning of this article, the best PPC reporting software will do two things:
And TapClicks does this by offering data enrichment and data transformation.
Data Enrichment is when you take multiple data sources and merge them into one dashboard to get a clearer picture of how your PPC marketing efforts are working.
Let’s say your latest PPC report to your client shows 10 leads from Facebook. A simple PPC reporting software will leave that data there as if that tells the whole story. But a PPC reporting software that promotes data enrichment will want to know: who were those 10 leads?
TapClicks can tell you this by pulling in CRM data so you can see which campaign drove those leads. And as you learn whether or not those leads were qualified, you can now more accurately evaluate the success of your Facebook ad strategy. What’s the point of increasing an ad presence because it delivers 10 leads or more each time if those leads don’t turn into actual customers?
Data Transformation is important to us at TapClicks because without data transformation, our clients would struggle to show their clients the full story of their paid marketing strategies.
We talked about it in an earlier section, but to clarify, when you’re handling disparate data sources, it isn’t enough to have integration to connect hundreds of different data sets into one dashboard.
Every PPC reporting tool can pull in data from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other main advertising platforms. But data transformation lets you blend data sources to tell a more complete story of your pay-per-click advertising.
This means you can group different named metrics into one (such as Facebook’s spend and Google’s cost), and you can also show multi-touch attribution across different advertising platforms.
When we made TapClicks, we knew we wanted to help marketing agencies solve complex PPC reporting and analytics problems.
To do this, we co-developed our service with our customers from the very beginning. This has allowed us to solve the simple problems of PPC reporting (such as how to duplicate reporting processes across clients) and more nuanced problems that agencies were commonly facing.
For example, one of our customers needed to segment their data to match their specific naming conventions. We developed a find-and-replace solution that helped them do just that.
Once all of your data is in TapClicks, you can use our intuitive find-and-replace tool to change metrics’ names and standardize naming conventions across your clients. Data transformation helps you create a story with your data that demonstrates a clearer picture of your value to your clients.
As we talked about initially, marketing teams looking for PPC reporting software tend to focus on price, scalability, and ease of use. And we agree with those considerations, but offer two more to seriously consider:
By just looking at cost, scalability, and ease of use, you miss some of the broader pictures. You may not need a complete BI system to manage your marketing clients, but you may need something more sophisticated than pulling data from Facebook, organizing it into Google Sheets, and then uploading it into Google Data Studio.
Whatever solution you choose, if you’re not able to merge data sources or if you’re not able to use non-advertising platform data as the context in your reporting, then it’s likely your PPC reports to your clients aren’t telling the whole story.