Defining Success for PPC Efforts

When entering a new client/agency relationship, setting expectations and agreeing upon “what good looks like” are the keys to having a healthy relationship. While most industries have moved past judging PPC campaigns on clicks, impressions, and how many “hits” a website has received, working alongside a client to clearly define what your efforts will be judged on is one of the first things you should do when onboarding a new client.

Ideally, you can work with your client to understand their business goals. In some cases, like e-commerce or lead generation clients, it’s easier to understand what their goals are. Others, like those with long sales cycle or B2B efforts, can be harder to define. The important part is linking those goals directly to your efforts.

I was able to reach out to some top PPC managers and get an idea of how they approach defining success with their clients. Each had a unique approach.

Kirk Williams touched upon a great point in his response below:


In his response, “agreed upon client goals” is the key point. When heading into a new relationship, clearly defining and having your client agree upon a set of goals is essential. At times you may be asked, “What are industry benchmarks?” Or you may hear, “You are the agency, you tell me what good looks like.” While it is fine to lead your clients and help then make decisions, you want to establish goals that they and the major stakeholders within the organization agree upon.


In Matt Umbro’s response, he touches on two really great points. The first being focusing on unbranded efforts. There is definitely something to say about branded traffic. It consists of searchers who have already been exposed to your brand and potentially are much further down the funnel in the purchase process than someone searching on an unbranded term. While attribution is a whole other topic we won’t get into today, many times branded conversions can be attributed to multiple channels. If someone converts directly off of an unbranded term and that is their only touch point, it’s easier to credit that conversion to your efforts.

Matt’s second point about looking at growth, month-over-month or year-over-year, is another great point. PPC is one of those channels that can constantly be optimized and you can constantly test. Being able to show consistent growth over defined time periods is a clear way to show improvement.

While we’d all like to be Huey, Duey, or Luey and swim in an ocean of money, (I’m partial to Dark Wing Duck), all of our clients may not have that available. But as Aaron Levy points out in his response, looking at the entire pie and how it all works together may be an easier way for a client to see the entire picture.


Matt and Kirk both spoke about some great examples of how to define PPC success, but Aaron’s points opens up the conversation to a much larger realm. We all know search is the channel consumers head to when they want to take action. They often head to search engines with a question or with the goal of finding a product. For us, the last-click model here works great, but in truth, there are many other channels and factors that play a role in getting individuals to search for your product or service. Looking at all efforts and the lift in total revenue can provide insight into how everything is working together.

So How Do You Define Success?

The moral of the story is there is not an exact answer that is applicable to every single client. What is important is that when heading into a new client/agency relationship you need to clearly define what is important to your client and what drives their business. By understanding this, you can create goals that they buy into. This will make your life a lot easier for reporting and analysis efforts.

Related reading

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