Reports that Showcase Your AdWords Success

Published October 3, 2014
Many of us put a great effort into creating and continuously tweaking AdWords campaigns. Writing ads, selecting keywords, optimizing bids – there’s no end!
So, how can we show the impact our campaigns are having? Or, the improvements we’ve made?
In this post, we look at how to use Google Analytics to pull together the data that measures the effectiveness of AdWords campaigns. In addition, we’ll look at how the Megalytic reporting tool can work with your Google Analytics data to produce reports that better showcase your success.

image of an adwords hero


Link AdWords to Google Analytics

An AdWords campaign is effective when it helps your website achieve its set goals. Since website performance, and the achievement of these goals, is measured in Google Analytics, it’s important to have your AdWords data in Google Analytics, as well. This will allow you to report on the performance of AdWords-driven traffic.

Thankfully, combining AdWords data with Google Analytics is easy. Simply follow the steps in Google’s documentation: Link Google Analytics and AdWords.

You can check that your Analytics account is properly linked to AdWords by opening the Admin section and selecting “AdWords Linking” under the “Property” column. Note that it can take up to 24 hours for AdWords data to show up in your Analytics account.


image showing linked adwords and google analytics accounts


Useful AdWords Reports in Google Analytics

Once the accounts are linked, you can start using the reports under Acquisition > AdWords. A key report here is the AdWords Campaigns report (Acquisition > AdWords > Campaigns), which, as the name suggests, focuses specifically on traffic from your AdWords campaign.


image showing adwords campaign report in google analytics


In the upper right hand corner of this report, you can select the goal for the report. Here, I have selected the goal for new trial accounts. This is the most appropriate goal for us, as the primary purpose of our AdWords account is to drive trial account sign up. Of course, you will want to measure what is most applicable to your business, like purchases or form submissions.

The key to getting value from this report is having goals set up that tie in to the purpose of your AdWords campaigns. For guidance on how to set goals, see our post on Translating Business Goals to Analytics Goals.

The most useful metric in this report is Completions. This tells us the number of visitors from each AdWords campaign that created a trial account. You’ll note that overall, the Completions during this time period is 100.

The Conversion Rate shown in this report is not particularly useful for evaluating the success of our AdWords campaigns. This is because it is based on Sessions, rather than Clicks. A user may click on your ad, but come back a few times via Direct, inflating the Sessions and driving down the Conversion Rate.

A big part of showing success with AdWords campaigns is demonstrating you are achieving reasonable conversion rates. So, don’t use the value reported here – it understates the actual conversion rate.

To understand this in more detail, consider the campaign “Search Network – Opt.” It has 20 Completions and the Session-based conversion rate shown here is 12.12%.

To calculate a more accurate Conversion Rate, select the “Clicks” tab on this report in the Explorer.


image of tabs in a google analytics report


The report now contains a Clicks column and a CPC column. The “Search Network – Opt” campaign has 118 Clicks. It has a cost per click (CPC) of $2.68.


image showing the adwords clicks report in google analytics


The true conversion rate is calculated like this:

AdWords Conversion Rate = Completions / Clicks

So, for the “Search Network – Opt” campaign, we get AdWords Conversion Rate = 20 / 118 = 16.95%. That’s much better than the 12.12% value based on Sessions! Use the AdWords Conversion Rate when reporting on your AdWords successes.

AdWords Cost per Goal Conversion

Even more important than the AdWords Conversion Rate is the AdWords Cost per Goal Conversion. This is the amount of money you pay AdWords for each Completion you receive.

To calculate it, we use the CPC, like this:

AdWords Cost per Goal Conversion = CPC / AdWords Conversion Rate

For our example, the “Search Network – Opt” campaign, the AdWords Cost per Conversion = $2.68 / 0.1695 = $15.82.

So, the cost of each Completion using this campaign is $15.82. That means, for the campaign to be a success, the value of a Completion must be more than $15.82. Of course, the value of a Completion will depend on what the goal is and how valuable it is to your business. In this case, we are looking at Megalytic trial accounts – and, yes, they are worth more than $15.82 to our business, so we count this campaign as a success.

To demonstrate the long term success of this campaign, we want to track the AdWords Cost per Goal Conversion and see it coming down over time as we improve the campaign by optimizing our bidding, tweaking our ads, etc.

We also want to see if we can scale this campaign up. Over the time period shown in these reports, there were 20 Completions. In the best scenario, we’d be able to increase the number of Completions, while holding the AdWords Cost per Goal Conversation steady, or even decreasing it. That, of course, is one of the biggest challenges of running AdWords campaigns: Finding cost-effective campaigns that also scale up.

Reporting on AdWords Campaigns in Megalytic

If you use Megalytic, you can get at these numbers more easily, and put them in report format to distribute to clients and colleagues.

To try it out for yourself, set up a free Megalytic trial account (no credit card required). Next, create a report using the Paid Traffic template. This support document describes how to create reports from templates: Using the Built-In Templates to Create Reports. Or, for an overview of what’s included, you can also watch this video. Below, we focus on the part of that template which shows the AdWords Conversion Rate and AdWords Cost per Goal Conversion discussed in this post.

Once you have created your Paid Traffic report in Megalytic, scroll down to the table named “AdWords Campaign Performance.”


image of Megalytic's adwords campaign performance report


This is the default layout, which does not include the exact columns or information we want. But we can customize our template to show us exactly what we’re after.

First, we will modify the template to add the columns we want. Clicking in the upper left corner of the table opens the widget editor where we can select columns as shown below.


image showing how to modify a table in a Megalytic report


Next, we select the two columns that relate to goals – AdWords Cost per Goal Conversion and AdWords Conversion Rate – and use the goal selector shown below to set these columns to use the “New Account – Trial” goal. You will want to select the goals that matter to your business and that you have defined in Google Analytics.


image showing how to select goals in a Megalytic adwords report


Below is the modified table. Note that the AdWords Cost per Goal Conversion is $15.82 and the AdWords Conversion Rate is 16.95% - the same values we calculated by hand, above, from the data in our Google Analytics report. Megalytic fetches that data for us, and does the necessary calculations.


image of a megalytic report table showing adwords metrics


It is also possible to use Megalytic to chart AdWords campaign performance over time. We can convert the AdWords Campaign Performance table we’ve been looking at into a time-series chart by changing the chart type.

Here’s what the AdWords Cost per Goal Conversion looks like over the last four months for another campaign. The cost has been creeping up because we’ve been increasing bids to grow the click volume.


image of a megalytic report showing last 4 months adwords performance



Most of us work pretty hard to build and maintain successful AdWords campaigns. It makes sense to spend a little extra time to analyze them effectively and report our successes. Being able to accurately report on the effectiveness of AdWords will give your clients and bosses confidence in your ability, and grow support and budget for your efforts.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.