In order to improve your existing online ad campaigns and discover new opportunities that you’re currently missing, you have to study the analytics. Trend line analysis is likely included whether you use AdWords, Microsoft AdCenter or any other platform and it saves you from poring over column after column of numbers. Instead, you are presented with an easy to read and, more importantly, an easy to digest report.

Matt Van Wagner has an in-depth report on different types of trend line reports and how to use trend line analysis at Search Engine Land.

Let’s look at some potential errors to avoid and how to make these reports work for you.

First and foremost, you have to understand the context of any report and be sure to enter proper parameters. If your reporting time is too short, you may see a graph suggesting a problem that isn’t really there. You may also notice a simple fluxuation of variables beyond your control and perceive it as a problem with your campaign.

Before making any changes, do some investigating. Take the guesswork out of online advertising and diagnose the problem. Then, you will know what needs to be changed, or what can be left as is.

Always keep your specific campaign goals in mind. For some, conversion rates improving but total conversions going down could be a problem. However, if it’s in line with that campaigns goals, then you’ll probably want to leave the campaign untouched.

Sometimes it’s what you decide not to change that will make the biggest difference.

With time, you’ll start to be able to recognize at a glance a graph showing the early signs of trouble. Be sure you understand not only what each individual trackable metric means, but also how they relate to each other.

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