If you haven’t been using Excel that much as a PPC professional, I can certainly understand. When you’re starting out, it might not seem like a huge deal if you’re working with smaller campaigns and sets of data. You might be accustomed already to using Google’s built-in graphs and charts, but when it comes to analyzing trends and data, that’s when you’ll hit the wall, and hard.
Let me explain.
When someone asks you about how the campaigns have performed month over month or year over year, you can’t just rely on whatever Google’s graphs have to say nor any prebuilt reports. That’s when you have to start using Pivot Tables.
Don’t worry. They aren’t so bad after all. If you already know how to do more basic stuff in Excel like sorting data, removing duplicates, and dragging sequences of data down a column, you’re more than ready to start experimenting with Pivot tables.
My Thoughts on the Matter
I’d always hear about pivot tables from some of the most advanced professionals in the PPC world, like Isaac Rudansky. At the time, I’d figured it was something used on much larger campaigns, perhaps e-commerce. But I’ve quickly found that there are so many potential uses for pivot tables, and even beyond PPC that I want to experiment with further.
But let’s focus on PPC. That’s why you’re all here after all!
When you download any report from Google Ads, you’re going to be met with a vast swathe of data. It’s a nightmare brought to life for the uninitiated. There’s all these rows and columns filled with data about impressions and click-through-rates. The biggest problem is that you can’t get much of a visual understanding of what’s going on over a period of time.
Just look at all this. It’s just a sample report with a tiny bit of data, but imagine having to deal with a national or a global kind of campaign, and you had way more data and ads to keep up with.
What are you going to tell the client or supervisor if they ask you anything specific about the campaign? You obviously can’t guess, or else you’re going to look foolish.
That doesn’t have to be the case once you know what you’re doing, and where I can help.
Pivot Tables: My Off-the-Top Tips
Make sure when you’re in your Google Ads account that you don’t select any of the prebuilt reports. Google intends to get you to spend more than you needed on campaigns, so logically, you might want to be wary of these reports as well.
I’ve witnessed first hand how even after changing a bunch of the settings in an account how things can be missed, but that’s another story for another time. With the reports, you want to have as much control as possible.
Click on the Reports icon on the top menu, and then click Custom on the left-hand of your screen.
Select Table, and then make sure beforehand you know exactly what data you’ll need. I usually select Campaign, Ad Group, Search Keyword, Clicks, Impressions, Cost, Avg CPC, Month, Day, and Year. These are all incredibly easy to find by using the search bar right at the top of that area.
One colossal pitfall you want to watch out for is making sure you don’t just select the .csv file. If you do that, you’re going to get an error for any broad match modified terms you pull up. That’s why I use Excel CSV instead. Looks nearly the same, but there’s a subtle difference, and it’s going to make an impact on how effectively you can comb through ALL the data.
Once you’ve done that, hit the Windows key or the Option key if you’re a Mac user, and go into Insert. You can click on PivotTable or PivotChart and start creating your tables and graphs easily. The best part about Pivot Tables is how you can see the graphs and data change in real-time. I also make sure that I change how Excel displays data, like for the CPCs so I can see how they are as decimals.
These little tips and tricks may seem simple, but trust me, having things like this down will save you hours and hours when it’s time to go over the data and pinpoint areas of improvement, as well as seeing what might happen in the future.
There’s no reason ever to be scared of working with Pivot tables again. I find them quite fascinating, and another great tool digital marketers can use for better data analysis, which you’ll find becomes a bigger part of your career as you keep progressing.
For more musings, tips, and digital marketing advice, keep up with my blog, and if you want to get in touch with me for any business inquiries, send me an email at email@example.com! I hope you’ve enjoyed this piece and others.