Whether you’ve just taken on a new client, are slammed with reporting and deliverables, or are just doing regular maintenance, there are times when you need a quick snapshot of an account’s health. I find that a simple pacing dashboard is just what’s called for.
A pacing dashboard is a working document for keeping track of anything from the budget/spend, to KPI goals. Whatever is important for that particular account can be tracked. Typically when I take on a new client I create a dashboard to monitor the budget, spend, performance metrics, and month-over-month performance change. Over time the client’s goals may change and I’ll update my dashboard accordingly. Here’s an example of my generic pacing dashboard:
The fields in blue are updated manually, all the other cells are formulas, and the MoM change percentages are based off of the prior month’s tab. There are a million different ways that you could set this up. I chose to use Google Drive so that I can easily share the document with co-workers, and they can update is as well. I created this particular pacing doc very quickly and so it relies on manually entered values. Another option that requires a little more work up-front, but no updating would be to setup a web query, or scripts, to pull the desired metrics from AdWords, Bing, or a third party platform like Marin.
The value of a pacing dashboard is limitless. The above example took me about 15-30 minutes to create, and takes about 2 minutes to update every morning. Once I’ve pasted in the day’s numbers a quick scan of the doc gives me a wealth of information. How is the spend? Do I need to adjust budgets and, if so, by how much? How is performance pacing for the month? How does this compare to last month? While most of this information is available in the AdWords and Bing interface, the dashboard saves me the trouble of multiple clicks, and lets me view all the information together.
Pacing dashboards also serve as an early warning for potential problems with an account. In the above example I can quickly determine that the account performed better last month than it is currently by looking at the MoM Change column. While this won’t tell me why the account performance is off, it gives me a good springboard for investigating. In this example I noticed that conversion rate and spend are both down considerably month-over-month. Lower search volume and lower conversion rates can often be a sign of seasonality. In fact, when I looked at the historical performance, I found that this account generally experiences a seasonal lull in February. Depending on how in-depth you want to get with your document, you could also bring in year-over-year metrics to help get a sense for things like seasonality right from the dashboard.
What you track, how often you update the doc, and whether you use Excel, Google Drive, web queries, etc., pacing dashboards are an invaluable tool for staying on top of accounts. They are easy to setup, quick to update, provide great insights, and can help identify and avoid performance and spending issues. I highly recommend creating a pacing dashboard for all your clients, particularly if you are managing a large number of clients at a time.