What To Do When Client Reports Are Trending Down: Google Ads Edition

As a digital marketing professional, I am regularly reviewing clients’ PPC campaign performance. Some months (most months, if I may toot my own horn a bit) the data shows monthly campaign optimizations are proving beneficial. From time to time, though, the data takes a turn and begins showing a negative trend. Here’s what to do when that happens.

Step 1: Deep Breaths


It sounds cliche, I know, but it really does help. Try out the 4-7-8 breathing technique — breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds. Do this 5-10 times to help refocus your attention on what matters: next steps.

Step 2: Evaluate


The first thing you need to discover is what the problem actually is. Here’s a handful of questions that I ask myself when I’m faced with downward trends:

Did we change conversions recently?

Maybe you recently realized you were tracking some low-value actions as conversions and decided to change what is counted as a conversion for more accurate data, for example. This could result in less quantity of conversions, but a higher quality of conversions. 

Did the website get changed recently?

Maybe you recently hired a UX expert who is making changes to improve your website, and in that process, something broke/got removed/etc. and had an inadvertent negative impact on Google Ads tracking.

Did you recently change some Google Ads settings such as the bid strategy you’re using?

Time to investigate if these changes are actually working for you or if they contributed to the downward trends.

Is this trend consistent with organic trends during the same time period?

Check out Google Analytics to see if traffic and goals are down in Google Analytics as well as Google Ads. Check both Google Analytics 4 and Universal analytics properties to see if they are reporting the same data. If so, this is an indication that the drops are interest-related.

Step 3: Next Steps


Once you understand why performance is down, you can outline action items to rectify it moving forward. This might mean changing your bid strategy back to what it was previously, adjusting conversion tracking, updating ad copy, pausing poorly performing keywords, and more. 

I recommend making a list of your next steps so you can easily discuss them with the client or the Account Manager. This also allows you to have a clear list of what actions you should take next. 

Step 4: Communicate


It is normal for performance to fluctuate from time to time. Talking about those fluctuations, why they’re occurring, and how you plan to steer the ship back in the right direction is going to alleviate some of the awkwardness around telling a client their campaigns didn’t perform as well last month. It also shows that you’re proactively managing their account and addressing issues before they even notice them. 

Step 5: Execute


Now that you have your plan of action mapped out, and your plan has been discussed with the client, it’s time to execute those next steps! You may need to get performance trending back up as soon as possible, so implement the highest priority and highest impact items first. Be sure to notate your changes in Google Ads so you have a record of what and when you changed things. 

BONUS! Step 6: Measure


Two weeks after you’ve implemented some changes, it’s time to see how campaign performance is looking! I like to look at performance for the last 14 days vs. the previous period. You can analyze this data to see if the changes you implemented seem to be improving performance or not, then start the process over at step 1 to adjust your plan of action!

It’s All Going To Be OK

I know it’s tough to see performance trending down, especially on accounts that you’ve put so much time and effort into. The fact is, there are outside factors that impact performance that you can’t control. What’s important is how you respond when performance doesn’t look so great. 

So, the next time you notice that a client’s Google Ads performance is headed south…

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Evaluate the situation
  3. Determine next steps
  4. Communicate with your account manager and/or the client
  5. Execute your next steps
  6. Measure performance
  7. Repeat as needed

Thank you for reading! I hope you found these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments what other tips you have for handling downward performance trends.