Here on the paid media team, we are constantly looking for ways to maximize performance on our paid search and paid social campaigns. However, choosing which metrics to optimize for can sometimes seem overwhelming, and often DMOs and CVBs still use outdated vanity metrics to gauge success in PPC campaigns.

Placing data such as ad clicks, click-through-rate (CTR), and cost-per-click (CPC) on a pedestal can paint an incomplete picture. Although any sharp drop in these areas should warrant investigation, optimizing for these surface level metrics ignores an old rule: quality over quantity. Meaningful engagement and actions visitors take on your site should be more important than sheer visitor numbers and getting the cheapest ad clicks. Focusing on engaged visitors who signal interest in your destination provides much more value than trying to address large numbers of website visitors that leave after skimming one webpage. After all, these engaged visitors are more likely to be the ones who end up visiting your destination and spending their dollars. Instead of emphasizing vanity metrics like CTR, CPC, and number of sessions, engagement metrics can help you truly boost performance and drive more travelers to your destination.

In this article by Juuso Lyytikkä on the Wordstream blog, he highlights three engagement metrics that can be used to increase PPC performance in meaningful ways. Those three metrics are:

  1. Bounce rate
  2. Conversion rates by audience segments
  3. Revenue per session

Using the metrics Lyytikkä identifies in his blog, I will take a look at how these apply to websites in the destination travel vertical and provide insight on how to interpret their value through that lens.

1. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percent of users who leave a landing page immediately without taking any action on the page. These users have no value to you. By identifying which campaigns or ad groups have a high bounce rate, changes can be made in a number of areas to ensure that you are only paying to get quality traffic to your website.

Lyytikkä lists a number of areas that can be at fault in causing high bounce rates:

  • Poor webpage design
  • Conflicting options
  • Complicated conversion processes
  • Misleading ad copy (not reflective of the information on the landing page)
  • Unappealing Calls to Action (CTAs) in ad copy
  • Campaign targeting errors

While some of these are a quick fix, such as making campaign targeting more specific, others can be more subtle. A/B split testing is a great way to definitively test whether a website change would be beneficial or not. For instance, you can test two versions of ad copy or various locations for a submit button on a landing page.

For example, on the Simpleview Paid Media team, we are currently running an experiment in Adwords to see what sorts of Calls to Action (CTAs) in ad headlines perform better across a number of metrics.

Whatever the method, being aware of bounce rates and working to improve them will help you adjust your content to hopefully help potential customers connect with your destination and be inspired to visit.

2. Conversion Rate by Audience Segment

Keeping users on your page after clicking on an ad is only part of the battle. Identifying and tracking meaningful actions users can take on your website should not be overlooked.

These actions can range from engagement metrics such as time on site and number of pages visited, to traditional leads for destination marketing organization (DMO) websites like e-newsletter sign-ups. Tracking metrics to understand what users are doing once they reach your webpage can be just as valuable, if not more so, than knowing how many users are clicking on your ads.

Furthermore, the more you know about the audiences that consistently take valuable actions on your website, the better the targeting can become for those who see your ads in the first place. Lyytikkä identifies three ways to target audiences that convert:

  • Location
  • Device type
  • Demographics: including age, gender, occupation, marital status, education level and income

Digging into this data can sometimes be surprising. Looking at what types of users consistently engage and interact with your brand can uncover insights on who should be in your audience, and challenge assumptions. Campaign targeting settings can then be modified or tightened to better align with these more valuable audiences, further boosting how effectively you can reach these people.

Perhaps you find that a very engaged audience for your DMO is women in their 30s with at least some college who also tend to browse on tablets or their phones. With this in mind, you can craft copy to better suit the needs of this audience. In turn, that can spark more consumers to take meaningful steps towards the goal of ultimately arriving in your destination.

Conversions are also tied to attribution modeling, a topic we recently covered in a short video on The Layover Live, Simpleview's digital marketing video series highlighting the top articles from The Layover, our hub for digital marketing news. 

In short, think of attribution as assigning the value for what caused someone to sign up for a newsletter or download a visitors guide. Traditionally, this was done through last click modeling, meaning the last click before someone completed an action got all the credit. However, the customer journey is often much more than a single click, but multiple sessions on your webpage through multiple touchpoints, whether through an ad on Google, organic traffic, or through paid content on social media.

Google has released a number of models that more accurately distribute that value, including time-decay, data-driven, and position-based. You can watch Jason Swick, our Director of Digital Marketing, discuss this topic and the model we recommend with our Google Agency Manager Jenny Lamb here.

3. Revenue per Session

Lyytikkä also argues that assigning a specific cash value to different events taken on your web page is a more accurate way to track true return on investment for your ads. Instead of acting on assumptions such as what percentage of leads may convert, revenue per session can more clearly show which campaigns are the most valuable.

While revenue per session may not be as applicable to DMOs at scale as it would for e-commerce sites, this concept still holds value in specific use cases. Campaigns that are directing users to attractions bundles, seasonal deals, or other passes sold on your site could benefit from using revenue per session as one of the baselines to measure performance.

Ultimately, it may be too subjective to assign an arbitrary monetary value to more common actions such as visitor guide sign-ups and partner referrals. That being said, although revenue per session may apply in a more limited manner than bounce rates and conversion rates, it can certainly be a small but meaningful metric to track on your DMO website where applicable.

To Wrap it Up

Rather than relying on vanity metrics such as CTR, CPC, and ad clicks, engagement metrics can uncover visitors who are the most valuable to your DMO. With these metrics, taking your campaign performance to the next level is just a matter of delving into the data, especially when paired with more accurate attribution modeling. Bounce rate, conversion rates by audience, and revenue per session all demonstrate the potential value of focusing on what users are doing after they click on an ad for your site. From accurately measuring how engaged users are with your brand, to demonstrating a concrete monetary value to your partners with packages or deals campaigns, these three metrics can elevate both your DMO and your valuable partners to the next level.

Want to learn more about how Simpleview's Paid Media team can help you amplify the content on your website? Contact us today, and we'll be happy to help you reach your search and social advertising goals.