a/b testing mailchimp

What's the value of A/B testing?

  • Final post in our series on email marketing campaigns
  • Learn what A/B testing is
  • How to set up A/B testing in MailChimp

Welcome to the fourth and final post in our email marketing series. So far, we’ve discussed how to set up your email marketing campaign, how to create the best content to put in your emails and how to design them to make them visually appealing. Today, we’re focusing on the distribution of your email campaigns and how you can give them the best possible chance of being opened, read, and clicked on by your audience. That’s what A/B testing is all about.

What is email A/B testing?

A/B testing is the process of creating two similar, but not identical, emails to compare which performs better. A/B testing involves analysing the open and click rates of your email version “A” and version “B” to see which content, subject line, design style, or send time had a greater impact. A/B testing, also known as ‘split testing’, allows you to find the best version of your email before you send it to your entire audience. You test on a small sample size (sending version ”A” to one half of the sample, and version “B” to the rest), and the better performing email then gets sent to the remaining recipients to give you the best chances of engagement.

The value of A/B testing

Think about the number of emails you receive each day. How many of those do you open? And of that number, how many do you actually read through to the end?

We all know from experience just how hard it is for an email to capture our attention. So, when you’re writing marketing emails yourself, it’s important to give them the best chance of being opened. And this is the value of A/B testing.

A/B testing lets you experiment with new and interesting email content to try and stand out from the crowd and arrest your audience’s attention. Take your email subject lines, for example. 33% of recipients will open emails based solely on the subject line (more than, say, sender). A/B testing can increase your email open rates by helping you see how people responded to two different subject lines, allowing you to choose the subject line that performed best.

Variables for A/B testing emails

There are many factors that you can A/B test to help decide the most appropriate strategy for your next email blast:

  • What day or time should you send your email?
  • What subject lines are the most effective?
  • What name should you use in the “From” field?
  • Should you use merge tags?
  • Will certain templates, content or calls-to-action affect engagement?

A/B testing can help you answer these questions.

A/B testing in MailChimp tutorial

We have A/B tested our own emails at Fifty Five and Five in our email marketing tool of choice, MailChimp. It is one of the leading platforms for email automation, helping its users send over 246 billion emails, generating 66.5 billion opens and almost 5 billion clicks last year. MailChimp has a number of great features which support A/B testing.

In June 2017, we wanted to experiment to discover how we could improve the open rate of our monthly newsletter, so we carried out an A/B test (see image below). We began by asking ourselves certain questions:

  • What makes a great subject line?
  • Should we send to a smaller audience if they’re more likely to be interested in the content?
  • Does the design of our emails match our brand?

After analysing our open and click rates for older campaigns, we began A/B testing two different styles of layout. One was our original design with multiple stories, and one was a new layout with one longer, more detailed story. We used A/B testing to see which style performed better.

a/b testing mailchimp

The new email layout performed better, which we have since implemented into our monthly newsletter and MAYA newsletter.

How to set up A/B testing in MailChimp

Let’s look at how you can set up A/B testing for your next email campaign in MailChimp.

  1. First, select a new campaign, and select ‘A/B Test’.
  2. Choose the list you want to send to, and decide whether to send to the entirety of that list or a segment.
  3. Decide on the variable you want to A/B test: Subject line, Sender name, Content or Send time.
  4. Select the combinations you wish to test, the percentage of your recipients to send the test to, and the metric for determining the winning email.

a/b testing mailchimp

After the allotted time, MailChimp will automatically inform you of the winning campaign and schedule it to send. Choosing ‘manual selection’ will let you review the data yourself and decide which campaign to send. By viewing your campaign report, you can compare the engagement for your combinations, as well as see more detailed reports for each.

a/b testing mailchimp

It’s as easy as A/B, see?

As great as A/B testing is, it’s not the silver bullet for your email campaigns. It can tell you which of your email variants have received better engagement—a good indication of the more popular option. It can advise you on which might be the best subject line, content or design, but you still need to do the heavy lifting of creating the emails themselves.

That said, A/B testing can help you keep your emails feeling fresh. And that should naturally transfer over to your readers, helping pique their interest and boost your open and click rates.

Fifty Five and Five run killer marketing campaigns, managing them from start to finish. We identify the target audience, create dedicated content for them and create compelling design that matches company branding. We carry out A/B testing, as well as other analytical features to give emails the best chance of being opened and engaged with.

For more information on A/B testing or any other element of email marketing, get in touch with us today.

 

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email newsletter design

Your bulletproof email newsletter design guide

  • Part three in our four-part series on email marketing campaigns
  • How to design an appealing email newsletter
  • Information hierarchy, mobile-first and choosing the right colours

Today, we are continuing our series on creating the best version of an email marketing campaign for your business.

We recently looked at filling your emails with the best content; today’s focus is on the importance of how your newsletter looks and the part design plays in driving leads. This best practice guide will help you put in place some great design fundamentals that will go a long way to making sure your email newsletter design complements your company’s overall aesthetic.

Why does email newsletter design matter?

As we discussed in our previous article, the content of your email and marketing in general is something to take very seriously as a company and brand. With the array of different ways current and potential customers can engage with you, your content has more opportunity to ‘speak’ than ever. But how your organisation looks has a profound effect on how your message is perceived, too. Countless studies indicate that as a species we process visual data better and faster than we do from text alone. So it could be argued that email newsletter design is the most important element of your email campaigns.

Visual examples best explain the reasoning behind the importance of email newsletter design. The following are two examples of email marketing. One is of a high standard and the other… not so much. You can decide for yourself which is which:

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A):

bad email newsletter design example

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[mks_one_half]B):

good email newsletter design example

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The importance of first impressions

Look at the style of the example newsletter A) above. Even if the copy was polished and relevant to you, it probably wouldn’t make much of an impact. Did you know it only takes 1/10th of a second to form a first impression about a person? Well, the same theory applies to your organisation’s marketing. Your direct marketing, such as a newsletter and other email campaigns, gives a lasting impression of what your business is like. The way your email looks is crucial to making that good first impression. By making the design as pleasing an experience as possible you can ensure that your reader’s experience of your brand will be a positive one.

So, what can you do to make sure your design will let all the other great aspects of your email marketing shine? By following our tips below, you can make sure your message is delivered in the right way.

What to include in email design

Put your important information first

We’ve seen a lot of direct mail and newsletters that wait right until the bottom of the message before presenting their call to action (CTA). We think it’s better to get the most important information of your email up front so it is seen and can immediately be acted upon. Don’t be afraid to make your call to action the first thing your audience sees. But remember that you will also want to include a CTA further down the page where the reader will see it at the right time (surrounded by information relevant to their decision). Getting them down the page is a matter of persuasive copy and effective design.

email newsletter designSource

Adopt a mobile-first mindset

It’s 2017, and email marketers cannot afford to ignore the power of smartphones and tablets. Research in 2015 about email on mobile devices found that over a quarter of all B2B emails were opened on a mobile device. If your email isn’t responsive, you can expect your open rates will suffer. Badly.

Design around the subject matter

What are you trying to say and is your design aiding or hindering your message? Your message need to come first and, based on what it is, will inform how it’s visually represented.

Colour scheme

We experience the world in colour and reactions can be predicted based on different colours. Your company likely has colour codes in their brand guidelines. Your email colour palette should match. Alternatively, you could go for colours that match up with any images you want to include.

Use white space & line breaks

Boost your design clarity by using white space to contrast with more text-heavy parts of your design.

 

No design department?

If you are reading this post, sweating about how you’re going to free up some funds for a designer in your marketing team, fear not. There are plenty of options when it comes to third-party tools and solutions that enable you to build a great email campaign yourself and in good time too. Tools like MailChimp, for example, include plenty of ready-made templates to choose from as well as a campaign builder that uses a simple drag and drop design. Your designs are automatically fully responsive, and you can see what they look like on a mobile device with the click of a button. While trying to incorporate all these design tips and best practice can seem daunting, the right email builder can make the design aspect of the email easier, so you can focus all your efforts on making your content convert.

Find out more

When it comes to email marketing, your success is all in the numbers: the open, click-through and subscription rates. And it takes more than simply good design to make these numbers grow and pay dividends.

 

At Fifty Five and Five, our in-house design team work hand in hand with our content copywriters to create email campaigns that stand out from both a visual and copy writing perspective. If you’d like to see how we do it, sign up to our monthly newsletter or get in touch with us today.


Master Email Copywriting

Master email copywriting with these 5 quick tips

  • Part two in our four part series on email marketing campaigns
  • Learn how to master email copywriting
  • Finding the right tone, creating an engaging subject line and writing your call-to-action

Welcome to the second post in our email marketing series, where we’re going to help you master your email copywriting. Before we get started, you should make sure you know the difference between email campaigns and monthly newsletters; make sure you’ve established your goals and built up your email subscriber list.

If you don’t know how to do those yet, you should read the first post in our series before you go any further! Think of this post as an email copywriting master class—showing you what content to include in your emails and teaching you how to write it well.

Are emails harder to open than ever?

Thanks to stiff competition and declining audience attention spans, it’s more difficult than ever to get your emails read, let alone acted on. So, what sets apart those emails that do engage with their audience? Design is playing an increasingly large part in the success of email open rates, helping create visually appealing and enticing emails. But if your content isn’t up to scratch, then your click rates are going to remain low. And your click rate is arguably more important than open rates when it comes to generating leads.

So how can you make sure your content is as good as it can be? Mastering email copywriting is no small task, but we’ve put together some best practice advice on how you can fill your emails with engaging, appealing and persuasive copy to get your readers taking action on the things you say.

Here are five things you should focus on when it comes to mastering email copywriting.

1. Find the right tone

Emails can be ‘chatty’, so you can let your brand’s personality out a little more compared to blogs or longer-form content. Using merge tags—that identifies a recipient’s email to address them by name—and writing in the second person (using personal pronouns ‘you’ and ‘your’) are good ways to orient the language towards the audience, not the author. As spam is more prevalent than ever, make sure you also use a familiar sender name—this helps the reader connect with you before they’ve opened the email.

2. Create engaging subject lines

The best subject lines arrest the reader’s attention. Keeping them short and using actionable language are the best ways to do this. You need to strike a balance between telling them why they should open the email without giving away exactly what’s inside. Here are some typical angles you should aim to include in your subject lines:

  • Create a sense of exclusivity/urgency or personality
  • Quote statistics, metrics or testimonials
  • Pose a compelling question
  • Invoke the mind’s eye
  • Use puns or humour

3. Stick to the three C's

When you are considering your content approach, remember the three C’s above all else: clear, consistent and concise.

It’s easy to get distracted by trying to be witty in order to stand out, but clarity should always come first; humour or entertainment second. The body of your email should cater more towards information than persuasion—leave the latter for your subject lines and headers when you’re trying to arrest the reader’s attention. Once they’ve opened the email, you need to be clear and to the point, making it as easy as possible to understand.

Especially in emails, you should stick to short sentences and paragraphs. Keeping your message on-point is key to writing concise email copy. MailChimp allows for several different styles of content layout, so the length of your content will likely vary depending on the layout. Here’s the kind of layout and text length we stick to at Fifty Five and Five:

email copywriting tips

You also need to be consistent in your subject line and email body. When readers don't get what they're promised in the subject line, click-through rates plummet.

4. What goes into email copywriting

So, you know the type of language to use; what are you going to talk about? Obviously, this varies based on the company. Here are some general goals or aims you could offer your audience:

  • Advice/Guidance
  • Interest/Opinion
  • News
  • Interviews

Many companies’ emails only explain the features of new products or services they are offering, when they should be explaining the benefit. Instead of announcing a new edition of your tool, why don’t you talk about what it can do for the user? What problems can it solve? Understanding the problems and interests of your email recipients is the key to creating emails that will appeal to them.

Another pro-tip: more email is read on mobile than on desktops, and you need to accommodate for this. Make sure your email looks great on any device or browser. Keep the content concise and consistent for every device. MailChimp lets you preview how your campaign will look on desktop, web browser and mobile.

5. A compelling call-to-action

Just like your web copy and blogs, your emails should have calls to action, too, and they should be as clear as possible. People tend to scan emails more than any other kind of content. And call-to-actions will often come at the bottom of the email, where some recipients won’t even get to. That’s why in HTML emails it’s a good idea to include a button prominently displayed near the top of the email body. In fact, buttons are great calls to action across your emails in general—we use them all the time in our own emails.

email copywriting tipsEmail copywriting, accomplished

You need a balance of all the above to stand out from the crowd and prove your value to your email subscribers. The content you write is the best way to do that; empathise with your audience’s concerns and problems, get them asking questions, and show how you can help them. Email can (and should) be a very personal method of communication. If you get that personality across to your audience, they’ll be more likely to want to get to know you and trust you.

Visual elements can accentuate your content to bring it off the page. Videos, images, and GIFs have all become extremely effective devices for arresting your audience’s attention, and infographics have become immensely popular in recent years too within email campaigns. But more on that next time!

 

Make sure you tune in for the next post in our email marketing series on the role of design. If you want more information on creating the best content for your email campaigns or monthly newsletters, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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Mailchimp Tutorial: How to Use MailChimp for Email Marketing

Mailchimp Tutorial: How to Use MailChimp for Email Marketing

  • Part one in our four part series on email marketing campaigns
  • Our introductory MailChimp tutorial 
  • Get set with our tips for setting up your email campaigns

From generating leads to updating your customers and business partners on the health and direction of your organisation, email marketing is a vital part of your wider digital marketing strategy. However, for many organisations, email marketing campaigns can be disappointing. But don’t worry, help is at hand in the form of our MailChimp tutorial series to help you design the best, conversion-creating emails that recipients will open, act on, and even forward to their colleagues.

Over the next few weeks, we will cover the most important aspects of what makes a good email marketing campaign, from writing to design and distribution. All with the aim of helping you get better results to continue evolving your marketing efforts.

Email marketing is an extremely powerful way of connecting with people. Why? About 2.8 billion people use email every day and that number continues to rise. There are  about 196 billion emails sent daily and about 109 billion of those are business emails. In spite of (or perhaps due to) all this traffic, a large proportion of email marketing campaigns are unsuccessful. Emails don't get read and have little impact and lead to few or no conversions. This series will look at what you should be doing to make your email campaigns a success, as well as common mistakes to avoid. Let's get started!

The best-laid schemes

When we talk to our clients, we often hear that their email marketing campaigns started off with great intentions. However, even when they are ‘doing everything right’, the results are often lacklustre and eventually, the motivation to consistently put the effort into creating fresh content diminishes and campaigns are consigned to the scrapheap.

  • Poor open rates
  • Low click-through rate
  • A sense that email marketing doesn’t work or isn’t innovative enough
  • Lack of analysis
  • Boring design
  • Unexciting content or copy

However, with the right setup, a neat design, some engaging copy, and smart bench-marking and analysis, you can transform your email marketing into the pillar of your marketing strategy that it should be.

Email campaign or monthly newsletter?

Often, when you mention email marketing, people immediately think of their company’s monthly newsletter. It seems there is a misconception that email campaigns and newsletters are the same things. The aim of newsletters is to engage your subscribers with quality free content and very little sales promotion that is sent out on a regular basis (usually once per month). The purpose is to grow your subscriber list.

Email marketing campaigns, on the other hand, are more transactional. The purpose of email marketing is to drive sales – by promoting sales promotions within the email itself, or by asking people to visit your website to read or view a piece of content (but with the ultimate goal still being to sell something). Your email content should be created with the intention of converting your lead into a new customer.

Our three step MailChimp tutorial for SETTING UP a successful email marketing campaign

Step 1: Choosing the right tools

You should have no excuse when it comes to building out a successful email campaign thanks to the proliferation of mass-email design tools that make creating a great email to market to your audience pretty easy. MailChimp, for example, allows you to set up and automatically populate your mailing list, create a newsletter or send an automated email to your target audience simply and effectively. That is why we choose to build our campaigns with this solution.

Step 2: Establishing your goals with the right template 

Just because emails are easy to create doesn’t mean they will get you the right results. Along with your emails, you also need to create a plan. By setting goals, you are able to benchmark the success of your email campaigns and decide if your emails are having the desired effect.

When generating content, it’s very important to understand who the content is for. Who are you aiming your email at? Is this an email to update current customers on some relevant company information, or are you telling them about a new report you've just published? Whatever the purpose, knowing who the target audience is will inform the design and content. Also, knowing what action you want your target audience to take is another way of informing the content of your campaign.

Speaking of content, having a clear message is also essential to achieving your goals. If you are inconsistent here, how can you expect your target audience to click where you want them to click? A simple and clear message is best for hitting your targets.

In MailChimp you can: split your mailing list up any way you want, so that you can target your audience in the most specific way possible. The platform also gives you access to tons of templates so choosing the one that fits your style (or the style of that campaign) is simple and quick. You can concentrate on creating great content (more on that below) and analyse the results of your campaigns with detailed stats on open rates and click rates, etc. All of which will help you monitor/adjust your goals. The example below shows the range of templates that you can drive your email campaign with.

Mailchimp Tutorial: How to Use MailChimp for Email Marketing

Step 3: Building up your email subscriber list

You need to build your email list because your current contacts move jobs, their email addresses change, they unsubscribe. This means you need to continuously add new contacts to keep the numbers going in the right direction. How can you do this without buying dodgy email lists? Importing from lists of known contacts is best practice here. Most businesses already have a ready-made database that exists in the organisation. Import your CRM, Outlook address book, your sales contacts, etc. into your mailing list and immediately you have a large number of contacts who are already engaged in what your company is doing.

Provide a valuable incentive with a simple way for people to subscribe

Another way of growing your list is to provide value to prospective subscribers and make it as simple as possible to sign up. Value here is defined as content that is worth something to your target audience:

Valuable incentive = compelling content/important news/discounts/etc.

Simple way to subscribe = header on website/slider/pop-up/etc.

In MailChimp you can: import contacts from other areas of your business with a couple of clicks. From there, you can create customised and visually appealing templates easily in their campaign builder. This makes it much easier to concentrate on generating that remarkable and valuable content that will help ensure you get higher open rates and a higher number of new contacts from referrals.

Mailchimp Tutorial: How to Use MailChimp for Email Marketing

Sharpen your tools

Email marketing is important and should be a primary weapon in your marketing arsenal. Now you have an overview of what setting up a campaign entails, you can put in place a solid foundation.

Look out for the next article in our series which will cover the art of writing engaging copy to inform, persuade and delight your target audience – copy that will ensure better open rate percentages, downloads, click-through rates and conversion from lead to a sale.

In the second post of the series, we'll be sharing the secret sauce to writing the perfect email copy - keep up with our latest posts by following us on Twitter.

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PPC campaign reporting template

Download your free copy of our PPC campaign reporting template

To conclude our 'How to' PPC campaign series, download your free PPC campaign reporting template to help keep your ad campaigns on track.


PPC campaigns

Round up your PPC campaigns with killer reports

  • Fifth blog in our five-part series on Google AdWords PPC campaigns 
  • Steps to follow when rounding up your PPC campaigns
  • Free downloadable report template 

This is the fifth and final post in our ‘Managing your PPC’ blog series. By now, you know the basics of PPC and can run a campaign from start to finish. The last piece of the puzzle is reporting. It’s essential to know how to deliver a report that explains the results of your campaign, indicates what did and didn’t work and provides a consistent and rigorous overview of activities. We’ll cover everything you need to know, including:

  • Why reporting matters
  • Which key metrics to include
  • How to take your report to the next level

At Fifty Five and Five, we run PPC campaigns for a wide range of companies across the Microsoft Partner Network. So, our focus is on producing reports for our clients. Where our key stakeholders are our clients, yours may be your marketing director, management or board of directors. Either way, the advice in this post is equally applicable. So let’s get started!

Please note: for this blog series, we’re focusing improving PPC campaigns on the ‘Search Network’ only. In short, this means it will only appear on Google search, rather than running on third party websites and YouTube channels.

Why reporting matters

If you’re not reporting on the outcomes of your PPC campaigns, how do you know when they have been a success? How, when something doesn’t work out, can you identify what went wrong and learn from your mistakes? Reporting is one of the best ways to improve your campaigns and move things forward.

The key metrics

The first part of putting together your PPC report is to decide on the metrics to include. These should be based on the agreed goals that you set at the beginning of the campaign. Each company will have a unique perspective on what counts as success. But, in general, it’s good practice to use the same metrics every time. There are four good reasons why:

  • it will make your life easier
  • it creates a consistent experience for whoever sees your report
  • it will ensure you include all the important metrics
  • it will help keep your reports clear, clean and easy to understand

Here is our fail proof list of the key metrics you should use in your report:

1. Number of leads

Generating leads is one of (if not the) biggest driver for running ads. When reporting, this is the 'bottom line' number. Define what a 'lead' counts as from the beginning (e.g. number of people who clicked on an ad, filled out a form and gave you their email address) and then tot this number up.

2. Click-through rate percentage

Whether their performance is good or bad, reporting on your ads CTR is a key part of your PPC campaigns. If you’re producing weekly reports over a three-month period, for example, reporting will help you identify which ads aren’t performing to a good standard and adjust accordingly.

3. Result by region

Depending on the size and scope of your PPC campaigns it might be a good idea to break down your results into regions. If you are targeting certain regions – and specific budgets have been allocated for these regions – then it becomes essential.

4. Number of impressions

Impressions are counted each time your ad is seen by people on a search engine results page.

5. Cost-per-click (CPC)

CPC refers to how much your ad has cost for one person to click on it. If you’re working to a rigid budget, this might be the most important metric to track.

6. Total cost

Another area that your internal stakeholders will care considerably about is Total Cost. Be clear on how much you’ve spent so far, even down to the region if your targeting is very granular, along with how much is remaining.

7. Average page position

This is the average position that an ad has appeared on Google’s search engine results page. Good for getting an overall idea of how well an ad is performing.

Taking your report to the next level

The key metrics mentioned are essential, but to produce a report that goes above and beyond, there are few more things to consider. Not everyone will do these, but, at Fifty Five and Five, we believe these additional metrics give you a better idea of where your money is going and the impact they’re having. With that, you gain better visibility into your PPC campaigns and can make your money go further.

Here are three things you can do to take your reports to the next level:

  • Use Google Analytics to provide extra insight
  • Include the conversion rate
  • Include a commentary

Google Analytics

Before you begin any PPC campaigns, you need to set up your ads so that you can find them later in Google Analytics. To do this, you need to set up an Urchin Tracking Module (UTM). You can read more about UTM’s in Part 2 of our PPC blog series.

In short, by adding these UTMs, it gives you additional information on where a click has come from. So, let’s say your ads are targeting the UK, Australia and the US, by adding these UTMs, specific to each region, you’ll then be able to see how each has performed.

PPC Campaigns
In the screenshot below we can filter the source/medium for each goal

As well as looking at the UTMs that report on your campaign goal, Google Analytics also lets you look specifically at the landing page you’re promoting. From there you can see how much traffic has come to that page, and the percentage of that traffic which has come from your PPC work. This lets you report on both the lead generation aspect and from a brand awareness angle (by viewing pure sessions/visitor numbers).

Conversion rate

A great feature of Google Analytics is that you can create goals, which can help you work out conversion rates. This is where the data from AdWords and Google Analytics marry up.

The conversion rate is the percentage of people who have done what you want them to do (i.e. download the whitepaper after clicking through from your ad). You can work it out by dividing how many people clicked on your ad by how many times the goal was triggered and multiplying that by 100.

Why is this important? It helps you define the true worth of your campaign. You might produce great ads, but the conversion rate remains poor. This could be because the landing page isn’t good enough or because AdWords isn’t the right channel for this campaign. But, by being transparent about the conversion rate, it helps key stakeholders decide on what to do next.

See below for a preview of what the downloadable template consists of, and how to calculate the conversion rate for AdWords.

PPC campaigns
PPC campaign reporting template

Telling a story

It’s always useful to write a commentary because a little context can go a long way. While the stats are great, commentary can help explain to your clients or managers why you have had a poor week, or why you have had a great week.

The commentary doesn’t have to be very long. It should include any anomalies and any short or long-term trends; it should emphasise any particularly good outcomes and explain the reasons for bad ones. It is also useful to briefly discuss the budget, i.e. outline why you spent the amount that you spent.

Now might be a good time to note that things don’t happen overnight. To get a real indication of your campaign performance, it’s best to wait a week before making changes. If you’re reporting to your stakeholders on a weekly basis, it’s a good chance for you to get a seven-day-view of the campaign—leaving enough time to justify a change to your campaign.

Maximise your PPC campaigns

If you address the areas mentioned in this post, you can produce a killer report that complements and completes your campaign. Make your PPC campaigns go above and beyond with a report worthy of your hard work.

Don't forget to download your copy of our free PPC campaign report here.

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