What It Is & Why You Should Track It

What is without doubt one of the largest demanding situations confronted by all efficiency advertising stakeholders – businesses, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, traders, and managers?

Consistently and appropriately quantifying the worth created for the undertaking by the use of advertising tasks.

To put it succinctly: answering the age-old questions of, “What’s the ROI on our marketing?”

Or, extra merely, “What’s working and what isn’t working?”

Do Even the Best Marketing Metrics All Fall Short?

Marketing platforms have traditionally presented entrepreneurs quite a lot of sorts of knowledge to strengthen this effort together with:

  • Advertising value knowledge (CPC and/or CPM).
  • Intermediate efficiency knowledge (clicks, impressions, and so on.).
  • Revenue/price knowledge (Conversions/Leads, Conversion Value, Transaction Revenue, and so on.).

These base metrics are then mixed to shape price metrics (Cost Per Click, Revenue Per Click/Value Per Click, Conversion Rate, and so on.), which shape the basis of performance analysis lately.

The justification for depending upon those metrics seems sound to start with look – in the end, isn’t maximizing profit a forged technique?


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(After all, what excellent capitalist goes to mention “no” to maximizing profit?)

And if maximizing profit/price is excellent, then doesn’t it keep on with that Revenue/Value in line with Click (“RPC”) is a forged directional indicator that this system is appearing smartly?

Mathematically, there are 3 vectors to extend your RPC:

  • Increase the conversion price of site visitors.
  • Increase the typical order price (“AOV”) or moderate lead price or
  • Decrease the cost per click (both without delay, if purchasing CPC, or not directly, if purchasing CPM).

Each of those would appear to be undoubtedly correlated with advanced industry efficiency.

Isn’t changing other folks at a better price excellent? Isn’t promoting extra stuff/using extra leads a excellent factor? Isn’t lowering your CPCs/CPMs sure?

The solution to each and every of the ones questions is a powerful “maybe.”

To perceive why it’s essential to take into account that the full function of a industry isn’t simply to promote extra stuff or achieve extra consumers; it’s to do the ones issues profitably.


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While it’s great to know the way a lot profit a given marketing campaign or key phrase is using for the group, I’ve labored with quite a few organizations with massive profit numbers that collapsed sooner than Anakin Skywalker in “Revenge of the Sith”.

The factor is that even the most productive of the metrics referenced above (most likely Revenue Per Click & Conversion Rate, however arguments may also be made for the relative import of them all) falls smartly wanting what’s required for growing a powerful, defensible analysis of any advertising program or marketing campaign.

To see why, imagine the next state of affairs – which I’ve discovered running for manufacturers of all sizes (and in all industries) through the years:

ACME Outdoor Company sells two merchandise: lawn gnomes for $25 and garden chairs for $150.

It prices them $2.50 to fabricate a gnome and $50 to fabricate a chair (they’re of the good, Adirondack selection). Shipping a gnome prices every other $2.50, whilst transport a chair prices $25.00.

Now, sooner than factoring in promoting prices, retaining prices, company charges, or pastime fees, ACME has a gross benefit of $150 + ($50) + ($25) = $75.00 on chairs and $25 + ($2.50) + ($2.50) = $20.00 on gnomes.

(For simplicity, I’m the usage of monetary/accounting notation for negatives balances, which requires detrimental numbers – akin to deductions or bills – to be proven in parentheses. Thus, ($50) is equal to -$50).

Let’s suppose that ACME spends $10,000 per thirty days on promoting for his or her industry (each gnomes + chairs).

Most automated bidding algorithms will attempt to maximize your conversion price (profit on this case) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) (relying to your bidding technique) – most likely by pushing consumers to the higher-revenue chairs vs. lower-dollar gnomes ($150 vs. $25).

But this isn’t all the time the proper method, as we’ll see:

In the above case, it seems that (by each RPC and ROAS) that garden chairs are out-performing the gnomes – using a ~50% larger RPC, ~20% larger ROAS, and ~20% extra profit at the identical spend.


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While gnomes convert at a miles larger price (to be anticipated for a low-dollar merchandise vs. a dearer one), the logical advice from this information is to speculate extra cash into the garden chairs marketing campaign, proper?

Well, now not precisely – as a result of this research does now not come with the prices of products offered (COGS) or transport prices that ACME incurs with a view to produce and distribute their items.

When the ones are incorporated, a special image emerges. To do that, we’re the usage of what I’ve termed Profit Per Click (“PrPC”), which is calculated with the next method:

PrPC = (Gross Revenue – Costs of Goods Sold – Transaction Costs – Fulfillment Costs)/Clicks

Profit per Click: What It Is & Why You Should Track It

In the above instance (and for simplicity), I’ve left out the transaction prices (i.e., bank card processing charges, PayPal charges, financial institution switch charges), which normally constitute any place from 0.5% to three% of the whole transaction.


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As you’ll see from the above, ACME’s benefit in line with click on for chairs is ~37% decrease than the take advantage of gnomes – pushed by that merchandise’s considerably larger gross margin (80% vs. 50%).

If ACME have been to take the RPC advice from above and make investments extra into garden chairs, the corporate may just depart as much as $5,000 in benefit at the desk ($10,000 is the max benefit for making an investment 100% price range into gnomes; $5,000 is the max benefit for making an investment 100% price range into garden chairs).


While many trade entrepreneurs would (rightfully) say that the above research is incomplete – particularly since many gnome patrons may additionally purchase a garden chair or vice versa – the underlying theory illustrated nonetheless holds and is well translated into those eventualities.

The great thing about Profit Per Click is that profitability is adequately granular (it applies at an end result stage) to permit research in any respect ranges of your efficiency advertising tasks – from the key phrase or ingenious stage to marketing campaign or account stage.

This permits entrepreneurs to seek out hidden resources of price whilst aligning their efforts to the full organizational function (specifically, extra benefit).


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Likewise, the above state of affairs additionally excludes fastened prices (like company retainers or 3PL per month charges or gross sales crew salaries, for lead era companies vs. direct trade), all of which can be simply integrated and sufficiently granular.

While benefit in line with click on isn’t incorporated (by default) inside a internet analytics or virtual platform, integrating it’s rather easy.

  • Via COGS inside your product feed (here’s a helpful link) for trade companies.
  • By importing value knowledge inside Analytics (more info here).
  • By lowering conversion values/adjusting lead values inside Ads, in accordance with the relative profitability of the ones results.

As this dialogue shifts towards leads and long run profit, the constraints of Profit Per Click change into extra obvious. Namely, non-commerce transactions normally have an extended lag between the conversion event and cash within the financial institution.

There’s gross sales follow-up, proposal submissions, and revisions, contract negotiation, pricing dialogue, invoicing, fee phrases, and the like.

For many higher B2B offers, the lag between a lead within the door and cash within the financial institution can exceed 6 months – which is a very very long time to carry stock (or worse, have shipped stock and be looking ahead to a take a look at).


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A equivalent downside emerges for DTC manufacturers or ecommerce transactions, because the preliminary sale normally represents just a fraction of the buyer’s lifetime price (LTV), or 30/60/90-day money (relying on which style you select).

In both case, our Profit Per Click (“PrPC”) metric is offering a materially poor image of what’s going down, probably with dire penalties – the DTC graveyard is suffering from tombstones of manufacturers who died looking ahead to LTV to materialize.

This shortcoming additionally exists with PrPC, which won’t seize this crucial nuance as it assumes an immediate price switch/instant profit popularity.

This may end up in a skewed image of the industry’ state of affairs – and probably, a money crunch or lifetime price lure, because the industry continues to incur bills (running bills, COGS, wage, pastime, and so on.) whilst looking ahead to the possible profit.

If we suppose that ACME (from above) has a 3rd line of industrial, Enterprise Sales, the place the corporate sells garden chairs in bulk to varsities, universities, municipalities and the like, we will see this factor materialize.


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For the sake of simplicity (and for more straightforward comparability with direct trade), I’ve discounted the conversion price + profit in line with result in account for non-qualified conversions (leads that don’t materialize into precise consumers, for no matter explanation why).

Profit per Click: What It Is & Why You Should Track It

One of the very first thing that jumps out is the considerably larger Profit Per Click for the undertaking purchasers (~9.5x larger than gnomes, ~14x larger than garden chairs, and extra profit than each garden chairs + gnomes mixed, in spite of a marketing campaign price range that’s 25% of gnomes and garden chairs, mixed).


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From those numbers, it seems that that Enterprise provides a considerable alternative for ACME to extend total profitability – in the end, take a look at that ROAS!

Over the years, I’ve spotted a equivalent phenomenon for companies with equivalent, bifurcated fashions (from DTC to SaaS to skilled products and services and client items).

This conclusion is once in a while legitimate, however once in a while now not – with the 3 elements taking part in a significant function in whether or not it’s price it to speculate extra in advertising the “prima facie more profitable enterprise/lead generation business bifurcated:

  1. The time from lead-to-close.
  2. The conversion rates on leads to customers.
  3. The relative volatility of (1) and (2).

As an aside (especially for many smaller businesses), (3) is often completely ignored, despite it being (arguably) the most important.

After all, if you don’t know when to expect cash in the door (or roughly how many leads you’ll close), your operational risks go through the roof.


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  • How do you know how many units to keep in inventory?
  • When you can expect to know if there’s a problem with your sales team?
  • How to structure your financing?
  • Whether to pull the plug or increase marketing?

These are serious, often existential, questions that far too many businesses ignore, at their own peril.

While this article is primarily about assessing marketing performance, any good marketer ought to be a good businessperson first.

If your current partners aren’t asking these kinds of questions, that’s a red flag that it’s time to find a new partner (or do some education of your in-house team).

Fortunately, we have a tool that can help us assess how we should balance these factors: a net present value calculation.

What Is Net Present Value

Net present value is a method of adjusting future cash flows (positive and negative) based on the time-value of money and risk profile, using a discount rate.

In short, NPV tells us what a potential future cash flow is worth today.


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NPV for the (period, cash flow) pairs (t, Rt), where N is the total number of periods is given by the (scary looking, but pretty simple) formula:

Profit per Click: What It Is & Why You Should Track It

Where Rt = is the net cash flow (inflows less outflows) at each time t and i is the discount rate.

What Is Discount Rate

The discount rate (sometimes called the discounted rate of return) is an interest rate that reflects the opportunity cost (or cost of capital) and risk associated with a given investment.


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Cost of Capital: Every capital outlay made by an enterprise is zero-sum – if funds are used for A, they are not available for B (and vice versa).

In short: accessing capital isn’t free for any company – funds must either come from a credit facility (which comes with interest costs, future liquidity risks, and obligations) or from equity (which dilutes ownership, incurs underwriting costs, and potentially poses other risks).

Other Risks: there are other risks involved in any investment decision, above and beyond the cost of capital.

For instance, an investment in marketing today is not guaranteed to yield a lead (or sale) tomorrow.

The timing of cash flows from those deals is often uncertain, as is the ability of an enterprise to fulfill a future order. These risks must be considered alongside the cost of capital when assessing what a potential future cash flow is worth today.

For many companies, the discount rate combines their Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) plus an additional risk premium, based on the nature of the investment (i.e., investing in marketing is riskier than buying a new machine, and thus the marketing investment would have a higher discount rate).


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This results in an annual discount rate ranging from ~10% (for large, public companies with robust access to capital) to ~50%+ (for smaller companies and start-ups, with no access to capital).

Finally (and critically), the discount rate is not fixed.

Different rates can be applied to cash flows based on when they occur – so a higher discount rate can be applied to cash flow 6 months from today (which is far less certain to happen) and a lower discount rate applied to a cash flow 30 days from now (which is far more certain).

This robustness makes the discount rate method incredibly valuable for all organizations (and avoid many of the pitfalls of cash multipliers and straight-line LTV calculations).

Applying the NPV Formula to ACME’s Enterprise Business

Since our enterprise transaction is really just a pair of cash flows (an initial outflow at t=0 to pay for advertising and provide the product, followed by a subsequent inflow at a future point when ACME is paid by our customer for the chairs), this calculation is simple.


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For the sake of simplicity, I’ve used 270 days (~9 months) from the time the lead is received to the date when funds are deposited. For some businesses, this is actually pretty short; for others, this may seem way too long.

The beauty of an NPV calculation is that it is endlessly flexible – you can adjust this to meet the unique needs of your organization.

Additionally, as my (hypothetical) ACME company is relatively young and small, I’ve selected a discount rate at the high end of the range discussed above of 50%.

While this sounds high, it’s typical for smaller companies with limited access to capital and fledgling operations.

(It is important to remember that many startup companies are financing operations on credit cards with interest rates above 25%; a discount rate must take into account not just this interest rate, but also the fact that the investment is far from guaranteed to produce a return. Conservatively, an investment made using funds borrowed at a 25% interest rate with a 50/50 chance of yielding a return easily justifies a 50% discount rate.)


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Thus, for a single lead for ACME Enterprise Lawn Chairs:

At t=0, using a simplified calculation, with the budget ($2,500) divided by the number of leads (6), we incur an expense (cash outflow) of $2,750 (COGS) + $500 (shipping) + $416.67 (advertising) = $3,667.67.

Plugging this into our formula, the NPV of this is:

NPV of Initial Outlay = Profit per Click: What It Is & Why You Should Track It = –$3,667.67

Then, at t=270, we receive a cash inflow of $5,250, which represents the payment by our customer for the goods provided.

NPV of Cash Inflow = Profit per Click: What It Is & Why You Should Track It = $3,889.56

Summing these together, we realize a Net Present Profit of ($3,667.67) + $3,889.56 = $221.89 – that’s over $1,360 (86%) less than what a straight-line (revenue minus expense) analysis suggests.


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Because there is significantly more risk involved for ACME Corp. on the enterprise deals, as the company is outlaying a significant amount of money immediately (to hold and fulfill orders, plus pay salespeople, attorneys’ fees on contracts, etc.), but not realizing revenues until much later.

Let’s put everything together in order to get a single metric that accounts for the risks, uncertainties, and opportunity costs we’ve discussed and allows us to make an apples-to-apples comparison of our marketing performance for each business line and campaign: Net Present Profit Per Click (“NPPPC”):

Profit per Click: What It Is & Why You Should Track It

NPPPC is calculated by multiplying the output of the above NPV method by our conversion price:

Profit per Click: What It Is & Why You Should Track It

When NPPPC is used rather than RPC or ROAS, the undertaking marketing campaign nonetheless seems excellent, but it surely doesn’t glance extra special – and intuitively (no less than within the minds of many industry house owners), that is proper.


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While the profit numbers from the bigger undertaking gross sales are interesting, the chance related to understanding them is actual and important.

Accounting for that is completely crucial for all efficiency entrepreneurs – consider, we must be businesspeople first, entrepreneurs 2d.

The great thing about NPPPC is that it may be integrated inside Google Analytics as a customized metric and it’s sufficiently granular that it may be used to match the efficiency of various key phrases, campaigns, channels, and techniques, all whilst being defensible and intelligible to all stakeholders throughout the group.

This identical means can be utilized to calculate (as an example) the worth of a SaaS client (each and every month is a separate money waft; those may also be roughly dangerous relying to your churn knowledge) or extra correctly painting a DTC emblem’s monetary place than a 30/60/90-day money multiplier.

Likewise, the NPPPC style may also be adjusted to account for various ranges of chance with other product strains, buyer personas, or provider choices; it’s sufficiently granular and eternally versatile.


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Limitations of Profit in line with Click

While I firmly consider NPPPC is without doubt one of the maximum tough metrics available in the market for efficiency entrepreneurs, it’s nonetheless crucial that we consider Goodhart’s Law: each time a metric turns into a goal, it ceases to be a excellent metric.

For example, if we measure efficiency by the choice of leads generated, we’ll finally end up optimizing for lead quantity whilst ignoring value, probably resulting in shedding cash on each lead – now not a excellent position to be!

While it’s objectively excellent to maximise NPPPC, doing this in isolation will have unwanted effects (i.e., maximizing NPPPC may lead to fewer leads, which limits total enlargement of the group).

It is all the time a good suggestion to create metric trios – generally consisting of 1 granular efficiency metric (NPPPC), one scale metric (web provide benefit, or benefit, or profit), and one historic comparability metric (YoY enlargement goal; PoP enlargement goal, % to projection, and so on.).

There’s a herbal rigidity between each and every of those metrics, such that maximizing one most likely has a detrimental affect at the others – serving to to be sure that we don’t veer too a ways in any route and compromise the full well being and profitability of the group within the procedure.


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Image Credits

All screenshots taken by creator, December 2020

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