Numbers are your enemy. They will only complicate your life and take time away from your instinct and opinion. In fact, I think analytics just might ruin your pay-per-click campaigns. Read on to learn to stop loving metrics and start loving subjective decisions!
Too Many Metrics? Just Optimize For One
Listen, there are a lot of data out there. Trying to look at all of the data takes too much time. That's time you could be spending turning on all of the automatic management features of AdWords and getting a martini.
Web Analysts want you believe that analysis is hard. It's not. Just pick a number for your campaign that matters to you, say conversion rate. Now base all of your optimization decisions around that one metric.
Who cares how many impressions those other keywords got? Revenue and cost-per-sale? Forget them. Optimizing for one goal is easier and people love seeing conversion rate go up and to the right.
Everything That Matters Happens Before The Click
Keyword research is really time consuming. The same goes for setting up campaigns, ad groups, and creatives. That's why you should spend your time measuring those things. Don't waste your time seeing what happens when people land on your site.
Everything that matters about paid search marketing can be controlled on the front end. The landing page you choose should be an afterthought. Metrics like bounce rate, page views and path analysis are over-rated.
Also, don't segment your paid search traffic and compare it to other campaigns or sources of traffic. Paid Search is unique and special. Its performance can't be compared to other channels, so you'll just be engaging in a futile exercise.
One Opinion and One Source of Data are Enough
It's key that you never, ever compare the data you get from the paid search vendors against your web analytics data. Google is completely benevolent and never wrong. Click fraud is a conspiracy theory. Campaign attribution is just a fancy phrase that web analysts use to distract you from their strange love of Excel.
Your opinion and expertise are the only things that matter. You are representative of your customers and can perfectly divine their needs, wants, desires, hopes and fears all through keyword research. Paid search is best run like a rotisserie oven: set it and forget it.
Under no circumstances should you test creatives. Never launch a survey to gauge customer opinion. Do not use multivariate testing tools to improve your landing pages. These are just more sources of analytics that will slow you down.
Remember: analytics are the enemy of good PPC campaigns.
*Actually, I think analytics will save your PPC campaigns and maybe your site. Sometimes, though, it's fun to make the point in a totally ridiculous, opposite way. This post is with tongue firmly in cheek.
For real tips on using web analytics for search engine marketing, either invert everything I wrote here and check out my article on 4 Web Analytics Tips for SEM. You might also enjoy my review of Compete Search Analytics.