Digital Marketing
5 min

My Conversions Are Down YoY, Now What?

Faith Petreley

A lot can happen in a year. Does anyone still even play Pokémon Go? Why are people selling fidget spinners on the side of the road now (or is this just in my neighborhood)?

Most importantly, why is my account performance not where it was last year?

Fortunately, you don’t need to play a guessing game with your account performance – the answers are right in front of you, you just need to know where to look. Identifying the problem is the first step to solving it. Here’s how to begin troubleshooting declining YoY performance and find how to get back where you need to be.

graph trending down

What Drove Performance Last Year?

We know last year was great, but why? Figuring out what was responsible for driving the majority of your performance last year will clue you in on where to look first.

For example, if you can determine that “Brand” campaign pulled in 70% of last year’s conversions but isn’t delivering anywhere near that volume this year, you already have a hint about where you need to check first.

Where Is The Drop?

We need to identify where the decrease happened in order to figure out exactly why it happened. Step one typically will help you figure out where the drop is, but it’s not always that simple.

Was the decrease in brand search, non-brand search, or both? How are your shopping, display, and YouTube campaigns?

If you’re seeing a decrease across the board, what can you look at that are underlying constants between these campaigns? Was your conversion tracking setup consistent compared to last year? Try looking at locations, audiences, and demographics to see if performance is significantly different year-over-year.

What Changed Year-Over-Year?

Now that you know what is responsible for the drop year-over-year, you need to find out what has changed there. An easy first step is to look at key performance metrics YoY first, look for any significant changes YoY, and then figure out what that change means for your account.

To get you started, here are some scenarios of observing key metric changes and their potential implications.

  • Clicks
    • Increasing YoY: Check your CVR to see if your traffic is converting at the same rate this year. If not, you need to drive more qualified traffic and make sure your website can successfully convert users.
    • Decreasing YoY: Less traffic to the site means less users who can convert.
  • CPC (Cost-per-Click)
    • Increasing YoY: Do you have enough budget to sustain your campaigns with the bids you have set? Budget capping can mean your ads stop showing before the end of the day, and potentially your peaks hours! Is your avg. position the same or lower? Check Auction Insights to see if competitors are making the same conversions more expensive to get.
    • Decreasing YoY: Are you spending significantly less? It may be more difficult to achieve last year’s conversion volume with less funding. Is your CTR down? Your lower bids could be resulting in less traffic to the site, meaning less users who could convert.
  • CVR (Conversion Rate)
    • Increasing YoY: How is your traffic? If you aren’t driving enough users to the website, you can’t convert them!
    • Decreasing YoY: Did you make major changes to your website? Is your landing page successful at converting visitors? Are you funding campaigns that don’t convert well over ones that do? Make sure to prioritize your top campaigns first! Are you targeting keywords that converted well last year?
  • CPA (Cost-per-Conversion)
    • Increasing YoY: Are you budget capped? Make sure you can afford the conversions you’re driving. Check Auction Insights. Are competitors making it more expensive to get the same conversions?
    • Decreasing YoY: Are you spending enough? It may be necessary to scale spend to obtain the volume of conversions you want. Remember the inverse relationship of scale and efficiency.
  • Audience/Locations
    • Increasing YoY: Do you have enough investment to fund your top markets? Make sure your budget isn’t getting eaten up by your more inefficient targets.
    • Decreasing YoY: Did any major events happen in key locations this year but not the last? For example, if your key markets were impacted by natural disasters this year, you’re unlikely to see the same results. Are your audiences up to date?

By no means do these scenarios cover every possible cause for declining performance, but they will give you a good reference point of what to look for and what to consider.

Look At Your Data To Determine Next Steps

The hardest part is over! After the last three steps, you should know:

  • What drove performance last year
  • Where your most significant performances happened
  • Which performance metrics changed significantly since last year
  • What those changes mean for your account

man on laptop at work desk

Now that you’ve diagnosed the problem, simply start implementing changes and let your key performance metrics guide you the rest of the way.

Happy problem solving!

Digital Marketing


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