The trouble with CPC

March 16, 2022

Why our new metric offers deeper insights

Cost-per-click (CPC) is one of the most commonly-used metrics in digital marketing – and it’s easy to see why. This metric breaks down the cost of the campaign against ‘clicks’ on posts or ads to give you a single, easy-to-understand number. It’s a simple way to look at results against spending, which has clear appeal for marketing teams and accountants alike.

But is CPC as valuable as it seems? While many businesses use the metric as a chief plank of their marketing strategy, it may not deliver the level of insight needed to maximise results and grow your business. That’s why Acquire has come up with another method – the quality cost-per-click (qCPC). This metric takes the standard CPC a step further, giving marketers concrete, actionable information about their campaigns.


Simple and effective, or lacking depth?

The simplicity of the CPC is a major part of its appeal – but it’s also a disadvantage. Clicks alone don’t necessarily translate into business results or even tell you anything about the customer journey. You can get a huge number of clicks and a low CPC, without any insight into how many leads or conversions they generate.

This raw data doesn’t tell you much. You can see that a specific number of people have engaged with your content on some level, but you don’t know who they are or what they do after that single click. You’ll even get a certain number of accidental clicks – it’s very easy for browsers to touch their screen in the wrong place or fumble their phone and end up clicking through on your ad, then immediately clicking away. While bounce rates can help you see where this is happening, CPC doesn’t: these people are included along with genuine clickers.

This means, ultimately, CPC doesn’t really reflect your actual results. A campaign with a low CPC may seem effective without growing your business, while a higher CPC may make a business-building campaign seem less successful.


The value of a vanity metric

Because it’s such a shallow measure of success, CPC is increasingly viewed as a vanity metric. While these metrics look great on a graph or monthly report, they don’t reflect real-life value for your business in the form of sales or sign-ups.

To deliver value, metrics must be not just quantifiable, but actionable as well. Your business should be able to use results to make changes or inform future decisions – not just to tick a box or placate the executive team. CPC can be used as a performance measurement for future campaigns but doesn’t offer any insight about why a campaign is working or what needs to change.


Actionable, insightful, valuable

The qCPC takes the familiar old CPC a step – or several steps – further. This metric looks at the entire online journey of a customer rather than the fleeting click, weighs the value of each element, and uses that data to adjust your ad positioning in real time. You get insight into the touchpoints that influence the final purchase, helping you build a better understanding of your campaign – and your customer.

Acquire looks at a range of data including:

  • Where visitors have come from
  • What type of device they’re using
  • How they behave on your site
  • How long they stay
  • Bounce rates and conversions
  • Outside factors like market trends, positive or negative events, and even weather

Of course, these elements don’t all offer the same level of insight, so they’re weighted to reflect their impact on conversions. With this data in hand, we can make precise decisions about channels, content and customer targeting – in fact, our algorithm does this automatically, and tweaks ad buying in response.  This means you maximise the effectiveness of your current campaign, while gathering vital data to inform future work. Naturally, you still get a clear budget breakdown and a digestible KPI to share with your executive or finance team, with a deeper level of insight on the content side.


Better metrics, better results, better budgeting

All marketers want to stretch their budgets and maximise their results – and it’s not always easy. CPC, along with other vanity metrics, offers surface-level results that may not give you the actionable data you need to improve.

qCPC is different. It helps you identify the points on the customer journey that lead to a purchase, so you can focus your marketing dollars on the most impactful content and the most powerful channels. The end goal: increasing sales and growing your business.

Want to use qCPC in your digital marketing? Talk to the team at Acquire.