How Big Is Your PPC Data Set?

Big data is all the rage these days. I’ve written about big data in PPC before. This isn’t a post on big data per se – but this week I’ve felt the need to talk about how much data is needed to make good decisions in PPC.

Let’s start on the micro side. A couple years ago, I wrote a post on PPC testing and why days are not data. I stole that phrase from my friend Andrew Goodman, but it’s so good that I find myself using it frequently, including every day this week.

Teaching people and clients about PPC is a passion of mine. I love to help others learn about the career that I love. Sometimes, though, the great aspects of PPC such as quick launches, instant data, and cool reporting get overstated. Suddenly you have a client or boss who wants a daily detailed report on his or her PPC campaign progress.

I don’t advocate that. I talk about that at length in my Days are not Data post, but in a nutshell, a one-day snapshot is full of too many normal fluctuations to be meaningful. Those unfamiliar with the ebb and flow of PPC get too bogged down with the daily deluge, causing unnecessary worry and alarm.

I try to remind these folks that they hired a PPC pro for a reason. We DO watch the data on a daily basis and adjust as needed. We just don’t make pass-or-fail judgments on one day’s worth of stats.

Now let’s look at the big data set of the coin. I wrote a post for Search Engine Watch this week called Do the PPC Engines Reward the Right Behaviors? It was a fun post to write – I’d been mulling it over in my head for literally a year, and finally the time was right to write the post.

In the post, I stated that Enhanced Campaigns are a case of Google rewarding for A while hoping for B – rewarding advertisers with lots of levers, while hoping they’ll create fewer campaigns.

While the number of comments and feedback on the post weren’t overwhelming, they were definitely interesting. Most people agreed that Google made things worse for advertisers and themselves with Enhanced Campaigns.

But Larry Kim disagreed with me. He has been out there trumpeting the nirvana of Enhanced Campaigns ever since they were in beta. Therefore, I wasn’t at all surprised with his stance.

I have a ton of respect for Larry and have no problem with what he said. But I still disagree.

Enhanced campaigns are fine for smaller advertisers with simple settings and campaigns. They’re good for local advertisers who previously had trouble hyper-targeting their PPC.

But for those of us running complex campaigns with diverse goals and objectives, Enhanced Campaigns are a nightmare. Several large PPC companies have written about their tribulations with Enhanced Campaigns, including higher CPCs and worsening performance across millions of dollars of spend. Matt Van Wagner is moving budget to Bing because of them. We’re seeing weirdness with our clients who’ve transitioned, including the same CPC spikes that others are claiming.

I’m not questioning the veracity of Larry’s data. I’m sure it’s accurate for his client set. But for most of us, the PPC big data says that Enhanced Campaigns are bad news.

What do you think about PPC data? When is enough enough? Share in the comments!

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3 Big PPC Mistakes Even Pros Make

Everyone makes mistakes. You’ve heard that saying a thousand times, and yet it still rings true.

Even seasoned professionals make mistakes; and usually mistakes are the best way to learn.

Still, especially when you’re new at something, it’s encouraging to know that even the pros mess up at times. Every golfer loves it when Tiger Woods shanks a drive, for example.

I asked PPC pros to share their biggest PPC mistakes (anonymously, of course). One long-time PPC manager sent me three mistakes and said they’d made all of them in the last year! I know I’ve made my share over the years, too.

With that, here are the mistakes people made, and how to avoid them.

1. Budget Mistakes

“One of my team members uploaded a new campaign with a budget of $5,000/day, not $500/day. Campaign went live over a weekend and spent a ton.”

“PPC mistakes I have made: spending budgets too fast and forgetting to add new budget for the start of a new month (using Manager Defined Spend).”

One of the great things about PPC is that you can decide how much you want to spend. As an advertiser, you can decide to spend $5 per day or $50,000 per day – and you control the budget limits.

The problems arise when simple typos are made in budgets, or when an agency manager forgets to add new budget to their MDS (which I have done myself).

How to avoid budget mistakes: Have someone else double-check your entries, and put a reminder on your calendar for the last Friday of each month to reset your MDS budgets.

2. Bidding Mistakes

“My biggest PPC mistake: late one night I accidentally increased bids on two keywords… I meant to type 11 cents, but I typed 11 dollars. By the next day the account had racked up $7,000 in unwanted charges!”

“I tried changing bids only to remember that the client has automated bidding for those keywords – after spending time setting up all the new bids.”

“Biggest mistake: Forgetting a decimal point on a bid. Fortunately, it wasn’t for a client account. Unfortunately, it was for me. Ka-Ching.”

“Someone I worked with once put a popular head term on broad match with a £80 bid instead of a £0.80 bid.”

I’d be willing to bet that every PPC manager has made a bidding mistake at least once. It’s easy to type $30 when you really meant $0.30 – or vice versa – and the results can be disastrous in a short period of time.

I once set up a bunch of new keywords for a client in a very competitive vertical, and couldn’t figure out why they weren’t getting any traffic. Turns out I’d set the bids at $0.50 instead of $50!

How to avoid bidding mistakes: It’s hard to completely avoid them, but using an offline editor like AdWords Editor or Bing Ads Editor helps, because you can check your work before the changes go live. Also, make sure to check your campaigns the next day – you’ll easily spot anomalies before they get too far out of control.

3. Network Targeting Mistakes

“Not turning off content network for a new campaign, set to single word broad match. Not always a mistake, but this time it was.”

“With all the teams I’ve managed, the favorite rookie mistake has always been content network =on. Have seen £00s wasted on that.”

Google doesn’t do novice PPC marketers any favors with their campaign defaults. PPC best practices such as separating search and content (display) and proper geo-targeting are overridden by Google’s default settings, which target “All Countries and Languages” and “All Networks.”

google network default

How to avoid network targeting mistakes: Make sure all new hires are trained in best practices for PPC settings, and be sure to check their work early on. Using a desktop editor makes it easier to double-check all campaign settings before pushing campaigns live. After the changes are live, check the settings again in the online interface to make sure everything is the way it should be. Schedule a report, segmented by network and campaign, to be sent to your email the day after the campaign goes live. If you’re seeing traffic in the wrong place, you’ll know what to fix.

Summary

Hopefully this post has taught you two things: that even the most experienced PPC managers make mistakes, and how to avoid those pitfalls!

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared at Search Engine Watch on February 5, 2013.

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Top 3 Takeaways from SMX Advanced 2013

This year was my 7th trip to SMX Advanced in Seattle. As always, it felt like homecoming for SEMs – I saw so many friends, it’s hard to keep track! I especially enjoyed hanging out with fellow members of PPC Chat, sharing knowledge and thoughts about the conference.

A search conference is no good without takeaways that you can apply to your day to day work. Here are my top 3 takeaways from this year’s SMX Advanced.

Enhanced campaigns are a nightmare.

As expected, there was an entire session dedicated to Enhanced Campaigns. Each and every presenter on the panel was pessimistic about what they’ve seen so far. The consensus was that it’s nearly impossible to control and isolate mobile traffic to optimize for ROI. This is a huge issue that I’ve written about before, and so far Google has made no moves to fix it. We’re stuck with convoluted workarounds and complicated bid modifiers that complicate campaign structure and management, rather than simplify it as Google claims is the intent of Enhanced Campaigns.

Furthermore, Enhanced Campaigns don’t play well with some Adwords features, namely Conversion Optimizer. If you’re using Conversion Optimizer, be aware that you can’t use bid modifiers with it. Crazy.

And finally, Enhanced Campaigns are killing ROI. Jeff Allen from PPC Hero presented a case study showing that CPAs went way up with Enhanced Campaigns – specifically, mobile CPAs increased by 40%. Mobile spend also increased dramatically, due to the lack of control.

We can only hope that Google fixes these issues before the forced migration in July.

Bing is doing some cool stuff.

I had the huge honor of visiting the Bing Ads offices in Bellevue with my good friend Ping Jen. I met with several of their development teams, including the Desktop team, the keyword relevance team, and the Ad Intelligence team. While I can’t share specifics about our conversations, what I can say is that there are some very interesting and useful tools and improvements on the near horizon that will really take your Bing Ads campaigns to the next level. Bing is dedicated to succeeding in the search space, and they’re allotting significant brain power to making things work.

And really, if ever there was a good time for this, it’s now. Bing has a window of opportunity to eclipse Google in several areas, including innovation, control, relevance, and customer service. Google really ticked off the SEM community with Enhanced Campaigns, and we’re looking for alternatives. Bing is poised to be a viable alternative, folks.

Wednesday’s keynote speaker at SMX Advanced was Gurdeep Singh Pall from Bing. I normally take keynotes with a grain of salt – they’re usually very high-level and theoretical with few takeaways. But this keynote really got me thinking. Gurdeep talked a lot about the future of search and the way Xbox has changed the landscape. Voice search and even search with gestures is the wave of the future – and people don’t talk the way they type.

The implications for PPC’ers are huge. Not only will we have to rethink our keyword and ad copy strategy in view of voice search, we’ll have to figure out how to target searches by gesture. It’s almost mind-boggling, but the bottom line is, in 5 years our jobs will look very different than they do now. Star Trek is here, folks.

star trek

Opt-Out geotargeting works better.

The very last presentation of the conference in the PPC track was by Marta Turek of Mediative. She presented a geotargeting case study that changed the way I think about geotargeting.

In a nutshell, she and her team noticed that geotargeted campaigns didn’t seem to perform as well as they should. CPCs were significantly higher on their geo campaigns than on their national campaigns, and over time, they saw attrition of search volume & traffic.

So they tried an experiment. They’d been targeting Denver, CO. They replicated the campaign and instead of targeting the Denver DMA, they targeted the entire state of Colorado – and excluded every DMA except Denver.

The result? Significantly higher volume, and CPCs that were about 30% lower than on the geotargeted campaign – and, of course, way better ROI.

Just to make sure this wasn’t a fluke, they tried the same tactic on another campaign targeting a couple of DMAs in North Carolina. They saw the same results – more volume and better ROI. Marta called the tactic “opt-out geotargeting.”

She admitted that these weren’t perfect tests. Both tests were sequential, rather than simultaneous – they ran an opt-in campaign first, and then recreated it as an opt-out campaign. There were seasonal factors at play, in addition to campaign optimizations such as ad copy testing that could have skewed the results. Still, it was surprising enough to be worth sharing.

As I looked around the room during this session, I could see people furiously taking notes. You could almost hear the wheels turning in the collective heads in the room.

At the end of the session, moderator Matt Van Wagner made a promise to the room: If anyone else tested this technique side by side and got valid results, Matt would write it up for Search Engine Land and guarantee them a speaking slot at next year’s SMX Advanced. Wow.

All in all, it was yet another great SMX Advanced. Did you attend the conference? What did you think? Didn’t attend and have questions? Share in the comments!

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International PPC: How to Go Global

This week, I had the enormous pleasure of hosting PPC Chat. It was my first time hosting, and I had a blast! Credit goes to Matt Umbro for helping me prepare ahead of time – Matt, you made my job easy!

Anyway, we talked about International PPC and I learned a ton. I’ve managed international PPC campaigns before, but have always felt like I could be doing it better than I was. And as we all know, the world is getting smaller and more and more companies are going global, so it’s time to get on the international PPC bandwagon.

Here are my key takeaways from the chat.

Enlist the help of native speakers for ad copy & keyword creation and optimization.

Sure, you can use Google Translate for this, but that’s probably worse than running ads in just English. Not only will the ads read awkwardly, but you might inadvertently make cultural faux pas. We’ve all heard the legend about the Chevy Nova selling poorly in Latin America. Don’t be that advertiser. Either use client resources to vet your ad copy, or hire an international contractor to help you.

International PPC rollout strategies vary.

Answers to the question “When you launch internationally, do you start with an entire account, or one campaign at a time?” were widely varied. The majority of chatters said they launched gradually, one campaign at a time, to control spend and results. James Svoboda said it best: “Campaign at a time. Too many ‘WTF is happening to conversion rates’ scenarios can happen.” Indeed.

While many chatters agreed with James, Jessica Fisher had a different strategy: “I just roll them all out with low budgets and conservative settings. Takes less time & you never know what will/will not convert.” This also made a lot of sense to me: the low budget minimizes risk, and you’ll learn faster.

My advice? Work with your client or boss and decide which approach you’re most comfortable with. Depending on your goals and objectives, either strategy could work for you.

You must support the languages in which you’re advertising.

The “quote of the chat” came from my friend Carrie Hill: “If you cannot support the conversion in another language – why are you targeting it w/ PPC?” This is something that we’ve struggled with. Advertisers want to create ad copy in native languages, which makes a lot of sense – but their website is in English only, and they don’t have customer service reps who speak other languages!

Think about that for a second. You’re running ads in the Netherlands, in Dutch. Your keywords are also Dutch. So a Dutch-speaking person searches, sees your ad, clicks on it – and ends up on an English-language site. Strike one – you’ve already alienated him. Then Mr. Van Customer calls your international 800 number in hopes he can reach another Dutch speaker. Strike two – your CS reps don’t speak Dutch, either. If he’s really persistent, he might go back to your site and find a contact link, and he sends you an email – in Dutch, which no one can read or respond to. Strike three.

Sure, we can all use Google Translate, and it’s better than nothing. But we’ve all seen those awkward translations it spits back, too. The point is, you must support the language!

If you can’t, you’re better off running ads in English. That way you can still reach English-speaking customers in other countries, without alienating others.

If you missed Tuesday’s chat, you can check out the streamcap. Did you participate in the International PPC chat? What are your best international PPC tips? Share in the comments!

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PPC News Around the Web, Summer Reading Edition

Well, it’s the last day of May already. If you’re anything like me, your thoughts are fast turning to summer: warm weather, vacations, barbecues, beaches, or whatever you like to do in the summer. Me, I like to read – I read year-round, but there’s something cool and comforting about curling up with a great read in a lounge chair pool or beach side.

With that, here’s my reading list from the many great blog posts that were published in May.

Long Term PPC Keyword Expansion: Moving Beyond the Obvious from John Lee at Clix Marketing. OK, so John gave me some nice props in this post, but he’s also outlined some fantastic and little-used keyword research techniques that you should try.

5 Excel Skills Every Marketer Should Know by Annie Cushing over at Search Engine Land. I’ve found myself bookmarking every post that Annie writes, because they’re (a) so informative and (b) so geeked-out that I need to read them multiple times. While this post isn’t as geeky as some of her others, it’s still a great how-to on much-needed Excel skills.

Getting Away From Our PPC Campaigns This Summer also at Search Engine Land, this one by my good friend Matt Van Wagner. Matt’s found some great hacks that will save time and aggravation. This one is a must-read.

How to Exclude Mobile Apps on the Google Display Network by Bryant Garvin at Get Found First. This was spurred by a Twitter discussion amongst some of us frustrated Display advertisers who were seeing placements like this:

tablet display site fails

Bryant has an easy and yet not-so-obvious way to eliminate this garbage traffic. Thanks, Bryant!

Market Research for International PPC Success by Heather Cooan at Search Engine Journal. International PPC is a whole new ballgame for those of us who’ve been stuck stateside. This post covers key differences that international advertisers need to be aware of.

Speaking of international PPC, I’ll be hosting this week’s PPC Chat where we’ll be talking about International PPC! Hop on over to Twitter at noon Eastern time on Tuesday, June 4 and join the conversation!

Adwords Support Sinks To A New Low by me. This was really a frustration rant on my part, but it ended up being my most-read and most-commented post ever. Clearly I struck a chord. In case you missed this one, go take a look and be sure to read all the comments.

PPC Books I Recommend. I regularly get asked about PPC books and which ones I recommend. I finally decided to compile a list someplace for easy reference. I have read all of these books and refer to them often. If you’re new to PPC, or if you just want to learn more, bookmark this page as your starting point.

Enjoy your summer reading!

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Partner PPC – Doing It Right

In the world of business, there are makers and sellers: companies who make products, and companies who sell them. Sometimes they’re one and the same, and other times they’re different. If you buy plastic bags for your retail store, chances are you’re not buying them from the bag manufacturer, but from a vendor who bought the bags and then resells them to you. It’s common practice, and it’s good for business.

Years ago, in another life, I sold radio and newspaper advertising for a living. We frequently dealt with co-op advertising, where a product manufacturer would agree to pay for a portion of a reseller’s ad, provided the reseller included certain elements about the manufacturer – their logo, name, slogan, etc.

Nowadays, I find myself working on similar programs for PPC. We usually call them partner programs, although they go by different names. Still, the premise is the same: working with a reseller to promote a manufacturer’s product or service.

Like with most things PPC, there is a right way to do partner PPC and a wrong way. The wrong way is for the partner to go rogue, trying to bid on manufacturer trademarks without permission. I once had a client whose resellers were doing just that – using PPC effectively to sell their products, to the point that the client lost nearly all control over them, including the prices they were charging. The resellers were using PPC for acquisition, with rock-bottom prices that undercut the manufacturer themselves. Needless to say, this was a challenging situation for all involved.

So what’s the right way to do partner PPC?

Work together.

Too often, partner PPC ends up as a classic case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Resellers decide to start bidding against manufacturers, never talking with one another – and soon, no one is getting good results from PPC.

Avoid this trap by calling a meeting with resellers and manufacturers and work out a program. Decide on the parameters first! Advertising is a business deal, so it makes sense to have a contract or at least program guidelines for participation.

Decide who gets what keywords.

Many vendors selling the same thing to the same audience means many different advertisers bidding on the same keywords. Depending on the partner program setup, you may even be sending traffic to the same display URL.

For these and other reasons, it’s crucial to decide who gets to bid on what keywords. Many partner programs work well with a “divide and conquer” strategy, where the keyword list is divided as evenly as possible across all partners. Other times, if traffic goes to partner sites, it can be possible for multiple partners to bid on the same keywords. Decide what makes sense, and stick to it. Periodically run reports to make sure duplicate keywords haven’t slipped into the mix.

Keyword coordination takes time, but it’s worth the investment in better performance for all involved.

Get trademark approvals in place ahead of time.

A huge benefit of working with a well-known manufacturer is using their name in your ad copy. But often, the manufacturer has applied for trademark protection with Google, meaning partners won’t be allowed to use the terms in ad copy. There are several workarounds for this, all involving the trademark owner giving express permission to companies to use their trademark. Get all this done before launching PPC! It’s frustrating and time-consuming to set up a campaign and get approvals, only to have all your ads declined for trademark use.

Get tracking and reporting in place.

Tracking is important no matter what kind of PPC you’re doing, but it can be especially challenging in partner situations where you’re sending traffic from multiple accounts to the same website. Make sure your analytics package can handle this, and be sure to use tracking URLs so you know whose traffic is whose!

A word of caution:  If you’re an agency managing multiple partner campaigns, be very clear about what type of reporting partners will receive. I once worked on a national program that had one manufacturer and 20 partners – and I managed all of the campaigns. The partner budgets were relatively small – but reporting time isn’t usually dependent on advertiser spend! We had to be very clear about the kinds of reports we’d provide to partners (and to the manufacturer), and how to handle requests for extra reporting. Luckily, we were able to use automated reports that didn’t take much time to create. Otherwise, you’ll find your workload increasing for every partner you take on!

With advance planning, and a true partnership attitude, partner PPC can be very lucrative for both the supplier and the partner. Have you done partner PPC? What are your favorite tips? Share in the comments!

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My Top 5 WordPress Plugins

Long-time readers of this blog will remember that in September, I moved my blog from Blogspot, where it had lived since 2006, and over to WordPress. It’s been a great move, and I’ve never looked back!

Now that I’ve been using WordPress for a while, I thought I’d share my top 5 WordPress plugins. I’m by no means a WP guru – for that, go find my friend Netmeg – but if you’re thinking about starting your own blog, or you already have one running on WP, I hope you find this helpful.

JetPack

I can’t take credit for finding this one – again, that credit goes to Netmeg – but Jetpack is a do-it-all plugin that I absolutely love. It works on self-hosted blogs to provide features normally only available to people hosting on wordpress.com – things like simple site analytics, Akismet configuration (more on them in a second), notifications, social sharing icons, subscriptions, spellcheck, Gravatar, shortlinks – the list goes on. If you’re thinking about hosting your blog on your own domain (and you should), this is the one plugin that you can’t live without.

Akismet

Akismet is a well-known blog comment spam filter. It’s pretty commonplace, but it’s saved me hours of reading through inane spam comments like this one:

“There is visibly a lot to know about this. I believe you made various good points in features also.”

Yeah. Thanks, Aksimet!

A note about comments: Even with Akismet, some spam comments do get through, so I moderate comments from first-time posters. Once you’ve posted and been nice, you’ll be automatically approved in the future; but the losers will be denied for good. It’s just easier that way.

Efficient Related Posts

When I’m reading a post on a blog I’ve never visited before, I like to see what they’re all about. A great way to do that is by checking out related posts. Unfortunately, Blogger didn’t have a good way of automating this, and I wasn’t going to do it manually – this blog is a hobby, after all!

Enter Efficient Related Posts. They use post tags to find related posts, so if you use relevant tags, you’re all set. I’ve definitely noticed that my readers explore multiple posts now, whereas before they’d just read my latest one and leave.

Yoast’s WP SEO Plugin

I’m a PPC pro, not an SEO – but I’d still like to attempt to get my blog posts ranked in the SERPs. That’s why I chose Yoast’s WP SEO plugin. The plugin makes it easy to perform basic SEO on your blog posts, simply by selecting 1-2 focus keywords. It lets you know whether you’ve included that keyword in your title tag, meta description, and post copy. Pretty handy stuff.

WordPress Backup to Dropbox

I have a confession to make – I never backed up my Blogger blog. I didn’t know how, and there wasn’t a tool I could find to do it for me. I got very lucky – in the 6 years I hosted my blog there, I never lost anything.

When I moved to WordPress, I decided I’d invested too much time and effort to lose my work. There are several backup plugins available, but the one I like is WordPress Backup to Dropbox. This plugin backs up your blog to your Dropbox cloud, on whatever schedule you choose. I selected weekly, since I only publish weekly; if you publish more often than that, you’ll want to back up more frequently. It only takes a few minutes to back things up, and it’s a big relief to know that those files are there.

This plugin requires a Dropbox account, of course. If you don’t have one, why not? Dropbox is great not only for blog backups, but for storing files and accessing them from multiple devices. I use it on all my computers, phones, and iPads. You get 2.75 GB of storage space for free, so check them out!

Bonus: Blogger Importer

After creating my WordPress blog on my domain, I was hoping to be able to bring over all of my Blogger posts. But the thought of doing that manually gave me a stomachache. Enter Blogger Importer. Blogger Importer seamlessly imports posts from Blogger. In no more than 5 minutes, all 6 years of Blogger posts appeared on my new WordPress blog. Amazing! Of course, this is a one-time use, but it sure relieved my stress.

Do you host a WordPress blog or site? What are your favorite plugins? Share in the comments!

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Adwords Support Sinks To A New Low

Back in the good old days, when I was doing in-house SEM, we had a dedicated Google rep to help us with our account. While the reps changed pretty frequently, each and every one of them was helpful and knowledgeable. They got to know our business quickly. A few of them even became friends.

About 4 or 5 years ago, Google decided to centralize Adwords support – and they took away dedicated reps from all but the largest advertisers. People have complained about the poor support for years – one guy created an entire blog just for one post complaining about Adwords Support. I’ve done my share of complaining about them, too.

Still, if you work for an agency, sometimes you get lucky enough to have a rep assigned to you on a quarterly basis. Just this week I had a call with someone who I initially thought was our new quarterly Adwords Support rep. As is typical in agency life, we’re really busy and I was hoping to get some help with PPC grunt work.

Wrong.

While the rep I spoke with was very nice, it turns out he deals strictly with new business. He can’t even help me with existing clients at all (despite my repeated requests).

Think about that for a minute. Google’s most proactive reps now are dedicated solely to new business. They can’t even touch existing clients unless they are ready to – get this – increase their spend by 10x. So, if my $25,000 per month PPC client suddenly decides they want to spend $250,000 per month, Google’s all over that. How many clients actually do that? Heck, I wouldn’t even recommend that big of an increase in most circumstances – there’s way too much risk involved. But unless I’m ready to pony up 10 times the cash, I’m stuck with general support.

So, I asked the rep what their “new business” service entails. Since they can’t help me with clients who ALREADY HAVE THEIR CHECKBOOKS OPEN TO GOOGLE, I thought maybe they had some amazing new biz services to offer.

His answer? Are you ready for this? Here’s the extent of their new business offering:

  • Basic education about Adwords. He did admit that for agencies, this usually isn’t necessary. Duh.
  • Initial campaign setup
  • Bid management for the first 90 days – on a daily basis if you’re spending $25,000 per month and up; on an every-other-day basis if you’re spending between $10,000 and $25,000

Yep, that’s the end of the list. No reporting assistance, no strategic insight, NOTHING that would be useful to an agency. Basically, they’re doing crap that I can do in my sleep.

And they’re not doing it as often. Managing bids every other day on a new account? Are they crazy? A good PPC manager will be on top of bids MULTIPLE TIMES PER DAY in a new account, because things can go south that quickly. I don’t care if you’re spending $20 or $20 million – every other day in the early days doesn’t cut it.

Needless to say, I didn’t take the guy up on his “offer.” I told him this whole premise is totally backwards. We need help AFTER launch, not during it. Many clients are just dipping their toes into the PPC waters when they sign on with an agency. Those who have done PPC before are often gun-shy due to poor management by another agency. Does Google really think I’m going to take a gun-shy client, whom I’ve sold on my PPC prowess, and then let Google set up the campaigns? Can you even imagine the disasters those campaigns would be? All broad match, terrible ad copy, targeting search & display together… the list goes on.

Sorry, Google, but in my book your “support” leaves a lot to be desired. What about you? Have you had good luck with Google’s new business team? Share in the comments!

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My 5 Favorite PPC Management Tools, 2013 Edition

Back in 2008, I wrote a post about my 5 favorite PPC management tools. I decided to revisit that post to see how much has changed in the last few years. Interestingly, despite all the improvements and new toys out there, the tools I liked in 2008 are still pretty much the tools I like now.

Tool #1: Excel

I loved it then, and I love it now. Although there are fancy bid management systems and calculators out there, I still spend most of my time in Excel. There’s no better way to sort and filter data than in Excel. It’s still my number 1 PPC management tool.

Tool #2: Google Keyword Tool

Google recently made several improvements to the keyword tool that are really quite nice. I actually like the ad group suggestions – while they’re not perfect, they’re still a great timesaver when launching new campaigns.

keyword tool

Google recently launched a keyword planner tool, which is pretty cool. Check out Wordstream’s overview to learn more.

Tool #3: A good analytics program.

Where would we be without web analytics? I’ve written often about using web analytics for PPC – and analytics are perhaps more important today than they were in 2008.

However, in my 2008 post I mention several analytics packages that have all but gone away: NetTracker, ClickTracks, Atlas… I believe NetTracker is still around, but I don’t know anyone who uses them anymore. ClickTracks and Atlas are gone entirely. These days, it seems as though everyone is either using Google Analytics or Omniture. Who would have thought?

Tool #4: The search engines themselves.

I have to say, I find myself relying less on direct engine research than I did in 2008. Personalized search has really made it tough to see what others see when they perform a search. I find myself relying more heavily on keyword research tools and competitor research tools than I did back in the day. That said, there is still no substitute for performing actual searches to get a feel for the search landscape.

Tool #5: My own brain.

Indeed. PPC has become so complicated, especially in the world of Enhanced Campaigns, that it’s nearly impossible to do it yourself. Companies must hire a PPC professional to effectively manage their campaigns. The days of small business owners setting up a small Adwords campaign and seeing great ROI are, sadly, long gone.

Bonus Tool: The PPC community.

In 2008 when I wrote the original post, I wasn’t active on Twitter. Twitter was very new and was mostly used by people sharing what they were eating for lunch.

Fast forward to 2013, and Twitter has become my newsreader. Not only that, it’s my go-to place to ask questions and share information with the community. The advent of PPC Chat has not only helped me get answers to my questions, but has also led to some invaluable friendships. I can’t imagine life without PPC Chat!

What are your must-have PPC management tools? Share in the comments!

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8 Killer Landing Page Optimization Tips for PPC

Earlier this week, I asked some of the best minds in search to give me their #1 landing page optimization tip. You’ll want to bookmark this post, because these experts came through with flying colors! Use these landing page optimization tips as a reference when building new PPC landing pages to make sure you have the best chance of converting!

#1: Maintain relevance. The headline & supporting statements have to be aligned with the ad/source/intent of each visitor segment. From Andrew Miller.

#2: Focus on your offer. Build & optimize the messaging & imagery for it. If done well, then the landing page foundation is set. From James Svoboda.

#3: Speed is key. If landing page elements take too long to load, the prospect will move on. Work with developers to lighten load times. From Chris Kostecki.

#4: Make sure your tone & language match your target audience. Best offers & calls to action won’t work if people don’t understand them. From Julie Bacchini.

#5: The page should make sense and capture attention in a few seconds. If it doesn’t, that’s a problem. People skim. From Jeremy Brown.

#6: People are lazy! Increase conversion by prepopulating lead generation forms using search query & IP address info. From PPC Associates.

#7: Don’t make changes to your landing page too early. Base your change decisions on statistically significant data. From Stu Draper.

#8: Get Rid of Distractions! If you want someone to purchase, don’t distract them with floating newsletter signups. From Bryant Garvin.

Bonus Resource #1: KISSMetrics has a nice list of considerations for landing page optimization for PPC that they’ve creatively put into an acronym for CONVERTS.

Bonus Resource #2: Unbounce put out a cool infographic on landing page optimization for PPC just yesterday. If you’re a fan of visuals, give this one a look.

What’s your favorite landing page optimization tip for PPC? Share in the comments!

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